THREE KINGDOMS: Tech, Effects, and System Specs

Check out the tech specs for Total War: THREE KINGDOMS.

Total War: THREE KINGDOMS

Al Bickham
March 19 2019

If there’s one term we’ve used more than any other during 3K’s development, it’s ‘overhaul’. We’ve redesigned a host of core gameplay systems, with a lot of deep-level coding to support their broadened complexity and their ability to interact with all the new features in the mix.

Graphics technology is no exception and we’ve been proving out some new technical features as well, testing and optimising to keep framerates high across the multitude of systems people will be playing the game on. It’s one of the many things we’ve been doing since we pushed the release day back to May 23rd, and one of the reasons we’ve held off on releasing the min and rec specs. Until now!

Temporal Anti-Aliasing (or TAA) is our headline technical feature, and it’s a big step forward for Total War. It’s very performance-efficient and looks great – In fact we’re dropping Multi Sample Anti Aliasing (MSAA) altogether as it’s so performance-intensive. We’re keeping Fast Approximate Anti Aliasing (FXAA) which is the most performance-efficient version, though it’s not as visually clean as TAA. TAA just offers the best bang-for-buck in terms of visual fidelity balanced against performance. The majority of major new PC games are now using TAA as their principle form of anti-aliasing, and with good reason.

However, TAA is technically incompatible with Crossfire and SLI, so for THREE KINGDOMS at least, we won’t be supporting these forms of multi-GPU rendering. If you’re interested in a deeper analysis of our TAA implementation and why it doesn’t play well (actually not at all) with multiple GPUs, scroll down past the system specs.

We’ve also added some really nice post-processing effects, including our best bokeh (depth-of-field) solution yet, and two different palette options: Romance (rich, vibrant colour saturation) and Records (lighter, more realistic colour saturation). On top of that, we’ve now implemented Screen Space Shadows for finer detail in shadowed areas, and we’ve improved our materials textures (skin, leather, wood, metal etc). All of these options can be toggled in the graphics settings menu, of course.

Onto the specs. As we’ve done with other recent releases, we’re quoting a base minimum requirement spec for integrated systems (laptops and PCs using their CPU’s inbuilt GPU) and Discrete systems (PCs and laptops with a separate NVIDIA or AMD GPU), a recommended spec for a great balance of visual fidelity and performance, and a spec that will run everything on ultra settings at 60FPS+.

From the bottom up then:

PC Minimum Specifications (Integrated)

  • Expected around 25-35 FPS on campaign map and in a 1v1, 21 units vs 21 units battle, default graphics preset set to “Low”, running at 1280×720
  • Operating System: Windows 7 64 Bit
  • Processor: i7-8550U 1.80GHz
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Video Card: Intel UHD Graphics 620

PC Minimum Specifications (Discrete)

  • Expected around 25-35 FPS on campaign map and in a 1v1, 21 units vs 21 units battle, default graphics preset set to “Low”, running at 1280×720
  • Operating System: Windows 7 64 Bit
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 3.00Ghz
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Video Card: GTX 650 Ti | HD 7850 1GB VRAM

PC Recommended Specifications

  • Expected around 45-55 FPS on campaign map and in a 1v1, 21 units vs 21 units battle, default graphics preset set to “High”, running at 1920×1080
  • Operating System: Windows 10 64 Bit
  • Processor: Intel i5-6600 | Ryzen 5 2600X
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Video Card: GTX 970 | R9 Fury X 4GB VRAM

PC 60 FPS+ Specifications

  • Expect 60 FPS+ on campaign map and in a 1v1, 21 units vs 21 units battle, default graphics preset set to “Ultra”, running at 1920×1080
  • Operating System: Windows 10 64 Bit
  • Processor: Intel® Core™ Intel i7-8700K
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 | NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060

Please note: all systems perform differently. The framerates stated are based on benchmarks we’ve taken on PCs using the quoted specs, with fresh OS installs, no major background programs running, and should be taken as a guide rather than an absolute.

THREE KINGDOMS is still in development and undergoing optimisation and compatibility testing, and these specs may be subject to change.

TAA and multi-GPU support

Anti-Aliasing makes jagged lines smooth. We all know it, we all love it, but we also know that turning it on means that your framerate takes a hit. Like many newer games, we have an implementation of temporal anti-aliasing (TAA). This is the latest form of AA, and far superior to our more traditional form of multi-sample anti-aliasing (MSAA) in both performance and visual terms.

While MSAA works by sampling each single frame multiple times (super-intensive for the GPU) and taking the average in order to smooth out jaggies, TAA works by ‘looking back in time’ – it grabs the frames that have already been displayed and are still sat in your GPU’s memory buffer. It then works out the average to display in the current frame. It requires a fraction of your GPU’s resources compared to MSAA, and can reduce noise and jitter, leading to better results. In short, TAA looks better, and gives us a notably higher framerate, than MSAA.

However, TAA doesn’t work with traditional Crossfire and SLI, which rely on AFR/AFR2 (alternative frame rendering) techniques. TAA and AFR are, quite simply, incompatible. AFR doesn’t allow any dependency between frames, which TAA obviously requires as it references previously-displayed frames.

Also, getting SLI and Crossfire support into the game (and therefore requiring the player to use other, more costly forms of AA, which would be somewhat self-defeating) is not as simple as turning it on. It needs re-implementing from where we left it in the WARHAMMER games, and that implementation would be non-trivial.

So, we just don’t know whether multi-GPU plus MSAA will outperform a single GPU of the same type in combination with TAA. The only way to find that out would be to do the work. We suspect there won’t be a great gain, but again we wouldn’t know for sure unless we did the AFR/AFR2 implementation.

Thirdly, there’s a new kind of multi-GPU support enabled by DX12 called Explicit Multi GPU. This doesn’t rely on AFR techniques, and takes the distribution of tasks away from the Geforce/Radeon drivers entirely and lets DX12 handle them. It looks promising, and potentially works alongside TAA. This is going to be a more significant amount of work to implement than standard SLI/Crossfire however, and we would have to weigh up the value of it. As an R&D task, we may later consider looking at it, but we have no solid plans to do so at present.