How to improve XCOM 2’s performance

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Xcom2PC

XCOM 2 is an amazing game. Of that, there’s little doubt. The turn-based, strategic squad shooter hits all the right notes when it comes to staving off an alien invasion. The game has been hailed as a masterpiece by just about everyone who’s played it, and for good reason.

Unfortunately, it’s got more than a few performance issues that are causing some fans a word of upset. Machines that not only meet, but far exceed the game’s recommended specs are chugging along at frame rates far lower than they should be.

The game’s Steam page and its associated sub-Reddits are awash with complaints, particularly regarding frame rate and an apparent lack of optimisation. That’s acceptable, even the norm when a game’s been ported to PC – but XCOM 2 is exclusive to the PC, so it’s gotten right under many people’s noses.

Here’s an example of the sort of comments people are leaving:

“It is unacceptable to release a AAA game in such a buggy and unoptimized state. Is it playable? Sure. However, the constant slowdowns (even at reduced graphics settings), animation bugs, floating heads (armor doesnt load on background characters), and camera bugs definitly take away from the experience.
It is very clear to me that the publisher said screw the polish, just release it. It’s been several days now and still no patch to fix any of these issues. $60-$75 for what? A bunch of reused assets on a three year old engine? AND it doesnt run perfectly? Thats what really bothers me.”

Players are reporting performance issues, even with machines specced out with cards like NVidia’s GTX 980Ti, which is a little absurd.

Reddit’s banded together to come up with solutions for the problems – most of which, unfortunately, boil down to turning off graphical features or lowering fidelity.

  1. Turn off/down AA. : Seriously, people, this is a big one. That 8x setting? That’s going to tank even the mightiest Video Card. FFAA or OFF is what you want.
  2. Turn down/off AO : Another easy one for great gains, this added about 10-15 fps to my GTX 960. You want either the Tile AO or OFF.
  3. Turn ONOFF VSYNC : Unless your monitor is over 60Hz, in which case this one is pointless. According to a few sources having this on could lower frame rates even further under certain circumstances.
  4. Turn OFF DOF : Another resource hog that wasn’t optimized well, gave me 5-10 FPS.
  5. Turn OFF Action Cam : I know it’s fun and can add a great layer to the game, but it is a major cause of hangs if you get them. Killing Action Cam helps you progress smoothly through the missions.
  6. INI Edits : Go HERE for a good look at some helpful INI edits to increase inherent UE3 optimization issues. You can also edit the animation speeds if you desire. Also more tweaks can be found HERE CREDIT: /u/Not_F1zzzy90908
  7. Shadows : Also shadows. Shadows to the lowest setting gave me close to 20 FPS all around, and made being in my base more tolerable. Credit: /u/rhett816

Here’s an explanation on why some of the performance issues are happening:

Last Updated: February 8, 2016

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I’m old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time – they were capable of being masterpieces. I’m here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    “Turn OFF DOF” bwhahahahahahahahaha That helps in most situations.

    • Captain JJ ‘saurus

      Some of the models come without those switched though

      • Commander Bob

        It’s more than just the models. Perhaps you should have used characters?

        • Captain JJ ‘saurus

          Ah, yes. Sounds better. 🙂

          • Commander Bob

            I know a lot of idiots who aren’t models 😛

          • Captain JJ ‘saurus

            I meant models of the human race, but I see now that the statement doesn’t really read like that. :/

    • Commander Admiral Chief

      Sadly, some people don’t know how to turn that human feature off

  • Captain JJ ‘saurus

    I always go for AA first, put it down maybe 2, then tweak shadows. I find those two make the biggest difference on most games.

  • Commander Bob

    I took Totalbiscuit’s advice on his WTF is…XCOM 2 video and turned off the AA and AO. It makes a huge difference.

    The game is fun, interesting and I like almost everything they’ve done with it. Sure the performance issues are a problem but I (maybe luckily) haven’t come across any game breaking bugs. Hopefully the release an optimising patch soon.

    • Commander Admiral Chief

      Likewise, my love for this game is beyond anything else.

      YES, there are a few s-s-s-stutter bugs, but ingame, its fine, sometimes the action cam takes a second or so to start up, but other than that, I’m in love

  • Timmy_The_Good_Troll

    Nvidia Geforce Experience does a great job to optimise a game according to your PC specs.

    • slap

      not really, it never does for most games. It sets SSAA on and it should be off as it kills frames, the GFE settings for this game are quite bad actually

  • Lardus-For the Chimichangas!

    Love the game, but my PC can barely run it on minimum specs 🙁 I need to upgrade, but the car and the Rand 🙁

  • Johann

    Will try this tonight, haven’t had any animation or floating head bugs yet though. So far, awesome game but damn is it hard and I refuse to loose squad members…

  • I used point one and a R9290X and have had nothing but sweet sweet performance all the way.

    Seriously though keeping AA maxed out can only be done if you own say a R9FuryX2 or Nvidia equivalent. (and only up till the next set of DX13 games arrive (or anything CyEngine related)

  • Ryanza
  • Sageville

    I have a I5 running a GTX 560 ti.

    It’s been a while since I played a new AAA game on the PC, but I was massively surprised that the game ran so poorly on my rig. Yes I know, I’m many iterations behind, but dayum, when the game’s auto-detect graphics scan puts you on the lowest setting and the game just manages to play…. it’s time to upgrade.

    It’s is however a bit of relief that the guys with mega-rigs also sukkling, probably an optimization patch should be forthcoming.

    Sometimes I wonder if hardware makers are in cahoots with game devs when these sort of games get released that tax the average rig…

    That all being said…. the game is fekking awesome.

  • Bizmu

    Thanks for writing this up.

    Shame that the game is so badly optimized though. Looks like the whole “consoles are the reasons why games are so badly optimized” is a myth perpetuated by crybaby masterrace after all.

    • slap

      it’s not that badly optimised actually. It just has a few frame drops here and there but it’s not as bad as some are saying it is

  • ziplock9000

    Here’s how to improve graphics – Turn the graphics down…. Who’d of thunk?

    • slap

      nice, but it’s “who’d HAVE thunk” it’s always, could have, should have etc. Common mistake so you’re forgiven

      • ziplock9000

        I bet you’re fun at parties.. in the corner, by yourself.

  • Kris Coffin

    This sort of thing pisses me off to no end and is frankly the reason PC gaming is still not taken as a serious contender against consoles.

    I spend 60-80 on a game and it is ALWAYS broken day one. PC gamers tout how much better games run, but seriously, 90% of the time we have to turn off all the things that set the PC apart fro ma console to make it run smooth, so how is that better?

    And if we are lucky, a month or two later we get a patch to fix things, long after I have finished playing.

    • Jamie Amaral

      Your statistics are by far the most inaccurate crap I’ve ever read in my life.

    • slap

      maybe the broken thing is what lies between computer and keyboard in your case. Learn to optimise your pc.

  • Chris Ware

    So, basically turn off every reason why you game on a PC and not a closed console.

  • Wolfy

    I5, GTX 770 here.
    Before tweaking the engine config files my GPU Fan was going on max and GPU Temp was going 80 or close. Now the temperature is staying lower and the fan is lower RPM. Overall success 🙂
    Thanks
    By the way the ini file for XCOM 2 is BaseEngine.ini and some of the Settings appear twice.

  • The AAA industry is in a total downfall, i dont remember a single AAA title realeased without any performance problem last year let along this year. the hell is going on with that

    • slap

      happens when pushing the limits of hardware. We’re entering a new phase of PC games where graphics are becoming just incredible and that inevitably causes issues due to the wide configurations of PCs

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