Wolfenstein: Youngblood Graphics and Performance Guide

MachineGames' Wolfenstein: Youngblood launches July 26th, with the franchise's first ever co-op campaign, and its first open-plan levels, enabling you to tackle challenges and enemies with unprecedented freedom.

Using the venerable id Tech 6 engine, Wolfenstein: Youngblood runs at high resolutions and detail levels on many systems. And performance is further accelerated by NVIDIA Adaptive Shading, which can boost framerates by as much as 20%, with no perceptible effect on image quality.

So, get comfy and prepare to delve into Wolfenstein: Youngblood's PC settings and enhancements, with examinations of each, using interactive comparison screenshots, relative performance charts, and written explainers, giving you all the info you need to tweak and tailor your graphics and performance.

NVIDIA RTX Ray-Traced Effects Coming Soon To Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Bethesda Softworks and MachineGames have chosen NVIDIA GeForce as the PC platform of choice for Wolfenstein: Youngblood, giving us the opportunity to enhance Wolfenstein: Youngblood with cutting-edge Ray-Traced Reflections, and Ray-Traced Ambient Occlusion shadowing.

In Wolfenstein: Youngblood, Ray-Traced Reflections will accurately simulate the way light reflects on glossy and metal surfaces by tracing a single bounce of reflection rays across the scene. Materials affected include smooth, natural mirrors, like windows and water, but also rougher surfaces like brushed metal. Unlike screen space techniques, which can only reflect what’s on screen, ray-traced reflections incorporate the entire scene around the character, and can accurately represent objects outside the camera view, as well as those facing away from the camera. These reflections will enhance everything, from street scenes to secret labs, to casinos and control centers.

Ambient Occlusion (AO) adds contact shadows where two surfaces or objects meet, and where an object blocks light from reaching another nearby game element. The AO technique used and the quality of the implementation affects the shadows' accuracy, and whether new shadows are formed when the level of occlusion is low. Without Ambient Occlusion, scenes look flat and unrealistic, and objects appear as if they are floating. With Ray-Traced Ambient Occlusion, we can render this effect with unparalleled accuracy, enhancing every second of gameplay for the duration of your Wolfenstein: Youngblood gaming, further improving realism and image quality.

For a first-look at Wolfenstein: Youngblood's ray-traced effects, and their release date, watch this space and stay tuned to GeForce.com.

Time-Limited Wolfenstein: Youngblood GeForce RTX Bundle

The GeForce RTX family recently expanded with the launch of our SUPER graphics cards, enhanced GeForce RTX 20-Series GPUs that are up to 25% faster, giving gamers best-in-class performance and features, and fast, high-fidelity real-time ray tracing.

To celebrate, we’re giving buyers of eligible GeForce RTX GPUs, gaming desktops and gaming laptops copies of Wolfenstein: Youngblood and Control, two games that take full advantage of GeForce RTX's capabilities.

This SUPER FAST. SUPERNATURAL Bundle is available now with qualifying products until August 18th, 2019, at participating retailers around the world. Learn more here.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood Graphics Settings

Wolfenstein: Youngblood includes 26 settings that affect image quality and performance, giving you plenty to configure and tweak in your quest for the definitive experience. For all the details, keep reading.

Anti-Aliasing

Anti-Aliasing reduces the visibility of jagged edges, and nowadays many techniques also include a Temporal Anti-Aliasing component, counteracting shimmering and crawling seen on anti-aliased edges when they or the camera moves.

In Wolfenstein: Youngblood, six anti-aliasing options are available. Some are slightly sharper, and some have slightly better anti-aliasing properties on different game elements, but all you really need to know is that TSSAA 8TX is superior to all other AA settings, and should be enabled on all systems that aren't struggling for performance.

Looking at the interactive comparisons below, you'll see that TSSAA 8TX has greatly improved anti-aliasing (immediately noticeable on the lamppost), the clarity and sharpness of textures is maintained better than with other techniques, shiny specular details are less muted, and with its 8 Temporal Anti-Aliasing samples, versus the single sample used by the other TAA techniques, TSSAA 8TX does a great job of keeping the action clear and shimmer free while you're playing.

Having played and tested the entire game, here's our succinct summary: if you want the best overall AA, use TSSAA 8x; if you want the best TAA, use TSSAA 8x; and if you want to use normal AA instead, select SMAA.

Performance: The delta between TSSAA 8TX and Off is just shy of 10 FPS; a relatively high number in today's world of 2-3 FPS post-process anti-aliasing. Hopefully though, you'll agree the cost is worth it, as TSSAA 8TX does a much better job than the other AA techniques.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood - Anti-Aliasing Performance

One final anti-aliasing note: to make the results softer or sharper, you can apply additional post-process sharpening via the dedicated Sharpening setting, examined later in this guide. All screenshots above were taken with the default Sharpening value, 2.

