God of War is a 2018 action-adventure game developed by Santa Monica Studio and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. The game was officially released on Microsoft Windows platform in January 2022, and is the eighth installment in the God of War series. Compared to previous games, which were based on Greek mythology, this entry is loosely inspired by Norse mythology, with the majority of its plot being set in ancient Scandinavia. The game follows adventures of Kratos, and his young son, Atreus, in an ever-lasting struggle for survival in a hostile mythical world.
The game features many role-playing elements, as well as an innovative use of over-the-shoulder free camera. The PC version of the game features many technical enhancements which were not included in the PlayStation version, and as such is slightly upgraded to run on newer hardware and deliver jaw-dropping visuals. Performance-wise, the game can be very taxing even on the high-end hardware, so adjusting graphical settings is mandatory if the players want to achieve smooth framerate. In this guide we will explore game’s visuals and system performance, and provide graphics settings optimization guide for PC players.
The Canadian studio Jetpack Interactive, which acts as a support studio for Santa Monica Studio, developed the PC version of God of War. Compared to the PlayStation version of the game, the PC version features enhanced environment details, customizable controls, fully unlocked framerate, support for ultrawide displays, as well as support for NVIDIA DLSS and AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR).
The PC version of the game is much more demanding than the PlayStation version, and in order to achieve smooth 4K60 gameplay you’ll need a pretty powerful graphics cards. Even at 1080p resolution, the game can be quite taxing on ultra settings, meaning you’ll need at least the GeForce RTX 3060 or the Radeon RX 6600 XT to achieve smooth gaming experience.
The minimum system requirements for God of War target Low Quality preset at 720p/30fps, while the recommended are necessary to achieve the same gameplay experience as on PlayStation 4. For playing the game on High preset, the developers recommend having the GeForce GTX 1070, or equivalent, while for playing the game in 4K on Ultra preset, it is highly recommended to have GeForce RTX 3070 and Intel Core i9-9900K, or equivalent. Down below you can see the official system requirements.
Minimum system requirements:
- OS: Windows 10 64-bit
- Processor: Intel i5-2500K (quad-core 3.3 GHz) or AMD Ryzen 3 1200 (quad-core 3.1 GHz)
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 960 (4 GB) or AMD R9 290X (4 GB)
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 70 GB available space
Recommended system requirements
- OS: Windows 10 64-bit
- Processor: Intel i5-6600K (quad-core 3.5 GHz) or AMD Ryzen 5 2400 G (quad-core 3.6 GHz)
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 1060 (6 GB) or AMD RX 570 (4 GB)
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 70 GB available space
Thanks to our sponsors, who kindly provided us dozen of graphics cards, for purposes of this guide we were able to examine God of War’s PC performance with different GPU models. In order to determine how many frames per second our system could achieve, we used the MSI Afterburner tool. For NVIDIA graphics cards we used the latest NVIDIA 511.23 WHQL drivers, and for AMD cards we used Adrenalin 22.1.2 drivers. Our benchmark rig also included these PC components:
|CPU||Intel Core i5-11400F @ 2.6 GHz|
|RAM||Kingston FURY Beast 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4 CL17 @ 3466 MHz|
|MOBO||ASRock B560 Pro4|
|SSD||WD Blue 1TB SN550 M.2 NVMe SSD|
|PSU||Corsair RMX Series RM650x 80+ Gold|
God of War features a decent amount of adjustable graphics settings, as well as four quality presets which are: Low, Original, High, and Ultra. Almost all of these presets already include graphical upgrades that aren’t present even in the PlayStation 5 version of the game, such as high resolution shadows, and improved screen space reflections. The Original preset copies the PlayStation 4 version’s level of detail, while Low downgrades image quality even further in order to help the game run on weaker hardware, such as integrated GPUs.
For purposes of this guide we’ve decided to test the game’s performance only with the best image quality, and across the three most popular display resolutions. Down below you can see charts showing the game’s performance at 1080p, 1440p, and 4K resolution on ultra settings.
As you can see, God of War is a pretty demanding game even at the 1080p resolution. For achieving stable 60 fps you’ll need the GeForce RTX 3060 or Radeon RX 5700 XT, and if you own older GPU, such as the GeForce GTX 1060, or Radeon RX 580, you’ll have to settle with 30 fps. However, lowering the graphics settings from Ultra to Original should improve your performance by up to 45%, meaning you can expect achieving solid 40-43 fps on average with older cards like the GTX 1060.
