Articles

The Crew 2 Video Card Performance Review

Author:Brent Justice

Editor:Kyle Bennett

Date: Tuesday , July 10, 2018

We take The Crew 2 and evaluate ten of today’s latest GPUs in the game. We will find what the highest playable settings are, how video cards compare, and how specific graphics features compare in performance. We will find the best value for gaming, and what graphics settings work best. Is this game worth it, or a graphical flop?

Introduction

The Crew 2 is a 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.

Usually we don’t need to compare a new game to its previous release. However, this time it is going to actually be important to take a look at the previous title The Crew in order to compare graphics settings. There is an important point we need to make and point out regarding The Crew 2 versus The Crew. We’ll talk about it some on this page, and more in the conclusion. Therefore, go check out our The Crew Performance Video Card Review we conducted back in December of 2014. Take note of the graphical features and image quality supported in the previous title.

Today’s evaluation is going to take ten current GPUs and test the game at 4K, 1440p, and 1080p. We will find out what the best playable game settings are, how the video cards compare in performance and settings, and even compare specific game settings to find out how they affect performance.

You might also want to check out our The Crew 2 Video Card Performance and IQ Preview before reading this full review today. That preview, on the introduction page, will explain graphics settings available in more detail.


The Graphics and Game Settings

The previous game’s graphical features that were noteworthy were the game’s support for NVIDIA GameWorks features that added more realism and better graphics to the game. The previous game The Crew used ShadowWorks for HBAO+ ambient occlusion and supported TXAA as an optional anti-aliasing method. It even supported MSAA (Multisampling AA) traditional AA methods. Unfortunately, at the time, the implementation of HBAO+ only worked on NVIDIA GPUs, locking it out for AMD GPUs. At least AMD GPUs were able to use MSAA.

It is important to note that the previous game had these features because the current game, The Crew 2 totally strips out these features and minimizes the game IQ features even further. All GameWorks features have been removed, this means the game no longer supports the better looking HBAO+, instead this game relies on SSAO+ a very old method of ambient occlusion that just doesn’t look very good compared to what is possible with newer methods. There are errors and image quality anomalies with this lesser form of ambient occlusion that make it less accurate and not as impactful.

Both TXAA and MSAA have also been stripped out of the game in favor for FXAA only as your AA option. We can understand the removal of TXAA if GameWorks isn’t being used, but to also remove traditional MSAA support doesn’t make any sense. FXAA has the bad habit of blurring or reducing texture quality in games. MSAA, while graphically demanding, doesn’t have this blurring effect and those with powerful GPUs may have opted to use MSAA instead.

The Crew 2 still suffers from the same 60FPS cap that The Crew also suffered from. All the feedback from the first game in 2014 and the developers haven’t figured out that on the PC we want uncapped FPS, or at least the options for a 120FPS and 144FPS option for high refresh rate monitors. This is the kind of game where you actually want a high refresh rate, yet the game locks us to 60FPS. You can disable VSYNC, but it doesn’t go past 60FPS regardless.

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.

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.

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

It seems that no newer drivers from AMD or NVIDIA have been released since the game was released and we performed our preview. The latest driver we can use from AMD is AMD Adrenalin 18.6.1. This is the same driver we used in the preview, nothing newer has been released yet.

The NVIDIA "Game Ready" driver for The Crew 2 is version GeForce 398.36. This driver according to NVIDIA: "Provides the optimal gaming experience for The Crew 2." This is the same driver we used in our preview, nothing newer has been released.

Our Run-Through

Now that we have had time to explore the game much further compared to our preview article we have created a custom free run in the world in an area that stresses performance the most. We explored the map, all over the country, to find the best cities and outdoor areas to create a race that burdened performance the most. We made several comparisons and picked the one with the lowest performance.

Our test takes us through a couple of cities, and outdoor open areas with dense trees and far looking distances. We found three scenarios that burden performance the most. One area is when we are racing through a densely populated city with many structures and cars, another is when driving through dense trees and foliage, and another is when looking across long distances or city skylines that appear far in the distance as you driver closer to them. We also experienced a greater performance burden when the sun was in different positions, such as lower in the sky casting more shadows through.