Posted on September 23, 2011, Ben Richardson Diablo 3 Beta Graphics Guide
Blizzard has a solid track record of making their games accessible. In contrast to many other PC-focused developers, they’ve always understood the value of broadening their potential audience, always making sure that Blizzard games will run not just on a brand-new, mega-powerful machine, but also on the PC Mom bought off the shelf at Best Buy to put in the family room.
This tendency appears again in Diablo 3, a game that is sure to play nice with any number of different computers and different configurations. Still, now that the game’s beta is accessible, it’s worth taking a look at the different graphical tweaks and settings that will come into play when aspiring dungeon crawlers try to get the most out of their game.
Before we begin, here are the specifications of the PC used to perform these tests:
Windows 184.108.40.20601 (Service Pack 1)
Intel® Core™ i7 CPU 960 @ 3.20GHz
VIDEO CARD MODEL:
ATI Radeon HD 5800 Series
VIDEO CARD MEMORY:
PRIMARY DISPLAY RESOLUTION:
Got it? Good. Now onto the settings. Because Blizzard doesn’t employ all the bleeding-edge bells and whistles (again, the accessibility thing), the graphics settings in Diablo 3 are actually relatively simple, especially compared to The Witcher 2, say. These are the settings you can change:
- Screen Resolution
- Texture Quality (Medium, High)
- Shadow Quality (Off, Low, Medium, High)
- Physics Quality (Low, High)
- Full-screen Anti-Aliasing (Not available in Beta)
- V-Sync (On/Off)
- Triple Buffering (On/Off)
- Clutter Density (Slider 0-100)
- Clutter Distance (Slider 0-100)
Let’s take these in reverse order. Clutter Density and Clutter Distance are two settings that might be familiar to World of Warcraft players. They affect small, detailed textures, like you might see on the ground after a battle: corpses, blood, and the like. According to reliable sources, turning these down can improve framerate, but since my PC was handling Diablo 3 fine with them turned all the way up, it was hard to record hard evidence of improvement. Even attempts to take screenshots that compared different levels of clutter density proved fruitless.
Triple Buffering and Physics Quality are designed to improve frame-rate. Given Blizzard’s tendencies, I would expect them to have significant effects on performance if they become necessary — their inclusion gives owners of outdated or laptop PC’s a leg up. That being said, if you turn Physics Quality to Low, you’ll miss out on a lot of Diablo 3′s cool physics effects, like corpses flying into the walls and bouncing off when you give them a particularly good smack with a battle-axe.
Next: Screenshot comparisons of different Shadow Qualities, Texture Qualities, and Resolutions!