Async Compute

Asynchronous computing allows the GPU to perform multiple tasks simultaneously, rather than waiting for one to be finished before the next is started. This accelerates workloads, meaning your framerate increases, unless your GPU's performance is limited by a CPU bottleneck.

In Wolfenstein: Youngblood, enabling Async Compute can improve performance by 6-10% on Turing-architecture GPUs, in most instances, though the level of speed up will be reduced on prior-generation GPUs with less efficient asynchronous capabilities.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood - Async Compute Performance

Decal Filtering

Most game engines have a single Anisotropic Filtering option, enabling players to increase the sharpness of textures seen in the distance and on the edges of the screen. In Wolfenstein: Youngblood, there are four AF options, the first of which is "Decal Filtering".

In game terms, a Decal is a scorch mark, a bullet hole, or some other effect applied to a textured surface. In our example below, focus exclusively on the road marking to the right of the enemy's foot, and you'll observe that it's clearer, sharper and more detailed with filtering set to 16x:

Performance: With a barely perceptible performance cost, that is well within the margin of error for benchmarks, there's no good reason to reduce the fidelity and clarity of decals, many of which you'll see throughout this high-action FPS.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood - Decal Filtering Performance

Decals

The second decals setting affects the quality and visibility of bullet impacts and the like. In the interactive comparison below, look to the checkpoint and swipe the slider back and forth: when the setting is lowered, less decals are visible, making it appear that your actions have little effect on the world.

Performance: With a minimal performance cost, maxing out the Decal setting is recommended.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood - Decals Performance

Deferred Rendering

In short, Deferred Rendering delays shading until a later part in the graphics pipeline, resulting in performance improvements for some configurations.

On our test bench, the benefit is just over 2 FPS, but do note that this setting cannot be used in conjunction with NVIDIA Adaptive Shading, which delivers far larger gains on Turing-architecture GPUs.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood - Deferred Rendering Performance

Depth of Field

This tricky-to-benchmark setting applies some out of focus blurring at select moments during the game, maybe having a performance cost of around 5 FPS at 4K.

If you're looking for performance gains, switching Depth of Field off will certainly help, and you're unlikely to notice its absence.

Depth of Field Anti-Aliasing

When "Depth of Field" is enabled, this extra anti-aliasing setting can smooth out any rough edges where out of focus detail meets in focus detail. And best we can tell, it has a minimal extra cost, so if you decide to use DoF, this shouldn't affect framerates to any noticeable degree.

Directional Occlusion

Wolfenstein: Youngblood's take on Ambient Occlusion is Directional Occlusion. Three detail levels are on offer, and in static comparisons the differences between levels can be summarized as, "darker, more accurate shadowing". In motion though, higher quality levels look a fair bit better as they have fewer temporal artifacts, therefore appearing more realistic.

In darker areas, Directional Occlusion continues to improve image quality, though the benefits of higher details levels are diminished.

In detailed scenes, with objects behind objects, behind objects, the benefits of higher detail levels can be more pronounced. The differences, though, never approach the magnitude of say SSAO versus HBAO+ in the other games we've examined over the years.

Performance: Directional Occlusion is one of the more important settings, having an impact on image quality throughout every moment of the game, so even if you're struggling for performance, it's recommended you enable at least Low so objects are grounded, and the world is shadowed more realistically.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood - Directional Occlusion Performance

If your performance is higher, but not high enough for your tastes, consider dropping from High to Medium, which offers good AO coverage for 5 FPS less.

GPU Culling

This setting renders only the detail in the player's in-game field of view. However, on modern NVIDIA graphics cards, our GPU architectures are more efficient at this at a global level, resulting in a loss of performance when enabling "GPU Culling". As such, we recommend switching-off GPU Culling.

HDR Bloom

Lights, sunlight, and other effects gain a bright, bloomy glow with HDR Bloom enabled, as demonstrated below.

Performance: The post-process HDR Bloom effect has a minimal cost in the highly performant Wolfenstein: Youngblood.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood - HDR Bloom Performance

Image Aniso Filter

The second Anisotropic Filtering setting is a mystery, described in-game as affecting "remaining image types". Dozens of locations were tested and compared under a magnifier, and to date we've yet to find a single visual or performance difference between Trilinear and 16x filtering, so we'd recommend just leaving Image Aniso Filter at max quality for the duration.

