Actually getting Red Dead Redemption 2 up and running has been a bit of a logistical nightmare (and we are not alone) but we've done it, sort of. Well, Felix managed to get it running anyway, so he's been busy dipping his toes into the PC version of Red Dead Redemption 2 and snatched some early Low vs Ultra RDR2 comparison screenshots.

These screengrabs have been pulled from Red Dead Redemption 2's in-game benchmark tool. We used a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070, comparing the visual quality between Low and Ultra (or Performance vs Quality) graphics presets. All you need to do is slide your cursor across and you can compare the visuals! 

Red Dead Redemption 2 Low v Ultra Graphics Comparison  

Red Dead Redemption 2 is either a fantastic looking game or, well, a whole lot of ugly depending on the graphics settings you settle on. Rockstar has at least provided a vast number of graphics settings to play around with so you really can tune its visuals and performance to your heart's content. Finding the sweet spot is a tricky business though, particularly since most of the graphics settings require a restart to apply. 

That said, there's plenty to be gained from turning up the graphics options in Red Dead Redemption 2 as high as you feasibly can. It's a stunningly realised cinematic experience and you'll see in these comparison screenshots that higher visuals add a great deal to the environment and character design. You can any of the screenshots below to see an enlarged screenshot.

This first comparison is taken from the city of Saint-Denis, a fairly dense urban environment which is one of the more demanding areas on console. You can see the ground textures and texture filtering lend a very muddy image quality to Low, while Ultra benefits from more realistic shadows, improved grass, and a nice bit of volumetric lighting popping through the trees on the right hand side.

(slide your cursor over the images to compare. Click to enlarge)

In this pair of building interior screenshots you get a good feel for the graphical improvements which come from Ultra. The most obvious is the extra detail which comes from the higher resolution textures, while Arthur Morgan himself is a night and day difference between Low and Ultra. Low has some basic AO and shadow effects but overall it pales in comparison to the level of detail showcase on Ultra.

Here we have an example which demonstrates that Low doesn't have to be terrible, particularly during some of the more scenic moments. The two certainly look comparable, although Ultra pulls ahead in terms of the density of the foliage and both the resolution and detail of the water reflections.

Slight tangent but this road right below here is my favourite street in Red Dead Redemption 2. It looks proper Deadwood. It's also a handy place to compare the lighting effects, where Ultra pulls ahead in a big way. The lighting on Low is fairly flat and one dimensional; areas are either light or dark. Ultra presents a far more natural hue and we can also see light pooling out from the stores and bars.

We'll have plenty more on Red Dead Redemption 2 shortly as there's a lot to sink our teeth into in terms of its performance and visuals. If you're on the edge about whether your rig can run this game you're going to want to wait until you can read up on some benchmarks as this game is a heck of a lot more demanding than the innocuous system specs would have you believe.

Red Dead Redemption 2 PC Performance Report - Graphics card benchmarks