The wait is over. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition is now on Linux and SteamOS. Best of all, to celebrate the debut, Steam has it available for only $3.99. I highly recommend you pick it up (unless you have an AMD card *sad face*). Let’s hope The Witcher 3 will also find its way on Linux.
Update: The Steam forums have been lit up with talk and complaints about this port. Apparently, CD Projekt hired a company called Virtual Programming to get the Windows TW2 running in a wrapper called eON, rather than creating a native Linux port.
This in itself is not terribly unusual. After all, Valve itself ported some of its games to Linux using a D3D to OpenGL translator of sorts. The difference is, the Valve games, such as Dota 2, actually perform pretty well compared their Windows counterparts. In the case of The Witcher 2, the performance reports have been much lower to even downright horrible for people with anything less than top of the line PCs.
Here is an example of the performance comparison from an actual Steam user. As you can see, the native Windows version is getting up to 100 fps, while the “native” Linux version manages only 11 fps. Meanwhile, even the Windows version installed via Wine still manages 50 fps in Windows, making a “native” port pretty much pointless.
My results are similar. I could manage to get 19 to 30 frames per second at times on High Spec settings in Linux. In Windows, I could get 60 fps with vsync on. Obviously, there is no way I could stand playing the game on Linux with the performance so low.
The question one must ask is, why did CD Projekt go this route? I understand why they did not want to have to rewrite all of the code, but why not rely on something proven to work, such as Valve’s D3D to OpenGL translator, which it released as open source software? This will only reflect badly on their company, but worst of all, it will also make Valve and its Steam Machines look bad. Who would want to spend $500 or even more for a console-like entertainment system only to find that one of the highly-anticipated launch titles can only manage 19 frames per second? This is something CD Projekt needs to fix, and Valve needs to push them to fix it or remove the SteamOS icon from it all together.
Here are some of my own screenshots: