It’s been a hell of a four year wait, but Square Enix has finally patched the Steam version of NieR: Automata. For years, fans have made use of the FAR mod to improve the Steam version, but everyone might not need to rely on that as much now. For the time being, this version of the game is incompatible with the FAR mod, although a patch is in the works and might be ready as soon as tomorrow. For the most part, the patch does a lot of what the FAR mod did, only you don’t need to download anything extra.
You’ll notice that the NieR: Automata patch is roughly 14 GB in size. Surprisingly, the game’s install size is actually 8 GB smaller than it was, moving from 48 GB to just 40. After installing the patch, I braced for any issues when starting up, only to find none. My save works perfectly and the game started automatically in borderless mode. There’s a healthy host of changes, plus you can now alt-tab while the game is running without the game going into windowed mode. The mouse cursor is also no longer visible if you’ve got a controller plugged in, which fixes another annoyance that the previous version had.
As for a complete list of changes, aside from borderless windowed mode being added, CAS sharpening is in, and NieR: Automata will launch in HDR if you have the HDR games and apps function selected on your PC. The anti-aliasing options are different. Before, the settings offered no indication of what kind of AA was being used, but now we’re given a clear choice between SMAA and MSAA up to eight times. Granted, AA is still an enormous resource hog, as having MSAA up all the way will bring a lot of rigs to their knees still. Here are the two different menus.
Many UI textures have been increased to support 4K, global illumination can now be freely utilized, and ambient occlusion is now supposedly improved to render at the window’s resolution. Notably, the patch promises that videos are now all 60 fps, but I’m going to need a bit more time to verify this across the board. There are, of course, varying reports from players. The patch has made performance better for some and worse for others. Some have required fresh installs. The ambient occlusion changes do appear to have made shadows higher resolution as promised. At 4K, NieR: Automata‘s performance is noticeably worse for me, though. The game mostly ran at around 60 fps for me before, but now it likes to hover in the 40-50 range. Take a look at some comparison shots between the previous build and this one.
Kaldaien, the maker of the FAR mod has said that his upcoming update will have a better frame limiter than what’s in this current build, but I saw no issues with frame-limiting. At 1440p, I get a very solid, stutter-free 60 fps, at least. Your mileage may vary. Overall, the NieR: Automata patch makes some definite improvements. But, unsurprisingly, it still doesn’t appear to be all it could be. I’m not going to hold my breath for another patch, so I’m going to try and be satisfied with what we’ve got here. Although I’m mostly just miffed that the game doesn’t run as well in 4K anymore. Regardless, the game seems more vibrant and colorful now, unless the screenshots from before are merely inferior. Here are some pre and post-patch comparison shots with everything maxed out, save for AA: