Hello Arktika players! There has been a bit of discussion on the web about Arktika's blurry graphics, with people attempting to force supersampling (using the OculusTrayTool) but having no luck. When I played the game for the first time, I too noticed how blurry and "out of focus" the environment was, especially the farther away an object is. So I dug into the game's configuration file, which you can find at
where <username> is to be replaced by your own Windows account name. The file is called user.cfg and can be opened with any raw text editor such as Notepad. If you're using Notepad++ or another editor which shows line numbers, you can follow along with mine; makes it easier to find what you need to change in the file.
Let's see how we can clean up our image in Arktika.1 !
WHY does Arktika.1 look blurry?
As pointed out by some, the game uses a dynamic form of undersampling/supersampling based on the quality preset you chose and the speed the game is running at. Example: if you go with the "high" quality preset, the maximum supersampling factor will be set at 1.4, while the lowest the game is allowed to go will be 0.875 -- effectively giving you a pretty clear picture if your hardware allows it but dropping to below native resolution if performance is struggling.
This means that the higher you go with the quality, the sharper your image will look. But obviously that also increases the detail of the game, most notably lightmap resolution and ambient occlusion, so depending on your hardware you might want to go with "medium" or "low" presets and still want a clearer picture -- especially "low" quality is pretty hard to look at because it renders only at native resolution, dropping down to a sampling factor of 0.5 (!) when performance decreases.
There is more to the story, though. On top of the dynamic resolution, Arktika.1 also employs both FXAA (fast approximate anti-aliasing) and TAA (temporal anti-aliasing). Judging from my tests I'd say that FXAA does nothing to reduce pixels, but it *does* create a slight "fog" on top of everything. TAA however is the *real* problem here and the sole reason why things in the distance seem to be "out of focus" and blurry. TAA is always engaged no matter the quality and smooths out the pixels you might otherwise see. Now, TAA can be pretty awesome; in fact Unreal Engine 4 has very solid TAA that doesn't affect image clarity very much. But 4A Games' implementation of it is not very good... it does significantly reduce pixels and make the image look smooth, but also makes objects even 1 foot away look blurry. It kind of "swallows up" the detail of things. Turning off TAA is the first step to a much clearer image, as if someone gave you a pair of glasses when you're nearsighted!
Now I must point out that the TAA looks a lot better the higher your supersampling is. It's going to be horribly blurry on "low" settings because of low resolution, but will be tolerable on "extreme" because of the high supersampling. In general, since supersampling never gets rid of all pixels, TAA on top of it is a good idea, but only if your resolution is already pretty high before TAA is applied. And it will never be a perfectly clear image still.
WHAT do I need to do?
Open the user.cfg file with a text editor as mentioned above, then look for these variables. The numbers in front are line numbers; use a text editor with line numbers to easily follow along.
Overview of settings
110 r_adapt_q 1 << controls whether dynamic supersampling is active
121 r_aq_max_ss 1.39999998 << maximum allowed SS factor, medium quality
122 r_aq_max_ss_ex 1.39999998 << maximum allowed SS factor, extreme quality
123 r_aq_max_ss_hi 1.39999998 << maximum allowed SS factor, high quality
124 r_aq_max_ss_lo 1. << maximum allowed SS factor, low quality
125 r_aq_min_ss 0.75 << minimum allowed SS factor, medium quality
126 r_aq_min_ss_ex 1. << minimum allowed SS factor, extreme quality
127 r_aq_min_ss_hi 0.875 << minimum allowed SS factor, high quality
128 r_aq_min_ss_lo 0.5 << minimum allowed SS factor, low quality
180 r_fxaa 1 << FXAA setting, medium quality
181 r_fxaa_ex 1 << FXAA setting, extreme quality
182 r_fxaa_hi 1 << FXAA setting, high quality
183 r_fxaa_lo 1 << FXAA setting, low quality
262 r_quality_level 2 << quality preset to use, from 0 (low) to 3 (extreme)
302 r_taa_enabled 1 << TAA setting
303 r_taa_jscale 0.75 << TAA scaling (this does not seem to affect anything)
319 r_vr_start_recenter 0 << bonus: whether the game should recenter around you when booting
FXAA and TAA
Alright, so before we tackle supersampling, let's remove that blurry mess that is TAA. Find these lines:
180 r_fxaa 1
181 r_fxaa_ex 1
182 r_fxaa_hi 1
183 r_fxaa_lo 1
302 r_taa_enabled 1 << TAA setting
Now set all of them to 0 instead of 1. This will eliminate the useless (?) FXAA and especially turn off TAA completely. Now go back into the game and admire the clarity! Of course you will also see pixels now, which we will fix with...
