Red Dead Redemption 2’s PC port has a few issues (fixable, yes), but that shouldn’t make us ignore the magnitude of the overall milestone. Rockstar has taken one of the most advanced graphics engines out there and made almost all of its rendering capabilities available to the public, allowing enthusiastic users to take their already excellent graphics to a new level of precision. As is always the case with technology that goes beyond established limits, this comes at a cost, and there has been some controversy that the experience with maximum detail is beyond the reach of most traditional graphics cards. . . However, the truth is, magnificent results can be achieved with the most popular PC hardware, and for that, users just have to accept that in many cases, some low or medium detail options are not inherently bad. In fact, sometimes they produce better results than what we’ve seen so far in the best version available, that of the Xbox One X.

 

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Throughout the week of Red Dead Redemption 2’s PC release, benchmarks have been released, users have tested the game on their PCs, and in some circles the game is poorly optimized because it changes the Details options. at High or Ultra may produce rather poor performance. However, after carefully analyzing the port and testing its sheer number of graphics options, it’s clear that the existing Xbox One X version – one of the biggest technical achievements of this generation – works with a mix of different options. , with even weaker effects than the Low PC option. More importantly, the game is still impressive in any case, and higher graphics fidelity is simply added on PC.

 

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You have the list below, but it goes without saying that Rockstar has gone for a balance on consoles and even effects which on Xbox One X have less quality than on PC with little detail – volumetric resolution, for example. – still looks very good. Use these options on an affordable mainstream graphics card like the AMD Radeon RX 580, and hitting 1080p at sixty frames per second isn’t difficult. However, using a game with low or medium details seems to be a stigma for some PC gamers. It seems like this is only possible in Alto or Ultra, and in the case of Red Dead Redemption 2, it can produce less than expected performance.

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Are we really facing a bad port? In many ways, it is quite the opposite. Red Dead Redemption 2 uses the latest version of Rockstar’s Rage Engine, and while there are some similarities to the previous title using this technology, Grand Theft Auto V, a lot has evolved. For starters, the engine went from being compatible only with older graphics APIs to offering options with Vulkan and DirectX 12. At sixty frames per second with the most console-like options we could use, the game shows heavy CPU usage. , but it’s similar with both APIs (which is usually a sign of a good quality PC port). The Vulkan API is the one used by default and the one we recommend; By comparing the two APIs of a GTX 1060 and an RX 580,

 

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In terms of basic scalability, we start with the RTX 2080 Ti with a resolution of 1800p. By reducing a number of options from Ultra (without touching the Advanced menu) to High, performance increased by 21%, up to 36% when reduced to Medium. Going from Ultra to Low, the performance increase remains at 53%. Resolution-wise, upgrading from 4K to 1440p improves performance by 56%, increasing to 93% if you do it at 1080p. This is interesting data, but based on further testing closer to the real world, the results are more accurate.

 

Like most PC games, Red Dead Redemption 2 works best by calibrating each option individually. You don’t have the option to switch from an Ultra, High, Medium, or Low preset overall, probably because that doesn’t make sense in this game. Instead, you have a bar that gives you allows you to find a balance between performance and quality. As you move it, the menu options adjust dynamically. What the game tries to do is strike a balance for you, but for a player who wants to use a combination of Medium, High, and Ultra it can be confusing. After all, why would you want to combine low-quality volumetric with high reflections, for example? The bar tries to inform the user that some features have a bigger impact on performance than others when moving between options, but the general mindset among PC users is that Low / Medium options are bad. and that it is better to avoid them. .

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All of this brings us to the equivalent console experience. There is no doubt that Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the most impressive achievements of this generation, and the Xbox One X version in particular is telling. We took a careful look at each individual component of the game to get an idea of ​​where Rockstar established the most balanced option on Xbox One X (the results are very interesting) and choosing this quality / performance bar has a lot meaningless. . Obviously, in consoles the options are mainly about performance, but some key features opt for as much detail as possible in the possibilities of the graphics engine.

 

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Xbox One X gives developers 9GB of memory, and Rockstar uses it by delivering the equivalent of Ultra detail on PC with quality textures. It’s the only Ultra option on console, but the geometry level is also the same as on PC with five out of five. Shadow quality, water refraction, parallax occlusion mapping, and some aspects of tessellation are roughly equivalent to the High PC option, but otherwise the consoles are far from the option Superior PC.

 

Xbox One X equivalent options
Ultra Texture quality, level of geometry detail (5/5)
Student Shadow quality, mirror quality, soft shadows, water refraction quality
High / medium Tessellation, TAA, volumetric lighting quality, parallax occlusion mapping
Way Lighting quality, SSAO, Particle quality, Particle lighting quality, Skin quality, Water reflection quality
Low / medium Overall lighting quality, Shades of grass
Low / minor Distant shadow quality, Reflection quality, Close volumetric quality, Distance volumetric resolution, Water physics quality (1/6), Grass detail level (2/10)
Features that are disappearing FXAA, MSAA, volumetric rays, full resolution SSAO, TAA Sharpening
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Note: Some of the effects on Xbox One X appear to be a hybrid between low and medium, or between medium and high. We recommend that you test the higher quality version first, but point out that in many cases the lower effect quality option usually has a fairly comparable result.

