The recent story surrounding the notion of a pirate, DRM-free ‘cracked’ version of Resident Evil Village outperforming Capcom’s launch code, in turn, fascinated and terrified me. I can accept that anti-piracy is a necessity, and I can just as well accept that their sophistication these days may have a certain level of CPU cost. However, putting out a game that has performance issues because of DRM crosses a red line – this is something a developer or publisher certainly should not do. And yet I can confirm that Resident Evil Village on PC in its cracked form runs smoother than the flawed official release.
In fact, the compromised code addresses the two most important performance issues my colleague Alex Battaglia noted in his Resident Evil Village PC technical review. First, key animations during combat ̵
When I repeated these tests for this piece, I was struck by the fact that in the two months since the Resident Evil Village PC was released, nothing has been done by Capcom to solve these obvious problems. However, I can confirm that the broken version does just that, and solve both of these important performance issues. In the NFO notes, the hacker talks about two DRM systems in play within Resident Evil Village: Denuvo, plus Capcom’s own anti-piracy technology which allegedly within Denuvo, which makes it even less optimal. The notes suggest that CPU-heavy DRM countermeasures kick in with these important animations – explicitly pointing the finger at copy protection for the game’s performance issues.
And here’s the kicker: regardless of whether the hacker team is on par with the cause of the performance issues, the fact is that the crack fixed them in all the scenarios I tested. The fight is now even and even across the board, without freezing for a split second. Although there is a suspicion that the pirate version of the game may lack some animations, the battles against Lady Dimitrescu’s daughters are played without sudden swings. RE Engine is as efficient as we hope it would be – except for console equivalent settings with beam tracking enabled, I could play between 90 fps up to 160 fps on an RTX 3080.
The success of the pirated version of solving these long-standing problems suggests two potential scenarios: first and foremost, the hackers are on par with us – it is actually DRM that is causing the problems in the first place, and they have done us a solid service by removing it. And if the hackers are not right with us, the alternative is perhaps even more remarkable: that they optimized the game in a way that Capcom has not wanted in the last couple of months.
The bottom line is that any reason to integrate DRM goes out the window if a pirated version of the game provides a better experience than a purchased and paid-for-copy. I shared my findings with Capcom on Monday night and have asked for comment, and I have also tried to contact Denuvo for their response. So far, however, I have not had anything left. At this point, however, I feel that Capcom owes its paying customers an apology, but more constructively, it must immediately release an update that fixes the issues, which brings the official code in line with the performance offered by the pirated version.
In the meantime though, where does this leave the user who bought the game? It’s not that hard to find the crack alone, which works with standard Steam downloads (but seems to be incompatible with existing storage), but this can hardly be recommended. I have heard good things about the RE Framework which claims to solve stuttering problems and provides improvements in the quality of life as a field of vision. There’s something I could not test myself – the injected code seemed to stop the message from appearing, making it impossible to advance in the game. That said, others report that it works. It’s hard to imagine that a mod would tamper with the game’s DRM, so there might be a way forward to solve this problem without resorting to pirate code. There is also talk of missing animations with the cracked version, which will not apply to this mode.
At this point, the ball is in Capcom’s court, and I hope to see some response and positive action soon – and we’ll update you if and when it does.