Now you could start by turning off dynamic supersampling altogether, like so:
110 r_adapt_q 0
However, that means the game will render at native resolution constantly and won't allow you to supersample at all - not even with OTT. If you're happy with that, great -- if you'd like to use some SS, leave the above setting on, find the quality preset you want to use and change the min/max variables to your desired SS factor, like so ("high" preset):
123 r_aq_max_ss_hi 1.2
127 r_aq_min_ss_hi 1.2
By setting both to the same factor, we force the game to run at the same resolution constantly. 1.2 seems to be a good sweet spot between image clarity and performance for me, running a GTX 1070. I use it in most other games and it seems to be a lot clearer than no SS (factor 1.0), where 1.4 is only a little bit better (smaller pixels) but has a big performance impact.
You are free to change the other quality presets as well and then switch presets in the game to see the effect immediately. I did this for mine:
121 r_aq_max_ss 1.20000005
122 r_aq_max_ss_ex 1.39999998
123 r_aq_max_ss_hi 1.29999995
124 r_aq_max_ss_lo 1.
125 r_aq_min_ss 1.20000005
126 r_aq_min_ss_ex 1.39999998
127 r_aq_min_ss_hi 1.29999995
128 r_aq_min_ss_lo 1.
Notice that the game rounds down/up on my values after you run it once; this is okay. Effectively, these settings mean:
"low" preset: SS factor of 1.0 (no SS)
"medium" preset: SS factor of 1.2
"high" preset: SS factor of 1.3
"extreme" preset: SS factor of 1.4
If you set the "min" and "max" variables for each preset to different values, you can define the maximum and minimum allowed resolutions as you desire. So you might want to go and do something crazy like 2.0 supersampling on "max" but, as a failsafe, keep 1.2 as "min" so the game can still perform well. Experiment!
Once you've found your optimal supersampling setting, you might want to try and turn TAA back on to eliminate the pixels. However, as I said above, this really only looks good enough on high resolutions -- think 1.5 and higher SS factors. Since TAA is essentially a "free" method of anti-aliasing, it won't hurt performance, though. So if you can indeed run that high of an SS factor, then adding TAA on top may just give you the best picture. If clarity is your chief concern, don't use it (I don't).
There are a lot of other variables in the user.cfg file and you can see by the "_ex", "_hi" and "_lo" suffixes which variables affect which quality preset. For example, you could go and turn ambient occlusion ON for "low" quality, like so:
155 r_esm_ao_lo 1
Or you could turn OFF shadows, like so:
268 r_shadows_lo 0
One thing we apparently cannot fix here is the world scale of the game. It's up to the devs to fix it for us.
Overall I'm a bit concerned with Arktika's performance on my system. I do get the occasional microstutter (one dropped frame visible in the Oculus performance HUD) in Oculus Home and games such as Robo Recall, and I've narrowed it down to just a software issue. I optimized the crap out of my system and I use my Windows 10 install (pre-Creators Update) for gaming only. In general I'm pretty happy with the performance of my VR system but Arktika.1 really doesn't run all that well. Apparently I'm not the only one who feels this way as I've seen comments under reviews saying the same. It's weird that the reviews themselves never mentioned performance issues!
Anyway, on "medium" settings with supersampling at 1.2 the game runs at 90 FPS *most* of the time but it will drop the odd frame occasionally. By that I mean once or twice every five seconds or so. Even when I face a flat wall and the performance HUD shows the GPU time in the greenish zone, there can be sudden, momentary spikes into the red. Just like that! The game really needs some optimization if you ask me.
Firefights in bigger areas are the most demanding and can bring my FPS down into the 70s, but ASW never comes on. My GPU load rarely exceeds 60% in GPU-Z; for that I'd have to increase the SS factor (which I might). It seems like the game is actually not *that* demanding on CPU/GPU (I'm running a modest i5-2500K at 4.5 GHz and it rarely hits 70%), so if the engine were optimized better for VR then we might actually see pretty smooth performance even on more modest systems.
Hey, if this helped you get better image quality out of the game, please share this post so others can see it! I'm not on Reddit and there doesn't seem to be an Arktika.1 forum or place of discussion, so I hope people will find this post here. Now back to shootin' raiders everyone!