XCOM 2 Performance Fix: Partial Solutions And More Tips

A big ugly fly in XCOM 2 [official site]’s deliciously deadly ointment is that Firaxis’ game runs like a Psy-Zombie on quite a few folks’ PCs – even those with relatively monster systems. It’s not universal woe – for instance, it runs fine for Adam, hence his only mentioning passing problems in his review, but on my slightly superior PC I can’t even hit the golden 60 frames at minimum settings, while high sees it drop to single digits. In either case there are huge, frustrating lag-spikes throughout, and my PC’s running so uncharacteristically hot that I’m pretty sure I could roast a marshmallow over the rear vent.

I’m far from alone, as a glance at the Steam forums, official boards or Reddit will very quickly reveal. It’s a damn shame, crossing the line from ultimately meaningless visual sacrifices into actively annoying slowness. Firaxis and 2K aren’t giving anything away about what the problem is or when a fix will land, though they do tell us that they’re “aware some players have experienced performance issues” and that they’re looking into it. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do in the meantime – including one particular off-the-beaten-track fix which damn-near doubled my own frame rate.

First up, here’s the full 2K statement provided to us, though it’s essentially a repeat of what they’ve said elsewhere:

“We are aware some players have experienced performance issues while playing XCOM 2, and we are looking into them and gathering more information from users. We want everyone to have the best experience possible, and will continue supporting the title with upcoming patches.”

They also direct you folks’ attention to this troubleshooting FAQ, but sadly it’s very generic stuff, as much use as shaving foam on a Sectoid. (Though if you’re experiencing crashing or installation issues, there are some more helpful things to try there).

Here are the things you actually should do to get XCOM 2 running significantly better – though it won’t lead you all the way to the hallowed 60/Maximum, and you’ll still have to suffer a lot of wild spiking in the framerate. Some of these are in-game settings, some involve delving into your graphics card’s driver menus, which I appreciate is an enemy unknown for some folk but honestly isn’t actually that hard. If you already know your way around XCOM 2’s graphics options and haven’t had much success, I urge you to jump straight to tip 7 – a driver-side fix which almost doubled my own frame-rate.

1) Turn off anti-aliasing in-game (Settings – Graphics)

Well, not right off – the basic FXAA algorithm has only a minor performance hit, but the cleaner-edged MSAA really, really kills the framerate even at the lowest 2X setting. I know it’s the gold standard for graphics enthusiast, but right now, in XCOM 2, it’s just not worth it. FXAA or off, that’s your lot.

2) Turn Ambient Occlusion down or off (Settings – Graphics)

Some graphics cards can cope with the lower setting, Tile AO, but full-on SSAO is the second-biggest framerate-eater after MSAA. You’ll lose a certain appearance of depth by turning this off – nice if you can have it, but it’s really not going to affect your play experience.

3) Turn shadows and shadow quality down (Settings – Graphics)

YMMV on this one, but tinker and see what you end up with. Particularly, Shadow Quality on Maximum or High is a reasonably big ask right now.

4) Turn off Screen Space Reflections (Settings – Graphics)

The last major drain in the Graphics menu, but the good news is that you’re unlikely to notice much difference when it’s off.

5) Turn off V-Sync and Framerate Smoothing (Settings – Video)

Out in the confusing separate Video menu, you want to uncheck both of these. XCOM’s built in Vertical Synchronisation – the thing that matches the game’s frame rate to a multiple of your screen’s refresh rate in order to avoid ‘tearing’ during movement scenes – rounds the framerate down too aggressively, so you’ll end up with an even lower average frame rate than your PC is capable as it tries to take the huge spikes and lags into account. Naturally, you don’t want to end up saddled with that distracting tearing effect, so what you need to do instead is…

6) Turn on adaptive/dynamic V-sync in your graphics card drivers

Right, into darkness we now go. This will turn on a more effective form of V-sync, but in involves going into driver settings outside the game. First up, go grab the latest drivers from the relevant site – i.e. NVIDIA or AMD – just so we can be sure you’re not using Windows’ built-in drivers, which lack the options we need.

Then do whichever of these is appropriate:

NVIDIA

Right-click on your desktop, click NVIDIA Control Panel, 3D Settings, Manage 3D Settings, then in the right-hand pane click ‘Program Settings.’ Click Add and browse to your XCOM 2 exectuable, which by default is in C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\common\XCOM 2\Binaries\Win64 if you’re using a 64-bit version of Windows, or C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\common\XCOM 2\Binaries\Win32 if you’re an old-fashioned 32-bit sort. In the list that appears under ‘Specify the settings for this program’, scroll right down to the bottom to find Vertical Sync. Click on this, and from the drop-down menu select Adaptive. Then hit Apply on bottom-right.

