As with the Particles setting, it was difficult finding definitive instances of Physics Debris in action, at least where it impacted performance, so I've left testing and screenshots out of this section.
It's said to have no GPU impact and a moderate CPU impact, so lowering it could have a worthwhile effect on FPS while rarely hurting visuals, especially if your CPU leaves something to be desired.
Said to determine the density of decorative elements in the environment, such as grass and rubble. In practice, it seems to affect water surfaces and grass, though not in any strictly better sense, as you can see from the screenshots.
Benchmarking tells us there's a definitive small hit to minimum framerates if you max out this setting. As such, it's recommended to use 75 or below (as with Local Light Shadows, it's plausible there's no visual impact outside of a certain figure, so don't worry too much which you choose).
Scatter Density is marked as having a low GPU impact and low CPU impact.
Blood Decal Amount
Affects the amount of blood sources present in a given scene. Our experiments show slightly higher quality blood at 50 than 0, and the introduction of airborne blood droplets at 100.
Again, blood disappears quickly, so this setting cannot be benchmarked reliably and as such has been left out of our testing. That said, it's marked as having a low GPU impact and no CPU impact, so between that and the minimal visual differences, it's likely lowering this setting will give a 1-2 FPS boost, if that.
This ever important option controls the appearance of jagged edges seen on various surfaces throughout the game. With no AA, the image is extremely crisp, but distracting aliasing can be seen on the door, crates, our companion's hat, and other surfaces. With TAA (temporal anti-aliasing), the image appears to eliminate aliasing entirely, though introduces quite a lot of blur (note the primary goal of TAA is to reduce crawling and flickering seen in motion, so it's difficult to judge it fairly from static screenshots). Meanwhile, FXAA strikes a great balance with almost no aliasing and extremely subtle blur.
Our tests reveal TAA puts a moderate hit on minimum framerate and a major hit on maximum framerate. They also tell us FXAA has no performance impact whatsoever. Given that and the visual impressions, we strongly recommend FXAA to all. If you are experiencing distracting crawling and flickering seen in motion, however, TAA is worth considering.
TAA is marked as having a heavy GPU impact and no CPU impact; FXAA is marked as having a moderate GPU impact and no CPU impact.
This setting is always arduous to capture properly, and it's no different here, so screenshots are absent from this section. In game, blur is most readily noticed when swinging a sword. The effect is subtle but present.
Testing says disabling Motion Blur offers a 1-2 FPS performance increase all around. Especially if you prefer it off anyway for a smoother gameplay experience, this is a welcome improvement.
Motion Blur is said to have a moderate GPU impact and no CPU impact.
Screen Space Ambient Occlusion is always one of the most dramatic options, offering a major boost to visuals thanks to more in-depth shadowing techniques. That's the case here, too, as you can see from this shadow heavy scene, most of which is affected by SSAO when enabled and proves much richer for it.
To paraphrase a wise old man, with great visual impact comes great performance cost. As is always the case with SSAO, it's a huge boon to graphics, but it'll cost you big. In this case, the damage is 4-6 FPS - no insignificant amount. Leave it on if you can afford such luxuries; if you absolutely need those extra frames after doing all other tweaking, disable it (and be saddened by the lack of depth in your scenes).
SSAO is marked as having a high GPU impact and no CPU impact.
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- Page 1 [Introduction, Testing Setup, & System Requirements]
- Page 2 [Field of View, Blood and Gore, Resolution, & Screen Mode]
- Page 3 [Graphics Quality, Character Texture Quality, Environment Texture Quality, & Particle Quality]
- Page 4 [Sun Shadows, Local Light Shadows, Max Shadow Casting Lights, & Animation LOD Distance]
- Page 5 [Physics Debris, Scatter Density, Blood Decal Amount, Anti-aliasing, Motion Blur, & SSAO]
- Page 6 [Screen Space Reflections, Depth of Field, Bloom, Light Shafts, Skin Shading, & Final Thoughts]