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Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Performance Analysis

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Graphics:

Overall I found the visuals of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided to be quite good. The textures are sharp and with plenty of detail in them, at least at the higher settings. Some of the environmental textures, like those for the cobblestone ground in some areas, do not look very good to me, but this is hardly a game about looking at the ground. You are going to be looking at other characters and they all looked good to me. The one time a character did look bad it was obviously a graphical bug and was not repeated later, so I am not going to share that.

The only thing about the appearance of characters that did not look good at times was their animations. Facial animations looked stiff at times, not replicating the smooth motions of real faces. Not many games have such excellent facial animations, so it is not like this can be fairly held against this game.

For some of the game, the lighting never really stood out to me, but eventually you will be running around Prague during the night, and the world becomes a very different place. The incidental light from police vehicles, advertisements, and the occasional street lamps are what will light your path. You can see these lights when you look down because the puddles on the ground reflect the world around them quite well. This also happens during the day, but it stands out so much more in the dark of the night.

Since the remainder of this article will be covering the performance I got after tweaking the settings for multiple GPUs, now I want to show some of the differences these graphics options can make. Unfortunately what I cannot do is name any specific graphic setting that particularly hurts performance, beyond the unsurprising MSAA option (which is under Display, not Graphics). I have seen some recommendations for improving performance that include turning off Contact Hardening Shadows and turning down or off Volumetric Lighting, but I never noticed an unreasonable performance impact by changing these settings. That is not to say that they did not bring down performance but that the impact was no more than I would expect of these options, for the given GPU.

 

 

I did not get comparison screenshots of all of the options, but some of the possibly more interesting ones. The first two I want to show you are from options at the top and bottom of the graphics list, but you really should consider them together; the Sharpen and Temporal Anti-Aliasing options.

Temporal Anti-Aliasing does what you think it would, which is to remove aliasing and if I remember correctly, it does this by blurring some of the changes between consecutive frames, and does so as a post-processing effect. This means it should not be too hard on your system to enable, but it can also blur the overall image, which is not desirable. You can see the impact in these two screenshots:

 

 

The Sharpen option obviously sharpens the detail of the frame, and you can see the impact here:

 

Enabling both of these options does give you a decent image that is not too blurred and has a good amount of the aliasing removed.

 

By the way, these screenshots are without MSAA enabled. When I did turn MSAA up to 2x without these options, it definitely helped to remove aliasing, but there was some temporal aliasing as certain objects moved. (More specifically, the barren tree just to the right of the center of these images showed quite a bit of aliasing.) After seeing this I re-enabled both TAA and Sharpen, as together they do a good job.

Next up is the Parallax Occlusion Mapping, which adds depth to a number of objects. The best example I have of this is the cobblestone ground you can find in Prague. The three options are Off, On, and High, and personally I prefer On to High. Here are the screenshots and I think you might see why I have this preference:

Off

On

High

To my eyes, the High setting exaggerates the depth of the stones to an unbelievable amount. 'On' looks fine to me, so that is what I am going with as I play in the future.

This next option is the Screenspace Reflection option that can be set to Off, On, and Ultra. This option controls the quality of the reflections on different surfaces, such as those in the puddles I mentioned earlier. I like the look of it and see it adding realism to the scene, so if you can enable it, do so. I am not sure just how much an impact Ultra is on the visuals, as I do not see much of a difference between those two screenshots.

Off

On

Ultra

 

The last three options I am going to show you all concern the in-game shadows. First up is the Shadow Quality, and as we can see in these screenshots the sharpness of the shadows increases as we go from Medium, to High, to Very High:

Medium

High

Very High

 

The shadows you see so prominently on the street are from the roofs past the top of the frame, but you can see buildings in the distance with a similar construction.

This next option is Ambient Occlusion and these screenshots are all with Shadow Quality set to Very High. Ambient Occlusion will cast shadows from the various objects in the frame that would not otherwise have them. You can see the difference in many areas, but I especially notice the shadows around the drain pipe on the right of the image, as without AO enabled, it has no shadows.

Off

On

Very High

 

Finally we have Contact Hardening Shadows, which is meant to soften the edges of shadows the further they are from the object casting them. This is the AMD solution while NVIDIA's is called Percentage Closer Soft Shadows (PCSS). Its settings are Off, On, and Ultra, and for these three screenshots the Shadow Quality and Ambient Occlusion are set to Medium and Off respectively (their lowest options):

Off

On

Ultra

 

These last two screenshots turn the Shadow Quality to Very High and the Ambient Occlusion up to Very High, so you can compare them to the screenshots above to see what impact CHS has.

 

 

Some other options we could look at are Volumetric Lighting, Subsurface Scattering, Tessellation, and Cloth Physics. Except for the last in that list, I am actually not sure where would be good examples of what these options do to the image. Cloth Physics needs more than screenshots to adequately capture, but I can tell you it does make a difference. It is essentially a question of if you want the tails of coats to follow the movements of an NPCs legs as they walk, or hang behind them, bouncing around and being more naturally disturbed by the movement.

As I have said a number of times now, I am quite satisfied with the appearance of the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and it looks quite good. Now the question concerns what kind of performance we can expect to get with different GPUs. Unfortunately it becomes very apparent my CPU is also influencing performance here, and not necessarily in a good way.




  1. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Performance Analysis - Introduction
  2. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Performance Analysis - Graphics
  3. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Performance Analysis - GTX 770 & GTX 980
  4. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Performance Analysis - GTX 1070 & GTX 1080
  5. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Performance Analysis - Conclusion
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