ReShade Tutorial – Semi-Advanced

Hey hey, as promised, here is a more in-depth tutorial for ReShade. If you just want to know the basics of ReShade, go check out the previous article here. With that out of the way, let’s gert started.

From the Top

First thing’s first, you need to choose the game you actually want to install ReShade on. Now for me, as the days go by it gets harder and harder for me to show this, as I install ReShade on pretty much everything I play to get the best experience and most enjoyability out of games. Yes, I get fuzzies by playing with graphics. Again, if your game isn’t shown in the extensive list or you want to save time, just click on ‘Browse…’ in order to find your game’s client.

Now that you have selected the game, make sure to click on the rendering API that the game uses. For some games, you might have to do a little bit of research, especially if it is newer or leans towards the niche category of games. You can typically find out the rendering API by doing a quick Google search. That said, sometimes ReShade can be a bit funny – for instance with SWTOR, a game that runs on DX9, requires DX10/11/12 to be used in order to actually function.

Next, you just need to select the GitHub repositories you want to download shaders from. The ones I’ve selected are what I use across all of my games, but you are welcome to just tick all of them and go for broke – that way you have all the options all the time. That said, it can be a little bit daunting with a list of hundreds of shaders, so pick and choose.

Configuration

Upon starting your game, you will be given a handy little tutorial which will guide you through the basics of ReShade in a fair amount of detail, so feel free to run through this is you are new to the tool, or if you just want to learn a little bit more.

Upon pushing ‘Home’, you will be given a list of all of your plugins and if you have any active they will have their configuration settings at the bottom fifth of the screen. Yeah, config is pretty small by default so feel free to split it 50/50 if you want by just clicking and dragging the divider.

Here you can see my config for SWTOR. The reason I’m using this game in particular, is that its aged graphics really benefit from ReShade in a massive way, and you will see that at the bottom of the guide.

Again, for the purposes of this guide I’m looking at the shaders that I find to work well across a large number of games and the list is as follows:

  • qUINT SSR (Screenshots ONLY)
  • qUINT RTGI (Patreon Only)
  • qUINT Bloom
  • FakeHDR
  • SMAA/FXAA (Game dependant, not always needed)
  • DELC Sharpen/qUINT Sharp

let’s start with the free shaders first shall we? Starting off with FakeHDR we actually get a fantastic default config that just makes colours pop and on its own can completely change your game, so if you are on a tight frame budget then this shader on its own can be a big player.

Moving on and carrying on with colour, we have qUINT Bloom which handles bright light sources coming from artificial, natural and even game-baked bounce lighting. Now this shader in particular can have wildly different results from title-title, so your config will of course vary on a constant basis here but I’ve found some values that generally work as a good starting point.

If you look into it, there isn’t that much that I’ve changed from default. All that I’ve really changed here is the Bloom Intensity from 1.2 which is absolutely too high down to 0.8, as this will be a lot closer to what your typical game bloom intensity will be.

Next is the curve, by default this is at 1.5 but this can lead to text in games causing a bit of a light show – especially when the rest of the screen is dark. Generally, you don’t want to go higher than 2.0 as from here there is little point in having the shader on at all really.

Finally comes the saturation, and this I feel is where it falls a lot down to user preference. The default setting is at 2.0 but this can in some instances make the game feel completely different and in my opinion can actually harm a game, so I tend to turn it down to 0.9 or around that mark to try and keep closer to the game’s visuals.

I’m going to skip both FXAA and SMAA, as these shaders don’t need touching in terms of config, and as I’m on a 3440×1440 display, you won’t get to see the difference that well at all, so I’m skipping ahead to DELC Sharpen (AKA qUINT Sharp). Here, the only slider that I’m going to say needs to be changed is the sharpen amount. Now, by default it is at a crispy 0.7 strength which is absolutely mental unless you are in a game that has low resolution textures. If you are playing any modern game, then leave it between 0.2 – 0.4 with 0.25 being the sweet spot as you get to see slightly more detail that you would otherwise be missing out on.

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Finally, we get to the elephant in the room. qUINT RTGI. I need to say before we get into this, the shader is very experimental and is only on version 0.20 in Beta (I’m using 0.19 in this guide). That said, in ideal circumstances it can be phenomenal. But again, this all depends on the individual game. For instance, SWTOR is a perfect example of a game where it takes some light ‘coding’ if you can even call it that in order to get it to work properly – but trust me, it really isn’t that difficult.

First thing you are going to want to do, is click on ‘Edit global preprocessor definitions’ while in game, and for this title specifically have the following presets:

First thing you will notice on your config, is that you won’t have the depth multiplier definition. That’s okay, all you need to do is click on the + sign and type in exactly:

RESHADE_DEPTH_MULTIPLIER

And from there, I’ve personally found that a multiplier of 1.250 is the best setting you can get – feel free to tweak this though if you are noticing any weirdness. Again, this is only for this title.

As a general standpoint on this shader, performance is everything. You need to set this up to what your system can actually handle, otherwise you won’t get a great experience with it. I prefer to go to the max, and crank everything up as far as the slider will go, but then again I’m running a 3950X with a RTX 2080 (curse those 3000 series bots!) and SWTOR is actually a pretty light game.

As you can see above, RTGI has a lot when it comes to configuration. I could write an entire article on this one shader if I wanted to because of how much room you have to work with. Starting from the top, you get a nice overview/help dropdown which gives you a quick rundown about the shader as well as the fact that it needs depth buffer access – the secret ingredient for this shader.

From there, you have the ray length which extends how far a light can come from its source or bounce. This option itself can be cranked up a fair bit as it doesn’t impact performance all that much. The number of rays has a direct impact on performance, and the sweet spot found by most users in the Discord is around 10-15 rays. Next is the ray steps, which affects how much a ray of light’s intensity will change across its path and has quite a high cost in terms of framerate, again with 10-15 being the sweet spot. Z thickness should generally be left alone, unless you are experiencing halo artifacts around thin objects like grass and foliage.

Now, in order to ensure that this shader is working as intended, tick on the lighting channel and check the screen. If all is good, then you will have something like this:

Alternatively, if you have a situation where the game doesn’t have proper access to the depth buffer, then it will look a little like this:

Yep, just a blank grey screen. Now this is actually more common than you would think, and in SWTOR can be resolved by switching from High/Ultra AA down to Medium, as instead of using TXAA it uses a blend of SMAA/FXAA baked into the game itself. TXAA can quite often hinder depth buffer access – at least in my own testing. But now, I bet you are all waiting to see the results with RTGI on in the game’s login screen, so I best not keep you waiting too long…

As I said at the very start of this guide however, take this with a huge grain of salt as not every game will respond in the same way, and in online games the shader will work beautifully in some places of the world and in other places it will hardly work at all. Before going ahead and subscribing to the patreon, make sure to keep this in mind. That said, it certainly is a cool shader to play with.

Another of these shaders that is certainly cool to play with has got to be the qUINT SSR shader, which is actually at the top of the list. I’ve left this shader till last purely because this is a shader you shouldn’t have on all the time. Why? Because the way the shader is coded, it treats everything as being reflective – yes, even cloths. From what I can understand of the shader, it works by looking through the depth buffer and bouncing images if certain angle requirements are met. That said, it looks amazing when behaving properly, take a look.

So there you have it, a (fairly) comprehensive guide on my own setup for ReShade, detailing how you too can play around and get your own config going. Feel free to comment below on any guides you’d like to see me make, or software to check out and I’ll see what I can do. Thanks for the read!

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