XCOM 2 Graphics Options And Performance Tips And Tricks

Written by Jon Sutton on Fri, Feb 5, 2016 12:00 PM
System Requirements Optimum 1080p PC Build Low vs Ultra Screenshots GPU Performance Chart CPU List That Meet System Requirements GPU List That Meet System Requirements

The invasion might have been delayed a while from its original November launch date, but at long last the alien hostilities have commenced, and XCOM 2 has arrived. Firaxis' long-awaited sequel looks to improve on XCOM: Enemy Unknown is just about every conceivable way. It's got deeper tactical depth, and if you thought Enemy Unknown was punishing, think again; XCOM 2 takes difficulty to a whole new level.

Plenty of you have no doubt already got your hands on XCOM 2, or are at least close to clicking that Buy button, so here's a run-down of everything you'll need to know to ensure optimum performance before you head in. From XCOM's graphics options to system requirements and performance tips and tricks, we've got it all overwatched. 

XCOM 2 Graphics Options

Preset: Minimum / Low / Medium / High / Maximum
Anti-aliasing: Disabled / FXAA / MSAA 2x / MSAA 4x / MSAA 8x
Ambient occlusion: Disabled / Tile AO / SSAO
Decals: Some static / All static / All decals
Shadows: Directional only / Static only / All shadows
Shadow quality: Low / Medium / High / Maximum
Texture detail: Low / Medium / High / Maximum
Texture filtering: Bilinear / Trilinear; 2x / 4x / 8x / 16x
Depth of field: Disabled / Simple / Bokeh
Draw distance: Low / Medium / High
High-res translucency: Off / On
Bloom: Off / On
Dirty lens: Off / On
Subsurface scattering: Off / On
Screen-space reflections: Off / On

XCOM 2 System Requirements

XCOM 2 Minimum System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7 64-bit 
  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E4700 2.6GHz or AMD Phenom 9950 Quad-Core Black Edition 2.6GHz
  • RAM: 4 GB System Memory
  • GPU RAM: 1GB Video Memory
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 or AMD Radeon HD 5770 1024MB
  • DX: DirectX 11
  • HDD: 45GB Free Hard Drive Space
  • Audio: DirectX Compatible Sound Card

XCOM 2 Recommended System Requirements

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-2320 3.0 GHz or AMD Athlon II X4 651K 3.0 GHz
  • RAM: 8 GB System Memory
  • GPU RAM: 2GB Video Memory
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 or AMD Radeon HD 7970

My Performance in XCOM 2 is Terrible At Maximum Settings

So you’ve got your shiny new GTX 970 or your Radeon R9 390, and you’ve booted up a simple turn-based tactical strategy game and found you can’t max it with a decent frame rate. Disappoint right? But not the end of the world. It’s exclusively because the Maximum preset in XCOM 2 is set at 8x MSAA. This is the most demanding form of antialiasing in existence, and you’ll see frame rates drop into single digits even on a GTX 970 at 1080p.

The reason for this is that MSAA 8x is literally rendering at 8x 1080p resolution, before downsampling. That’s basically equal to rendering at 6K resolution, which is going to crumble all but the mightiest graphics cards.

Just because you think you have a decent graphics card, doesn’t mean you can max the settings. It doesn’t mean XCOM 2 is unoptimised, and it doesn’t mean your graphics card isn’t any good. MSAA 8x is just a theoretical maximum that at least somewhat future-proofs XCOM 2. Turn this off and you'll see your frame rate jump 8x. Your best bet is FXAA. 

XCOM 2 Capping the frame rate

For plenty of people, a lurching frame rate is real immersion killer. The easiest way to combat this is, in theory, to cap the frame rate so your rig’s got a steady target. To cap the frame rate in XCOM 2, you’ve got two options.

Firstly, you can enable Vsync in XCOM 2’s Video Options. This will limit the FPS to your monitor’s refresh rate. If you’ve got a 60Hz monitor this can be a decent choice. If you’re rocking a 144Hz beast then it’s not going to help.

Your second option is to download a tool like RivaTuner and select your chosen frame rate inside the “Framerate limit” box. You can grab the download for that over here.

XCOM 2 Ini Tweaks

Most games have .ini tweaks, but XCOM 2 has an absolute mountain. You can change everything from how from squad size limits to how much damage you do, even adjusting the the likelihood of beards. Yep, you can truly customise XCOM 2 to make it exactly how you want. Too easy? Make the AI more aggressive. Running out of cash? Make satellites super-effective.

To mess around with these, head to the XCOM 2 config folder. You can find this in the installation directory, which by default is located at:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\XCOM 2\XComGame\Config

There’s loads here to tweak, so it becomes a case a just messing around and seeing what happens. The file names should generally clue you in on what can be tweaked, so just head in and have a look. For instance DefaultClassData.ini lets you choose what benefits you get from each class levelling up, while DefaultMissions.ini lets you tweak mission objectives or how many enemies show up.

Should you run into any problems with these, the easiest thing to do is delete the files and get Steam to to scan and redownload them. Beware though that this could potentially cause problems with conflicting save data. 


That's all for now, but let us know if the comments below if you notice any other performance tips and tricks and we'll be try to add them. Good luck soldiers!

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21:57 Feb-05-2016

Would the best way to test this game on my PC be to set everything to as low as it can go and then turn up one setting at a time until I find a happy balance?

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22:29 Feb-05-2016

Ideally you should look for some benchmarks using your equipment or equipment similar in performance but as the game is new there wont be many at the moment. You could wait awhile or use the method you suggested but I cant guarantee the game will work very well given your gpu.

15:43 Feb-05-2016

Yeah, game gave me max preset and everything is usually alright. Close-up running animations weren't great for FPS, but character customisation? Wow! Nope.

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15:35 Feb-05-2016

Great anti-aliasing tip for those with more powerful systems, I'm going to turn it off entirely since I need the extra frames but I'm still going to try a high preset. I hope someone will do a few benchmarks before my physical copy arrives!

13:59 Feb-05-2016

Awesome article, exactly what I needed!

12:51 Feb-05-2016

Can I overclock GTX 970 to match the power GTX 980?

12:59 Feb-05-2016

hmm.. i think that's a bit to much

13:35 Feb-05-2016

lol no man.that would make the 980 absolutely pointless.there's a huge price difference too.a good overclock will achieve like 10 more frames in a good optimized game.


Can They Run... |

| 60FPS, Low, 1080p
Ryzen 5 5500U 6-Core 2.1GHz GeForce GTX 1650 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen R5 1600 Radeon RX 580 Sapphire Nitro+ 8GB 16GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 7 5800X 8-Core 3.8GHz GeForce RTX 3090 Zotac Gaming Trinity 24GB 32GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 3 3100 4-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3050 16GB
| 30FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 5 2600 GeForce GTX 1660 Gigabyte OC 6GB 16GB
0% No [2 votes]