Microsoft DirectStorage is finally here, but there's a catch
Microsoft's next-generation storage API for PC games might be kind of a mess
DirectStorage has long been Microsoft’s promised storage API to drive the next generation of the best PC games when it comes to, well, storage. While the tech has technically been available for a while, it’s only appeared in an actual game this week, with Square Enix’s Forspoken.
However, while it’s good the tech is finally getting a test drive outside of a specialized benchmark, it looks like there are a few issues that might need to be ironed out before it sees its full potential. The biggest of these concerns is performance issues with the best GPUs.
This tech will let your SSD perform like the best PS5 SSDs
The way DirectStorage works is that it gives your SSD a direct link to your graphics card, allowing for near-instant load times and larger open worlds. Basically, it brings Xbox Series X-like storage speeds to the best gaming PCs. It makes sense, then, that it’s first field test is in Forspoken, which is, of course, an open world game – albeit not a great one if the reviews are anything to go by.
But, it’s not often that groundbreaking PC game technology makes an appearance in the most critically acclaimed games. Either way, there are some major issues that have appeared around this game.
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GPU performance or SSD performance?
It doesn’t seem like many reviewers were able to get their hands on the game early, so performance information from well-known publications is a little thin on the ground. I haven’t had a chance to test it, either, as I did not get a code. I’m working on finding a code on PC so that I can test it myself, but it looks like you can expect about a 10% drop in GPU performance, according to PC World.
But from what it seems, the game will load extremely quickly for that 10% drop in GPU performance, which is likely a drop in the bucket with a graphics card like the RTX 4080 anyways. However, there are reports on Reddit that the game is cheating by loading the most recent save file in the background while you’re sitting in the main menu, as pointed out by Reddit user Skipan.
Forspoken reportedly does load extremely quickly even when loading an older save file, but it loads in a couple seconds rather than instantly. At the end of the day, that’s not a huge deal, because for all intents and purposes most people are going to want to load their most recent save anyways, but it’s not like there are PC games that don’t already load within that time frame.
Overblown technology? Not exactly
While it is a bit disappointing that DirectStorage isn’t making as much of a splash as it perhaps should have given the amount of time we’ve had to wait for it, it’s far from the end of the road for the API. After all, DLSS was garbage when it released back in 2020 and it’s since grown to be the benchmark by which every upscaling method is measured by.
Both AMD and Nvidia have their own specialized versions of DLSS that will likely have less of a performance impact, but those have to be worked into games on an individual basis. Forspoken, being the first PC game with this technology, was never going to have the perfect implementation. And, even with the tricky way it’s loading games in the background, it sounds like an amazing user experience that I can’t wait to see implemented in other games.
And if DLSS, FSR and even ray tracing are any indication, the PC games that use the DirectStorage API are only going to get better and more optimized as time goes on. This technology is extremely promising and I can’t wait to see what comes of it in the future.