Game Realism Via NVIDIA Enhanced Effects


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Probably the most notorious difference between the console version of Assassins Creed Unity, and the PC version is the ability to switch from the old Screen Space Ambient Occlusion technique to the newer and better HBAO+. If all this sounds like another language to you, Ambient Occlusion is a technique used by developers to create realistic shadowing around objects to emphasize the depth of field of each scene.

Like many other graphic settings, Ambient Occlusion has many variants. SSAO has always been the standard but it is already old enough to call the grandfather of graphical settings. Back in 2008, NVIDIA introduced Horizon Based Ambient Occlusion which uses a more complicated algorithm than SSAO, but brought a higher definition, quality, and visibility to AO shadowing. Unfortunately, HBAO proved to be very demanding and most games (such as Battlefield 3) rendered HBAO at half the resolution to compensate for the loss in performance. With the help of DirectX 11, NVIDIA reconstructed HBAO+ to be more efficient, and even added more defined and accurate shadows.

Of course, HBAO+ still takes a higher toll in performance than SSAO, but the impact it has on realism and that next-gen feel that gamers so highly crave make it a very reasonable sacrifice of performance. HBAO+ played an important role in Assassins Creed Unity as each of the vast amount of objects can influence the occlusion of light. Below is a screenshot comparison between HBAO+ and SSAO.



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  1. sta

    Looks good on paper but, Nvida held back on their top GPU just like with the 600 series was launched. 1600p and 1440p seem to be the new standard ans 4k g-sync mentors have hit the market. Who will get to fully experience all these things in an enjoyable manner? I’ve only owned Nvidia cards since 2007, i’m not trolling and i’m no fanboy. I’m a 40+ enthusiast who is waiting for Nvidia”s true next gen card. The gtx 980 isn’t much of an uprate compared to the 780 ti and the 970 are roundly equal to the regular gtx 780. Is G-sync is aw some but wont help much at 30fps , the 1440p Asus swift has been out of stock since September and the Acer equivalent s due Q2 2015.

    1. Jason

      The Asus monitor that you are talking about is 800 dollars. My thinking is that it won’t be much of a problem for someone who plans to spend 800 on a very specific monitor like the Asus, and they will indeed be going at least 2-way SLi with 970’s or 980’s.

      The GTX 980 and 970 are right about where you said they were in performance, yet are low cost solutions to the 780 Ti, and 780 respectively. All while maintaining the same performance (slightly higher usually) and adding an extra 1 GB of frame buffer, along with the extra features in the Maxwell architecture.

      The games optimized correctly to take advantage of Maxwell are going to see performance gains even more so over the older 780’s that do not include the features Maxwell does.

      Waiting for the ‘better’ Maxwell’s is a personal choice and if you are not in need of a new graphics card, waiting is always going to pay off since new cards are always improving upon previous generations.

      So, to enjoy all these features in an enjoyable manner, it all depends on how much a person is willing to spend, and how well they match their hardware to the task at hand. I don’t think anyone is going to invest in an 800 dollar 1440p monitor and not get the necessary hardware to make it functional and enjoyable.

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