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Our graphics settings guide for The First Descendant on PC

All the best graphics settings in one place - for a range of systems
Last Updated on July 2, 2024
The First Descendant gameplay screenshot, taken by PCGuide
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A new looter shooter has entered the market, and as a free-to-play title, there’s no reason not to try it out if you’re a fan of the genre. We’ve put together a list of the best graphics settings for The First Descendant to help you fine-tune and optimize the experience. The system requirements tell us that a wide range of gaming PCs should be able to achieve smooth gameplay – though you may want to consider the best GPU for The First Descendant if you’re in the market for an upgrade.

Booting up the game and jumping into the action, tinkering with settings as we went along, proved to be a nice way of determining which settings to use. As always, in-game performance will vary wildly depending on your system specs and monitor, especially if you want to play at native resolution.

How we picked the best graphics settings for The First Descendant

To give you something to compare to, we’ve listed the key specs for the particular setup we used in this settings guide. In fact, this is the very same rig we used for testing the likes of F1 24 and XDefiant, and we think it represents a pretty average setup these days, nothing too crazy. We did some testing of the game, starting with the tutorial area to gauge performance. If you have a similar setup, our personal best settings are just below.

✓ What we used to test

Our in-house gaming PC

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4
  • PSU: Corsair CV650

Best settings for our RTX 3070 gaming PC

Now for the best settings for our in-house system. If you have a similar gaming PC, you’ll be happy to know that we could find a good balance of great performance and visuals. Using a Ryzen 5000 series CPU with RTX 30 series GPU combo puts us comfortably above the recommended system requirements. However, we still stay away from settings such as ray tracing in favor of a higher framerate.

Keep in mind that the game has two relevant settings tabs – ‘Graphics’ and ‘Display’, we’ll be focusing on the former, but you can change important settings such as your resolution in display settings.

ResolutionNative (1920 x 1080 or 2560 x 1440 preferred)
Ray TracingOff
Additional OptionsNVIDIA (this is dependent on your GPU)
Nvidia Reflex Low LatencyEnable Boost
Frame GenerationOn (if supported)
Ray ReconstructionOn (if supported)
Maximum Frame RateUnlimited
Post ProcessingMedium
Global IlluminationMedium
Shader QualityHigh
Motion BlurOff

Best graphics settings for low-end systems

The First Descendant is based on Unreal Engine 5, which you may have assumed makes it a difficult game to run. In fact, you can get by in this game with some older hardware – GPU-wise, the GTX 1050 Ti and RX 570 are recommended as a minimum. If you do have a lower-end system, then you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of settings to play around with, helping you achieve a higher framerate.

Even though we haven’t been able to test the game on a system featuring one of these graphics cards, below you’ll find a list of settings that prioritize performance over graphical fidelity.

ResolutionNative (1920 x 1080 preferred)
Ray TracingOff
Additional OptionsNVIDIA (this is dependent on your GPU)
DLSSPerformance or Balanced
Nvidia Reflex Low LatencyEnable Boost (may have minimal effect on performance)
Frame GenerationOn (if supported)
Ray ReconstructionOn (if supported)
Maximum Frame Rate144
Post ProcessingLow
Global IlluminationLow
Shader QualityLow
Motion BlurOff

How to optimize The First Descendant & boost FPS

Overall, we found that The First Descendant ran quite well on our hardware, but there’s always room for improvement. Aside from stating the obvious and asking you to upgrade your hardware or buy a new gaming PC, there are a few tweaks you make to boost your FPS if needed.

Our settings for low-end systems above should provide a solid framerate on most modern rigs – and there’s room to simply set everything to low or use a low graphics preset if needs must. We can discuss a few further points, focusing on some extra tips and tricks out of the game itself.

  • Lower your game resolution, or use a lower-res monitor. If you want the best in-game performance, sticking to 1080p or 1440p is your best bet in any game. If you happened to try out The First Descendant on the 4K monitor you use for work, for example, chances are, you’re going to have low FPS.
  • Keep your graphics drivers up to date. Read through our ‘how to update Nvidia drivers‘ or ‘how to update AMD graphics drivers‘ guides if you’re not sure how to do this. For Intel graphics card users, see their Intel Arc graphics drivers page to update to the latest drivers.
  • Lastly, maybe you value steady performance rather than pushing your PC to the limit. If you’re happy with a certain framerate, for example, the same as your monitor’s refresh rate, you can always cap your FPS to ensure it doesn’t fluctuate. Alternatively, use V-Sync, FreeSync, or G-Sync (the latter two are preferred) to avoid screen tearing or visual stuttering.

Should I use ray tracing in The First Descendant?

Ray tracing is highly taxing on graphics cards, even with some of the latest and greatest Nvidia cards designed for the job. AMD and Intel have been catching up, but Team Green still leads the pack here.

Regardless, for most players, we’d recommend avoiding ray tracing, especially if you want the smoothest experience possible. In our opinion, you should put performance first in an action-packed shooter like The First Descendant. That being said, if you do have the hardware to pull off ray tracing with a smooth and steady framerate, go for it.

Final word

The First Descendant is an interesting new title to arrive on PC lately. It’s seen a surge in popularity following its late June launch, so we had to give it a try. Following in the footsteps of other looter shooters such as Destiny, Warframe, or Borderlands, the (up to) four-player action offers a new world to test your skills in.

Even walking through the tutorial for the first time will give you a good idea of the movement and combat, which was pretty fluid and easy to understand. The game ran great on our test setup, and we think even users on older hardware can enjoy their time with an acceptable framerate.

At PC Guide, Jack is mostly responsible for reporting on hardware deals. He also specializes in monitors, TVs, and headsets and can be found putting his findings together in a review or best-of guide.