Shadow Warrior 2 Becomes the First PC Game Taking Advantage of HDR & NVIDIA’s Multi-Res Shading

Alessio Palumbo
Posted Oct 14, 2016
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Shadow Warrior 2 released yesterday and the feedback so far is great. There’s also something that makes Flying Wild Hog’s game unique: it’s the first PC game that takes advantage of both High Dynamic Range (HDR) and NVIDIA’s Multi-Res Shading technology.

Flying Wild Hog partnered with NVIDIA to implement both these technologies. Five months ago, we reported that Multi-Res Shading/Simultaneous Multi-Projection could yield benefits for 4K gaming as well as VR; now, Shadow Warrior 2 is the first game to make it happen.

Shadow Warrior 2 uses NVIDIA Multi-Res Shading, which includes simultaneous multi-projection (SMP) technology built into NVIDIA Pascal GPUs to project images into multiple viewports. It can, for example, decrease the resolution of a game’s graphics on the periphery of the screen, improving performance without harming image quality on the center of the screen where a gamer’s eyes are focused during gameplay.

This is the first time Multi-Res Shading technology has been used outside a VR application. By intelligently reducing the workload on the GPU, we gain a substantial amount of performance.

An official blog post on GeForce.com explained how Multi-Res Shading actually works in Shadow Warrior 2.

Shadow Warrior 2 performance can be improved by up to 30% with MRS, enabling you to play at 4K at over 60 FPS on a GeForce GTX 1080, with max settings enabled, or at over 60 FPS at 2560×1440 on a GTX 1060, also with max settings enabled.

In Shadow Warrior 2, Conservative and Aggressive MRS options are available, adjusting the size of the MRS border and the resolution of graphics rendered inside.

In other words, the Conservative setting adds a border 20% the size of the screen on the top and bottom of the picture, and a border 18% the size of the screen on the left and right of the picture. And everything rendered within that border is shown at 60% resolution (40% lower than the selected screen resolution; for example, images inside the MRS viewports are rendered at 2304×1296 when 3840×2160 is the selected screen rendering resolution).

As the resolution of the MRS border is dictated by the screen resolution specified in the options of a game, we recommend MRS be used at higher resolutions like 2560×1440 and 3840×2160 (4K). During gameplay the reduced resolution of the MRS border is far less noticeable at 2560×1440, and nigh on unnoticeable at 4K. This is especially true in Shadow Warrior 2, a fast and furious game where you can’t take your eyes off the center of the screen due to the non-stop action.

Additionally, NVIDIA provided a performance chart that gives you an idea of how much performance can be saved by enabling MRS in Shadow Warrior 2.

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As mentioned earlier, Flying Wild Hog also added HDR support with the help of NVIDIA. Of course, that kind of improvement cannot be showcased in any way for reasons discussed in previous articles.

Shadow Warrior 2 is also the first PC game to feature HDR (high-dynamic range). NVIDIA is driving the adoption of HDR in real-time 3D applications by working with developers to add the technology to their games. HDR expands the range of both contrast and color, so developers can display a wider and richer range of colors, much brighter whites, and much deeper, darker blacks.

For Shadow Warrior 2, NVIDIA provided sample code for HDR to Flying Wild Hog, giving them a great jumping off point for coding HDR. As they changed the code to make it their own, we supported them with advice and information. We even provided an HDR display for use during development.

However, here’s a video that shows Shadow Warrior 2 at 4K@60FPS with NVIDIA’s Multi-Res Shading enabled.

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