How to give StarCraft II a graphics tweak
Custom graphics configurations get the best out of the StarCraft II engine
The tech-heads over at German PC enthusiast site PCGamesHardware have figured out how to add a custom graphics configuration to StarCraft II which unlocks all sorts of visual goodies that Blizzard has not activated in the default graphics settings.
While StarCraft II has some great unit detail and art direction, the in-game visuals are nothing special, at least technically speaking. This is great for gamers with more modest systems, but those with high-end graphics cards may want to squeeze a little extra out of the engine.
There is also a custom configuration for an “e-sports mode” which optimises frame rates and produces an image that makes it easier to take in what’s going on when things get crazy.
The “ultra video mode” increases texture and shadow details, but is not considered the maximum possible image quality. If you want to max everything out, you need to use their “extreme video mode” configuration.
To implement the Ultra video mode, copy the text below, and paste it into the text document titled variables.txt, which can be found in the StarCraft II folder in you MyDocuments folder. It is worth saving a copy of the original text file just in case the configuration does not agree with your PC. This will allow you to replace the edited text file should anything go wrong.
Change the below lines as follows:
GraphicsOptionOverallQualityVer7  = 4
shadowmapsize = 4096
TerrainTextureSize = 4096
And copy past the below lines into the document:
SSAO = 1
SSAOBlockerLookup = 0
SSAOOptimizedSampleDelta = 1
SSAONoiseBits = 1
SSAOEncodedDepth = 0
SSAODepthDownSample = 1
SSAOSmartBlur = 1
SSAOBlurPasses = 2
SSAOSampleCount = 8
This configuration is recommended for graphics cards with 2GB of memory, although my HD 5870 1GB handled it fine.
If you want to increase your frame rate without sacrificing too much image quality, they advise editing the following lines as indicated below:
hdr = 0
parallaxshadow = 0
shadowmapsize = 512
softshadows = 0
softshadowTaps = 6
transparent shadows = 0
You can get the full “e-sports configuration” and “extreme configuration” over at PCGamesHardware.
I tried all listed configurations and noticed subtle differences between them. The Extreme configuration adds particularly nice looking ground textures and shadow detail, although there was a slight drop in my frame rate.
Discuss StarCraft II graphics tweak in the forums