AMD

Sadly this is a bit more complicated than the NVIDIA equivalent, in that you need to download and install a third-party control panel, though it is a respected application. It goes by the name RadeonPro. I don’t have a Radeon in my PC so I can’t give blow-by-blow instructions, but this should guide you through the worst of it. Similar concept to above, but the setting you want is called Dynamic V-sync rather than Adaptive.

7) This is the biggie, the one that meant I could play the game at mostly-high settings and generally see a frame rate in the 50s or better, though the big spiking didn’t go away. It relates to how many frames your graphics card renders ahead, which at higher settings means a smoother frame rate in theory but, as with V-sync, can mean you end up locked to a lower one than your card’s actually capable of. Drop these pre-rendered frames down from the default 3 to just 1 and you’ll get a big, big boost (though bear in mind MSAA and SSAO will still take a huge toll, so leave them off too). Here’s how:

NVIDIA

Exactly as above, but rather than clicking on V-sync, click on Maximum Pre-Rendered Frames and select 1 from the drop-down menu. Click apply, job done, better performance, less heat, hooray.

AMD

Again, I don’t have a card to check this for myself, and again the option is missing from AMD’s own control panel so you’ll have to install RadeonPro, as above. The setting you’re after is called Flip Queue Size rather than Maximum Pre-Rendered Frames, and you can find it in the Advanced tab of Radeon Pro – there’s a guide here. Again, set it down to just 1, then revel in the boost.

8) And finally, the comedy option. Experiencing long loading times in post-mission screens? Try hitting Capslock. For some people, it cuts the wait hugely.

Go figure.

Please do share any more tips/performance grumbles you have below.

For more on XCOM 2, visit our XCOM 2 guide hub.

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89 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    The Sombrero Kid says:

    Maximum Pre-Rendered is just double, triple buffering etc. extrapolated fyi and you can set that with the normal amd control centre.

    I wrote my take on the Caps Lock issue on pcgames ‘n’ stuff:
    link to pcgamesn.com

    essentially it’s a driver issue which directx12/vulcan will solve which is basically the mantra of all the performance issues games have had over the last year.

    • froz says:

      AMD control center doesn’t exist anymore, they switched to a new tool called Radeon settings. I don’t see “double, triple buffering etc.” anywhere in there, only triple buffering OpenGL, which is turned off by default (and I assume it doesn’t affect DirectX games anyway?).

      • Premium User Badge

        The Sombrero Kid says:

        I am stuck on the catalyst control centre because they deprecated my gpu with the move to the crimson software, they did make a single release of the crimson software for my gpu but unfortunately it destroyed performance so I had to go back. Now you mention it though I’m pretty sure the setting is only for Open GL in the old software too, my bad soz.

      • Premium User Badge

        hemmer says:

        Don’t know about the specific options and can’t check atm, but the new Radeon Settings has a button “Advanced Settings”, which amusingly basically just opens the old control center.

    • OmNomNom says:

      Maximum Pre-Rendered Frames setting is not the same as Triple Buffering
      Maximum Pre-Rendered Frames controls the size of the data queue feeding rendering commands to the GPU to maintain smooth framerates, while Triple Buffering is a back-buffer configuration designed specifically to prevent a significant reduction in performance whenever the framerate falls below the refresh rate while Vertical Sync is enabled.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      My money on the long load times being “contacting mother ship… waiting ok… waiting… making cup of tea… Oh, hi Mother Ship. Yes, I got a gamer here. Playing XCOM 2. Yes, they are. Oh, how is the weather? I’ve got a new jumper? Thanks! Oh, this gamer. They like, game and stuff. They just gamed now. Can I tell you all about it. Oh they gamed. Got like 3 shots off, found a can of pepsi and is now waiting for the next level to… oh I’d better go back and do that. But first, here is the report and I found their essay on Pride and Prejudice for you to browse over…”

      Meanwhile Steam/XCOM 2 will show a little “syncing account” icon. :(

  2. Banks says:

    The performance is really bad and It’s impossible that they weren’t aware of this before launch. I hope that It’s not an UE3 problem and they can fix this soon. Some glitches are hilarious though.

    Anyway, the game is much better than the first one, It’s super addictive. However, I still hate the alien pod discovery system, It’s horrible game design and makes the game unfair and exploitative.

    And Firaxis should stop spamming pop up notifications and warnings on your face every 10 seconds. They do this in every game and Its as annoying as that friend that explains the movie while you are watching It.

    I want to play on my own!

