Star Wars Battlefront Tweak Guide
[Page 5] In-Game Settings
This section contains full descriptions of all of Star Wars Battlefront's in-game settings. I note the performance impact of each setting, but keep in mind that it's impossible for me to give exact performance impacts - it all depends on your specific hardware combination and your other game and system-wide settings.
To access the in-game settings, start Star Wars Battlefront, select a profile and click on the 'Options' item on the main menu screen. A list of additional options will appear, and each of these is described below:
The single player portion of the game is relatively straightforward to launch, and contains no performance-related options. Simply click Singleplayer on the main menu and follow the prompts to begin a particular campaign, or click Instant Action and you can choose to play particular maps. Instant Action in particular is an excellent way of familiarizing yourself with the multiplayer maps in an offline environment.
To adjust particular Singleplayer settings, see the Game Options section below.
Connection Type: You must select the type of multiplayer game connection you wish to use here: over the Internet, through a LAN, or via a Direct Connection with another computer. For most people, the Internet option is appropriate for finding online public servers and playing multiplayer. Note that when choosing to play over the Internet, you may be prompted to create a Gamespy account - this is not necessary whatsoever for playing SWB on the Internet, and you can select No to continue. The only benefit of a Gamespy account would be that your gameplay statistics will be tracked and recorded when playing.
Server Browser: If choosing to play over the Internet, you will eventually arrive at the Server Browser screen. At this point, select the Refresh button and the list of all available online servers from across the world will progressively be displayed in the browser. The most important things to look for here are firstly the number of total and available slots on the server. This is shown for example as 28/32 – the second number is the total number of free slots on the server, the number before the slash is the slots which are already taken. Trying to join a full (or close to full) server will result in 'Server is Full' message. A padlock symbol next to a server means it is locked to members of the general public.
Ping: The second, and arguably most important thing to look for is the status symbol under the Ping heading to the far right. Ideally you should try to join a server with the most number of bars, typically either Green or Yellow (at worst). More bars and a Green indicator means that your ping will be at its lowest, and thus you will experience the least ping-based 'lag'. Note however that even on a server with a low ping, you may experience lag, but most often this is 'graphics slowdown' due to your system struggling to draw the graphics and not server-related. Don't confuse the two. One is in your hands (i.e. following this guide to improve performance), and the other is based on the location of the server you have joined and your Internet connection. Always try to join servers in the same country as you, and with a green status symbol, otherwise you may experience a great deal of frustration.
Finally, it is important to remember that Star Wars Battlefield is designed specifically for DSL and above Internet connections. Attempting to play SWB with a 56K dialup connection will usually result in unplayable conditions – i.e. lag, warping (packet loss) and disconnections. This is normal and there are no tweaks I can provide to assist you here – the game usually requires too much information to be sent back and forth for 56K connections to handle.
The majority of these settings relate to Singleplayer mode only, and have no impact in Multiplayer unless noted.
Viewpoint: This option determines whether you view your character/vehicle from the 1st Person perspective (i.e. through his eyes), or from the 3rd Person (i.e. just behind him). For the most part the performance difference between the two modes is almost non-existent, so select whichever suits your playing style. Note that this setting does have an impact on Multiplayer, and that you can also switch between 1st and 3rd person perspectives as often as you like by using the relevant key during the game. I personally use 1st person view when playing as my character to assist in improved aiming and movement, and then switch to 3rd person for vehicle usage to be better aware of my surroundings.
Friendly Fire: This option determines whether you and your teammates can hurt each other with your weaponry (when set to On) or not (when set to Off ). Applies only to Singleplayer, has no impact on Multiplayer where this option is set by the server administrator. Note that Friendly Fire is usually enabled on most multiplayer servers, so be careful where you fire and throw explosives. Excessive teamkilling ruins others' enjoyment and may see you kicked from the server.
Instant Action Heroes: If set to On, classic heroes such as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader will enter the battlefield and play along with characters. Note that these heroes cannot be controlled by you or any other team members, and you cannot be a hero or Jedi at any point – heroes are always NPCs (Non-Player Characters). Also note that they are next to impossible to kill, and even if you manage to kill them (e.g. knock them off a cliff) they will respawn shortly afterwards. This setting only affects Singleplayer – in Multiplayer the server administrator will have chosen whether this is on or off.
