Graphical Prowess: Improve Your Witcher 2 Framerate
Not all games are the same. Not all PC’s are the same. Our weekly Graphical Prowess column helps you find the settings that make the latest games look and run the best on your PC.
There can be no doubt that the Witcher 2 is a great-looking game. Reviewers and gamers alike have praised the fidelity of its textures, the evocative quality of its lighting, and its colorful, vibrant art. Unless you’ve got a fabulously expensive, top-of-the-line PC sitting under your desk, however, getting The Witcher 2 to run with all the settings maxed is a goal as fantastical as the magical realm in which the game is set.
Despite the title’s demands, all is not lost. Provided you meet the (admittedly demanding) system requirements, it is still possible to experience the game’s visual majesty at a decent framerate. You just need to compromise on a few key settings. The advice that follows is meant to help gamers get the Witcher 2 running great on solid but not spectacular rigs.
1. Ubersampling — As its name implies, Ubersampling is a graphical improvement that really only works if you’ve got an uber computer. It renders the scene multiple times, smoothing out edges and making things look even better than they do thanks to anti-aliasing or antisotropic filtering. If you’re having framerate trouble, this should be the first thing you turn off — according to the experts, Ubersampling is a techonology better suited to a future generation of GPU’s. You can also try going into the .ini file and setting Ubersampling to “1.” “0″ is, obviously, “Off,” but “2″ is “On” — apparently, you can get some antisotropic filtering at this setting without compromising frame-rate too badly.
2. Resolution — This may seem like a no-brainer, but a small tweak in screen resolution can reap big dividends when it comes to performance. If you’re used to 1920×1080, but find the game’s combat scenes unplayably choppy (timing is key in Witcher 2!), downgrading to 1776×1000 might be well worth the small loss in sharpness.
3. SSAO — This is more of a trade-off. Enabling SSAO will improve the look of the game’s shading and shadows, though at a cost to performance. Some would suggest that the game looks better at a lower resolution with SSAO on than at a higher one with it turned off. Experiment, evaluate the look of the game and quality of your framerate, and make the decision for yourself.
4. Virtual Sync — If you’re experiencing significant screen tearing (effectively, miscommunication between your GPU and your monitor), you can leave VerticalSync on. Otherwise, turn it off. You can get almost all of its benefits by enabling “Triple Buffering,” while simultaneously experiencing a much higher framerate.
5. Bonus Effects — Settings like “Motion Blur” and “Gameplay Depth of Field” are either used sparingly, or they’re not that noticeable. Turning them off will result in a performance boost with almost no downside. You can leave “Cinematic Depth of Field” on, which will apply the effect only to cutscenes and conversations, when the framerate is not as important. Similarly, “Shadow Quality” and “Number of Shadowed Light Sources” evince almost no difference in image quality between ultra and low, so feel free to turn these down if it results in a framerate boost.
If you’ve got your own performance tweaks that have improved your experience with The Witcher 2, feel free to chime in in the comments!