Forspoken’s absurd PC requirements highlight a bigger Square Enix problem
Saving the world isn’t easy. Forspoken has had a rough go of things since it was first revealed, between marketing that instantly became a meme and an overall mixed reaction to the recent demo. At the same time, it looks like Forspoken is about to continue another unfortunate trend with Square Enix at large, that of poorly optimized PC ports. For years Square Enix has had trouble porting even their most beloved titles to PC, but Forspoken’s absurd requirements are also indicative of surging requirements across the industry, making it hard for many PC players to keep up.
Forspoken’s PC requirements were released just one week before the game’s launch, and boy are they eye-watering. For reference, here are the game’s minimum requirements
- Resolution/framerate: 720p 30 FPS
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 1600/Intel Core i7-3770
- Graphics card: AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT/Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB
- Memory: 16 GB
Across the board, those are some high requirements, but the real surprise is the required 16GB of memory, in order to run the game at only 720p and 30FPS. Even just two years ago 16GB would have been a generous amount, if not maybe a little more than you’d typically need. Even by comparison to last year one of 2022’s biggest games, Elden Ring, only requires 12 GB of memory with a recommended amount of 16GB. On top of all this, Forspoken will take up an absurd 150GB of space on your hard drive, which comes in a whole 30GB above even Red Dead Redemption 2.
The problem with Forspoken is that those requirements only surge even higher if you want to run the game on anything but the most basic of settings. To run the game at 1440p and 30FPS, Square Enix recommends 24 GB of memory, and for 2160p and 60FPS it recommends a staggering 32 GB. What’s baffling here is that Square didn’t provide recommendations to run the game at 1080p, which is what the large majority of players will be looking to do.
While we don’t quite know how well Forspoken will run on PC, even with the proper rig, Square’s history of PC ports doesn’t inspire confidence. In 2017 Square Enix released NieR: Automata on PC, an abysmal port that was wracked by crashes, resolution issues, major performance issues, and more. It took nearly four years for a proper fix for the port to finally be released in 2021, and this isn’t the only instance of that happening. A similar situation happened when Square Enix released Chrono Trigger on Steam in 2018, with the company coming under fire for a “lazy port” that lifted UI elements directly from the iOS and Android versions, making it incredibly difficult to play on PC. Again, a proper fix wouldn’t be issued until years later.
There are even some ports that have yet to receive an official “fix.” One like at Final Fantasy XIII-2’s user reviews will tell you the game is nearly unplayable without the fan-made patch that fixes performance and framerate.
To be clear, Forspoken isn’t the only game to have surging demands for performance on PC, as this week Sony also released the specs for the PC version of Returnal. That game also requires 16GB minimum, with Ultra performance scaling up to 32GB. It seems likely that these games being developed directly for PS5 is what’s causing them to be so demanding on PC, but Returnal still has a leg up on Forspoken in that regard. You can play the game on high settings at 1080p and 60fps with just 16GB of memory, while Forspoken seemingly needs double that to even reach 60fps.
Forspoken is a brand new IP for Square Enix, something that simply doesn’t have the brand recognition that Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest does. With Forspoken already having issues leading to launch, the game doesn’t need anything else keeping players away. Those high PC requirements, however, will do just that, pushing away many players that don’t feel like their system is up to snuff.
PC continues to feel like an afterthought for Square Enix, which continues to be disappointing. There’s a vibrant community of JRPG fans that Square Enix could really tap into with PC versions, and hopefully, Forpsoken could be a learning moment in that regard.
Forspoken releases on January 24, 2023 for PS5 and PC.