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PC Report: Far Cry 4


LDK
  • PC Reports are a series of quick first impressions regarding the technical aspects of a PC game. This report was written by PCGamingWiki contributor LDK. For an up to date account of Far Cry 4 fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.

     

    After not very impressive Watch_Dogs port and almost unplayable Assassin's Creed Unity, Ubisoft is trying its luck for the third time this year with another open world game called Far Cry 4. Is it better then its predecessors? To find out, we are going to look very closely on the performance of each effect, controls, audio and overall quality of the port.

     

    Far Cry 4 was released on November 18, 2014 for Windows and is available through several digital distribution channels.

    https://community.pcgamingwiki.com/uploads/

System requirements

Minimum

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-750 2.5 GHz or AMD Phenom II X4 955 3.2 GHz
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • HDD: 30GB (31GB installed, 26GB without localization files)
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 or ATI Radeon HD 5850; 1 GB of VRAM, DirectX 11 compatible

Recommended

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-2400S 2.5 GHz or AMD FX-8350 4.0 GHz
  • RAM: 8GB
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 or AMD Radeon R9 290X; 2 GB of VRAM

The minimum system requirements are rather modest with five years old hardware, quad-core CPUs and mainstream GPUs from that time is needed. Recommended hardware is different story though and developer suggests using current generation quad-core CPUs and high end GPUs with at least 2 gigs of VRAM.

 

All the tests have been done on system with Core i7-2700k clocked to 4.5GHz, 32 GB RAM and HD 6870 with 1GB of VRAM. The testing was done in 720p resolution to eliminate stuttering caused by the lack of video memory and streaming problems. Benchmark consisted of one minute running at the top of the bell towers in the game during sunny weather, again to eliminate stuttering during streaming additional data from HDD test run stayed only at one location.

 

Graphics settings and overall performance

options graphics

Graphics and video options in Far Cry 4 are rich and allows to set many different levels for each effect. Display modes are also nicely done and the game supports many resolutions, common aspect ratios and even borderless windowed mode. Unfortunately the game is forcing 16:9 aspect ratio by using letterboxing (black bars) on different aspect ratios. Far Cry 3 didn't have letterboxing and it is shame to use it in this title.

 

The game unfortunately doesn't support multi-monitor setups very well. There are problems like field of view slider not working, stretching 16:9 aspect ratio, letterboxing and other similar issues. More information about it can be found at Widescreen Gaming Forum.

 

Additional setting contains field of view slider and few modes of vertical synchronization with option to turn on 30 FPS frame limiter to smooth out performance.

 

Overall performance and image quality

The game offers five quality presets - Low, Medium, High, Very High and Ultra. Ultra preset does not set maximum anti-aliasing but leaves it at post process SMAA instead of MSAA 8x. Although MSAA 8x has massive performance impact so I can understand this reasoning.

 

graph preset performance

 

At low details the game runs very well even on older GPU. Medium preset cost about 10% of performance but it looks much better with added ambient occlusion effect. High preset is rather costly and prepare for losing about 30% of framerate. In this preset ambient occlusion is much stronger, textures are sharper and mountains are much more detailed. Anti-aliasing is also turned on. Very High preset is not very different from High preset. Shadows are in little bit higher resolution and billboards of distant trees are more detailed. Performance drop is about 5% from High preset. Ultra preset is turning on several advanced volumetric and post process effect that has very strong performance impact of 20% from Very High preset and almost 50% from Low preset. Performance scaling in different resolution is rather linear.

 

graph resolution performance

 

Here we can see drastic difference between Low and Ultra presets. At Low details the image is very flat without any ambient occlusion effect, textures are blurry due to lack of anisotropic filtering. At Ultra the game comes to life and show beautiful scenery with detailed environment.

 

[compimg]http://community.pcgamingwiki.com/uploads/gallery/album_54/gallery_13_54_148349.jpg|http://community.pcgamingwiki.com/uploads/gallery/album_54/gallery_13_54_147806.jpg|864|540|Preset Low|Preset Ultra[/compimg]

The game unfortunately suffers from heavy stuttering during faster movement in game's environment. Developer suggest to install it on SSD but I've went further and created virtual hard drive in system memory and copied all the game's files directly into RAM. But even that didn't leave a dent and game kept stuttering.

 

[compimg]http://community.pcgamingwiki.com/uploads/gallery/album_54/gallery_13_54_212085.jpg|http://community.pcgamingwiki.com/uploads/gallery/album_54/gallery_13_54_160416.jpg|864|540|Preset Low|Preset Ultra[/compimg]

After few tries I've managed to completely eliminate stuttering after all. The key was lowering VRAM heavy effects and resolution. Anti-aliasing, ambient occlusion turned off, textures kept at medium helped a lot so I suspect the game is not very economic with its graphics memory utilization. I suspect this is due to bad optimization from console code as the current generation of console have unified pool of system and graphics memory that is much larger (4-5GB) then graphics cards today normally have.