At 1440p resolution you’ll need the RTX 3070 or equivalent to achieve stable 60 fps on ultra settings. Here, even more powerful cards, such as the RTX 3060 or the RTX 2060 struggle to deliver favorable performance. Of course, lowering the graphics settings from Ultra to Low will dramatically improve performance, however, we don’t recommend going below Original level, since then you won’t be able to experience the game the way it was meant to be played.
At 4K resolution, only the Radeon RX 6900 XT and the GeForce RTX 3080 could deliver stable 60 fps on average. Cards such as the GTX 1060 and the RX 580 were able to start the game at this resolution, however, the framerate these cards were able to deliver was abysmal, so we decided not to include these results.
To be honest, the game looks absolutely stellar in 4K, however, the cards that are able to deliver decent performance at this resolution cost more than $1,000 these days, so trying to achieve this kind of experience seems to be a waste of money. Even at 1080p resolution the game looks gorgeous, especially on ultra settings, so we don’t recommend bothering with trying to play the game at 4K.
Graphics Settings Analysis
After examining God of War’s performance while running on its default graphics presets, we decided to analyze the performance cost of each individual graphics setting. As a baseline we used results from our benchmark run at 1080p resolution on Ultra preset with our GeForce RTX 3060. Down below you can see a chart showing the relative performance cost of each individual setting.
As you can see, the Shadows are the most taxative graphics setting in this game. Cranking up the shadows from Original to Ultra will decrease your framerate by up to 15%, but will also greatly enhance the overall visual experience. This setting affects both the resolution of shadows, as well as filtering. In our opinion, you should set this setting as high as possible, since it greatly improves game’s graphics.
Next we have Atmospherics, which also come with a performance cost of 13-15%. This setting adjusts the quality of fog and clouds, but it doesn’t improve visuals too much. Having that in mind, we strongly recommend turning this setting down as much as possible, as it’s really not worth the performance cost.
Model Quality is another setting which greatly affects the performance. Setting this to Ultra will decrease your framerate by around 8%. However, the difference between Ultra and Original is barely visible, so consider lowering this down if you want to gain additional frames.
After that we have Anisotropic Filtering which improves texture quality. Going from Original to Ultra will decrease your framerate by 3%, which, overall, isn’t too much. If your GPU has 8GB of VRAM or more, then in that case we recommend setting this to Ultra, as it slightly improves overall image quality.
The Ambient Occlusion is another pretty standard setting implemented in God of War. It basically improves visual representation of areas where two surfaces meet, and adds additional depth. Disabling this will net you extra 5% frames per second, however, we don’t recommend doing that, as the game’s image fidelity will greatly suffer.
If there is one setting you should keep on Ultra, then this is Texture Quality. These days most GPUs have enough VRAM to quickly store and process large textures, so there is no reason to keep this setting on lower presets. Lowering texture quality from Ultra to Low will improve your framerate by only 2%, which really isn’t worth the sacrifice.
Finally, we have Reflections, Motion Blur, and Film Grain. Both motion blur and film grain are postprocessing effects, so if you have a fairly new graphics card, then you shouldn’t experience any performance penalties by enabling these two options. As for the reflections, cranking them up from Original to Ultra+ will decrease your framerate by only 1%, which means turning them off is completely meaningless.
Of course, there are also DLSS and FSR which you can employ to improve overall performance at little to no cost regarding image quality. For example, you can enable DLSS if you have an RTX graphics card, or you can turn on FSR if you have Radeon GPU. Setting the DLSS to Quality mode will bump up your performance by roughly 15% without any distortion in image quality, while switching to Balanced mode will improve your average framerate by up to 22%.
Compared to DLSS, the FSR looks much more blurry, but can enhance performance for owners of Radeon cards. The Ultra Quality setting will improve your framerate by up to 16%, while Quality setting will deliver 25% additional performance. Anything below that will further improve your framerate, however, the image will become extremely smudgy.
God of War requires a powerful graphics card in order to be played at smooth 60 fps on ultra settings. Fortunately, lowering the graphics quality preset from Ultra to High or Original will dramatically improve game’s performance, and on Low settings the game can even be played using an iGPU. Of course, the game looks best in 4K, but for achieving that kind of experience you’ll need an extremely powerful graphics card.
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