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Alan Wake 2 minimum specs: Impact on my gaming laptop and PC gaming's financial viability

Opinion: Alan Wake 2's demanding GPU requirements raise concerns about financial accessibility in video games. Many players are left out in the cold.

Are the demanding GPU requirements of Alan Wake 2 a sign of a new normal in gaming? As a gamer, I was taken aback when I saw the monstrous PC specs for the game. It was the first time I realized that my three-year-old gaming laptop wouldn't be able to meet the minimum system requirements. This laptop, which cost me nearly £2,000 in 2020, suddenly felt outdated and insufficient.

While the news about Alan Wake 2 was concerning, it wasn't the first indication that my laptop was struggling to keep up. However, it was the most significant wake-up call. It made me contemplate whether it was time to invest in a PS5 Slim. But upon further reflection, I started to consider what this means for PC optimization and whether there's still hope for my aging laptop.

Upgrading graphics cards in a gaming laptop is a tricky task. They are soldered to the motherboard, making them nearly impossible to replace. From the beginning, I knew that my beloved HP Pavilion would eventually become technically obsolete due to this limitation. I thought I had come to terms with the fact that my GPU would need replacement, but apparently, I was mistaken.

The idea of playing Alan Wake 2 on my Xbox Series S fills me with dread. Not only am I not skilled with third-person shooters on a console, but I also resent the fact that I have no say in the matter. The demanding PC specs for Alan Wake 2 are understandable for high-end systems, especially if you want to experience the full potential of ray-tracing. However, even the recommended settings are mind-boggling. If you have a GPU that's a few years old, you'll likely be left out in the cold.

For those who pre-ordered Alan Wake 2, the system requirements come as a disappointing surprise. Developer Remedy Entertainment announced the PC specs just a week before the game's release, leading to frustrations among fans, including myself. It raises the question of whether Alan Wake 2 is truly optimized for a non-console experience unless you have the most powerful GPUs on the market.

This year has seen the release of many fantastic games for 2023, and most of them have managed to launch successfully on both consoles and PCs without excluding players based on GPU specs. That's what makes the system requirements for Alan Wake 2 feel so unexpected. To my knowledge, no other PC game released this year has demanded such high-end graphics.

To provide some perspective, let's compare it to other games. Baldur's Gate 3, for example, doesn't support ray-tracing, but its minimum system requirements indicate that a graphics card from 2014 would be sufficient to run the game at its lowest settings. On the PS5, it still delivers a stunning 60fps display in dynamic resolution. Another example is the PC version of Resident Evil 4 Remake. This highly acclaimed horror game can run on a GTX 1050 Ti graphics card from 2016, with ray-tracing turned off. In contrast, the oldest GPU capable of running Alan Wake 2 is the RTX 3060, which was released in 2021.

I'm not suggesting that games should be judged solely based on their performance with older technology, and playing games on the lowest settings may not provide the best experience. However, the PC optimization of Alan Wake 2, or lack thereof, highlights a broader issue of financial accessibility in the gaming industry. I consider myself fortunate to have an Xbox Series S as a backup, but I can only imagine the disappointment and frustration felt by fans who had been eagerly waiting for an Alan Wake sequel, only to find out that their systems couldn't handle it.

The minimum PC specs for Alan Wake 2 seem to be an anomaly. It's surprising that my three-year-old GPU is already considered outdated. However, looking at the trends this year, most modern games have been optimized to accommodate less high-tech setups. All signs point to the possibility that my 2020 HP Pavilion 15 will hold up for a few more years until I can save up for a proper gaming rig. And if not, I suppose I'll have to work on my controller skills.

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