 

It’s really about moderating expectations. When a PC port is first loaded, there is a widespread feeling that the high graphics quality option should be standard for a decent traditional gaming PC. Then the anisotropic filtering is increased and the other GPU resources are used to go further in terms of performance. When a console game is running at 30fps, the much higher power of the PC can be used to easily double that figure, and the expectation is that mainstream GPUs like the AMD RX 580 or the Nvidia GTX 1060 are powerful enough to provide 1080p60 resolution. With Red Dead Redemption 2, they can too. In fact, it does this better than most of the other ports we’ve tested,

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To make things a little easier, Red Dead Redemption 2 is coming to PC with a built-in benchmark. It consists of four time-lapse views followed by a series of gameplay scenes taken in one of the game’s most demanding areas, Saint Denis. However, our advice is to find an area of ​​the game that forces your CPU and touch the options there. That said, what the benchmark shows is a notable advantage with AMD’s hardware over Nvidia. For example, the Radeon RX 580 performs well, but its counterpart, the GTX 1060, lags far behind. The Turing-based successor, the GTX 1660, performs better, but to beat the RX 580 we have to upgrade to the GTX 1070 or GTX 1660 Super / Ti. This applies to both Vulkan and DirectX 12,

 

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Red Dead Redemption: Console Options +, TAA

  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • Radeon 7
  • RTX 2070 Super
  • RX 5700 XT
  • GTX 1080 Ti
  • RX 5700
  • RTX 2060 Super
  • Vega 64
  • Vega 56
  • RTX 2060
  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1660 Ti
  • RX 590
  • GTX 1070
  • GTX 1660
  • RX 580
  • GTX 1060 6GB

Regarding the problems encountered with the port in general, it is clear that improvements are needed in terms of stability. Hanging on the desktop is an issue that I thought was addressed by the 3GB patch released last week. However, it’s still there and shows up when using the highest graphics options or when using ultra-resolution textures with graphics cards with less than 6GB of VRAM (speaking of which, the VRAM usage meter is inaccurate and often reads the memory usage on the GPU incorrectly). Meanwhile, adjusting the quality of textures is very simple and the differences between the different options can be overstated.

 

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However, the biggest issue facing the Red Dead Redemption 2 port is communicating the project’s goals to users and pointing out the potentially huge performance implications of some options, namely quality versus performance bar. . gives only a few clues. For starters, it would be very helpful to redesign the entire settings interface, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take the latest Ubisoft or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare games as an example with their visual comparisons of the effect of each setting. . . A basic explanation of the performance penalty for each option would also be welcome.

 

More generally, PC video games should come out with a selection of console-style default options, with Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zero being a good example. This standard is probably not perfect for all PC users, but as a starting point for changing graphics options, we believe that the choice made by developers themselves to accommodate more limited hardware is always a good indication of where to start. After all, they know their games better than anyone.

 

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When it comes to Red Dead Redemption 2, we’re clearly up against a title that’s designed to evolve into future hardware, but we also think Rockstar hasn’t explained how to set up the game with current technology. Instead, the developers allow users to maximize their glossy pointer graphics engine, but choosing conventional labels for this creates obvious confusion among gamers.

 

And this is concerning because if a developer tries harder than usual with a PC port and ends up getting a negative reaction from users, it might not do much in their next project. In all likelihood, if Rockstar had released this game with console equivalent options labeled “high” and with less scalability going forward, the port would have been deemed by many to be well optimized. And if lower quality visuals than console options had been labeled “low” on PC, with everything else readjusted accordingly, the port’s reaction would have been very different. Perhaps it should be labeled “ultra” with something like “benchmark”, to clearly communicate that this is a quality mode designed for the GPUs of tomorrow. Kingdom Come Deliverance did a good job explaining that its Ultra Modes were for future hardware, and that they were there as an invitation to try them out now, although they are more well designed to return in a few years when the technology is ready. for that.

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At Digital Foundry, we focus a lot of our PC coverage on what we call optimized options, our idea being to keep the experience as close to Ultra as possible, but delivering solid performance. Red Dead Redemption 2 proves that the habit of setting all options to Ultra – or even High – isn’t always the best idea, especially when in many cases the “Low” option already looks good and even improves what you can see. on Xbox One X. Our advice? If you’re looking for a good balance of quality and performance, the options we recommend that mimic the console’s level of quality are a good place to start, but even below that the Rockstar is still a game that looks wonderfully good. . .

 

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