Intel has teamed up with Square Enix’s Crystal Dynamics game studio to optimize the graphics for the upcoming Avengers game, specifically for PC players. It’s the sort of partnership that usually crops up for graphics card companies like AMD or Nvidia. While Intel wouldn’t provide details on numbers, it did confirm that the deal (which includes a two-year commitment to continue to support Avengers) is its biggest gaming deal yet.
Intel — as a company that largely focuses on the CPU, rather than the GPU — may seem like an odd choice as a game company partner for graphics-facing improvements. But the improvements Crystal Dynamics made to Avengers are expressly designed to take advantage of Intel’s prowess by optimizing tasks more suited to CPU-based computation, like the physics engine, which, in turn, allows for more GPU headroom for other tasks.
The Intel-designed improvements can be divided into three categories. There’s enhanced armor destruction, which improves the visual effects as players damage enemies. With the new system, glass shards, metal plates, and rubble that players create through combat will be generated as physical objects, which will, in turn, get tossed around the environment as players and enemies further interact with them.
The two companies say that the more realistic debris will stay persistent longer on high-end machines for added realism. In the same vein, environmental damage caused by characters’ ultimate “Heroic” attacks will be amped up, which shockwaves or energy blasts creating more rubble and interacting with the existing debris already present.
Lastly, PC players will benefit from full-fledged water simulation, which will flow, splash, and react to objects just like it would in real life. According to Crystal Dynamics, it’s improvements like this, specifically, that highlight the advantages of optimizing for both the CPU and the GPU. The company says it was already pushing the GPU side of the equation as far as it could go, and adding additional effects like water simulation to that computational load would have limited other aspects of the game. But by offsetting that to the CPU, it’s able to provide a fuller experience.
The Intel optimizations were developed for 4-, 8-, and 10-core machines, with low, medium, and high options that are tuned to each of those processor types. That means whether you have an entry-level gaming PC or a top-of-the-line rig, you’ll still get some kind of benefit when playing Avengers. That said, while these features were developed by Intel, all PC players will be able to take advantage of them in some form, not just Intel users.
The goal is for the partnership between these two companies to go beyond just the initial launch. Intel has promised to continue to support Avengers for the next two years, and Crystal Dynamics has baked these improvements into its Foundation Engine, so it’s possible that things like the water simulation could appear in future PC titles, too.
This latest gaming partnership also comes just as Intel is gearing up for its biggest gaming and graphics push yet, with the launch of its 11th Gen Tiger Lake processors, Xe graphics architecture, and standalone DG1 GPUs all slated for this fall. This sort of CPU / GPU optimization that emphasizes the strengths of each architecture is something that we can expect to see more of as Intel’s CPU and GPU efforts become more aligned.
Intel has already confirmed that it’ll be rolling out specific Avengers optimizations for future Intel GPUs, too — presumably referring to the Xe-LP integrated graphics set to debut later this week — with the company promising that the game will perform at 30fps / 1080p on upcoming ultrabook and thin and light machines.
The Intel-designed enhancements for Marvel’s Avengers are planned to roll out alongside the game as it launches on September 4th.