Destiny made 2014 a great year for developer Bungie. The game was so popular that it placed third on Forbes’s list of top-selling titles
for that year. Bungie demonstrated to the world that it’s capable of producing a best-selling blockbuster outside of the Halo universe. But PC gamers were let down by the developer’s decision to exclude the PC crowd from the fun.
Bungie hopes to repeat Destiny’s success with its much-awaited sequel. The PC is included this time around, so Destiny 2 should easily make the top ten once again. Even during the beta phase, the amount of hype and excitement surrounding the game was simply unreal. Since then, Bungle has had four months to optimize performance and iron out the bugs. Today, we see how the various graphics options affect performance and run the game on Strix GTX 1050 Ti, 1060, 1070, 1080, and 1080 Ti graphics cards to determine which is best for which resolution.
For a limited time, you can get a free digital copy of Destiny 2 with select ASUS and ROG GTX 1080 and 1080 Ti graphics cards
. The offer is valid worldwide except for China and South Korea, and it ends January 5, 2018. Game codes may run out before then, so check with participating retailers in your region if you plan to purchase an eligible card over the holidays.Graphics options
Bungie used its in-house Blam! engine for ten years of Halo games. By 2008, Blam! was already showing its age, and many considered it past its prime. For Destiny, Bungie developed a new engine that would become known as Tiger. Destiny 2 is built on a variation of the Tiger engine.
Destiny 2 comes with four default graphic presets (Low, Medium, High, and Highest) that target gamers who prefer to dive right into the action. A custom preset is also available for users who take pleasure in tweaking the image fidelity to their liking. The following graphical options are available:
- Screen Space Ambient Occlusion
- Texture Anisotropy
- Texture Quality
- Shadow Quality
- Depth of Field
- Environmental Detail Distance
- Character Detail Distance
- Foliage Detail Distance
- Foliage Shadows Distance
- Light Shafts
- Motion Blur
- Wind Impulse
Four additional graphical options are grouped in a separate section. They include:
- Render Resolution
- Chromatic Aberration
- Film Grain
The Highest preset provides a sweet taste of the updated Tiger engine used in this installment of the franchise. The textures have rich details and appear very sharp. Superb lighting really helps to create a realistic environment for the player. Objects look excellent, and shadow effects add extra visual punch. Lowering the graphics quality to High maintains good image quality with a few compromises. Notice the jagged edges around objects like the pistol, the railing, the destroyed crates, and the metal structure above the character. The textures also lose a tiny bit of detail that’s difficult to notice at first glance.
The Medium preset shows visible degradation is the level of detail in the textures and lighting. It’s evident when you compare the railing and the destroyed crates with the screenshot from the High preset. As expected, the anti-aliasing and shadow effects suffer as well. The Low preset drastically changes the image fidelity. There is no anti-aliasing, and as a result, the jagged edges get out of hand. The textures also suffer from lack of details, resulting in a flat-looking image. We wouldn’t recommend playing Destiny 2 on the Low preset.Test system and methodology
CPU: Intel Core i7-7700K
CPU Cooler: NZXT Kraken X42
Motherboard: ASUS Maximus IX Formula
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB (4 x 8GB) 3000MHz
Storage: PNY CS1311 960GB
Video Card: ROG Strix GTX 1050 Ti, GTX 1060, GTX 1070, GTX 1080, and GTX 1080 Ti
Case: NZXT S340 Elite
Lighting: NZXT HUE+
Power Supply: Seasonic Prime 750W
Operating System: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit with Fall Creators Update
Drivers: NVIDIA 388.31 WHQL
Display: ROG Swift PG27AQ
We updated the game client to version 126.96.36.199, which was the latest revision available when we did our testing for this article. The only option we disabled was V-Sync. Destiny 2 doesn’t support Fraps, so we turned to PresentMon to measure performance. We captured individual frame times during the initial sequence of the first mission from the single-player campaign and then converted the data to FPS for easy interpretation.Graphics settings analysis
First, let’s look at how individual graphics settings affect performance. These tests were conducted at 2560 x 1440 resolution using the Strix GTX 1070. The results are presented in average frames per second (FPS).
As exhibited in our image quality analysis, Anti-Aliasing plays an important role in smoothing jagged edges around objects. The performance difference between using the highest setting (SMAA) and disabling the option completely is a mere 1.4 FPS. FXAA smooths edges according to how they appear as pixels instead of analyzing the underlying 3D models, so the results can sometimes appear blurry. SMAA reduces this blurring to provide a better image. Since the performance hit is minimal here, we recommend SMAA over FXAA.
Screen Space Ambient Occlusion is responsible for shadows where objects or surfaces meet, and in situations where an object blocks light from reaching other elements of the scene. The 3D (3D Ambient Occlusion) method reduced performance by 12 FPS, while HDAO (High Definition Ambient Occlusion) had a lower cost of 5 FPS. We don’t recommend completely disabling this option, as that makes in-game environments look rather flat. If you need theextra FPS, HDAO is a good middle ground.
You can adjust the sharpness of textures viewed at a distance or angle by modifying the Texture Anisotropy option. The performance difference is insignificant, though, so you can leave this option on X16.
The Texture Quality option controls the overall resolution and fidelity of the textures. There was no performance hit on the Strix GTX 1070, likely because the card’s generous 8GB of GDDR5 video memory leaves lots of room for high-quality textures.
Destiny 2 gives you the freedom to tweak the resolution and filtering for the in-game shadows. Since the Highest and High settings performed similarly for us, it makes sense to turn this option all the way up. Reducing the Shadow Quality to Medium and lower only improved frame rates by a few FPS.
Distant objects are usually blurred during gameplay, cinematics, and when aiming down the sights of your weapon. You can control that blur with the Depth of Field option. The High setting is a good mid-point for performance and quality, but if every frame counts, the Low setting is the way to go.