    • vecordae says:

      The pod system can absolutely work in your favor. The trick is to let the pod discover you rather than the other way around. When the pod discovery occurs on the enemy’s turn, they run for cover and their actions end. This means that the roving enemies and reinforcements do not ever get the jump on you and immediately start firing.

      Scouting with a concealed ranger, or using the various sensor grenades and abilities can maximize the benefit of this and let you stay on the offensive when moving forward.

      • Bighungryjo says:

        I think that’s what he meant, that it’s easy to game the pod discovery system once you know how it works.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    I’ve found that once I’m on a mission, things are generally completely playable with few to no performance problems. It’s the Avenger where everything goes to shit, especially in the Geoscape. Cutscenes on the Avenger, such as taking off and landing the Skyranger are awful too.

    • LexW1 says:

      It’s pretty random. The geoscape is 50-60fps for me with a min-spec machine (?!!). The rest of the main base was 7-15fps, but after lots of tweaks (including turning ON framerate smoothing… so odd) that’s up to 20-30fps.

      • DanMan says:

        That might be an obscured “triple buffering” setting, which would explain why it doesn’t drop anymore.

  4. Tsumei says:

    The strangest part of my Xcom2 experience was when I started it for the first time and learnt that this would be the first title to completely fail to support 4k in a years time of trying it.

    I’m not one of those “hurr durr this is the best” graphics types, I just make bad life choices. But so far even smaller game developers have supported it out of the box, from Cyanide’s Blood Bowl 2 to Darkest Dungeon and FFXIV.

    …So it was kind of weird to spend a good 10 minutes trying to get the damn thing to use more than 8% of my computers resources, and also perhaps fill my screen. In the end I made the graphical adjustments suggested above and Play it in a tiny window 2560 x1440 on my screen, and I love it.

    But it’s strange that I can love it despite squinting slightly as I play. Other games have gotten the “No” for less. So clearly they have a great game in a really shittily optimized package.

    On a side-note I wish I could play at this aspect ratio, but covering my entire screen. It feels “smaller” and like I have more overview. It’s a good perspective on the map.

    • Artiforg says:

      I don’t have the game, or a 4K screen, but does this work?:

      Link to theTech52

      They say to make some config file changes:

      Go to C:\Users\???\Documents\My Games\XCOM2\XComGame\Config
      Backup this file before making any changes
      Open the XComEngine
      Search and Change the ResX and ResY to your desired Resolution

    • Wisq says:

      Can’t you just enable fullscreen on any resolution, and it’ll set a lower resolution and rely on your monitor to upscale it? Most LCDs should support running at a lower resolution; the only exception I’ve seen are the Apple ones, which have very limited resolution support since they expect OSX to do the rescaling for it.

      Alternatively, lower your desktop resolution, then play it in a window. Same idea there.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        Generally it’s a GPU thing more than a monitor thing. But both can do it at times.

        I prefer GPU, and only at half/double resolutions otherwise strange smoothing can occur. Though really old resolutions don’t matter too much, I’m just OCD that “half” a pixel is often “wrong” in my books.

    • kodachrome says:

      Just logged in to clarify the game supports 4k res no problem with no hacks needed. Not sure what Tsumei’s issue is, but works fine (albeit at 30fps, havent tried any of the performance fixes yet) on a Titan X / Windows 10.

  5. Boomerang says:

    Lag is network-related slowness, not low frame rates.

    • Premium User Badge

      The Sombrero Kid says:

      Lag isn’t specific to networking, it can refer to latency in any part of the system. In this case it’s not low frame rate, there really is a high latency between issuing commands and seeing their effects.

      • popej says:

        I know what Boomerang means though. Back in the days of Quake, HL, CS etc (like 1996 – 2003) lag was almost solely mentioned with respect to network latency, mainly because much of the gaming population was still making do with 56k modems and not broadband (at least in the late 90’s).

        In recent years though it seems that lag is mentioned more and more often with respect to poor frame rates. It just ain’t right I tells ya.

        • microsoftenator says:

          Increased input latency is a direct result of low fps and can definitely be perceived as similar to network latency, hence describing low fps as “laggy”

        • DAOWAce says:

          I saw this “lag” trend starting in World of Warcraft.. and it’s penetrated to basically every technical illiterate person on the internet.

          Lag = network latency.
          Input lag = ..input (controls) latency.
          Low FPS = ..low framerate, which contributes to input lag.

          But these people just say “lag” for all of them and make it a nightmare for people who actually have technical knowledge. It’s horrible.

  6. LexW1 says:

    Bizarrely, turning ON Framerate Smoothing reproducibly boosts my framerate by like 5-10 FPS on the base/soldier customization screens. God knows why.

