Ubisoft has been notorious amongst gamers for their bad PC ports, something I’m going to get into detail during this AC Unity benchmark performance article.

Assassin’s Creed Unity like its predecessor is based on the AnvilNext Engine , a modified version of the Anvil Engine that goes as far back as 2007, when the first AC of the series was released.

 

Single and Multiplayer Features

Like previous installments in the series it’s an open world third person action-adventure where you play the role of an assassin in Paris during the French Revolution. Something different to this year’s game is the flexibility of customising Arno the main character and the skill tree, which allows the player to upgrade various skills like you would in a role playing game as you progress through the missions.

Another unique feature is the multiplayer co-op with up to four players, where you join friends to complete specific activities and missions.

 

System Requirements

To everyone’s amazement we have some very steep requirements as shown on Ubisoft’s official blog :

Processor
Minimum
Intel Core i5-2500K @ 3.3 GHz or AMD FX-8350 @ 4.0 GHz or AMD Phenom II x4 940 @ 3.0 GHz

Recommended
Intel Core i7-3770 @ 3.4 GHz or AMD FX-8350 @ 4.0 GHz or better

RAM
Minimum
6 GB

Recommended
8GB

Video Card
Minimum
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 or AMD Radeon HD 7970 (2 GB VRAM)

Recommended
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 or AMD Radeon R9 290X (3 GB VRAM)

 

Before the game was released to the public Ubisoft provided changelogs for two patches, as well as AMD and Nvidia being on top with optimized drivers and SLI/Crossfire support. I personally was surprised to be honest as we aren’t use to this kind of treatment for newer games. Sadly though I have delayed the benchmarks as there are various issues that haven’t been fixed even on the newer patch.

 

AC Unity

Patch 1.1.0

Using the 1.1.0 patch I had horrible performance in cutscenes with random crashes, stutter and framedrops as well as popins and visual glitches. The only way that I could get something half playable was to alt+tab out of the game and re-enter.

 

Patch 1.2.0

Downloading the 1.2.0 patch I thought at least some of the issues would be resolved. Well as you would guess no, other than the cutscenes being rendered at lower quality (so framedrops wouldn’t be as visible) and slightly less crashes it didn’t help my situation that much.

I’ve been trying every single possible solution from various forums as well as the official Assassin’s Creed blog to find a solution but everything seems totally random , something you don’t expect when paying a premium for a AAA title.

Testing Components

AC Unity Benchmark System

CPU i7 3930K
Motherboard Asus P9X79 Deluxe
RAM Kingston Hyper-X 16GB 1600mhz
HDD/SSD Crucial M550 256GB
GPU 2XGalax GTX970 EXOC 4GB
Monitor Asus PB287Q 28″ 4K 60Hz 1MS
PSU Corsair AX1200W
OS Windows 8.1
Drivers Nvidia: 344.75 WHQL

 

After trying to tackle this mess for three whole days with the 1.1.0 patch as well as yesterday’s 1.2.0 patch I’m going to be a little unorthodox with this benchmark. When there’s official SLI and Crossfire profiles I will put out charts for frame rate and frametimes with single and multi GPU results for the GTX970 and R9-290, but this time around I don’t have the patience nor willpower to go through what I have the last few days and will only be showing one setup with SLI GTX970s.

 

Benchmark Methodology

I picked Versailles in a very NPC heavy area to give a good indication of a performance hit to the benchmark system. The results were a street run of 60 seconds between the NPC crowds.

The benchmark was run in offline mode, as per Ubisoft recommendations.

For the 1920×1080 and 2560×1440 resolutions the Very High pre-set was used which consists of a mix of High, Very High and Ultra High settings with Ambient Occlusion on SSAO and Anti-Aliasing at 2xMSAA.

 

Ac Unity Graphics Quality

 

For 3840×2160 (4K) the Low pre-set was used with everything at the lowest possible setting and AA off.

Frame rate charts are from the Fraps minavgmax.csv file while the frametimes are again from Fraps but run through Frafs.

Note: The outcome was inconsistent running the same exact settings various times , your mileage should vary even if you have the same system.

 

Assassin’s Creed Benchmark Results

 

Assassins Creed Frame rate Benchmark Patch 1.2.0

 

AC Unity 1920×1080 Benchmark

Strangely while we aren’t running the Ultra High pre-set our SLI GTX970 system is just able to keep up with over 65 FPS on average. The game does look great in some areas while in others the textures are just awful.

This isn’t the performance we would expect on other games at HD with this beefy of a system. The experience wasn’t perfect but the game was playable.

In our frametimes graph we see crazy variance. This isn’t multi GPU specific as running a single GPU gave us similar fluctuations.

 

AC Unity Frame times 1920x1080

AC Unity 1920x1080 Screenshot

AC Unity 1920×1080 Screenshot

Assassin’s Creed Unity 2560×1440 Benchmark

As expected after seeing the 1920×1080 results bumping up the resolution to 1440 suffers a good 25% FPS average frame rate drop. The SLI GTX970s are just able to keep 46 FPS average with minimum frame rate hitting sub 40 FPS levels.

The frame times fluctuations are so noticeable while playing it’s a bad experience overall

 

Assassins Creed Unity Frame times 2560x1440

Assassins Creed 2560x1440 Screenshot

AC Unity 2560×1440 Screenshot

 

Assassin’s Creed Unity 4K Benchmark

Trying to run 4K was a headache, while on the 1.1.0 patch the Low pre-set for the game was acceptable (the pre-set I was running while doing the initial missions) on the 1.2.0 patch it was a mess.

There were random drops to single digit FPS , with no VRAM bottleneck as we had everything turned down and no AA. It must be some kind of memory optimization issue. The 1 percentile and 0.1 percentile of frametime shows clearly there’s something going wrong here. We even had a moment where a single frame transition took 5400ms , a random 5 second delay while doing the benchmark.

 

Assassins Creed Unity Frame times 4K

Assassins Creed 4K Screenshot

Assassin’s Creed Unity 3840×2160 Screenshot

Conclusion

You might be wondering where CPU, VRAM and system memory usage charts are. We didn’t add them for good reason as the results again are totally random. That’s the least of Ubisoft’s problems to be honest.

Similarly to what happened in our  AC Black Flag benchmark last year , Ubisoft are running an outdated and badly optimised engine. Adding better graphical settings, textures and throwing thousands of NPC on top of all that is only going to cause more issues.

As open world games are very demanding, there are going to be parts where textures look worse than a corridor shooter and everyone acknowledges that but there seems to be so much emphasis on things that have nothing to do with what gamers really want.

LOD is horrific and don’t forget the locked chests that need a forced mobile app and then microtransactions to open.

There’s similar problems in the PS4 and the Xbox One release. Digital Foundry covers the matter extensively here.

In my honest opinion there is no chance in *Paris* that Ubisoft can save this sinking boat, not even after multiple patches.

 
See Pricing
 

If you have any questions about the benchmark please ask in the comment section below and I will be glad to answer.

About The Author

"Overclock and benchmark freak"