Three more big performance tweaks
The other graphical settings don’t provide nearly the performance boost of the presets on their own, which is bad news for gamers working on a tighter performance budget. Instead of choosing a preset and working your way down from there to achieve smoother framerates, Overwatch players have to pick the proper preset for underlying settings, and then change the manual settings to fit their system.
On the handful of systems where we’ve fired up Overwatch, the recommended settings have been very fitting, which includes render scale suggestions. That being said, we recommend playing the game at your screen’s native resolution, and following the in-game suggestion for the graphical preset.
From there, the biggest change in framerate is going to come from dynamic reflections. Going from high dynamic shadows, to turning them off entirely, resulted in about a one third framerate increase. The bulk of that performance boost comes from the move from high to medium, which results in about a 25 percent increase. Low doesn’t provide much of a performance benefit, but also doesn’t hurt clarity nearly as much as turning the feature off, which predictably, removes reflections almost entirely.
Local fog detail is the next most effective setting at boosting your framerate, and there’s more good news attached to it. It’s not entirely clear what the local fog detail settings actually do. In our testing, we didn’t notice any major drop in clarity or playability as a result of turning this setting all the way to low, and it provided a tidy 20 percent performance boost from top to bottom.
The final setting is shadow detail, and the good news is you can pretty much guess how turning this down is going to affect visual clarity. As you move up the quality scale, more shadows appear, especially for moving and/or complex objects and structures, and the edges become more refined, depending on the edge they’re reflecting.
Shadows don’t disappear entirely when turned off, like reflections, but there are some that don’t make the cut. The bonus is a respectable 20 percent increase moving from ultra to off, and the cost to fidelity isn’t too bad. This is a good place to cut back if your system is struggling.
Crank it up
Other than the few settings listed above, we didn’t find that any of the individual graphical controls made much of a framerate difference. Importantly, we found that texture, filter quality, and anti-aliasing had very little effect on performance, while contributing greatly to the more aesthetically pleasing aspects of the game.
If none of these options are really getting the performance to a satisfying point, the only option may be to drop the render scale to something more palatable for your system. In general, dropping that value to anywhere below 75 percent is going to result in a massive visual fidelity drop, but that might be the cost of staying competitive against the challenges you’ll face online.
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