    Everything is helpful (some things more than others), and I’ll try the stuff in 7 as soon as I can – sounds potentially good.

  7. Zanchito says:

    There’s also a problem with ultrawide monitors with bad cropping and clickable areas not corresponding to graphics in some instances. Fix, per Reddit, is:

    Find your XComEngine.ini file under C:\Users\%username%\Documents\My Games\XCOM2\XComGame\Config
    Then find:
    [Engine.LocalPlayer] AspectRatioAxisConstraint=AspectRatio_MaintainXFOV
    Change that with this:
    AspectRatioAxisConstraint=AspectRatio_MaintainYFOV

    ( link to reddit.com )

  8. MercurialJack says:

    Just turning off V-sync (in-game) and switching MSAA to FXAA made a whole huge difference to my performance (on a well above recommended spec machine). May be worth trying just those before delving into the video card settings and see how they work out.

  9. Premium User Badge

    Alfy says:

    I’m on a Mac, so I guess I’m the minority here. Fact is, I asked for a refund, nothing I tried got the game remotely playable on a pretty decent rig. It’s pretty annoying for a top-down tactical game: how can THAT not run properly??

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      I don’t understand the expectation that of course first-person/over-the-shoulder game are GPU intensive, but that a top-down game shouldn’t be. It’s literally just moving the camera. They’re using the exact same 3D engines, with all the same tricks available.

      • BlammoToken says:

        It’s because if your camera is further away, you can often get away with a lower poly count, texture resolution, shader complexity, and many of the other variables that reduce performance.

        • Premium User Badge

          Alfy says:

          That, and your drawing distance is much, much smaller. Even when pulling the camera up (when showing someone shooting for example), the area on display is way smaller than on most FPSs. And of course the ground is mostly flat, no rolling hills and tall mountains in this game.

          So yeah, I see no excuse for the game running so poorly. On a side note, I got a mail from Feral telling me they’re working on a big patch, we’ll see if I repurchase further down the line.

    • Banyan says:

      I couldn’t even get the game to boot on my minimum spec laptop. XCOM is my second most played game so I was super excited but, after 4 hours of troubleshooting, I decided it wasn’t worth it. First game I preordered the deluxe version for that I recall, and the first game I got a Steam refund for. I’ll might get another computer this year and catch the game at the next Christmas sale.

    • microsoftenator says:

      I have the top-spec mid-2015 MBP and XCOM2 runs terribly in OSX (I haven’t tried on Windows yet). Somewhat surprisingly, performance seems slightly better when using the integrated Intel Iris Pro GPU, I suspect due to thermal throttling.

      The game is barely playable on the Lowest settings with average fps around 35 in combat and 25 on the geoscape/Avenger.

      It runs okay on my Windows gaming PC (~Medium graphics, sans AA and VSync) but it has a signifcantly weaker CPU and less RAM than my MBP, so I suspect it’s poorly optimized for a lot of GPUs.

  10. Iainn says:

    There is also another option, but one I find that people are reluctant to change, perhaps most of all – resolution. I don’t have this game, so I don’t know how much of an impact it really has here but usually by dropping the resolution down it will massively help with any framerate issues you may be having.

    • Sakkura says:

      It does greatly reduce the visual quality though, more so than reducing AA etc. would. It’s really a last resort.

    • Alec Meer says:

      yeah unless you’re still on a CRT it basically looks awful. Never mind all this ultrawide and mega refresh and adaptive sync stuff, I wish LCD panels could sort that out.

    • rodan32 says:

      The first article of my gaming faith, my creed, if you will, is ALWAYS play in the native resolution of the monitor. Anything else is not just madness; it’s heresy. I’ve disowned children, Fiddler-on-the-Roof-style, when I caught them playing Terraria in the wrong resolution for their monitors. Better to reign in the hell of low framerates or something.

    • Reapy says:

      I think my eyes must be terrible. I’ve always heard that dropping your resolution is the last thing you should do, but it was always the first I’d try, then I could up some of the effects.

      I guess since the LCD era I stick with the monitors resolution, so I bought a good 1080p monitor rather than 4k just so I wouldn’t have to worry about fighting for framerate. I’m kind of a huge framerate snob. I mean with xcom 30fps would probably be fine as long as it is a constant 30 (no framerate spikes), but if its an action game I crave that ~60fps mark more than anything in the world.

      • microsoftenator says:

        I’ve had a WQHD (aka 1440p) monitor for 7 years but my PC hasn’t kept up with gaming requirements enough to play games at native resolution, so I’ve gotten used to playing at 1080p and only turning up the resolution if I get better than 60fps.

