Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Tweaks Guide to Improve Graphics and Performance

By   /   Oct 7, 2014

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor has hit the PC, and it’s one of those surprise action-RPGs that develops an instant fan-base because of exceeding expectations.

While SoM features decent visuals and up to date use of rendering technology, it does demand a rig that is untrue to the standard of graphics it has to offer.

For this reason, many users may run into performance issues and desire for better visuals. This guide will help you tweak your game’s performance and graphics to attain a balance between good fps and appealing eye-candy

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Tweaks

Shadow of Mordor doesn’t completely give you full control of advanced options through configurations like many dedicated PC games.

There are three files in the form of settings.cfg, render.cfg, and Game.ini that could’ve acted as potential system files with ample choices, but all the tweaks that can be made in those files are the same as the options provided in the in-game settings.

It is thus advised to solely restrict yourself to the game settings for graphic and performance improvements. The game also has a benchmark to adjust your graphic settings, but it may adjust the visuals in a way to not suit your needs.

It is better to manually go through each and every setting. That may seem like a daunting task, but if you know the performance and visual impact of each individual option, you’ll be quick to find the right balance between smooth FPS and good graphics.

Lighting Quality
Lighting Quality will affect all variables associated with lighting (except for shadows), such as anisotropy, dynamic lightings, and the level of detail of reflections.

Lighting Quality setting will hardly have a massive impact on most modern computers, and without it the game can become very appealing. It is best to leave this at High.

Mesh Quality
Mesh Quality is associated with how many textures are drawn out. Basically, with a higher quality, you have a higher polygon count, which may impact performance a bit, but it is one of the more rudimentary settings that most half-decent graphic cards can handle.

Reducing mesh quality will greatly reduce the level of detail in your surroundings. Leave this option as the last resort to improve performance, and keep it on High or Ultra, depending on how confident you are with your PC.

Motion Blur
A very basic effect that almost every gamer knows about. Motion Blur is hardly anything fancy in modern games, and should be On. Of course, you can turn it Off if you have an issue with blur effect itself and prefer sharper but less realistic animations.

Shadow Quality
This deals with the quality and accuracy of shadows casted by every object. As with most games, Shadows take a large amount of juice because they are closely tied with dynamic lighting and polygon count.

Fiddling with this option is important and it should be one of the first ones you drop down if you want better FPS.

Texture Filtering
Texture filtering is a complex graphical technique of stabilizing how textures are displayed on your screen. While that may seem like background work, the amount of textures that modern games have can make filtering a workhorse’s task for your graphics card.

Usually games offer Texture Filtering in-terms of level (8x, 16x etc.) and type of filtering applied (Bilinear, Trilinear, Anisotropic).

However, SoM dumbs it down to convention Low to Ultra. This setting will have a low to high impact on your performance depending on complexity of your surrounding and the mesh/texture settings.

Texture Quality
Texture quality determines the resolution of the textures used in the game. While low and medium will result in unappealing and blocky textures, High and Ultra will give you sharp ones with amazing performance.

Ultra textures come in the form of a separate HD Textures pack on Steam that can be downloaded and applied.

Do note that while the setting may not have a huge impact on your peak FPS, it might cause significant fps drops and stutters, as Ultra setting requires 6GB VRAM, while High requires 3GB. For most graphic cards, the High setting is recommended.

Ambient Occlusion
Ambient Occlusion is a relatively modern rendering technique to shade certain parts of objects that come in dynamic lights.

It’s an option that has a very high impact on performance, and adds a subtle but visible improvement in visuals. This is the first setting you should be dropping if you have performance issues.

Vegetation Range
This setting determines the distance at which foliage will be rendered. The higher the settings, the more detailed the foliage even when you are standing at a good distance. This is a setting that should be altered second to Ambient Occlusion if you are facing performance issues.

Depth of Field
Depth of Field may have a small impact on your performance, but it will hardly be noticeable (max 1 or 2 fps).

Order Independent Transparency
This relatively unique setting seems to be bugged when turned on alongside VSync; it will cause massive temporary fps drops and stutters whenever you use Wraith mode or when other transparency effects are rendered.

If you wish to use this setting (has a small impact on performance), make sure your VSync is off by setting the Max FPS option to ‘No Limit’.

Tessellation
Tessellation is a rendering technique using different geometric shapes to tile a surface. This is a commonly used technique for most Directx 11+ games. Most Dx11 compatible cards can handle this technique with ease, so there is little reason to turn this option off.

Performance Tweaks
If you’re having performance drops, you should try and perform the following (in order of effectiveness):

  • Lower Ambient Occlusion
  • Lower Shadow Quality
  • Turn off Vsync and Order Independent Transparency
  • Reduce Texture Filtering
  • Reduce Resolution
  • Reduce Lighting Quality

How to Install HD Textures
Your game may not come with HD textures by default, and if you have a 4GB+ graphic card you may want to try them out. In order to acquire HD Textures, you need to download them separately.

You need to visit this HD Content DLC link for Shadow of Mordor, and download the free HD textures. Click the blue “Install” button, then go to your Steam library, click Shadow of Mordor and click on “View Downloadable Content”.

Mark the “HD Content” for installation, and an additional 3.7 GB of texture data will begin to download if you have already installed the game.

Note that 6GB of VRAM is recommended for HD textures. Although it can be played with lower, make sure your video card has at least 3+ GB of RAM to accommodate these textures.

How to Skip Intro Video
Unfortunately, like many games Shadow of Mordor has introduction logo videos that cannot be skipped. This can make it rather tedious every time you start the game.

If you wish to skip the intro videos, you’ll need to rename all of the video files or back them up somewhere else. It is NOT recommended to permanently delete these files, as it could cause unwanted problems.

The video locations are:

Steam\steamapps\common\ShadowOfMordor\game\interface\videos\intro_cz.vib
Steam\steamapps\common\ShadowOfMordor\game\interface\videos\intro_de.vib
Steam\steamapps\common\ShadowOfMordor\game\interface\videos\intro_fr.vib
Steam\steamapps\common\ShadowOfMordor\game\interface\videos\intro_hu.vib
Steam\steamapps\common\ShadowOfMordor\game\interface\videos\intro_ja.vib
Steam\steamapps\common\ShadowOfMordor\game\interface\videos\intro_mx.vib
Steam\steamapps\common\ShadowOfMordor\game\interface\videos\intro_pl.vib
Steam\steamapps\common\ShadowOfMordor\game\interface\videos\intro_po.vib
Steam\steamapps\common\ShadowOfMordor\game\interface\videos\intro_ru.vib
Steam\steamapps\common\ShadowOfMordor\game\interface\videos\intro_sp.vib
Steam\steamapps\common\ShadowOfMordor\game\interface\videos\intro.vib
Steam\steamapps\common\ShadowOfMordor\game\interface\videos\legal\legaltext.vib
Steam\steamapps\common\ShadowOfMordor\game\interface\videos\legal\legaltext_fr.vib
Steam\steamapps\common\ShadowOfMordor\game\interface\videos\legal\middleware.vib
Steam\steamapps\common\ShadowOfMordor\game\interface\videos\nvidia_splash.vib
Steam\steamapps\common\ShadowOfMordor\game\interface\videos\WBPlay.vib

Make sure you create a backup of all these files before renaming them.

If you know any other tweaks, don’t forget to share with us by commenting below!

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