eli5 Why do old pc games that look good run better than new PC games that look bad

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For example, I have a decent non-gaming laptop I can’t figure out how I can run say battlefield 4 or titanfall 2 or even GTA v which looks great at 50-60fps pretty consistently however I can’t run say outer wilds or apex or cod at minimum with the resolution set so low I can barely see but only get 20-25fps it just doesn’t make sense pleaaase help me understand thanks so much guys!

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Well there’s a couple reasons, and I’m certainly not the right guy to answer the main question. However given the list of games that do run well your laptop is more powerful than your letting on! What make and model is your laptop?

It may help suggest good games that will run, or better settings for those you are struggling with at the least.

Older games are meant to run on older hardware which in turn means lower spec equipment… It may have been top of the line then but mediocre now. So playing older games is nbd because they have to run on old “mediocre” hardware too. I can play Crysis 1 np at over 144 fps (non remastered) bc that game was built for much lower resolution and fps. Now with insanely better equipment it runs np, still looks good too, but if I run remastered, I struggle to keep over 60-70fps

So you may have a decent laptop that’s a few years old that’ll run slightly aged games np, but newer stuff is optimized for newer he and that’s why it sucks. Also, try a driver update

You’re focusing too much on the visual elements. A game may not look hyper-realistic or impressive, but behind the scenes may be running lots and lots of code. Like maybe an older game handles bullets by merely checking if a region was hit (instantly, not modeling the bullet), but a newer game actually tracks the “real-time” ballistic trajectory of a bullet and the effect of hitting very specific parts of a body.

Visually, the two things could look almost the same. But there’s more processing for the second one going on. Newer games probably make more use of these things. Plus if you have tons of computing power, maybe they didn’t optimize the code as much as they could have.

Performance is all about bottlenecks.

E.g. If you need to load 1 Gb of textures into memory, but only have 500 mb of memory, you’re going to see performance problems as textures are moved in and out of memory.

An old game is probably expecting lower bottlenecks. If you avoid the bottleneck, you avoid the performance problems.

My processor cries running total war medieval2 when on campaign map at low settings, and does freeze,while has no problem with war thunder at high setting.

I think that if the game is too old, the Pc is basically converting the old code and graphics to modern code to run it and it’s harder than simply run a modern code. I’m not an expert. But I confirm old stuff may run better on old hardware than on new hardware.