The Evil Within’s recommended PC specs are insane

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The Evil Within for PC may well be the Crysis of modern games if its hardware requirements are anything to go by.

Publisher Bethesda announced the game’s recommended PC specifications on its blog a little while ago, saying PC gamers will need graphics cards that have 4GB of video memory, a quad-core Core i7 processor and 64-bit editions of either Windows 7 or 8 in order to enjoy the game as the team intended. That’s in addition to 50GB of free hard drive space and 4GB of system RAM.

Bethesda added that “If you’re trying to play with a rig with settings below these requirements (you should plan to have 4GB of VRAM regardless), we cannot guarantee optimal performance.”

Holy hell.

The reason that’s such a big ask is 4GB of VRAM is unique to only the fastest and most expensive graphics cards available today, and Core i7 processors and 64-bit operating systems are mostly found in high-performance enthusiast PCs. Essentially, these requirements are going to prevent a lot of people from enjoying the game on PC as the designers intended.

Looking at Steam’s August 2014 PC hardware survey results, a paltry 1.64% of all gamers that use the platform have 4GB of VRAM. That’s not a lot, although that 14.22% “other” figure implies at least 14% of Steam gamers are running multiple graphics cards with a VRAM total that’s above 4GB. Still, alienating just over 84% of the potential audience for your PC game isn’t exactly smart business.

Steam Hardware Survey - VRAM

Recommended ≠ required

You must bear in mind, of course, that “recommended” and “required” are two different things, meaning the game will run on PCs with less beefy hardware, just not as smoothly or with as much eye candy to drool over. But as you read above, the developers don’t really want you to try, which is a bit odd as that’s not how you sell games.

Commenters on the blog story – particularly those with recently-purchased graphics cards that have only 2GB or 3GB of VRAM – are outraged at the steep requirements especially as the game is coming for previous-gen Xboxes and PlayStations that have far inferior hardware. A Bethesda rep replied in the comments, countering those objections by saying “the PC release is intended as a next generation experience”.

Apparently the reason for the huge installation and VRAM requirement is the uncompressed audio and massive textures the developers used to make the game sound and look like a proper next-gen title, so presumably there will be a considerable difference in its presentation on PC.

Unfortunately, gamers can be a fickle bunch and many commenters have confirmed they’re cancelling their preorders for the game based on this news.

PlayStation 4 and Xbox One gamers are unaffected by this, as they will be able to run the game as intended by the developers thanks to the 8GB of RAM that’s shared between those consoles’ operating systems and graphics chips.

Reasons to be upset

The Evil Within is a survival horror game from Shinji Mikami, the man behind the Resident Evil series. There is a lot of interest in the game as it promises to return to Resident Evil’s survival-horror roots and away from the action-oriented shootfests that Resident Evil 4 through 6 became.

Trailers of the game look utterly insane, with over-the-top gore and some seriously disturbing characters, locations and awful things happening to people that really shouldn’t happen to anyone, anywhere for any reason, and psychological thrills and chills the likes of which we’ve not seen for years. See for yourself:

Are you bothered?

Do the game’s newly-announced PC requirements concern you at all? Let us know on the forum.

Me, I’m actually quite happy at this news as my rig has 4GB of VRAM plus I like seeing developers willing to push the envelope when it comes to PC graphics, like Crysis did back in 2007. Gamers vented their spleens back then too, but the result was a legendary game that was used for years afterward as the benchmark for PC performance.

I just hope The Evil Within on PC looks utterly incredible after all this, because if it doesn’t, Bethesda may be entertaining a crowd of torch-and-pitchfork-wielding PC gamers shortly after its release.

The Evil Within is out on October 14 for PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.

Deon du Plessis

Deon du Plessis

Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.