Helldivers 2 PC Optimized Settings: Benchmarked for Best Performance

Here are the best graphics settings for Helldivers 2, optimized for your PC

Helldivers 2 is a surprise hit, coming from a relatively small studio known as Arrowhead Game Studios as a sequel to the lesser-known Helldivers, further proving that fun, passion-driven games trump the monotonous profit-chasing drivel produced by the so-called “AAAA” studios in recent years, replete with obnoxiously priced microtransactions to boot.

Published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for both PS5 and PC at the same time, which is a rarity, the game seems to be an excellent port with minimal porting issues on the PC. It is however a little demanding, and in this guide, we’ll explore the best PC graphics settings you can pick to get the smoothest performance for your system, without compromising on the visual fidelity as much as possible.

Let’s (hell)dive in by looking at the official PC system requirements!

Helldivers 2 Official PC System Requirements

The official PC specs are pretty modest. You can run the game with a Core i7-4790K or Ryzen 5 1500X paired with a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti or Radeon RX 470 and 8 GB RAM for 1080p 30 FPS at “Low” graphics settings.

For 4K “High” settings, a Core i7-9700K or Ryzen 7 3700X coupled with a GeForce RTX 2060 or Radeon RX 6600XT and 16 GB RAM should do the trick.

Via Steam

Our Test Bench

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-14700KF.
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE Z790 Gaming X AX.
  • Cooler: Asus ROG Strix LC II 360.
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080 Super.
  • Memory: 16GB x2 DDR5-6000 CL36.
  • Power Supply: Antec HCG 850W.

The following benchmarks were all conducted on the automaton planet “Draupnir” by dropping directly into enemy territory and in the middle of battle, to account for maximum stress.

This means you’ll get higher frame rates during the calmer sections with fewer enemies. There may be a huge drop in frames during the helldiver “drop” sequence, which is simply the shader pre-compilation and is not to be included.

Resolution Scaling: 1080p vs 1440p vs 4K Benchmarks

Switching from 4K to 1440p (Ultra settings), the performance increases by 65% and 107% on switching to 1080p. From 1440p to 4K, that’s a 25% increase. The age-old adage is of course true, lower resolution means bigger frames.

The “render scale” setting affects a native spatial scaler similar to DLSS or FSR (which are not included by default in this game) that renders the game at a lower or higher resolution than the one selected above, thereby helping increase performance or fidelity. We shall look at this setting near the end.

Best Graphics Preset for Helldivers 2: Low vs Medium vs High vs Ultra

The GeForce RTX 4080 Super (and the Core i7-14700KF) manage an average of 71.7 FPS at 4K “Ultra” settings in Helldivers 2.

Switching to the “High” quality preset improves the frame rates by 12%, with “Medium” bumping the performance by 19%. At low, we see an 89% improvement, a huge leap. But the visual fidelity takes a huge hit as well.

In the coming sections, we’ll see each setting from top to bottom and the best option to keep it at for the most optimized gameplay.

Texture Quality

Texture quality determines how detailed an object looks on the surface by changing the resolution of the loaded textures. This setting has minimal impact on performance and only depends on your GPU’s available VRAM (memory).

As helpfully mentioned in the game settings, we can pick the setting that matches our GPU’s available memory. Keep this at the highest possible setting as long as it doesn’t exceed your GPU’s VRAM!

Object Detail Quality

Object detail quality controls the level of detail by changing the polygon count of the objects in the game. This affects the 3D depth detail of items, which is different from texture quality.

Going from High to Medium, we get a 2.8% increase and by going to Low, we get a 7% increase in FPS. Keep this one at High.

Render Distance

Render distance affects how far into the game world objects are rendered or drawn into view, and this setting is mainly CPU intensive. If you have a medium to high/ fairly modern CPU, this can be left at the Ultra level.

Going from Ultra to Medium or High gives us a 4.2% boost. Low gives us a 6.3% increase in frames. Considering the low setting causes more object pop-in as they are rendered much closer and the impact is minimal unless your CPU is struggling, Ultra is recommended.

Shadow Quality

Shadow quality controls the resolution and quality of the shadow maps used in-game. The lowest and low shadow settings contain artifacts and look jagged, hence sticking to medium or above is recommended.