        30fps minimum (I average 50 with my settings) is acceptable for XCOM, but 60fps minimum is so much more responsive in action/fps games.

  11. hollowroom says:

    Just a question for anyone who works in the game industry: Do they not do full QA/Testing on games in development any more?

    I wondered if this is one of the first sections of development that get cut if they want to make more money.

    • Essell says:

      (Big) games are always tested a lot by QA departments, of course. The problem is usually more a matter of “which and how many of our (hundreds / thousands of) bugs do we have time to fix?”. Because devs (especially on big ones) are always up against the wall for time near the end.

    • LacSlyer says:

      When it comes to PC gaming it’s not that simple. Unlike consoles, you’re designing a game that will potentially run on an near infinite amount of configurations, therefor making it noticeably more difficult for the Q&A process to weed out every issue possible. When you combine that with a company like Firaxis not really being a major studio with massive resources it can be understandable as to how such issues arise.

      • pseudoart says:

        This right here. QA for PC games is much more prone to fail to find bugs than for console or mobile. QA departments also seem to shrink these years. When redundancies hit, it’s usually QA whom is hit hardest. Some studios outsource QA, while only keeping a handful of embedded QA testers for development. At the same time, publishers are pushing for earlier releases, letting the public help with QA (early access/beta access). It’s a bit shite.

        • Premium User Badge

          teije says:

          Spot on. Not just games, this applies to software in general. QA is seen a frill, an afterthought, or easily outsourced.

          An example – when our company (business software) got bought 9 years ago, 90% of the QA group was let go in the interests of cost savings. Obviously product stability & quality took a huge hit, since now developers were in charge of their own QA (as if!). When I took over the dev group later, took me a long time to build back up the QA group and stability to an acceptable state again.

      • Archonsod says:

        90% of the time it’s nothing to do with configuration and everything to do with the random crap also running on the system. The reason this tends to be more frequent these days is less to do with any change in Q&A; more the sheer amount of badly written crud that tends to get foisted on people’s systems by the innumerable half wits who think whatever service/product/crap they’re pushing needs some badly written app to go along with it, and of course their crap is so important it absolutely needs to run in the background at all times. Such issues rarely ever turn up in testing because the Q&A department usually have strict restrictions on what can be installed on their machines to comply with the company IT policy.

    • AlexVostrov says:

      It’s not just a matter of sending the game off to some people to play it for a couple of weeks.

      Well-managed games will have several months on the tail end where all you do it fix things. QA will tag issues somewhere from “Show-stopper” to “Can ship with this”. The last few months are a race on part of the developers to get the number of bugs down. Programmers+designers fix problems and QA finds new ones.

      The thing is, there are *always* known issues in games that ship. Possibly hundreds of them depending on the game. The trick is to fix all the truly horrible stuff in time for shipping.

      In the case of XCOM2, they probably just ran out of time to work on the B-severity bugs/issues. Makes you wonder how bad the game was 2 months ago.

    • ooshp says:

      To be fair, their QA was remarkably good in terms of the gameplay mechanics.

      Clearly they prioritised game balance over a final hardware optimisation in order to meet their release date, a decision I fully support as the game is brilliant.

      Then again, the game runs pretty well for me on a 7950 in 1440p, so maybe I’m just a selfish prick. Shitty framerates in a few loading screens is a small price to pay for such a highly moddable package of awesomeness.

  12. horsemedic says:

    I have only mild slowness, but my god, the bugs:

    Black screens on the aliens’ turn, long inexplicable pauses before animations, mirage grenade angles, soldiers switching accents/languages mid-action, getting shot through walls (not often, but often enough to discourage an Ironman run), and my last run ended when I raided a 3-tick alien facility with less than an hour til Doomsday, spent an hour on the mission, won and flew home to hear my aides chattering about the next research project will I watched the campaign loss cutscene.

    None of them are game-breaking, but the entire game feels like it missed a QC cycle or two.

    • Premium User Badge

      aleander says:

      The long pauses turned out game breaking for me when they became infinite in a mission. It was a pretty dramatic one, too, with whole buildings levelled and my team bailing out barely alive but still somehow complete.

    • Premium User Badge

      tkjgmz says:

      Until a patch fixes the long pauses I imagine them as an awkward silence for some reason (e.g. one of the aliens farts just when a pod gets triggered).

    • gpown says:

      There is a mod for that already. Rejoice! link to steamcommunity.com

      Also, I fully expect RPS to make a post about useful mods.

      • Weed says:

        Yes and Yes!

        This mod (Stop Wasting My Time) is wonderful. It really helps the flow of the game.

        Would love to see an RPS article talking about the better mods and why, but that is a HUGE task. So many mods already.