Image Streaming

Essentially, Image Streaming is a Texture Quality setting combined with a texture loading setting, affecting not only the fidelity of textures, but the speed at which new textures load in.

If you've got a modern GPU with 6-8GB of VRAM, set Image Streaming to Uber or Ultra, and only turn it down if you notice delays in textures loading, or stuttering and pausing from repeated memory swapping. At these detail levels, everything is crisp and clear, and no texture pop-in is observed while sprinting at max speeds.

On lower detail levels, the quality of select textures begins to be reduced. In our example below, the quality of the statue and gambling table are greatly reduced; the advertising poster isn't as detailed or as sharp; the road texture is slightly blurrier; and the quality of the textures on geometry and debris is microscopically lower.

More importantly, textures can take longer to load in, and scenery in the distance can be distractingly blurry, affecting realism and immersion.

Performance: With no other bells and whistles tied to the Image Streaming setting, the level of detail you select should be dictated by your GPU's VRAM. With 8GB or more, everything should be gravy at 4K, though those with 6GB may find they need to drop to Ultra. If you have less than 6GB, we recommend limiting your gaming to Ultra at 1920x1080 or 2560x1440.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood - Image Streaming Performance

Lightmap Aniso Filter

Our next Anisotropic Filtering setting adjusts the clarity of the lightmaps applied to environments. However, whether you're up close or far away from affected surfaces, you'll struggle to find any difference between the available options, without the aid of a magnifying glass.

Performance: Though the visual difference may be impossible to discern during gameplay, there is a measurable performance cost, albeit a minute one:

Wolfenstein: Youngblood - Lightmap Aniso Filter Performance

Lights

In Wolfenstein: Youngblood, the Lights setting controls how many lights illuminate the world, the quality of their lighting, and how many are lit.

Our example below demonstrates the full impact of this setting, with lights further from the camera turned off at each step. In other areas though, and those primarily illuminated by daylight, the differences are less dramatic and far less visible.

Performance: In scenes such as the one shown above, Lights is the most demanding setting in the game, decreasing performance by over 20 FPS at its maximum detail level. In others, though, it has a lesser impact. As such, you'll find that many levels and locations perform better than in our test.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood - Lights Performance

In Wolfenstein: Youngblood, stepping down from a setting's max detail level to its next highest typically provides a noticeable performance uplift with minimal impact to image quality. With Lights, this holds true in many locations, but in scenes such as the one shown above you ideally want max quality.

LOD Switch

We've been unable to measure or observe any change in image quality or performance using this level of detail setting, so simply set it to max to ensure objects and game elements load at high levels of detail at all times.

Material Aniso Filter

Material Aniso Filter, the final Anisotropic Filter setting, is a traditional Texture Filter setting, improving the clarity of textures seen at a distance or on an angle.

Performance: Anisotropic Filtering is generally a 'free' setting, having little to no performance cost. Here, however, there's a 7 FPS delta between 16x and Trilinear.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood - Material Aniso Filter Performance

Despite the perf gains with lower settings, 16x is something you should enable regardless, unless you want your textures blurry for the duration of the game...

Motion Blur

Along with an On-Off toggle, there's also a Motion Blur Quality setting, improving the fidelity of the blurring effect. As this can't be reliably tested, we're guesstimating that there's a 4-7 FPS delta between the minimum and maximum Motion Blur quality presets.

NVIDIA Adaptive Shading

GeForce RTX 20-Series GPUs are powered by our advanced Turing architecture, which makes real-time ray tracing a reality. Furthermore, Turing is the first and only architecture to offer support for Variable Rate Shading, Mesh Shading, and other technologies that make games look and play better.

In Wolfenstein: Youngblood, we utilize Variable Rate Shading (VRS) and some NVIDIA magic to improve performance by up to 20%, with zero downsides.

In-game, you'll want to enable "NVIDIA Adaptive Shading" (NAS), our custom setting that combines the Content Adaptive Shading (CAS) and Motion Adaptive Shading (MAS) VRS techniques with some additional engineering. Together, they detect areas of the screen that don't require full-rate shading.

For instance, in a dark corner you can't see any detail, so why shade at maximum quality, or even shade at all? And if you or the camera are moving at speed, and perhaps with Motion Blur enabled, too, why shade detail at full quality when you won't be able to see it? Using this logic, we can shade individual pixels less frequently, with no perceptible reduction in quality, boosting performance 'for free'.

