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This is quite a surprise! Early yesterday we were notified that Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, which Feral Interactive ported to Linux in 2015 has gained a Vulkan Beta.

Since companies rarely make much money from older ports like this, it's quite fantastic to see it being given some love. Especially like this, giving it a big boost with a much newer graphics API. This is not long after Feral Interactive confirmed the Linux release date for Shadow of the Tomb Raider Definitive Edition and also announced Total War Saga: TROY for Linux too.

Without any further rambling, let's take a look at what kind of difference it makes for Shadow of Mordor. Tested on Manjaro Linux with an Intel i7-5960X and an NVIDIA 2080 Ti with the 430.40 driver. All these tests were done at 1080p and the Steam Play Proton version was 4.11-7:

Now let's take a look and see what happens when you do the same tests, with the resolution set to to 200% (4K):

That just goes to show how Linux really can perform well for gaming. The performance difference is absolutely insane when compared with their original OpenGL port. Even next to Steam Play, it seems to show that an optimised Linux release can be highly competitive and worth doing. Absolutely fantastic work from Feral Interactive.

Update: Since it was pointed out in our comments that the Linux version's Ambient Occlusion seems to be lower quality/resolution (apparently it shouldn't be noticeable) than the Windows version, here's some additional 1080p/4K testing with AO off to see what difference it makes between them:

As an additional quick look, here's the same test as done above with AO off with Windows 10 thrown into the mix:


< Min FPS, > Max FPS

If you wish to try it out, it's available without a password in the "linux_vulkan_beta" branch on Steam. To access it, right click on the game in Steam, go to Properties and the Beta tab and then select it from the dropdown box. As shown below:

Keep in mind this is a Beta and issues are to be expected. It may even gain more improvements over time, we will just have to wait and see on that.

Nowadays, all Feral Interactive ports to Linux are done with Vulkan. They seem to be doing the same as they did previously with Mad Max, giving it a Vulkan beta and gathering some feedback while not promoting it to the main supported release. Fair enough, this is a good way to do it to see how it goes.

A couple of their older titles using OpenGL could certainly use this upgrade too. The one that really needs it is the Linux port of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. I would love to play through that one fully again with a Vulkanized performance boost.

You can pick up a copy of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor from the Feral Store, Humble Store and Steam.

Hat tip to dubigrasu.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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86 comments
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logge 17 October 2019 at 4:38 pm UTC
This comes handy in these times when I was playing with the thought of playing it through once more :-) Thank you, Feral!


Last edited by logge on 17 October 2019 at 4:38 pm UTC
dubigrasu 17 October 2019 at 4:51 pm UTC
I see some graphical weirdness (sky messed up) in the benchmark sequence. Some other reports on Steam forums complaining about models missing (like me, on AMD & Mesa 19.2x).

Switching to Mesa 19.3.0 solved the issue though AFAICS, also AMDVLK seems issues free.
Thetargos 17 October 2019 at 5:36 pm UTC
Oof!! That performance delta is AMAZING! A very welcome update indeed! This goes off to show just how big of an overhead the OpenGL implementation had on this particular game (makes you wonder how bad it is as well for extreme cases like DE:MD). I reckon that placing the blame soleley on OGL is a bit unfair, as it is not all that is at play with a port such as this, but does show just how big of an overhead it CAN have. True, there are examples where for certain tasks OGL is just as fast as VK, provided the driver is well optimized.

Tha k you Feral for this update, even though Beta, hopefully more games in your catalog can benefit from the expertise you have built using better porting tools and VK. Already eager to see what will come next beyond SotTR and LIS2. Kudos to Feral for the continued support of this "old" title (still a GREAT game!)


Last edited by Thetargos on 17 October 2019 at 5:38 pm UTC
Tuxee 17 October 2019 at 6:26 pm UTC
Not bad indeed. Here on a GTX1060 with 2560x1440 display and "very high" settings the framerates went from 60/83/40 to 90/126/59. 50% plus - now that's what I call a "noticable difference".
PJ 17 October 2019 at 6:45 pm UTC
amazing update. On my end it doubled the framerate. Now it is comfortably over 100fps on high settings. It would be amazing (and honestly - super surprising) if they could bring it to titles like DeusEx as well.
Liam Dawe 17 October 2019 at 7:26 pm UTC
Glad to see so many happy people , there's been so much negativity lately it's pleasing to see.
Thetargos 17 October 2019 at 7:39 pm UTC
Liam, this brings renewed faith and trust in NATIVE ports. Not that this will render DXVK useless, FAR from it! Aim for native as much as we can, use DXVK/Proton for those titles that will never be released as native ports (quite a few!).

Feral is shutting many mouths (mine included, as I truly feared Proton would indefintively stall native ports development) with facts. We now need more native games, inspired by what can be achieved when applying all lessons learned in the past 5 or so years.

Kudos Feral, thanks Khronos and all those involved in the development of Vulkan!

Edit:
Given the recent confirmation from Stardock that they would bin their port of Ashes of the Singularity, I really feared Feral would stop developing native ports. I am glad they shut my mouth with the announcement of SotTR (which makes sense, since the previous games were also released with all the DLCs, at least RotTR was, and SotTR will as well) and now this update. I'm thrilled!


Last edited by Thetargos on 17 October 2019 at 7:44 pm UTC
mirv 17 October 2019 at 7:42 pm UTC
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So it makes this game playable for me on a Kaveri. A _Kaveri_! Playable because, while it's not going to hit massively high frame rates, those frame rates are quite stable (I get ~25fps). Desktop system (as seen from my profile), I turn up the settings quite a bit and enable vsync, and it hovers close enough to 60fps.
(No, I don't game at super high frame rates, I much prefer stability).

Kudos again to Feral, and for allowing those of us with older rigs to keep playing. I'm extra appreciative because my system is older, well beyond what is expected for support, and I'm a Gentoo fan, and yet they still help out and here I am with a game running better than I ever thought would on my system.

(Yeah, I'm pretty stoked).
Liam Dawe 17 October 2019 at 8:50 pm UTC
ThetargosGiven the recent confirmation from Stardock that they would bin their port of Ashes of the Singularity
Well, to be clear Stardock did also claim the work done would ensure Ashes 2 would get on Linux. If they go through with that, I'm happy.
Thetargos 17 October 2019 at 8:55 pm UTC
Liam Dawe
ThetargosGiven the recent confirmation from Stardock that they would bin their port of Ashes of the Singularity
Well, to be clear Stardock did also claim the work done would ensure Ashes 2 would get on Linux. If they go through with that, I'm happy.
Quite indeed. They did state that, and I am thankful for that as well.
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