      • Premium User Badge

        melnificent says:

        Well that’s the final mod I was looking for. Have already added disable timers and free camera rotation.

    • C0llic says:

      It isn’t enough to stop me from enjoying the game, but between turn pauses are the thing that’s killing me too. Sometimes it’s a seemingly intentional second or two, but other times it really does seem like the game is taking far too long to process the next turn or action.

      This is most noticable while an action like overwatch fires (everything will just freeze, sometimes leading to animations being skipped entirely), I suspect turning off the fancy camera stuff would help, but I just don’t want to do that (yet). It doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen far too often.

      It’s badly in need of some kind of optimisation pass.

  13. Floflo81 says:

    Everybody should check PCGamingWiki:
    link to community.pcgamingwiki.com
    and
    link to pcgamingwiki.com

    • Donkeyfumbler says:

      Nice article showing the differences between the various graphics options. That site is becoming increasingly useful.

    • Premium User Badge

      Thulsa Hex says:

      Those guys do a really great job. Used that site plenty of times to get older games working on newer systems. It’s become an essential resource!

  14. Premium User Badge

    Thurgret says:

    As a fairly inconsequential form of protest to this sort of thing, I won’t be paying full price for a Firaxis game again until they have a couple spotless releases in a row – then again, this is the first full price Firaxis game I’ve purchased since Civilization V.

    For my own part, all voices stopped working, except in cutscenes. The sole exception to this is immediately after loading a game, at which point, for a single turn of a mission, characters will speak, then all voices will stop again. No commentary at base or in missions, otherwise. There’s still the awkward zooming in on objects of interest, and complete silence – not even a portrait of a speaker in the top right.

    The intermittent freezing of the game for periods as long as 20 seconds, usually during the AI turn, is very odd too and not even performance related.

    • hollowroom says:

      I know what you mean. I don’t buy many games at launch any more, I wait until there’s been a bit of patching first.

      The first game I’ve bought on release in ages was Firewatch, which happily runs fine for me.

    • JFS says:

      I guess I just shouldn’t have pre-ordered, especially seeing as I already had issues with XCOM 1 back when. RPS and other – very positive – reviews swayed me. I’m glad I didn’t pay full price, though.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Philopoemen says:

    I’m playing on a (admitted gaming, with 4GB Radeon card) laptop, and I’m running at max settings at 1920 x 1080, and the game is smooth as silk; with the caveat that it eventually just chunks up. A reboot fixes the slowdown and off I go again.

    I thought it might be temp-related, as it’s averaging 40 deg C here this week, but just seems to be a random thing.

  16. rustybroomhandle says:

    For my fellow Linux users, these tweaks worked wonders for me (a lot of these might work for Windows users too):
    link to gamingonlinux.com

    Incidentally there’s a performance update currently in beta. Remember to reset the engine config ini when they release this patch as these settings would interfere with it.

  17. SuicideKing says:

    @Alec I’d suggest turning shadows to medium and keeping screen space reflections on, the impact of the former is tiny. Switch DoF to “simple”. FPS smoothing had no effect on my fps. Also, unless you’re actually crossing your monitor’s refresh rate, adaptive vsync is meaningless.

    Now, I’m running borderless window mode as well.

    Tactical FPS – ~35
    Strategic FPS – ~ 24

    Specs:
    i5-4690K @3.7/stock
    GTX 560 1GB
    8GB (2x4GB) DDR3-1600 CL9
    Game run from an SSD (Samsung 840 Series)

    Windows 7 x64
    Driver v358.87

    • SuicideKing says:

      Oh, I’m running the game at 1080p.

    • SuicideKing says:

      I’ve also turned off telemetry.

    • Cronstintein says:

      I experimented with a few .ini changes. I’m reasonably happy with how this is working at 720p on a 560m. AA set to FXAA and Textures set to Max, everything else set to minimums.

      XComEngine.ini

      under [SystemSettings]

      I changed:

      DynamicShadows=True (changed to False)

      DynamicShadowsFromDominantLights=True (changed to False)

      LightEnvironmentShadows=True (changed to False)

      Distortion=True (changed to False)

      DropParticleDistortion=False (changed to True)

      FXAAQuality=6 (I changed this to 4 though you could probably go to 2 without problems)

      FogVolumes=True (set to False) <-If nothing else, you should probably try this one.

  18. DePingus says:

    Here are some tips for the Linux players.
    link to gamingonlinux.com

  19. Joriath says:

    I’ve turned the anti-aliasing from the highest setting to FXAA, which has given a considerable framerate boost. However I now have the odd issue of four rectangular areas of diagonal squares (chessboard-like alternating between whiteish/transparent and the colour of the ground) in the top of the screen. These squares only appear during missions, and not during cut-scenes.