Using a debug option, we can demonstrate NVIDIA Adaptive Shading in a scene from Wolfenstein: Youngblood. Balanced, Quality and Performance presets adjust the amount of variable rate shading, and the extent to which affected areas are less frequently shaded, shown in our debug images in different colors. Blue means the shading rate is 2x lower, green 4x lower, and yellow 8x lower:

In this garage scene, the application of NVIDIA Adaptive Shading increases performance by 9% when using Balanced, our recommended setting, and by 12.6% when using Performance:

Wolfenstein: Youngblood - NVIDIA Adaptive Shading Performance (Garage Scene)

Looking at the scene without the debug overlay enabled, there is no perceptible loss of quality when using Balanced or Quality, though the more aggressive Performance mode does introduce a few blemishes that a trained eye will spot in static comparisons:  

Depending on the scene, performance gains from NVIDIA Adaptive Shading may increase or decrease. For example, this dark and moody locale sees a 12.1% uplift when using Balanced, an 8.3% improvement with Quality, and a 17% boost with Performance:

Wolfenstein: Youngblood - NVIDIA Adaptive Shading Performance (Interior Scene)

This bright, daylight scene, sees gains of only 1-3%, however, as the content aware NVIDIA Adaptive Shading technology knows that the shading rate cannot be reduced without compromising quality.

As well as the listed gains, further improvements can be found during gameplay when the player or camera is moving, and when Motion Blur is enabled, thanks to Motion Adaptive Shading. Learn more in our tech explainer, and check out our GDC presentation if you want the complete lowdown on NVIDIA Adaptive Shading.

In summary, set it and forget it: NVIDIA Adaptive Shading set to Balanced will improve performance by 10-20% in the vast majority of the game's levels and locations, with no perceptible reduction in image quality, and without further user intervention or tweaking.

But if you do want to tweak, set NAS to Custom and adjust the sliders that tell the game when, where and how to use variable rate shading.

Particles

Shoot robotic enemies, and other game elements, and particles will be emitted, making fights look more interesting and dynamic. Using the Particles setting, the number and quality of these particles can be adjusted.

As with some other settings, making a repeatable benchmark is nigh on impossible, so we're guesstimating based on our many hours of gameplay and testing that Ultra runs around 10 FPS slower than Low in the biggest battles, and that High is a few FPS faster than Ultra with only a minimal change in image quality.

Reflections

Puddles, select metal surfaces, glossy floors, and other material types feature Screen Space Reflections, showing real-time reflections of surrounding action and game elements:

As you can see, most geometric detail is retained on everything but Low, which essentially disables all reflectivity.

In our next set of comparisons, you can see the ever-improving accuracy of shadows when the quality setting is raised step by step from Low to Ultra:

In our final set of comparisons, Reflections enhance the walls, floor and ceiling, though not the windows:

Elsewhere, reflections can be found on large bodies of water, like those shown later in this guide. In those instances, the Reflections setting has no impact on reflected world detail, or on dynamic reflections seen on the water's surface. Nor do they affect reflections on windows and other surfaces, which use cubemaps to approximate reflected detail at a minimal performance cost.

Performance: For a good balance between performance and quality, High is recommended. And while Low's minimal cost is appealing, its use isn't recommended due to the reduction in image quality on innumerable surfaces.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood - Reflections Performance

Resolution Scale

Using in-game options to adjust the rendering resolution is increasingly common, though Wolfenstein: Youngblood takes it a step further by offering players a dynamic option that temporarily decreases the resolution to return performance to an acceptable state. If you're on an entry-level machine, it's well worth enabling to avoid any nasty slowdowns during high intensity moments.

Shadows

Unsurprisingly, the Shadows setting changes the quality and visibility of shadows. In Wolfenstein: Youngblood, only Uber and Ultra bear looking at, as they cast shadows across medium and long-range views, as demonstrated on the steps to the right of our interactive comparisons. And as you'll observe, only Uber has nicely-defined, highly detailed shadowing, making it the setting you ideally want to use.

Performance: Given the significant improvement to image quality, we can only recommend the use of Uber, which runs just 9 FPS slower than Low.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood - Shadows Performance

Sharpening

Applying post-process anti-aliasing, and downscaling the rendering resolution, makes gameplay blurrier. To counteract this loss of clarity, you can enable Sharpening via a slider. By default, the slider sits at the mid-point, 2.0, tackling most of the added blur without introducing additional aliasing.

Performance: Regardless of whether you apply a little or a lot of sharpening, the post-process effect has zero impact on performance.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood - Sharpening Performance

Volumetric Quality

Wolfenstein: Youngblood's volumetric effects are generally found where bright light illuminates an area, exemplified in the three examples below. By raising their fidelity from Medium to High, they blend with the scenery more realistically, eliminating the shadowy blemishes a keen observer may notice (the artifacts around the "Halt" pillar in our first comparison, for example):