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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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mrdeathjr 18 October 2019 at 12:47 pm UTC
My Results:

Video options for both tests

image


OpenGL

image

image


Vulkan

image

image

brokeassben 18 October 2019 at 2:06 pm UTC
Fired it up last night and the performance is massively improved. I'd given up on playing because the FPS were so low and inconsistent...and of course immediately died during my first encounter with a warlord because I'd forgotten how to play since I last launched it.
Mohandevir 18 October 2019 at 3:26 pm UTC
There is just one thing that I don't understand... When Shadow of Mordor originaly launched on Linux it was common knowledge that there was a 40% performance hit vs Windows and whith these new benchmarks, 88fps (OpenGL) for Linux vs 233fps on Windows... It's a 60% hit. Any clue why is that?

Just as a reference:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89G9qHrjS4A
mirv 18 October 2019 at 3:37 pm UTC
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MohandevirThere is just one thing that I don't understand... When Shadow of Mordor originaly launched on Linux it was common knowledge that there was a 40% performance hit vs Windows and whith these new benchmarks, 88fps (OpenGL) for Linux vs 233fps on Windows... It's a 60% hit. Any clue why is that?

Just as a reference:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89G9qHrjS4A

(No idea where "common knowledge" of the 40% hit number comes from, but that aside...)
Games get updates, drivers change, hardware is different. Take your pick really. Any & all of it can change individual experiences with a particular game. It won't be the same performance percentage across all configurations.


Last edited by mirv on 18 October 2019 at 3:37 pm UTC
Mohandevir 18 October 2019 at 5:57 pm UTC
mirv(No idea where "common knowledge" of the 40% hit number comes from, but that aside...)

Not hard to find a benchmark of Linux vs Windows, at the time of the original release, that shows the 40% hit. The reference I put in my previous comment is just one such exemple.

That aside, thanks for your explanations. Still weird to see that the gap seems to have widened over time... Was the original port bottlenecked by the use of OpenGL in some way? Might just be me...


Last edited by Mohandevir on 18 October 2019 at 6:36 pm UTC
peta77 18 October 2019 at 6:41 pm UTC
The numbers look quite impressive; makes me almost re-install/-download it to finish the remaining side-quests/achievements just to see how good it really has become...


Last edited by peta77 on 18 October 2019 at 6:41 pm UTC
mirv 18 October 2019 at 7:27 pm UTC
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Mohandevir
mirv(No idea where "common knowledge" of the 40% hit number comes from, but that aside...)

Not hard to find a benchmark of Linux vs Windows, at the time of the original release, that shows the 40% hit. The reference I put in my previous comment is just one such exemple.

That aside, thanks for your explanations. Still weird to see that the gap seems to have widened over time... Was the original port bottlenecked by the use of OpenGL in some way? Might just be me...

Interesting if it was close to 40% most of the time. It would mean more limited by the engine and trying adapt to it, at a guess. Not that we'd ever know for sure.

OpenGL more than likely bottlenecked quite a lot on the original port. Threading is the #1 suspect in most cases, but not the only. If the gap has grown, it might also be that the Windows version received optimisations (either from drivers, or in the game itself) over time.

Fortunately, any hardware that was needed to play Shadow of Mordor when it was originally ported by Feral now has both OpenGL and Vulkan drivers. So a performance difference becomes a virtually non-existent problem for everyone. Which is really good.
lqe5433 18 October 2019 at 7:54 pm UTC
I hope they will do DE:MD too. I'd even pay a few bucks for that.
Liam Dawe 18 October 2019 at 8:36 pm UTC
MohandevirThere is just one thing that I don't understand... When Shadow of Mordor originaly launched on Linux it was common knowledge that there was a 40% performance hit vs Windows and whith these new benchmarks, 88fps (OpenGL) for Linux vs 233fps on Windows... It's a 60% hit. Any clue why is that?

Just as a reference:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89G9qHrjS4A
Can be a mixture of any number of things. I ran my tests on the most up to date Windows driver as well as the most up to date Linux driver for a fair comparison. NVIDIA optimise a huge amount in their Windows drivers. Not only that, but my GPU is vastly stronger to what the video linked has, which can also show up issues with heights that that their GPU simply couldn't hit.

Benchmarks never really tell a true story, it's why I don't often do them. They're highly sensitive to so many things.
Emazza 19 October 2019 at 7:57 am UTC
I hope we get to have the next LotR installation...
This runs a charm now...
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