Going down from Ultra, we get the following boosts:

  • High: 1.7%.
  • Medium: 4.6%.
  • Low: 7.3%.
  • Lowest: 8.6%.

Particle Quality

Helldivers 2 has a lot of particles during combat. Each explosion, fire, gunshot, and dirt effect gets added into this detail.

The difference between “Lowest” and “Low” is negligible. Going from Ultra to Medium gives us a 0.7% boost and Low gives us a 6.8% increase in frames.

A good compromise is to go with “Low” to save on performance.

Reflection Quality

Reflection quality controls the level of reflection details in the environment. The lowest setting disables all reflections here and is not recommended since it is almost similar to low. At low and above, we get access to cube maps in the reflections.

Screen space reflections (SSR) are the reflections from objects visible on the screen, enabled at the High (Ultra) setting. Unfortunately, they suffer from occlusion issues in this game and are not worth the 4% hit going from medium to ultra.

Keep this one at “Medium/Low“, but not the lowest.

Space Quality

This one is a bit of a unique option to this game, which changes the quality of space. That is the stars, planets, and other things visible in the sky when panning the camera up or on the ship.

The performance here increases by almost 4% by just turning it down to low. Considering that you will most likely not be looking at the space during intense combat and the difference in visuals is negligible, this is a good one to turn down to get some sweet extra frames. Keep this one at “Low.

Ambient Occlusion

To put it simply, ambient occlusion is the soft shadows and indirect lighting from the environment. Turning it off yields a measly 1% but the visual loss trade-off is bigger and not worth it. This is because this game uses Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO) and a lot of environmental areas lose their looks due to missing soft shadows.

Keep this “On.

Screen Space Global Illumination

Screen Space Global Illumination helps approximate bounce lighting from nearby objects, basically using screen space information similar to Screen Space Reflections. This helps subtly enhance the look of certain areas with better lighting, but due to its screen space nature it would be barely noticeable during combat and the performance trade-off of 2% is not worth it.

Keep this “Off” to save on the frames while maintaining visual fidelity.

Vegetation and Rubble Density

This setting changes the amount of grass, rocks, and other rendered objects scattered on the ground during gameplay. You will most likely notice it the most in the amount of visible grass.

At the low setting, the pop-in of objects (where they appear out of thin air) usually increases in games and is similar here too. There is a noticeable pop-in even at the higher settings, which decreases as we go up the settings.

Going from Ultra to High gives us 2%, while “Medium” and “Low” give around 4%. Considering the pop-in issue, stick to “High” or “Ultra” for this one.

Terrain Quality

This one adjusts the “fidelity” or quality of the terrain. The lowest setting disables faded transitions between some objects and the terrain. This means things like rocks might jut out more against sand, and look uglier. The same goes for the bumpiness of the pebbles on the ground.

Going from Ultra to Medium and Low gives us an approximate 4% increase in frames. Keep this one at “Medium” due to the Low setting disabling faded transitions and because there’s minimal frame advantage from Medium to Low.

Volumetric Fog Quality

This setting modifies the resolution of volumetric fog to create clearer light shafts. This is noticeable in places where a bulb or the sun shines through the dense fog in this game. Because fog plays an important role (as many missions take place during fog or even “thick spores” as mission conditions), and the difference between lowest and low is minimal, keep this one at low.

Surprisingly as seen in the chart above, the medium quality sometimes nets lower frames than even high. This is due to the dynamic weather systems of the game (there was sudden rain with thicker fog). But this further highlights the performance benefit of dropping it to “Low” rather than Medium or High.

Volumetric Cloud Quality

This setting modifies the resolution of volumetric clouds to render a more realistic sky. This is the same as before, except in the sky (since clouds are essentially a fog in the sky, right?) However, you are unlikely to be looking up at the sky while in intense combat.

Going from Ultra to Medium, we get a huge 8% gain in FPS. Dropping down to low and lowest, we get around 9%. Keep this one at medium or lower. Because the sky is not something you will look at much during gameplay, keeping this at the “Lowest” is a good option if you need extra performance or the game is struggling to run.

Lighting Quality

This setting modifies how far light from certain light sources reaches. This usually impacts lights locally placed in the game, such as torches, fires, and bulbs, and not the global illumination such as the sunlight. As such, this is more noticeable during nighttime gameplay.