 

After getting rid of stuttering the game performed flawlessly on my system with framerate around 60FPS with few effects turned to moderate settings.

 

Full resolution screenshots: Scene 1 Low, Medium, High, Very High, Ultra; Scene 2 Low, Medium, High, Very High, Ultra.

 

Field of view

We are very happy to see Far Cry 4 featuring field of view slider. Unfortunately the implementations is not consistent and on few instances it can completely break the game. First of all the slider is not working at all in windowed borderless mode and on multi-monitor systems. There are reports, that field of view slider completely disappeared with 1.4.0 patch for some users, but personally I have not encountered that.

 

[compimg]http://community.pcgamingwiki.com/uploads/gallery/album_54/gallery_13_54_43614.jpg|http://community.pcgamingwiki.com/uploads/gallery/album_54/gallery_13_54_51473.jpg|864|540|Field of view slider max|Field of view slider min[/compimg]

 

Then there are annoying issues with this slider. The slider is working nicely when character is running in the game, but any other activity is on default and very low field of view. Activities like riding in a vehicles, using grappling hook and in a cutscenes.

 

And then there are game breaking bugs: Conquering bell tower starts cutscene where camera fly though few locations but after that field of view reverts to ridiculously low value about 50 degrees. Messing up with slider does not help, only remedy is getting back to main menu and reload save.

 

mortar Fov Bug

 

Completely opposite story is flying with wing-suit where field of view jumps to ridiculously high value above 150 degrees. With this jump game obviously stutters for a moment as it has to render much more of the scene often resulting in players death. Same thing with mortar aiming where field of view is much, much higher.

 

graph field Of view performance

 

There is also no indication of what field of view values slider represents but its maximum value seems to me to be just about right for a single large screen. Performance impact is noticeable with about 20% of framerate loss from lowest setting. Full resolution screenshots: FOV on min, FOV on max.

 

Controls

The game offers nice controls customization even for gamepads although no full button bindings. Keyboard keys are fully customizable though with the exception of Tabulator key which can be fixed. There are few multiple actions on one key scenarios, but I haven't found them problematic. Very nice addition is plenty of toggles for GUI elements.

 

options controls gamepad

options controls

 

What is problematic though is mouse acceleration. There is a switch and a slider that can turn off mouse acceleration, then there are additional entries in the configuration file but none of these can turn mouse acceleration completely off, only reduce its strength. But at least there is no negative acceleration as it was in Far Cry 3. Additionally the mouse movement felt jumpy and not smooth at all although I got used to if fairly quickly.

 

Audio

The audio options menu is very disappointing. There is only one slider for master volume and toggle for turning off music. Surround sound is supported but only up to 5.1, additional channels are ignored. Positional audio is nicely done though and the game otherwise sounds very good, I'm particularly impressed with weapon's sounds as each gun has very distinct and rich sound with slight echo.

 

options general And audio

 

Performance analysis

In this section we are going to look at how each effect impacts framerate and how does each setting looks on screenshots. Be sure to check full resolution uncompressed PNGs linked in each section. Also visit gallery for additional benchmark and screenshots.

 

Textures

This setting is little bit complicated as it contains several different effects. I haven't found increase in resolution with higher levels of this options, however there is increase of anisotropic filtering that results in much sharper textures. Another effect bundled in "textures" is parallax mapping that adds very strong 3D relief to the textures. I don't know, why these effects cannot be separated as both have very different performance and memory impact.

 

[compimg]http://community.pcgamingwiki.com/uploads/gallery/album_54/gallery_13_54_102349.jpg|http://community.pcgamingwiki.com/uploads/gallery/album_54/gallery_13_54_182262.jpg|864|540|Textures Low|Textures Ultra[/compimg]

 

Performance impact is around 8% up to High level, Very High and Ultra cost 12% and 15%. This setting is very dependent on graphics memory and even if your framerate is high and stable in static scenes, not enough VRAM will cause the game to stutter when camera is turned quickly or character moves fast. Full resolution screenshots: Scene 1 Low, Medium, High, Very High, Ultra; Scene 2 Low, Medium, High, Very High, Ultra; Scene 3 Low, Medium, High, Very High, Ultra.

 

graph textures performance

 

Shadows

This option sets up shadow resolution and distance of shadows level of detail. There is special level of Soft Shadows that blurs edges of shadows to appear more natural.

 

[compimg]http://community.pcgamingwiki.com/uploads/gallery/album_54/gallery_13_54_79475.jpg|http://community.pcgamingwiki.com/uploads/gallery/album_54/gallery_13_54_116476.jpg|864|540|Shadows Low|Shadows Ultra[/compimg]

graph shadows performance

 

Performance impact is surprisingly not very high and Soft Shadows are causing only 10% FPS drop. But as with Texture option, this is very memory demanding effect that can cause stuttering. Full resolution screenshots: Low, Medium, High, Very High, Ultra, Soft Shadows.

