The Far Cry franchise gained notoriety for its impeccable graphical fidelity and enthralling open world environment. As a result, each release is incredibly useful to gauge the current state of graphics hardware and performance across various resolutions. Although, Ubisoft’s reputation has suffered in recent years due to poor optimization on major titles such as Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Watch Dogs. This means it’s essential to analyze the PC version in a technical manner and see if it’s really worth supporting with your hard-earned cash!
Far Cry Primal utilizes the Dunia Engine 2 which was deployed on Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4. Therefore, I’m not expecting anything revolutionary compared to the previous games. This isn’t necessarily a negative concept though because the amount of detail is staggering and worthy of recognition. Saying that, Far Cry 4 was plagued by intermittent hitching and I really hope this has been resolved. Unlike Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, the latest entry has a retail price of $60. According to Ubisoft, this is warranted due to the lengthy campaign and amount on content on offer. Given Ubisoft’s turbulent history with recent releases, it will be fascinating to see how each GPU this generation fares and which brand the game favours at numerous resolutions.
“Far Cry Primal is an action-adventure video game developed and published by Ubisoft. It was released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on February 23, 2016, and it was also released for Microsoft Windows on March 1, 2016. The game is set in the Stone Age, and revolves around the story of Takkar, who starts off as an unarmed hunter and rises to become the leader of a tribe.” From Wikipedia.
Test Systems and Procedures
Before we delve into any testing we would like to take this opportunity to overview our test system.
- Motherboard – Gigabyte X99-Gaming G1 WiFi LGA 2011-3 Motherboard
- Processor – Intel Core i7 5820K at Stock 3.3GHz
- RAM – 16GB (4 X 4GB) Crucial Ballistix Sport DDR4 2400MHz
- CPU Cooler – Thermaltake Water 3.0 with Gelid GC-Extreme
- Power Supply – BeQuiet Dark Power Pro 11 1200w
- Main Storage Drive – Crucial M550 512GB
- Chassis – Lian Li T80 Test Bench
- Displays – AOC U2868PQU 4K
- Operating System – Windows 8.1 Pro 64 Bit
We always ensure the latest drivers are used at the time of testing to find each GPU’s current potential.
- Far Cry Primal
It can be quite challenging for any system analysis to remain completely accurate due to driver enhancements and improved optimization through post-release patches. Therefore, it’s imperative to provide readers with this information so they can easily determine how the results might differ in a few months time. As you can see, the latest patch updates the game to version 1.2.0 and helps in GPU-bound scenarios. This means the data is up-to-date and a more accurate depiction of the performance compared to initial analysis on release.
Far Cry Primal contains a fairly comprehensive set of options to find a suitable balance between image quality and frame-rate. The basic video screen allows you to alter resolution, set the refresh rate, graphics preset, V-Sync and more! This is looking very promising and should help with scaling across various tiers of graphics cards.
The advanced section is littered with settings including texture quality, shadows, water effects, environment details and a host of other customizable options. During the testing procedure, I selected the maximum preset and then turned off Anti-Aliasing. Once complete, I double checked each setting apart from AA to ensure it was set to the highest option. Please note, AA is disabled because games tend to be quite vague about the type of AA implementation or use FXAA. This fast form of AA isn’t great and many users prefer to leave it off because of the hazy effect.
The game incorporates a benchmarking tool to easily judge performance in a wide range of scenes. This means it’s extremely easy to acquire results which reflect frame dips during intense moments. To clarify the benchmark’s accuracy, I ran a similar run using real-time gameplay and compared it to the integrated benchmark. I’m pleased to say the data remained consistent and within 2 frames-per-second of the internal benchmarking utility. This means the benchmark tool is accurate and can be used for thorough testing.
Far Cry Primal – 1080p, 1440p and 4K Benchmarks
At the frequently used 1920×1080 resolution, it’s evidently clear that the Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 980Ti with a hefty factory overclock leads the way by a large margin. Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of high-end products from the GTX 970 upwards manages to achieve around 60 frames-per-second. There is a fairly noticeable deficit between the Fury X and custom 980Ti which isn’t surprising given the performance difference in other major titles. Although, I did expect the gap to the Titan X to be less pronounced.
The Nano’s great price to performance ratio is exemplified in this benchmark and just edges the GTX 980. Overall, the minimum figures aren’t too far away from the average which creates a smooth user-experience. Subsequently, you shouldn’t notice sudden frame drops which detracts from the feeling of fluid gameplay.
Once the resolution is increased to 2560×1440, only the top-tier solutions can hover around the 60 frames-per-second mark. The Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 980Ti performs brilliantly and retains a huge advantage over the Titan X. On another note, the Fury X becomes much more competitive and records a result only one frame behind NVIDIA’s flagship graphics card. Although, the Titan X’s minimum frame-rate is higher and creates a less jarring experience. AMD products appear to do really well here and even the 390 surpasses the GTX 980.
This is fantastic news for AMD users and really showcases the great performance compared to NVIDIA alternatives. For example, the Nano beats the GTX 980 while being cheaper and using a really compact form factor. Towards the mid-range, you’re going to have to make some compromises and reduce settings to retain 60 frames-per-second.
During 4K testing, it’s extraordinarily challenging to obtain a playable frame-rate using any single card configuration. The Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 980Ti still reigns supreme but it’s not a massive step up from the Fury X or Titan X. All of these cards struggle to play the game on a 4K render unless you’re content with a 30 frames-per-second experience. Given the premium price of higher end hardware, I highly doubt this is a likely scenario. AMD products continue to perform superbly and I was surprised by the 390’s ability to match the GTX 980. Perhaps the additional video memory helps matters slightly when pushing so many pixels.
Far Cry Primal is characterized by good optimization which allows for excellent frame-rates providing the resolution doesn’t surpass 2560×1440. The GTX 980Ti performs extremely well and even manages to maintain 60 frames-per-second on a 1440P panel. Furthermore, I didn’t encounter any sudden frame-rate dips and the minimum figures weren’t overly far away from the average numbers. This allows for a consistent and thoroughly enjoyable user-experience.
When using a 1920×1080 display, it’s relatively easy to achieve 60 frames-per-second with affordable graphics hardware. The R9 390 and GTX 970 are both capable of this feat and provides great performance at a reasonable price point. Once the resolution is increased to 2560×1440, the demands increase at an exponential rate and requires at least the R9 Fury X to hover around 60 frames-per-second.
As expected, even elite grade hardware cannot cope with Far Cry Primal on a 4K monitor and you have to rely on either dual GPU setups or reduce settings. Thankfully, this is fairly simple because the options menu is laden with visual tweaks to improve performance. It’s important to reiterate that the lackluster numbers are a result of current hardware being unable to play complex games on high presets. This lack of graphical horsepower applies to most major releases and isn’t a commentary on the engine’s optimization.
Apart from the top positions, AMD graphics cards are really competitive and appear to thrive in mid to high-range performance results. For example, the R9 390 outperformed the GTX 980 during 1440P testing and obtained an identical result with a 4K panel. The Nano also showcases its wonderful potential and catapults into a different league to the GTX 980 while costing less. In Far Cry Primal, NVIDIA dominates the first position and showcases the unbelievable gains from an overclocked GTX 980Ti. However, this isn’t a shocking revelation and the real story here is how well the 390X and 390 perform compared to their NVIDIA counterparts. To conclude, Far Cry Primal is quite good from a technical perspective providing you opt for a GTX 970 or higher.
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