We get a 4% increase going from Ultra to medium and an almost 10% increase in dropping to low. On the other hand, low loses a lot of the visual fidelity we get from the lighting, especially at night. Keep this one at “Medium” and only drop it to low if you need the frames or the mission is in daylight.

Anti Aliasing

Anti-aliasing is used to smoothen jagged edges, most noticeable on the borders of objects as “jaggies”. Turning it on helps smoothen those edges out and makes the image look more cohesive at the expense of a slight blurriness.

Turning it off yields an 8% boost in frames. It is recommended to leave this on though as the jagged edges can look weird (unless you personally like the look). Another option we shall look at below is to keep it off but turn on upscaling as this nets similar results at even better frames, at a loss of a little resolution.

Upscaling Options

Upscaling is a way to massively increase performance at the cost of resolution (added blurriness in upscaling). We’ve kept this at the end since it is always recommended to play at native. If after trying out all the optimized settings above you are still struggling with frames, it is time to try out upscaling.

This game doesn’t natively feature any of the popular temporal upscaling options (aka DLSS, FSR2, Xess) but instead relies on some sort of spatial upscaler which is a bummer. Still, the results are decent enough.

Going from native to “Ultra Quality” gives us a massive 40% increase in frames, with very little added blurriness. It is recommended to keep anti-aliasing off if using upscaling to reduce shimmering.

Going to “Quality” gives us 53%, “Balanced” 69%, “Performance” 87%, and “Ultra Performance” an entire 100% increase in frames. Progressively, the results get blurrier and blurrier. We recommend Ultra Quality here for the massive boost and minimal visual impact. If your PC is still struggling, this is the magic solution to keep going down until ultra performance, or if you want higher frames for a high refresh rate monitor (144Hz or above), at the trade-off of added blur.

There is also the option to go above and beyond in the opposite direction with “Supersampling” and “Ultra Supersampling”, which here nets us only 25 FPS. These can double as an implementation of “SSAA” (Super sampling anti-aliasing) but are not worth it.

Keep this one at Ultra-Quality.

VRAM Usage and CPU Bottlenecks

Helldivers 2 uses 7-8GB of graphics memory (VRAM) at 4K “Ultra.” At 1440p and lower, it varies from 6GB to 8GB, depending on the location and settings.

1080p Ultra

Despite using a primitive engine, Helldivers 2 is well-optimized for modern CPUs. At 4K, the game is completely GPU-bound with minor GPU-Busy deviations at 1440p and 1080p. That said, your CPU may feel overwhelmed during periods of extreme activity (explosions, hordes of bugs, or foggy/dusty weather conditions), as seen in the above chart.

Best Graphics Settings for Helldivers 2 on PC

Now that we’ve seen each setting for Helldivers 2, let us apply all the optimized settings to the recommended levels for the defined PC configurations:

High-end PCMid-Range PCLow-end PC
Texture QualityUltraUltraHigh (Keep this at Ultra if your GPU has above 10GB VRAM)
Object Detail QualityHighHighMedium
Render DistanceHighHighHigh (lower this if your CPU is older than the defined one)
Shadow QualityUltraMediumMedium
Particle QualityUltraMediumLow
Reflection QualityMediumMediumLow
Space QualityHighLowLow
Ambient OcclusionOnOnOn
Screen Space Global IlluminationOnOffOff
Vegetation and Rubble DensityUltraUltraHigh
Terrain QualityHighMediumMedium
Volumetric Fog QualityHighLowLow
Volumetric Cloud QualityMediumLowLowest
Lighting QualityHighMediumMedium
Anti AliasingOnOnOn (or off with upscaling enabled)
UpscalingNativeUltra QualityUltra Quality or Quality
Bloom, Depth of Field, Motion BlurPersonal choicePersonal choicePersonal choice

Here are our definitions of High-end, Midrange, and Low-end PCs:

CPUCore i7-13700K/Ryzen 7 7800X3DCore i5-13600K/Ryzen 5 7600XLess than: Core i5-12400/Ryzen 5 3600
GPURTX 4070 Ti Super/RX 7900 XTRTX 4070/RX 7800 XTLess than: RTX 4060/RX 7600
Memory32GB (dual-channel)16GB (dual-channel)Less than: 16GB (dual-channel)

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