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

The Crew 2 Video Card Performance and IQ Preview

We’ve got early access to The Crew 2 thanks to the Gold Edition, a brand new open-world racing game for the PC. Let’s find out how The Crew 2 performs on today’s GPUs in this preview. We also look at graphics settings and hit a little on Image Quality. Hopefully we will have some insight as we know a lot of readers have been waiting for this game.

Introduction

The Crew 2 is a brand new game developed by Ivory Tower and published by Ubisoft. This is a Windows PC, PS4, and Xbox One release. The Crew 2 is an open-world racing video game and the direct sequel to The Crew released in 2014. It has both single player and multiplayer components.

To familiarize yourself with this game, and compare The Crew 2 to The Crew check out our The Crew Performance Video Card Review was conducted back in December of 2014. This will show you what the previous game graphics features were and how the game performed on the hardware at the time.

The previous game’s graphical features that were noteworthy were the game’s support for NVIDIA GameWorks features. The previous game used ShadowWorks for HBAO+ ambient occlusion and supported TXAA as an optional anti-aliasing method. Unfortunately, at the time, the implementation of HBAO+ only worked on NVIDIA GPUs, locking it out for AMD GPUs. Otherwise, the game was known for its very large open-world capability which stressed GPUs at the time graphically.

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It is important to note information about release dates with The Crew 2. On the Ubisoft Pre-Order Page If you have pre-purchased or purchased the Standard or Deluxe versions of this game then this game will launch and unlock for you on June 29th, Friday. However, if you pre-purchased, or purchased the digital Gold Edition then you get special access to the game three days earlier. For Gold Edition purchasers the game released and unlocked at midnight on June 26th, Tuesday. The Crew 2 launch details information is here. We purchased the Gold Version, and hence the ability to bring you information now on performance before the standard release.

In today’s performance evaluation preview, we are going to take a quick look at performance. This is a preview of performance, generated with the goal of releasing information about performance a day from launch. We will be working on a full performance evaluation which contains many more comparisons as well as graphical feature comparisons. What you see today is just a preview of what is to come. In this way you can quickly understand the performance profile of this game as you play it when it is released.


Game Engine

This time around we don’t really have much information on The Crew 2 gaming engine and graphics features from technical documents. What we do have, however, are some articles around the Internet which give us a little bit of relevant information. First is this article from The Crew 2 developers giving a Q&A from last year. While this is an old article, and the dates are wrong in it, the information provided by the developers about the new changes in The Crew 2 versus The Crew are relevant.

Second, and more specific to graphics and performance, is this article published by Ubisoft in May of this year. This is a PC Version overview article that provides information about the requirements for the target FPS, and what graphics settings this game supports and what they do.

Key features of the PC version are support for 4K and Ultra-wide 21:9 aspect ratios. Mouse and keyboard full support. Input device auto-switch and extended gamepad support. Multi-monitor support. Auto-setting detection, video presents and custom options. Driving wheel support.

There are three configurations listed in that article to achieve different goals. There is a minimum configuration for 1080p 30FPS gaming, there is a recommended configuration for 1080p 30FPS gaming and then there is a recommended configuration for 1080p 60FPS gaming. It seems the high-end specs recommend a GeForce GTX 1060 or GTX 970 and AMD RX 470 with Shader Model 5.0 or better. It looks like all of the most recent, down to GTX 660 GPUs from NVIDIA are compatible, as well as the most recent AMD GPUs down to Radeon HD 7870 series.

There is a long list of graphics features the game supports and what they do in the game. The settings are: Geometry, Shadows, Textures, Environment Mapping, Depth of Field, Motion Blur, Grass, Volumetric FX, Anti-aliasing, Ambient Occlusion, Screen Space Reflection, Weather, Terrain.


Game Settings

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Entering the graphics menu, you are presented with all the options in one scrollable window. Important is the screen resolution naturally, and the screen mode. This game supports three screen modes: Windowed, Borderless and Fullscreen.

Another very important option is the FPS Limit. This game only supports two FPS limits, 30FPS and 60FPS. There is no uncapped, unlocked or unlimited FPS mode. This FPS Limit option literally limits the game to a maximum of the indicated FPS. This means you won’t be able to benefit from high refresh rate monitors such as 120Hz or 144Hz for this game. Given that there are other PC specific features such as multi-monitor support in this game, it is a wonder why the FPS is limited so severely for PC gaming. This needs to change. We need an unlimited FPS option for PC gaming. For now, though, the best we can do is 60FPS, which means performance will never go over 60FPS while gaming.

Oddly enough, there is a VSYNC option toggle. We can disable VSYNC, but this will not uncap the FPS. It will simply allow the FPS to take less of a severe hit if performance suffers. Instead of dropping in multiples of two, the FPS can free-range between 30-60FPS while gaming. We will leave VSYNC disabled and 60FPS selected.

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There is an overall video preset option which sets all the options below it globally. The highest global setting is "Ultra." There is also "High," Medium," and "Low." Very important, "Ultra" global video preset is not actually the highest possible settings in the game. In fact, you can select "Custom" and manually turn up some other options to higher levels than "Ultra" sets.

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The first setting that can be manually set is Shadows. When "Ultra" Video Preset is selected this value will be set to "High." There is a higher setting called "Contact Hardening Soft Shadows" that you can manually enable. This will provide soft edged shadows in the game based on distance from the light source, also called Contact Hardening Shadows (CHS) technology. This is a DX11 DirectCompute feature as implemented but has origins from AMD technologies.

The second setting that can manually be increased further is Ambient Occlusion. At "Ultra" this setting sets the "SSAO" quality option. However, under "Custom" you can manually turn this up to "SSAO+" quality option. SSAO stands for Screen Space Ambient Occlusion. This technology has origins dating back to the game Crysis as it was developed by Crytek to perform the ambient occlusion effect in real-time. SSAO is a rather old method of Ambient Occlusion.

SSAO+ is basically a newer method of SSAO that improves upon SSAO. SSAO+ uses a newer algorithm that renders the scene in a much faster way, as well as reducing artifacts created by SSAO. However, it is not as accurate as say HBAO or HBAO+ GameWorks technology created by NVIDIA. The Crew supported HBAO+, so just having SSAO+ in The Crew 2 is a down step, or reduction in possible image quality in this newer game. It also means performance should be faster though, as HBAO+ is more demanding.

Finally, in terms of Anti-Aliasing support this game only supports FXAA. There is either No AA or FXAA, that is it. Very disappointing to not have other options.

Therefore, in terms of going beyond "Ultra" settings, look at changing Shadows to "Contact Hardening Soft Shadows" and turning Ambient Occlusion up to SSAO+ and making sure FXAA is turned on.


Drivers

At the time of testing (June 26th) there has not yet been an official driver release from AMD specifically optimized for this game. The latest driver we can use is AMD Adrenalin 18.6.1.

NVIDIA, however, has released a new driver yesterday (June 26th) that is optimized or "Game Ready" for The Crew 2. We are using version GeForce 398.36. This driver according to NVIDIA: "Provides the optimal gaming experience for The Crew 2."