    I’ve become used to them but the only way to make them disappear is to switch to the highest anti-alias setting, which seems a bit odd to me.

    • Sobric says:

      I have this exact same problem! It’s shame upping AA is the only way to fix it as that kills performance too

  20. King in Winter says:

    Fortunately, my rig has enough oomph so I can make the game largely playable by tweaking ingame options alone, besides some random stutter on the Avenger and cutscenes.

    I did however run into a reproductible fatal error. I retried twice from earlier autosaves, and it occured without fail. During a base defense mission, when second ADVENT reinforcement was flown in, the game would blackscreen and freeze on the cutscene. I had to go back to an earlier geoscape save and let the UFO hunt me down again to get a new defense mission that I could play through without crashing.

  21. Geewhizbatman says:

    I refunded the game as a result. It wasn’t even the graphic issues honestly. As frustrating as they were, if I felt they were being fully addressed, I too could work through a low frame rate and enjoy what I could. It was Firaxis treating this, and the actual fatal errors, as some niche, side problem. Day one mods but no sense of regret for some people having a lump of unplayable game on their computer. Made me sad to the point that I weighed how much I really wanted new toys vs. diving back into Long War.

    I will probably pick it up in a year or so. I did the same with the first Firaxis XCOM, not thinking it would be for me—deciding to splurge on a sale, and falling in love. Having that cynicism pushed away briefly, only to get flattened by quality control hurt my fragile gamer heart xD.

    All the same, I think it is admirable the amount of work people are putting in to fix/improve things on their own. Firaxis is incredibly lucky to have fans who want to play their games enough to put in such energy. I hope that when/if they find some fixes they will be properly appreciative of their fans who were willing to stick it out with them.

  22. JFS says:

    Thank you for this concise and useful article! On my Nvidia, VSync helped without noticeable changes, but the pre-rendering downgrade made screen buildup laggy (i.e., the background of a scene such as the title screen only jumped into existence after a second or so).

  23. Laurentius says:

    MSAA is my favorite graphical option, sure I can’t play present day games with it on of course but in years, like playing 6 or 7 year old game with MSAA x8 is glorious.

  24. FeloniousMonk says:

    I’m having frame rate issues like everyone else but the real problem is temperature. My CPU is hard temp crashing – something I’ve never seen happen before with this rig. On reboot it’s cooked up to 90c! Highest I’ve ever seen (Witcher 3, full settings) was 48c! I’m basically afraid to play the game for fear that I’ll slag my system.

  25. Archonsod says:

    Only performance issue I hit was the cutscenes through the tutorial mission being choppy, but that was fixed after a reboot. Haven’t touched the graphics settings (defaulted to high) and this rig is technically under-spec (Q6700 CPU, GTX670, 8Gb Ram). It does have a soundcard rather than onboard chip though, so I wonder if that makes a difference.

  26. katscan says:

    Are you guys SURE you are getting Antialiasing ?? Many people are reporting that if you actually look at the image on the screen, there is no anti aliasing going on. It doesn’t appear to work in game, and it doesn’t appear to be working when forced on through the driver settings (in both replace and enhance mode).

    I think there may be an AA problem too.

    • ooshp says:

      No, it works. You can see the difference on the menu screen when you switch the options.

  27. polecat says:

    I upgraded for this (to a 2gb nvidia 960 and 16gb ram, stuck with my 3.3ghz i5-2500 and ssd) so was quite miffed to find it choppy with some nasty peaks. This article has really helped though I definitely find performance after a while gets progressively worse…at least soluble with a reboot. Am still very much enjoying the game but the shine does it takes the shine off a bit when they have obviously put so much thought and effort into the many many ways it is better than XCOM EU (which I loved). I hope it takes them less time to crack than the random teleporting enemy squads bug in XCOM EU…

  28. sairas says:

    ”but sadly it’s very generic stuff, as much use as shaving foam on a Sectoid.”

    While tier 3 waxing might prove more effective, Tygan did find heaps of hair in ears and … other hard to reach cavities in sectoid corpses, so there’s strong evidence that shaving foam would actually prove quite useful.

  29. NedStormFish says:

    The changes here, along with steps 2 and 6 on this link got me 45-60 frames on a GTX 760.
    link to gamepur.com

  30. geldonyetich says:

    One thing that surprised me about X-Com 2 is that it doesn’t seem to utilize SLI, judging by the fact I’m looking right at the fan of the second card and it never gets around to spinning.

    But for the most part the game’s main bottleneck has been the loading time. Going back and forth from the battlefield feels like it takes about a minute each way. That certainly slows down the game.

