Shadow Warrior 2 puts multi-res shading and HDR to good use

Yesterday marked the release of the ultra-violent FPS Shadow Warrior 2. The game itself is apparently fantastic, judging by its 95% positive rating on Steam—but that should be no surprise to players of the previous release in the series. Besides being an excellent game in its own right, the oft-overlooked 2013 Shadow Warrior was a visual spectacle that competed with any of its contemporaries. Shadow Warrior 2 continues that tradition, and is the first released non-VR PC game to support both HDR output and Nvidia's "Multi-Res Shading."

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, but most gerbils probably already knew that. The buzzword is flying around a lot lately, but the ability to display a wider range of colors simultaneously isn't just a gimmick and should allow for particularly vivid colors and better reproduction of dark areas. Enabling HDR in Shadow Warrior 2 will require an HDR-enabled display chain, so most users won't find the option useful yet. In contrast, Multi-Res Shading can be used right now, and shows great promise.

Nvidia originally developed Multi-Res Shading to help reduce the gargantuan performance costs of rendering AAA-game-tier visuals in VR. There's nothing stopping developers from implementing it in a regular old 2D-projected game, though. The technique involves rendering different parts of the screen at different resolutions. Given that resolution is the single largest factor in game render performance, this has the potential to reduce the load that peripheral areas of the screen—which are rarely observed directly during gameplay—impose on the graphics card.

Ultimately this means some detail will be lost around the outside edges of the viewport, but in a fast action game like Shadow Warrior 2, that trade-off might just be worth it. The game supports two levels of MRS, named Conservative and Aggressive. Nvidia claims the Aggressive setting allows a single GeForce GTX 1080 to pump out an average of 64 FPS in 3840×2160 resolution, compared to 49 FPS with MRS disabled. That's a pretty significant speed-up, although we suspect the gains are magnified by the high resolution used for testing.

For now, MRS is only supported on 9- and 10-series GeForce cards, but there's no reason the concept behind the technology can't be applied more generally. If gamers take a liking to the new feature, it may become commonplace in first-person games, regardless of the underlying hardware. If you've got a GeForce card, make sure you're registered in GeForce Experience because Nvidia is giving away 1250 copies of the game to registered users this month.

Comments closed
    • egon
    • 3 years ago

    The [url=https://www.gog.com/game/shadow_warrior_2<]regular[/url<] and [url=https://www.gog.com/game/shadow_warrior_2_deluxe<]deluxe[/url<] versions are both available DRM-free on GOG for the same price.

    • EndlessWaves
    • 3 years ago

    ‘HDR’ is a bit vague, which colour space is it designed for specifically?

    • derFunkenstein
    • 3 years ago

    This needs to work with Tobii eye tracking so that whatever you’re looking at is rendered at full detail, and then the rest of the screen can be a little lower.

      • RAGEPRO
      • 3 years ago

      What you’re talking about is actually called Foveated Rendering and it’s the current holy grail for VR stuff.

    • Billstevens
    • 3 years ago

    Who wants some Wang? Are they trolling us?

      • ludi
      • 3 years ago

      The original Shadow Warrior, back in the 1990s, was produced by the same crew that developed Duke Nukem 3D (and on the same game engine). The humor and visuals were detuned from DN3D’s borderline R-rating to a more reliable PG/PG13 level, but that should otherwise give you the flavor.

    • chuckula
    • 3 years ago

    [quote<]The [MRS] technique involves rendering different parts of the screen at different resolutions. [/quote<] Intel IGPs need this in the worst way. They can render 4K at 60FPS easily if 95% of the screen is rendered at 320x200 instead.

      • drfish
      • 3 years ago

      LOL, render just the crosshairs at full res.

        • chuckula
        • 3 years ago

        HDR crosshairs, everything else is just a vaguely multi-color blob.

        Hell, that might look terrible but it could help your frag count in some FPS games with the right training.

          • drfish
          • 3 years ago

          I’m told it works for CS players.

        • Voldenuit
        • 3 years ago

        [quote<]LOL, render just the crosshairs at full res.[/quote<] Intel recommends that the green 'dot' crosshair be used for this mode, as full-resolution 'cross' image may overwhelm your Intel Extreme Graphics.

      • kvndoom
      • 3 years ago

      PLEASE don’t give the marketers any ideas. All we need is “Extreme Graphics” to make a comeback.

    • Chrispy_
    • 3 years ago

    Oooh, Multi-res shading looks cool, as long as the transition is filtered in some way otherwise we’ll have the old mipmap texture lines that we used to get in the pre-anisotropic filtering days of bilinear mipmap filtering.

    Only this time it won’t just be textures, it’ll be the whole image 😉

    I would imagine this is going to be exceptionally useful for multi-monitor setups where the side screens are really only for immersion and peripheral vision, once it evolves a bit more.

      • PBCrunch
      • 3 years ago

      Multi-monitor gaming might go the way of the dodo. If you have the cash and the space for an array of monitors, you could probably get an even more immersive experience with a VR headset.

      • ColeLT1
      • 3 years ago

      [url<]http://images.nvidia.com/geforce-com/international/comparisons/shadow-warrior-2/shadow-warrior-2-nvidia-multi-res-shading-interactive-comparison-001-off-vs-aggressive.html[/url<] Looking at the grass, it is a smooth transition, but still not a feature I would want to use unless my frame rate is awful.

    • Neutronbeam
    • 3 years ago

    Of course it has Multi-Res SHADING…it’S SHADOW Warrior. Like, duh!

      • chuckula
      • 3 years ago

      Irony alert: The shadow effects suck.

        • Neutronbeam
        • 3 years ago

        I’ve noted that irony is an important part of your diet.:-)

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This