Rise of the Tomb Raider Graphics & Performance Guide

Rise of the Tomb Raider launches on Steam and the Windows Store today, sporting exclusive PC enhancements in addition to a bevy of other improvements, making Lara Croft's latest outing a graphical tour de force, just like 2013's Tomb Raider.

Crystal Dynamics' Foundation Engine returns for the sequel with upgrades galore. Physically Based Rendering gives materials a natural look under all conditions, HDR and adaptive tone mapping create stunningly bright zone transitions and highlights, deferred lighting with localized Global Illumination increases the realism of lighting, volumetric lighting adds God Rays and other shafts of light, dynamic color grading gives artists control over the appearance of individual areas, reactive water enables dynamic water ripples game-wide, physically correct forward lighting enables translucencies to be accurately lit, particle lighting enables particles to be dynamically lit by light from their surroundings, and Subsurface Scattering and Backscattering increases the quality of lighting on characters' skin.

Of the many additions, Crystal Dynamics' use of Side Effects' Houdini software is the most impressive. With this package highly realistic water effects and avalanches were created offline, recorded as Bink videos, and dynamically merged into real-time cutscenes to display visual effects that would be otherwise impossible to render. Less accurate effects could be rendered in real-time, though they wouldn't appear anywhere near as dramatic or thrilling.

In this guide you'll see all of those effects in our screenshots as we examine Rise of the Tomb Raider's many settings and PC-only upgrades. We'll also show comparisons that highlight their benefits, and reveal their relative performance cost at 1920x1080, the most popular PC gaming resolution. Furthermore, we'll reveal the GPUs you require for a max setting experience, and demonstrate how NVIDIA technologies can enhance your time in Rise of the Tomb Raider's stunning environments.

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