  31. NephilimNexus says:

    Congratulations, RPS: You are the first online games review to admit that XCOM2 actually has any flaws at all and is not, in fact, Bog’s gift to humanity on a diamond encrusted plate delivered by a chorus of angels.

    I know you didn’t actually criticize it per se, because of course that would lead to you be abducted by a legion of fanbois dragging you off for a public beheading, but it’s still nice to see that someone still has the balls to dare step out of the non-stop PR parade that every other game reviewer has been shackled to since launch day and tell the truth about it actually having flaws.

  32. michiganfan says:

    Performance for me has been acceptable. Admittedly, I’m running a pretty beefy system (3000 series i5 CPU, R290X 8GB, 16GB RAM, SSD) with only a 1080p monitor. Still, I get really choppy frame rates inside the Avenger and the SkyRanger, which I find very odd.

    It runs the combat portions of the game very smoothly, but anytime it’s zoomed in on a character in the base or sitting on the loading screens in the SkyRanger, it gets really choppy. You’d think that these would be the least demanding parts of the game. Go figure. It annoyed me enough that I ended up dropping down the graphics settings to make the problem less pronounced. This is the first game that I can remember having to drop the graphics settings on for this rig.

  33. JackBurton2509 says:

    I’ve never programmed a game (web developer), but this game has very clear memory leak issues. There are a TON of zombie calculations being performed the longer you play. You’ll notice it when the turns recalculate at the end of your turn. Units that are already dead will be making sounds and causing damage to the environment. Add into that mix some very buggy and wonky graphics code and you get the XCOM experience. These are the same issues Enemy Unknown had. I was hoping this was a rewrite, but alas they kind of moved around some stuff and didn’t fix their underlying problems, and then just pushed their codebase even further thinking newer hardware would absorb it.

    Unfortunate really, but PLEASE FIRAXIS! Do a clean rewrite for the next one. The code seems like a mess.

    • JackBurton2509 says:

      Keep in mind this game calculates it’s outcomes like a chess opponant would. It calculates so far into the future, and the more units active on the battlefields, the greater the number of outcomes it calculates. If you don’t believe me, when you reload the game, if you execute the same moves in the same order, it will always play out the same way. That’s because the game has already decided ahead of time what all those different possible outcomes would be.

  34. Furious says:

    What worked for me, turning a stuttering 10-20 fps to a reasonable 30+ fps, was turning down antialiasing, as always the biggest cause of poor framerate, in my experience. I had the game auto-detect to suggested Maximum everything, then I turned down AA to FXAA.

    To achieve a truly responsive and smooth experience, I also made the following adjustments:
    – Turn down shadow quality to medium
    – Turn down texture detail to High
    – Turn down texture filtering to Aniso 8x
    – Turn off screen space reflections
    – No vsync or framerate smoothing

    My rig, a mid-range gaming rig:
    AMD Radeon R9 380
    Intel i5 6600K 3.5GHz OC to 4.3GHz
    16 GB RAM
    Windows 10

    Hope this helps you out.

  35. phylum sinter says:

    Thank you so much for this article!

    Mine was one of the worst cases it seemed when it came to XCOM 2 performance – not only was i getting animation errors (still there but oh well?), i was also getting audio desync, there weird zipper sounds that detached the audio from the visual by about 20 seconds, and in many cases, had me crashing or forcing to ctrl+alt+del-ing as the screen froze, only to magically come back to the game post-cinematic. It made the game literally unplayable for me, and my fellow pc players in comment threads didn’t believe me! they shouted “oh it’s hardly unplayable! you’ll get by” they’d insist, “turn your settings down” they’d drool and i’d have done that with no difference in overall performance, exclaiming “look i don’t know why it runs apparently well on your rig but it sure doesn’t on mine!” “pics or it didn’t happen!”, they’d cry, and then i’d cry tears in being unable to communicate more perfectly just how broken it was for me.

    This article, though, this article is a godsend. XCOM 2 is one of a few games that i bought right at launch presuming it would be very stable and lovely, being PC only. The horror of blowing my entire monthly gaming budget on a broken game was nearly solidified until this lovely piece came along.

    Thank you thank you thank you. At least it doesn’t crash or zipper like it’s breaking my pc now. It was tip #7 that was the big shift for me, too.

  36. WiseGamer says:

    So what you’re saying is basically turn off all the graphics settings, which you shouldn’t have to do for an optimized, well-coded video game. That’s rather stupid, don’t you think? I’d much rather the developer fix the damn problems. I’m not going to buy this game until they do and I’m sure there are quite a number of others who feel the same. Stop apologizing for them.