Dying Light 2 for PC is a technical marvel that goes way beyond next-gen consoles

Dying Light 2 for PC is a technical marvel that goes way beyond next-gen consoles

Dying Light 2 is a true behemoth from a graphics point of view, and shows all its grandeur on PC. Despite being a cross-gen title, Techland's C-Engine allows for excellent scalability that bypasses the limitations of last-gen consoles, and perhaps even those of current-gen machines. And this is where powerful PC hardware comes into play: Dying Light 2 stages a series of hardware-accelerated ray tracing features that radically transform the visuals of the game. Only a small fraction of these features are used on PS5 and Series X. The latest generation consoles still offer a good gaming experience, no one denies it, but PC gaming goes further, much further.

Whether or not you are using a graphics card that supports ray tracing, we have put together a number of recommended optimized options, but before we dive into this analysis it is important to contextualize the PC version with those consoles. The latter typically use a mix of graphics presets from the PC version, different from game to game and from console to console. These presets are obviously chosen by the developer, who optimizes the game based on these technical choices.

But Techland seems to have taken a different approach with Dying Light 2. The last-gen base consoles run with presets equivalent to the low-end PC version. These go to medium on mid-gen PS4 Pro and One X consoles, and high on current-gen PS5 and Series X consoles. Of course there may be some difference per option between machines of the same range, but overall this is the scenario. to expect.

Alex Battaglia presents this extensive analysis of the graphic features of the PC version of Dying Light 2, showing how these settings work and which options offer the best ratio between quality and performance.

Watch on YouTube. The ambition of this game is perceived by the extension of the PC version beyond the capabilities of the latest generation consoles, but we were disappointed by the amount of graphics options present, much more limited than those of the prequel. The first Dying Light had a slider, which became famous because even at a minimum level it offered greater rendering distance than the console one. But on PC, gamers want to push everything to the max, often killing performance. This time, the silder level for geometry and shadow maps are absent.

This change has several effects. First of all, the basic Dying Light 2 has a much better visual appearance than the prequel since its basic graphics quality is much higher. However, this neat graphical upgrade implies that the game outperforms its predecessor on less capable hardware. So better graphics that require a lot of GPU power, but there are graphics areas that are simply 'non-scalable' down to underpowered GPUs.

As for the technical comparison between the PC version and the PS5 and Xbox versions. Series X, it is true that the rasterization options can go beyond the high preset chosen for the two consoles, but the truth is that this preset is already overkill for many mid-to-high-end GPUs. In reality it is ray tracing that makes the difference, especially ray traced global lighting (RTGI), which accurately diffuses the light by calculating the rebound of the rays on various surfaces, completely transforming the appearance of the scene. Shadows, ambient occlusion, and reflections also benefit from ray tracing, but to get the best balance between performance and image quality, focus on RTGI.

Here is the Digital Foundry verdict on Dying Light 2 for current-gen consoles.

Watch on YouTube. Speaking of optimized overall graphics settings, a single set of recommendations isn't enough. It is clear that this game is very GPU heavy and the situation is variable depending on the available power. For this reason, for low-end GPUs we recommend opting for a series of settings that maintain the aesthetic brilliance of the game while accepting as a compromise of artifacts in selected scenarios (e.g. volumetric rendering quality), For mid-range GPUs ( such as RTX 2060 or higher) the selection of options is very similar, but the compromises adopted for the lower range can be removed. And that's before we put DLSS into the equation (which we highly recommend activating).

Next, let's move on to RT-optimized options, which should ensure gameplay locked at 4K60 on an RTX 3080 with DLSS on performance activated. Scaling down, less powerful RTX graphics cards should deliver the same performance at the same settings by reducing the resolution.

We usually aim for locked 60fps for our optimized graphics options (or 60fps minimum with unlocked frame-rate), but with lower-end hardware like GTX 1060 or RX 580 some compromise is required due to the heaviness of the graphics engine. These trade-offs are activated automatically if you have G-Sync or FreeSync compatible monitors, but since there is no VRR support, you could lower the display resolution to 50Hz to lower the maximum frame-rate.

Optimized options Low-end Mid-Range Optimized for RT Async Compute On On On Anti-Aliasing Quality High High High Quality Motion Blur Low Low Low Quality Sun Shadows PCF PCF PCF Quality Contact Shadows Off Ultra Ultra Quality Ambient Occlusion Low Low Ultra RT Quality Global Illumination Low High Ultra RT Quality Reflections Low Low Low Flashlight Ray Traced Off Off Off Volumetric Mist Low Medium Medium Regarding the general performance, we can say that Dying Light is satisfactory. The game runs smoothly although some stuttering may occur from time to time (mainly when the shaders are compiled, so we recommend pre-calculating them before starting the game). During the review phase, the code has been updated several times and will be in the next few days too, but during our experience we have noticed some strange bugs with DLSS active. Both Nvidia and Techland are aware of this and we expect a fix soon.

Other than that, we would like the RT effects to be more scalable, because at the moment we can say that they cause problems on AMD GPUs. On the latter, in fact, the RT has a greater impact on performance than Nvidia GPUs: the FSR (equivalent to DLSS) improves the frame-rate but not adequately to guarantee perfect performance. And we must also remember that this algorithm impacts image quality.

In light of all this, we are satisfied with this PC version of the game which goes far beyond the quality offered on next generation consoles. As we explained in the technical analysis of the PS5 and Series X versions, the user must necessarily choose between frame-rate, high resolution or ray tracing.

The PC with adequate hardware allows you to combine these three modes by combining the best of each in a single experience. And even if your rig doesn't allow you to push the quality of the game to the maximum, there is enough scalability for this to happen in the future with the arrival of new hardware (hopefully with lower prices). Considering Techland's ambitious plans regarding the longevity of the game, this is something that excites us a lot.

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