Difficulty: This setting determines the level of difficulty in the Singleplayer mode: either Easy, Medium, or Hard. The higher the difficulty level, the better the AI (Artificial Intelligence) of computer-controlled characters (also called 'bots'). Unfortunately in Star Wars Battlefront most AI is dumb as dirt and this setting does little to alter that. Theoretically the higher the setting the more CPU power is used and hence the lower your performance, but in practice there is little difference that I've noticed.
Make sure you click the Accept option at the bottom right of the screen to implement any changes you have made here and leave this screen.
Brightness: This slider controls how bright or dark the screen image is for SWB. I recommend you adjust this so that the screen isn't too "washed out" but that you can still see details in dark areas. Has no impact on performance.
Contrast: This slider controls the difference between bright and dark colors, similar to Brightness. Has no impact on performance.
View Distance: This setting controls the maximum visible distance for objects drawn onscreen. The further to the right the setting, the further your character can see into the distance. I noticed that changing this setting didn't seem to alter the view distance noticeably, although it did seem to improve performance by reducing the view distance (i.e. moving the slider to the left). Experiment with this slider, however note that the LOD Distance setting has a greater impact on visual quality, gameplay and performance (See below).
LOD Distance: This slider controls the Level of Detail (LOD) Distance. The further to the right the slider, the more details you can see on the battlefield, especially into the distance. For example, with the slider to the far right you will be able to see any characters at the far distance of your view, however the further left you move the slider, the less characters and vehicles/equipment you will be able to see. Although reducing the LOD Distance (moving the slider left) improves performance, it can quite obviously disadvantage you during gameplay as distant players in the battlefield will become invisible to you (but they can still hurt you), so I recommend you do not reduce this slider any further than halfway to the left. Remember, this setting does not significantly impact on objects such as buildings and terrain, rather it primarily seems to affect animated objects such as characters and vehicles.
VSync: Vertical Synchronization (VSync) is the synchronization of your graphics card and monitor's abilities to redraw the screen a number of times each second (measured in FPS or Hz). If this setting is set to On, the most noticeable effect is that your framerate will be capped at the maximum Hz rating for your monitor at your chosen resolution. For example, if you've chosen 1280x1024 resolution, and your monitor only performs at 75Hz at this resolution, your FPS cannot exceed 75FPS. If you set VSync to Off, your FPS can exceed your monitor's maximum refresh rate, however you may see some image "tearing" whenever your monitor and graphics card go slightly out of synchronization. For maximum performance I generally recommend disabling VSync, however if you really cannot tolerate any tearing then enable VSync. Note that you should also make sure your Direct3D VSync setting in your graphics card's control panel is set to 'Application Preference' otherwise that setting will override any in-game settings. For details, see my Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide.
Note also that on many online servers your FPS may be capped to 30FPS – this is normal, and is unrelated to your VSync settings. It has to do with that server's Tick Rate, which you cannot alter.
In-Game Resolution: This setting controls how many pixels are displayed on your screen. It has a major impact on Star Wars Battlefront performance - the higher you set the resolution, the better the graphics will look however the lower your performance. If nothing else works to improve your performance, and you find the game constantly "lagging" then you will have to reduce your resolution. Note that the menu resolution is stuck at 640x480 and cannot be changed.
Antialiasing: Antialiasing is a technique which uses your graphics card hardware to smooth jagged lines in 3D graphics. For more details of Antialiasing, read my Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide. The higher the sample rate of the Antialiasing you select (i.e 2x, 4x, 6x) the progressively better your graphics will look, but the lower your performance. I recommend you set this to Off for maximum performance, particularly since the existing blurring in SWB helps give the graphics a smoother look for much less of a performance hit. Note also that this setting may conflict with any forced Antialiasing you have set in your graphics card's control panel, so I strongly recommend you set that to 'Application Preference' .
