Battlefield 5 Has Too Much Film Grain

Battlefield 5 Has Too Much Film Grain

Immediately after Nvidia’s RTX 20 series reveal, press were allowed to get hands on with a bunch of games on PC using the new hardware. After some wrangling, I got some hands on time with Battlefield 5 – and immediately started coming to grips with the aggressiveness of the game’s film grain.

Battlefield V‘s Rotterdam map was unveiled shortly before Gamescom kicked off, and understandably that was the map available to press at the Nvidia showcase. Press were booked in for late evening sessions – some appointments were scheduled to begin at midnight local time – and given the opportunity to try a 32 vs 32 Conquest match, the same as what people will experience when the BFV open beta kicks off next month.

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The scheduling ended up being a little chaotic, with people’s appointments shifted around at last notice, so my gameplay session didn’t have a full 64 players. Unfortunately, I also ended up in a squad of three players instead of four, which restricts extra options for spawning across the map.

I was mostly looking forward to getting hands on with the flow of the game, as well as seeing some of the new rendering tech that DICE were talking up during the pre-briefing. But all of that immediately went downhill, courtesy of the most over-the-top use of film grain I’ve seen in ages.

It’s almost akin to a sheet of white noise over the entire screen. It’s so pervasive that the grain pierces through the cobblestones on the ground, pierces through the reflections in windows and vehicles, and just takes the sharpness out of the whole image.

It was so distracting that after a couple of minutes, I tried to disable it in the video settings. It was locked, and a nearby DICE representative gave me a brief earful for trying to mess with the video settings. (I doubt disabling film grain would negatively BFV‘s performance, but it was a long evening and not the time to press the point.)

The film grain was the most noticeable aspect of my booking, because after one quick round people were summarily cycled out of the room for the next group. There were a couple of neat aspects worth mentioning: being able to choose the gun you want from the off, rather than having to grind it out or purchase it through some form of in-game currency, is an immense improvement.

The build itself had a surprising amount of jitter, particularly when spawning. It is an alpha build of the game, however, and DICE has a strong enough track record in optimising the Battlefield and Battlefront series that I wouldn’t be concerned. (It would also be interesting to see the game’s performance without HDR or the RTX effects, and the difference in performance with the latter enabled/disabled, but we weren’t able to test that on the night.)

I’ve got another Nvidia briefing throughout all of Wednesday, and I’m hoping to get some more time with BFV to get a better gauge of the game in action. Hopefully by the time the public beta rolls around, the film grain will be toned down a notch. It’s a stunner of a game, as most DICE productions are, but the implementation here isn’t doing BFV justice.

The author travelled to Gamescom 2018 as a guest of Nvidia.


  • I don’t know what EA is trying to do with BFV…. It seems like they’re making a lot of changes that don’t seem particularly necessary.

    BF1 looked great and played great. I’d be happy to see more of the same with a bit of tinkering rather than have them change the visual style, the realistic-looking setting or the gunplay significantly.

    My biggest worry right now is that it’ll split the BF1 playerbase with an inferior sequel.

    • Probably because they took their time with BF1, went back to the drawing board, didn’t rush it and came through with what was essentially in the end a pretty quality product to be quite frank. This doesn’t strike me as particularly high in terms of quality so far, I’m not seeing anything that’s truly ‘wowed’ me yet and I really do agree with you.

  • … and a nearby DICE representative gave me a brief earful for trying to mess with the video settings.
    This jumped out at me – can you clarify it? As a quality engineer, my approach would be “why did you feel the need to change video settings? Did it negatively affect your experience?”
    Not “hey, don’t touch that!”

    • Maybe they thought he was a programmer for COD or something, trying to make the game look or perform worse lol

      Surely just saying “I am just wondering if I can turn the film grain off” would have been an OK response? Or if the rep was right there, just ask him/her

    • I guess when it’s a large press briefing with a lot of people cycling through, they don’t want people messing with the settings – if it crashes then it probably throws their scheduling out.

      Bear in mind that this was an Nvidia event to show off their new hardware, not an EA / DICE event to show off BFV in depth. An unfinished game running on new hardware is liable to be unstable, so they’d be wanting to keep the environment pretty tightly controlled.

    • Good point. I could understand them not wanting you to change settings, but yeah they should be trying to understand *why* you wanted to change them.

      Maybe they haven’t prepared the different shaders (or whatever technique they’re using for the grain) and only had the one available. You’d hope that by the time it goes to release they have better options to control that sort of thing.

  • The visual style of BFV is widely inconsistent. It doesn’t seem to have any solid direction or “rules”, the UI is this strange almost futuristic style while the game is a strange blend of historical and crazy, and then there is the pop ups that remind me of arcade games.

    It just kind of hurts the overall package.

  • I can understand why they would want to make the demonstration consistent across all computers, doesn’t seem too weird. Probs no need to worry about the film grain too hey. There’s usually an option to turn film grain and/or chromatic aberration off. Might not be there at launch, but probably best to assume it will be there at some stage.

    (especially given that it’s apparently in the options menu already, albeit currently locked…)

  • It might well not be film grain at all – a common raytracing technique is to do Monte Carlo rendering – instead of rendering every pixel every frame, you reduce the load by rendering random pixels each frame and setting the rest to a constant colour. If BFV are trying to squeeze real-time raytracing to the limit, they might get a film grain look by doing that.

  • Isn’t film grain in games just so they can cover up sub par graphics? I don’t really enjoy many of the frostbite 3 games but I do think since Battlefront they have been the best looking games.

    Also never understood why games have motion blur. Don’t our eyes blur moving images by themselves?

  • The initial BFV trailer was really bad – I actually completely lost interest in the game, despite BF1 being my most-played game of 2018.

    I was actually a new team who did the BFV trailer (the BF1 guy left DICE).

    BF1 definitely had one of the most impressive game trailers in years. If not the best.

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