Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

State of Decay 2 Video Card Performance Review

The new game State of Decay 2 is out, running on the Unreal Engine 4. This is an open world zombie survival shooter and is getting a lot of traction with millions of players. We test and compare video card GPU performance in this brand new game. We will find out which cards suite it best at 4K, 1440p, and 1080p resolutions.

Introduction

State of Decay 2 was just released two weeks ago on May 22nd, 2018. State of Decay 2, a game developed by Undead Labs and published by Microsoft Studios is an open world zombie survival game that has single-player and multiplayer components. It is the official sequel to State of Decay released in 2013. Uniquely, this game was released only on the Windows 10 and Xbox One platforms. That means this is a UWP (Universal Windows Platform) game, and is based on the Unreal Engine 4.

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In today’s video card performance evaluation, we are going to take nine of today’s latest generation video cards and find out how State of Decay 2 performs. We will compare video card performance, and look at 4K, 1440p, and 1080p performance. We will find the right card, for the right resolution, and show you what is playable in the game.


Game Engine

State of Decay 2 is based on Unreal Engine 4. The latest release of Unreal Engine 4 is 4.19 which was released on March 14th. Digging through the back-end files of this game we found references that lead us to believe State of Decay 2 is based on Unreal Engine 4 release version 4.13. Unreal Engine 4 4.13 would put the release of the engine version around September of 2016. Therefore, while the game is using a modern and advanced gaming engine, it is already dated a bit from what is available today in Unreal Engine 4.

One major feature State of Decay 2 is missing, despite being a Windows 10/UWP UE4 game, is DX12 API support. It appears the renderer being used is D3D11RHI for this game. Therefore, there is no advanced DX12 support or performance benefits coming from the newer API. Digging through the StateofDecay2.launch.log file we encounter this information for each graphics card: "Module: D3D11RHI loaded Found D3D11 adapter 0: Radeon RX Vega (Feature Level 11_0) Chosen D3D11 Adapter Id = 0." As you can see, it appears DX11 feature level 11_0 is what is being used for this game.

In terms of graphics features this game supports, the list is quite long, while it may not be using DX12 it does use many advanced graphics features. Here is a list: ViewDistanceQuality, AntiAliasingQuality, ShadowQuality, PostProcessQuality, TextureQuality, EffectsQuality, FoliageQuality, BloomQuality, DOFQuality, MotionBlurQuality, SubSurfaceScatteringQuality, CapsuleShadowQuality, ScreenSpaceShadowQuality, LightShaftQuality, LightScatteringQuality, LensFlareQuality, CharacterTextureDetailQuality, WorldTextureDetailQuality, EffectsTextureDetailQuality, LightingTextureDetailQuality, TextureFilteringQuality, WorldLODQuality, CharacterLODQuality, DynamicResolutionScalingQuality, TiledResourcesQuality, GrassDrawDistanceQuality, ScreenSpaceReflectionsQuality, ReflectionCaptureActorsQuality, RefractionQuality, AmbientOcclusionQuality.


Game Settings

There are two main video menus, the "video" menu, and "advanced video" menu.

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Pay very close attention to the "video" menu. There are only two display types supported: "Windowed Fullscreen" and "Windowed." There is no exclusive fullscreen option, which so far has been common for UWP games.

That means the game operates in a window, if you set it to Windowed Fullscreen it will take up the entire size of your desktop resolution and match it. So, if you have a 4K display, the game is going to run at 4K (desktop resolution) at Windowed Fullscreen. Otherwise, you can select "Windowed" and manually select a specific resolution. Thankfully the game is borderless in "Windowed Fullscreen" but not in "Windowed" mode, there is no borderless "Windowed" mode unfortunately.

Not only does the display type determine the resolution, but it also determines if VSYNC can be turned off. You see, regardless of the VSYNC toggle option being off or on, VSYNC is always on in "Windowed Fullscreen" mode. It appears to be a bug, that even the latest patch hasn’t fixed. When in "Windowed Fullscreen" mode VSYNC will not shut off, it in fact remains turned on with both NVIDIA and AMD GPUs. However, if you switch to "Windowed" mode, then VSYNC can be shut off with the toggle! So, the only way to truly run the game without VSYNC is to run in "Windowed" mode!

On the next page we are going to demonstrate for you what this all looks like in performance. We are also going to show you that on NVIDIA GPUs you can actually disable VSYNC in "Windowed Fullscreen" mode if you force VSYNC off in the driver control panel. With AMD GPUs though, this does not work. We are going to demonstrate this on a separate page for you.

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For the game settings themselves, it is really quite simple. There is a "Default Quality" option which will control all the settings under it. There is a: "Low," "Medium," "High," and "Ultra" setting for every setting. There are no hidden or extra settings.

You can control the world level detail, shadow quality, foliage quality, texture quality, post process quality, effects quality, ambient occlusion quality, and anti-aliasing quality. It is best to just let the "Default Quality" option control everything at once. The type of AA used in this game is a shader based method, but we aren’t sure which one.


Drivers and Game Patches

On the AMD side AMD Adrenalin 18.5.2 can be used for the best performance and from NVIDIA driver 397.93 is the game ready driver for this game. Yes, a new driver from NVIDIA 398.11 was just released on June 5th, but it adds nothing new to State of Decay 2 so 397.93 is just fine.

On June 1st there was a very large 20GB Patch version 1.2 released for this game. It adds and fixes many things. We are using this newer patched version of the game for our testing.

Run-Through

This is a UWP game, due to that fact we will have to use PresentMon to capture framerate data over time. It actually captures frametime data, which we convert to framerate. As such the graphs may look a little messy, but we will try to keep them as clean as possible. Even though this game only supports DX11, in a UWP game FRAPS and Mirrilis Action! Will not detect it because it cannot function in a true exclusive fullscreen state.

This is an open-world game and does have a time of day change. We picked a large area with plenty of zombies and world objects and vegetation in the scene. Our run-through takes under ten minutes but encompasses many of the things seen in the game and the path goes through the lowest points of performance we experienced.