Articles

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus Performance Review

Author:Brent Justice

Editor:Kyle Bennett

Date: Monday , November 13, 2017

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is out; this new game uses the id Tech 6 game engine and Vulkan API to give you a great gaming experience on the PC with today’s latest GPUs. We will compare performance features, see what settings work best, find what is playable in the game and compare performance among several video cards.

Introduction

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was recently released on October 27th, 2017 to PC and consoles. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a direct follow-up and sequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order released in 2014. Wolfenstein: The New Colossus is an action-adventure first-person shooter developed by MachineGames and published by Bethesda Softworks.

What is noteworthy from a technical standpoint is a big departure from the previous game in terms of game engine and API. Wolfenstein: The New Order was based on the id Tech 5 engine and operated using the OpenGL API. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, however, is using the newest id Tech 6 engine and Vulkan API.

This presents new challenges as the entire game had to be moved over to the new engine but also the potential for a really great looking and performing game with today’s latest GPUs. That means this game represents some of the latest technology in gaming on the PC today for GPUs to utilize. For reference, the 2016 game DOOM also utilizes the id Tech 6 game engine and Vulkan API.


Game Patches and Async Compute

Naturally, with any new game there are and will be game patches to improve this game. If and when new patches come out and claim performance changes in the game we may follow-up with some comparisons. For now, this is the current state of the game with the latest November 8th patch installed. Firing up the game right now and playing it will yield the performance results we are about to show you.

Already since this game’s launch there have been two official patches, and some beta patches in-between. It seems there are a couple of main issues people are having with the game and that is of stability, crashing and problems associated with Async Compute.

Yes, this game does, or did, support Async Compute. However, it was a buggy implementation at game release and the state of Async Compute is in flux. As of the last patch on November 8th it states: "Async compute temporarily disabled until driver fix available."

In fact, you will find the Async Compute option in the graphics menu gone. In the screenshot above the Async Compute option use to be right under the GPU Culling option, but now it is not there.

However, there is a little trick you can do to bring it back, unofficially. If you navigate to: "C:\Users\YourUserName\Saved Games\MachineGames\Wolfenstein II The New Colossus\base" you will find a .CFG file and a .LOCAL file. Delete: "Wolfenstein II The New ColossusConfig.CFG" and "Wolfenstein II The New ColossusConfig.LOCAL"

When you start the game up again new files will be created and you will find in the Advanced Graphics setting the Async Compute option is back and enabled "On" by default on AMD GPU based video cards. As long as you don’t touch it the option will remain. However, once you turn Async Compute to "OFF" and restart the game then the option disappears from the menu again.

Whether Async Compute is really working with this method is up for debate, but we will show you before and after performance on a graph later on so you can decide for yourself. One thing we can certainly say for sure, this is not the final form of Async Compute in the game and it is most likely not performing as intended right now. Therefore, leaving Async Compute OFF may be the best option for all video cards anyway at this time.

Vulkan API

This game runs on the Vulkan API, no ifs, ands, or buts about it, it’s Vulkan through and through. You do not need to download the Vulkan SDK or any specific Vulkan drivers. Included in the latest AMD and NVIDIA drivers is the Vulkan API runtimes, and both drivers actually end up incorporating different versions. However, you don’t really need to worry about this. Installing the latest Vulkan API SDK will not force the game to use a higher version of Vulkan, it will only utilize what the driver supports.

We found the following versions are being used in our testing:

Wolfenstein II The New Colossus - 1.0.2

idTech - 6.5.0

Fileversion - 6.5.0.1103

NVIDIA GeForce 388.13 Driver - Vulkan API 1.0.56

AMD Crimson ReLive 17.11.1 Driver - Vulkan API 1.0.54

Graphics Settings

The first graphics menu you will come across lets you change the resolution, AA settings, and the overall Video Quality Profile. This will set a global setting across all the Advanced Settings. The highest quality is the "Mein leben!" setting. This will set everything in the advanced settings as high as possible except for the "Image Streaming" option. This will be set to "Ultra" but you will find it has a higher "Uber" setting available you can manually turn up. Otherwise, lowering this video quality profile will better performance, while putting it on "Mein leben!" Will of course be the slowest performance and most demanding, but best looking.

There are shader based AA settings from FXAA, to SMAA, to TAA. All of these have a small effect on performance, even TSSAA (8TX) is not a demanding option and looks the best. We will show performance.

On the Advanced Video settings, you can manually tweak individual settings of course instead of using the overall Video Quality Profile. However, we recommend just using the profile as it enables all the good stuff up to the highest levels of image quality that make a difference. Turning the Image Streaming option to "Uber" only increase VRAM texture usage, so only use that with high amounts of VRAM available. Otherwise, there isn’t really a noticeable visual difference between "Ultra" and "Uber" Image Streaming.

A couple of settings you might be curious about and have no idea what to do with are "Deferred Rendering" and "GPU Culling." Firstly, neither of these settings affect image quality. These make no visual difference on screen. These can potentially help or hinder performance however. The game recommends leaving GPU Culling "On" with AMD GPUs and "Off" with NVIDIA GPUs. Deferred Rendering is "Off" by default. We are going to test the performance of these options to find out what you should be using.