Ubisoft remains the main provider of open world games. Among them is a new action movie in the Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon series. For the first time, this tactical shooter has found a large-scale incarnation in the form of a large sandbox. How successful this experiment has become is a topic for a separate review. For now, let’s talk about graphics and performance.
The player is immediately released into a large world, where from the first minutes they are surprised by the large detailed spaces that the AnvilNext 2.0 engine produces. The events of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands are developing in virtual Bolivia, which has been subjugated by a large drug cartel. A detachment of elite fighters resists the criminal octopus and methodically clears the entire territory. The game world is large and varied, the complex landscape is combined with different natural areas. We travel through mountains with steep cliffs and winding paths, overcome deserts and dense forests, visit different settlements.
The game has a high range of visibility and rendering of objects. Landscapes stretch to the very horizon, allowing you to consider different nuances of the distant landscape.
All surfaces delight with clear textures with carefully detailed patterns. Relief texturing technologies, including tessellation, are actively used to give volume to rocky surfaces and the ground, highlighting various potholes, ruts and other irregularities.
The game has dynamic weather effects, rain pleases with wet surfaces with glare on them.
The feeling of living lighting is complemented by authentic blinding dense light effects. Under certain conditions, separate rays of light can also be observed.
The volumetric lighting and beams of light effect are based on NVIDIA’s Volumetric Lighting technology, which you could see in Fallout 4. NVIDIA HBAO+ background shading is also supported, which creates a more realistic shading picture compared to other Ambient Occlusion algorithms. Learn more about these technological features in a special video from NVIDIA:
By default, the game only offers HBAO+ when the highest quality profile is set to Ultra, with lower settings using SSBC shading. Anti-aliasing modes available are TAA (“temporal anti-aliasing”) and FXAA, the first option is used by default. We have noted more than once that TAA does a good job of smoothing jagged edges at low GPU load, but along the way it gives a certain “blurring” of the picture. In this case, everything is quite good, probably TAA complements the sharpness filter.
A good picture in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands is combined with high demands on graphics accelerators. Let’s find out what solutions allow you to play at high and maximum graphics quality.
The list of test participants is as follows:
All video cards were brought to standard frequencies in order to match the reference solutions of their series as much as possible. They have also been overclocked. The younger Radeon R9 270 and HD 7870 series are represented by one video adapter, so they are replaced by one option in overclocking.
The test bench configuration is as follows:
- processor: Intel Core i7-6950X (firstname.lastname@example.org GHz);
- cooler: Noctua NH-D15 (two NF-A15 PWM fans, 140 mm, 1300 rpm);
- motherboard: MSI X99S MPower (Intel X99);
- memory: G.Skill F4-3200C14Q-32GTZ (4×8 GB, DDR4-3200, CL14-14-14-35);
- system disk: Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB (240 GB, SATA 6Gb/s);
- secondary drive: Hitachi HDS721010CLA332 (1 TB, SATA 3Gb/s, 7200 rpm);
- power supply: Seasonic SS-750KM (750 W);
- monitor: ASUS PB278Q (2560×1440, 27″);
- operating system: Windows 10 Pro x64;
- GeForce driver: NVIDIA GeForce 378.78;
- Radeon driver: AMD Crimson Edition 17.3.1.
For testing, the built-in gaming benchmark was used. It was run at least six times for each video card.
First, let’s test video cards with settings below the maximum level. Very high quality presets selected at 1920×1080.
All budget solutions with 2 GB of memory show unacceptably low results. At the same time, it must be stated that the GeForce GTX 950 and Radeon R9 270X are on the same level, and the GeForce GTX 960 is the best option in this class of devices. Please note that the GeForce GTX 960, when overclocked by frequencies up to 19%, receives an acceleration of only 13% – a small amount of memory clearly holds back the potential. The actual load of video memory when passing the benchmark is about 3 GB, and in the game it can be even higher. The GeForce GTX 1050 Ti is 13% faster than the GeForce GTX 960, overclocking allows you to bypass the GeForce GTX 780 in nominal terms. As for the GeForce GTX 780 video card itself, starting with it, we can talk about graphic solutions acceptable for the Very High mode. GeForce GTX 780 nominally gives out about 40 fps without serious drawdowns, and overclocked under 50 fps. Full comfort will immediately be provided by the GeForce GTX 780 Ti, slightly weaker than the Radeon R9 290. Among the older participants, the GeForce GTX 1060 has the best results, and the rival Radeon RX 480 competes only with the GeForce GTX 780 Ti.
Now let’s test with Ultra-quality graphics. Budget-level solutions from this comparison are discarded, but the GeForce GTX 1070 video adapter is added.
The maximum graphics settings are tough only for the GeForce GTX 1070 and GeForce GTX 1060, and the second video card needs overclocking. The Radeon RX 480 can no longer cope with such settings. Radeon R9 290 and GeForce GTX 780 Ti show slideshow. The game itself warns about allocating up to 4.7 GB of VRAM, but the actual download can reach 5.5 GB.
Well, as an addition, let’s look at the capabilities of NVIDIA’s older solutions at a resolution of 2560×1440. Let’s borrow the GeForce GTX 1070 and GeForce GTX 1080 results from the recent MSI GTX 1070 Duke test.
Stable 40 fps will give the GeForce GTX 1080, which is fully confirmed by personal impressions of the game. If you want higher frame rates, you need overclocking, which will provide a gain of about 10%, or a small decrease in individual parameters. The GeForce GTX 1070 is 15-17% weaker in nominal value, overclocking overtakes its older comrade. The game reports the need for up to 5 GB of video memory at a resolution of 2560×1440 at Ultra-quality, but when moving around the big world it can easily load under 7 GB.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands is a very demanding game that can bring old graphics cards to their knees. For Full HD resolution with maximum graphics quality, you need a video card no weaker than the GeForce GTX 1060, and even with it you will have to resort to overclocking. The GeForce GTX 1070 will allow you to comfortably play in this mode. Older GeForce GTX 980 and GeForce GTX 970 may experience problems due to insufficient video memory. At the same time, AMD Radeon is still worse, and even the current Radeon RX 480 with 8 GB can not cope with the game in Ultra-mode. If you own a monitor with a resolution of 2560×1440, then for the GeForce GTX 1080 there is no alternative other than the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. It is worth noting the extremely high requirements for the amount of video memory. Under 1920×1080, it is desirable to have a model with 6 GB of memory, and in 2560×1440 mode, up to 7 GB is used.
However, not everything is so bad. If you lower the graphics settings to a very high level, then you can normally play on the GeForce GTX 780 Ti and Radeon R9 290, not to mention the more powerful GeForce GTX 970 or similar solutions from AMD. More than 40 fps can provide GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with higher frequencies. For the GeForce GTX 960 and weaker budget-level graphics cards, you will have to lower the graphics settings even lower.
The game looks beautiful, but it is unlikely that such high requirements correspond to the observed image quality. The draw distance is extremely high, and some separate slider for its smooth adjustment would be very useful. Subsequent updates to the game and video drivers may improve the performance situation, but without sudden spikes. So Ghost Recon: Wildlands could be a reason to upgrade, although in terms of gameplay and overall experience, this is not the best game from Ubisoft.