Rise of the Tomb Raider is a feast for the eyes as well as your PC system, as the numbers below will attest. However, it’s a feast not easily digested without the proper hardware. Crystal Dynamics has worked closely with both AMD and NVIDIA to balance performance of both the AMD PureHair rendering tech on cards from both camps. Moreover, the game features over 20 different graphics settings to tweak; some of which have various sub-settings to dial in while others merely feature boxes to checked On or Off. Including this wide array of in-game settings is a sort of rite of passage for we PC gamers who see the potential for added fidelity and graphics customization options as a hallmark of the PC platform. Kudos to Nixxes for having their eye on the ball in this areas.
We could go on about the individual bits of eye-candy. However, it’s how it all comes together that deftly suspends the players belief to immerse you in the tension, the frenetic pacing and the rollercoaster of emotions that visibly wash over Lara’s face. Regarding such, Rise Of The Tomb Raider features some of the most believable and well-executed facial expressions we've ever seen in gaming, which truly helps the player empathize with Lara’s struggles.
These animations help punctuate the storied cut-scenes while adding relatable depth to the character as seen during in-game playable scenarios. Again we’re most impressed by how it all meshes. The weather effects are not only varied and visually detailed, but Lara reacts to them as if she is honestly daunted at times and terrified at others. One of the more subtle details is the way Lara moves through the environment so naturally crouching, leaning and wedging herself through and around small spaces when necessary. Another subtlety of note is how snow is dynamically parted in the earlier stages, to leave trails as Lara drudges through the knee-deep powder.
There are a couple things to highlight. RoTR has no in-game benchmark. As we did with Fallout 4
, we picked one of the busier sections in the game with plenty of action and re-ran the mission several times while noting our framerate variance with MSI Afterburner to get our min, max and average scores. We played most of the game at 1080p on the Very High graphic preset. Make note however, Very High does not max out everything. Shadow Quality, Sun Soft Shadows, PureHair and Specular Reflection Quality can all be dialed up even further, which will cripple all but the burliest of GPUs. With all these settings maxed we saw another 8-12 FPS shaved off the numbers found below, further hampering performance.
Rise of The Tomb Raider is a demanding mistress and honestly we expected as much. The first thing you may notice is that single card performance is dealt a ringer above 1080p and 4K is nearly unplayable even with a Titan X at these high image quality settings. The game does target 30FPS as playable. So at 4K on a GeForce 980 Ti
, Titan X or the like you can get real close to that mark, but this is still considered unplayable in our book. We’re hearing SLI
performance scales quite well and does CrossFire, but we’re only testing cards solo for now. We hope to revisit multi-GPU performance in the future.
AMD Radeon owners will notice some overdue representation
among our tested cards. Performance on our MSI 390X R9 Gaming 8G
was solid, though there does seem to be more variance in min to max FPS. Still the card holds its own against the GTX 980 with comparable performance.