 

Terrain

This sets terrain details. Low and Medium options are almost identical, very strong difference is on High level and Ultra offers very little improvement. Performance impact is very little, up to 3%. Full resolution screenshots Low, Medium, High, Ultra.

 

[compimg]http://community.pcgamingwiki.com/uploads/gallery/album_54/gallery_13_54_163806.jpg|http://community.pcgamingwiki.com/uploads/gallery/album_54/gallery_13_54_199135.jpg|864|540|Terrain Low|Terrain Ultra[/compimg]

graph terrain performance

 

Anti-Aliasing

The game offers few anti-aliasing methods, three levels od MSAA (up to 8x), SMAA and Nvidia specific TXAA which I was unable to test.

 

Anti-Aliasing comparison

 

MSAA is very performance heavy and surprisingly does not offer very good image quality. MSAA is for some reason creating slight bright outline around some edges that can be noticeable. SMAA on the other hand soften edges very nicely and does not blur textures at all. Additionally SMAA also blurs edges on foliage as these are in a form of transparent texture that is ignored by MSAA. Performance impact is not very strong with SMAA, as it is form of post process filter. Full resolution screenshots: No AA, MSAA2, MSAA4, MSAA8, SMAA.

 

graph anti aliasing performance

 

Ambient Occlusion

Far Cry 4 also offers three methods of ambient occlusion - SSAO, HDAO+ and Ubisoft brand new SSBC. Ambient occlusion adds subtle shadows around objects and in corners that creates much richer scene. Performance impact is moderate from 5% of SSAO and SSBC to 11% of HDAO+. Full resolution screenshots AO Off, SSAO, SSBC, HBAO+.

 

graph ambient occlusion performance

[compimg]http://community.pcgamingwiki.com/uploads/gallery/album_54/gallery_13_54_48887.jpg|http://community.pcgamingwiki.com/uploads/gallery/album_54/gallery_13_54_20978.jpg|864|540|Ambient Occlusion Off|Ambient Occlusion HBAO[/compimg]

 

Godrays

This option creates light shafts in a fog and dust. Additionally it tweaks contrast of sky and clouds resulting in very nice dramatic sky. Performance is between 13 to 14%. Personally I prefer option Volumetric Fog instead of Enhanced.

 

graph godrays performance

[compimg]http://community.pcgamingwiki.com/uploads/gallery/album_54/gallery_13_54_100437.jpg|http://community.pcgamingwiki.com/uploads/gallery/album_54/gallery_13_54_45478.jpg|864|540|Godrays off|Volumetric Fog[/compimg]

 

Rest of the effects

Rest of the effects only quickly as they didn't seem to improve image quality dramatically. Post FX and Water quality performance drop is around 5%, but without noticeable visual impact, same with Vegetation and its 2% FPS drop. Geometry affects level of details of further objects and has 11% FPS drop from Low to High and 16% from Low to Ultra. Fur is switching advanced fur on animals with 16% FPS drop, but the effect is noticeable only when animal is very close. Trees Relief should turn on tessellation on trees, but I haven't found any changes. Performance impact is 11%.

 

Conclusion

Far Cry 4 is a step in right direction, there are many toggles and sliders for tweaking, the game runs rather well and looks very nice. Unfortunately as with the previous Ubisoft games, Far Cry 4 suffers from premature release and severely lacks polish. There are unnecessary problems with field of view implementation, mouse acceleration, multi-monitor support (or lack of), limited audio option and stuttering. Sad thing is, these problems could have been easilly avoided if the game was in development little bit longer.

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I remember FC3 had problems with MSAA as well to point where it increased AA in most areas. Turning AO off completely made it work and because other option was FXAA I decided to keep AO off. 

Can you actually turn AO completely off this time without config editing and if you can does it effect MSAA? 

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I find it odd that you couldn't use FXAA in Far Cry 4 as despite it being NIVDIA created, FXAA is usually graphics card agnostic (i.e. it couldn't care less what GPU you're using - it just works). I've been able to use FXAA on any title which offered it on my Raedon R9 graphics card. So unless FXAA is grayed out for you, LDK, I'd recommend going back and enabling it.

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That godrays effect is pretty lame, imo, everything seems duller.

And anyway SMAA does indeed blur some pixels inside the texture... though it's not very noticeable if you don't really try to be nitpicking

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Marioysikax: As far as I can tell, there is nothing wrong with AA and AO. AO can be turned off completely from the menu without messing with configuration file.

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Expack3: I had no option to enable FXAA at all. I haven't even seen it in the menu.

I just realized why that made no sense. I was responding to this line in the review (key part bolded):

 

The game offers few anti-alliasing methods, three levels od MSAA (up to 8x), SMAA and Nvidia specific FXAA which I was unable to test.

I believe you meant to say TXAA, not FXAA, as I can't find anything which points to official FXAA support for Far Cry 4.

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I have found that after conquering a bell tower, you can remedy the FOV bug by entering a vehicle and exiting. This did work with Buzzer gyrocopter, I assume other vehicles too.

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