LowSpecGamer: improve performance in MGS5: Ground Zeroes – Howtoshtab – how to, lifehacks, tips and tricks

Ground zeroes, the introduction to the highly anticipated metal gear solid 5. A trilling game running on the amazing fox engine, a next generation engine capable of photorealistic graphics… that we will never get to actually see. This is the LowSpecGamer where we sneak around not because this is a stealth game, but because we are unsure if our computer can handle all the extra guards. So forget about rain and shadows, because we are going to make this game run.

This is how the game is configured on install. I have tried this game on several systems and apart from the resolution the configuration seems largely the same. Looks like a high preset with medium shadows. This is obviously not going to work but hey, let’s give it a try I don’t think I would consider this playable, but not as bad as I expected. Still at this frame rate it is even hard to aim the binoculars. Let’s take it down a bit. all right. I am going to take down the resolution to 720 and put everything in either low or off. The only exception is texture filtering that only goes down to medium. With that done, it’s time to check the difference. Well then. This is a surprise. The performance is over 30 frames per second just standing by, only going lower when zoom is needed or close to enemies. Not bad fox engine, not bad But, this is going to get lower when any combat is involved, and you probably may be trying this on a computer weaker than this one. Besides you are watching this video, so you probably want more and more you shall get. Let’s go! Wohoho, jiggly leg in the corner, so much for realism. This is happening right? I am not seeing things.

All right time for a warning. Ground Zeroes is not an easy game to tweak and we are going to need a lot of tools but I am going to make my best effort to explain as clearly as possible, so pay attention, follow closely and go back on the video if there is anything you do not understand First, we need to locate your ground zeroes installation folder. For the steam version of the game this will be located at Program Files(x86)/steam/steampps/common/Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeroes. There are 3 files inside this folder. Data 0, Data 1 and Data 2. These files contain all the important elements for your game, but they are packed in such a way that we can not tweak them easily so we are going to need some tools. Before anything tough, create a backup folder and copy these 3 files there. Do not skip this step, if you screw something up and you do not have a backup you will need to re download the entire game again. Good, now tools. First we need a couple of scripts that will be used to unpack the files for modification. You can download them from this google drive link that will be on the video’s description. One you have download this, unzip it, and go into a folder called “Do this first”.

Very good name. There are two scripts that you need to copy here, unpack and repack. Copy them over to your root ground zeroes folder. You can delete the rest of the downloaded folder, this all we are going to need for this video. Next, follow this link to Nexus mods and download this Ground Zeroes modding tool. Extract the downloaded folder and move the Modding folder to the Ground Zeroes root folder. Good. Now. Go inside this folder, and then tools. There are two tools here that are required to pack and unpack the files. One is the FPK tool and the other is the QAR tool. Go into the FPK tool folder and copy its contents. You can ignore the readme file if you want but be sure to copy the dictionary file, this is very important. Paste on the ground zeroes folder.

Now we do the same for the QAR tool. You can ignore the readme if you want but copy everything else, all these files are important. Paste them on the root Ground Zeroes folder. We are almost done. As I told you, a lot of tools are needed to tweak this game. If you are lost feel free to go back and check everything again. Now we are ready to unpack the game files. Run the “unpack” script and wait for it to finish. You should see a new folder called data_02. This folder now contains all the game’s files that we are going to tweak. Finally. We are ready to do some tweaking. This is a little bit of a half tweak. Plenty of people will be playing this game for the first mission which servers as a prelude to the phantom pain and is very relevant for the overall plot. Rain will be falling during this entire mission and that actually has a very bad impact on performance. So the first thing I am going to do is to change the game’s weather.

The easiest way to change the weather is using this modding tool created by StratosGK of the neogaf forums. This comes from the original thread that figured out how to unpack all the files, so full credit to the amazing work of these guys! Click the download link, extract the zip and get the executable to the ground zeroes folder. Run this new modding tool. As you can see, this tool allows you to modify the weather and time of day for any mission. What we are interested in at the moment is preventing rain or any other particles from the “ground zeroes” mission. So, we are going to change it from pouring to cloudy. Click change all values to save the changes on the unpacked directory. We are done right? WRONG. I told you this game is a hard nut to crack. Turns out the game saves a cache of the weather so the new values will not be read, unless we delete the cache which we are about to do. For that you need an hexadecimal edition tool.

I recommend HxD. The link is in the description. Open up HxD and from there open the following file. From the ground zeroes folder go to data_02, assets, tpp, pack, mission, extra, e20010 and open e20010_area01.fpkd. That was mouthful. What you are currently looking at is the game’s cache for the first mission. Now, we need to go into edit and select block and select this chunk of data. It starts at 3A1B70 and ends at 40B6FD. Check and double check these numbers, any error and you are going to need to go to your backup, unpack it and start all over again. Now that this area is selected right click on it and delete. Save the file. Almost done! We need to repack all these changes to make sure the game will read them. So head back to the ground zeroes directory and use the “repack” script. Wait for it to finish and we are finally done! Awesome! You will hear the thunder but there will be no rain to zap away performance from you, so moving slowly I see a performance of over 40 frames per second most times, occasionally all the way to 50.

Yeah! If you do something stupid like stealing a car, moving fast and getting detected you will go back to the 30 range and the more enemies and bullets are involved the slower it goes. But as I said, changing the weather only works for the first mission, so what about something a little bit more universal and drastic. I got you covered. I might suck at combat but I still got a trick up my sleeve. We are going to go back to what we do best and modify some configuration files. But before that, the files are written in a way that makes them very hard to read using notepad. So I recommend you download notepad++, it’s like notepad but way more advanced. This is the last time I tell you to download anything for this video, I promise. Once you have notepad++ installed go to the following file on your data_02 folder, Fox, Scripts, Gr, gr_init_dx11.

lua. Right click and edit with notepad++. Go down until around line 312. Here we see something very interesting. These are the values that are loaded into the engine when something is selected on the configuration screen. For example, these are the shadow values. So, when you select Low at the configuration screen these settings are loaded… and we can modify them. Since we are using Low shadows we are going to change the Low setting here and put “CascadeShadowRangeScale” to 0. And with that, we have disabled shadows. This is the most important part of this entire tweak, this will be responsible for 80% of the improvement we will see later. But if you still want to tweak, go down to the section where texture quality values are loaded. Since we are using the low textures I will tweak here, changing the mode to 0 and reducing the Vram size to half, 200 megabytes and change the middle ratio to 150. I arrived at these values by sheer trial and error, changing each one independently and measuring performance each time.

These ones work very well for me, but feel free to experiment and report back your results. Just, keep a backup file of the original values, some values will cause the game to crash. Save the file and go back to your ground zeroes folder. Remember to run the “repack” script to ensure all these changes are packed back into the game. We are ready to test! I have chosen a sunny mission so you can clearly see how the game has no shadows. It looks super odd, but the performance is now closer to 50 while sneaking around, with casual explosions and movement doing nothing to take under 40. Great job. This is clearly the superior way to play this game. If you run into some intense explosion and combat the performance will be less, as expected, but never becoming unplayable which is something I am very thankful for, since some of these battles are not easy, at least for me. And with that, I am heading out.

This is only the beginning, there are many configuration files hidden underneath all this and as we dig into them more performance tweaks are bound to show up so if anything good is discovered I might make another video running this on slower hardware. Until then, I am going to keep playing. Until next time..

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