Texture Detail: This setting determines the level of detail for textures, which are the 2D graphics covering the surfaces of all 3D objects in the game. The options for this setting are Low, Medium, and High. In general you should only select High texture detail if you have a graphics card with 128MB or more of Video RAM. If you have less video ram, you can improve performance and reduce any loading pauses/stuttering by setting this to Medium or Low. However the lower the texture detail level, the blurrier and less attractive the textures will appear. Luckily the visual quality difference between High and Low is not significant. Note that you can only change the texture detail level before loading a map – you cannot change this setting during gameplay, since at that point the textures have already been loaded up.
Terrain Quality: Terrain quality determines the number of polygons used to render the general terrain and associated features. The settings possible are Low, Medium, and High. While lower levels of terrain quality may improve performance, I personally did not see a noticeable difference in image quality or performance between the three levels for this setting. This is primarily because to maintain fairness, the same basic terrain has to be viewable by all players. I recommend selecting Medium to ensure good performance and visual quality.
Water Quality: This setting controls the graphics quality of water in the game. The options are Low, Medium, and High. The lower the setting, the better your performance in areas with visible water, however the image quality difference is also fairly major. At Low the water is actually very unpleasant – almost totally transparent and completely unrealistic. I do not recommend this setting to all but those who are desperate for FPS. Medium provides a good balance between image quality and performance, while High is a small improvement over Medium, but also doesn't have a major performance impact.
Particle Quality: This setting determines the quality of particle effects – that is those effects which involve smoke, fog, dust, explosions etc. Although there are three options here: Low, Medium, and High, I didn't notice any major difference between the three, either in terms of performance or visual quality. If you want to ensure the fastest performance, select Low, however if you run into any visual anomalies set this to Medium or High.
Shadow Quality: This setting controls the shadows cast by animated objects such as vehicles and characters. It can have a noticeable impact on performance in scenes which contain a great many players and/or vehicles, especially when there are multiple light sources (e.g. blaster fire, explosions). When set to Off, no shadows are cast. This provides the fastest performance but is the most unrealistic. At Low there are blob shadows cast, and this setting is recommended for those seeking a balance between performance and visual quality. At High each animated object casts a complex shadow which closely matches their shape, but at the cost of reduced FPS particularly in heavy combat scenes. High is only recommended for those with powerful graphics cards.
Bumpmapping: This setting has two options – On or Off. Bump mapping is a special technique which makes certain 2D textures appear three dimensional. For example the walls in Mos Eisley will show raised surfaces and bumps/pitting, making them appear more realistic. However bump mapping can reduce performance, particularly on older graphics cards, so you can turn this off if you need a performance boost, but at the cost of a slight drop in realism/image quality.
Motion Blur: If set to On, this setting only has a noticeable effect when your character is moving at very fast speeds, for example when you are using the speeder bike. There is a blurring effect of the background (moreso than usual) the faster you move. This can be quite realistic, but can reduce performance during such instances and also annoys some people. Set this to Off if that is the case. Note, this setting does not control the general blurring of the graphics in SWB, and has no impact during normal gameplay (i.e when not moving on a fast vehicle).
Distortion Effects: This setting can either be set to On or Off. Distortion effects are once again not the general blurring which you see on the screen. They are the additional effects you can enable such as the heat wave around explosions. Enabling such effects can reduce performance in scenes which contain such effects, such as during intense battle scenes, so set this to No for a minimal drop in image quality but an FPS boost in heavy combat scenes.
Romantic Camera/Bloom: This is not a setting in the game, I simply want to point out here that the general blurriness visible throughout the game's graphics is a pixel shader effect known variously as "Bloom" or "Romantic Camera" by some people. Some people like it, some people hate it, however unfortunately there is no way to disable it at the moment.
Auto Detect: If you are extremely lazy, you can select this option at the bottom of the screen and the game will attempt to adjust settings to suit your system. As is always the case with such things, it never does a good job of detecting the optimal settings, so I strongly recommend you read the descriptions in this guide and make your own adjustments.
Make sure you click the Accept option at the bottom right once you've made all your changes to ensure they are saved and used. The next section continues the In-Game setting descriptions.