Post-Processing in FPS Games – Should You Use it? | Pro Answer (2022)

There are always two types of gamers in the gaming scene. Some have no idea about software and hardware and just play the game, while others are constantly tinkering with their system and trying to get every little advantage they can. 

I belong to the latter. 

It has always bothered me that an opponent might have a technical advantage in 1 vs. 1. That’s why I’ve always looked at all possible settings and spent a lot of time researching and testing to get the most out of my existing hardware.

Of course, the proper settings don’t make you a superstar.

Your talent, skills, and experience do.

But thinking that my system is running optimally and therefore it only depends on my skills and those of the opponent has always made me feel better and more confident because everything that can positively influence my performance I have done, and I know that I am therefore hard to beat.

We’ve already covered different setting options on our blog, and you can find our previous articles on those topics here.

Today we’re talking about the Post Processing setting, which is present in almost every first-person shooter.

Let’s go!

Note: This article was written in English. Translations into other languages may not provide the same linguistic quality. We apologize for grammatical and semantic errors.

What is Post-Processing?

As the name implies, Post-Processing is a set of video effects and filters applied to a game’s frames after rendering.

In other words, Post-Processing refers to the full-screen image processing that takes place after the image is captured by the camera but before it is displayed on the screen.

Post-Processing’s goal is to improve the quality of an image before it is shown to viewers. This is achieved by adding additional effects to the images/video.

What Are the Different Post-Processing Effects?

Post-Processing is a complex process with many effects, and we’ll take a closer look at a few of them here. 

Depending on the game, the effects described in the rest of this article are combined under the Post-Processing setting option or can be set separately in your game’s graphics settings.

Ambient Occlusion

This effect casts shadows on the edges of various objects. It darkens the holes, folds, faces, and intersections that are close to each other.

Depth Of Field

Depth of Field is a special effect that mimics the sharpness properties of a camera lens. This means that by changing this property, you can change the overall appearance of objects in terms of how shallow or deep they appear.

Bloom

Bloom creates a special effect where light escapes from the brighter parts of an image. This gives the impression of an extremely bright light overpowering the camera and creates a sophisticated look.

If you want to learn more about the Bloom effect and whether or not you should enable it, read this article where we explain the Bloom effect in more detail:

Colour Grading

Color grading is the process of changing the appearance of images to make them look better on different devices. It involves adjusting image elements such as contrast, saturation, color, black level, white point, and details.

Motion Blur

Motion Blur is another post-processing effect that simulates the blur effect we experience when a fast object moves in front of us.

Vignette

Vignette is an effect that simulates the darkening in real camera lenses. The effect is most noticeable at the edges of the image.

Fog

This feature, as the name suggests, superimposes one color over another. It also adds a touch of blur to the image.

Lens flare

Lens flare occurs when a bright light source shines directly on the lens. The glaring effect is similar to what the human eye experiences when it sees a bright light.

Should I Use Post-Processing?

Whether you should use Post-Processing depends on your personal preferences. If you like the results without post-processing, there’s no need to turn it on.

Some games, in my opinion, do an excellent job of color correction and motion blur, which improves the overall gaming experience.

However, there are some cases where the post-processing effects like vignette and lens flare tend to be overdone.

Low Dynamic Range is another aspect of Post-Processing that has a negative impact on image quality for some gamers. This feature adjusts the brightness to the situation in the game.

For some, all these effects are far too much to bear. However, we must admit that these functions simulate everyday life if you want a realistic experience.

For example, the Low Dynamic Range setting behaves exactly the way the human eye reacts to light. The result is a very realistic effect.

So if you want game graphics to be as realistic as possible, you should turn on Post Processing effects.

When post-processing is turned on, the polished images contribute to a realistic feel. For example, smoke effects usually look much more natural.

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When Should You Turn Off Post-Processing While Playing?

If post-processing is such a great feature and the goal of its use is to enhance the gameplay experience, why would you want to disable it while playing?

That’s a good question.

But also easy to answer. 😉

While it’s nice to have a great gaming experience with realistic graphics, especially in first-person shooters, more effects in the graphics mean it’s harder to see enemies. 

So especially if you want to be competitive, it usually means disabling as many effects as possible.

Simple example:

Do you really want to compete against an opponent if he gets blurred when he moves on your screen, but he can see you sharp at any time? 

In esports, where every millisecond counts in first-person shooters, you should rather do without pretty effects.

However, if you are a streamer and want to give your viewers a great picture, you might want to activate one or the other effect.

And if you play a first-person shooter in story mode against AI opponents and have a good PC, then let it rumble with the post-processing effects. 🙂 

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Does Post-Processing Cost Performance or FPS?

Post-processing is a resource-hungry process. In addition, it requires applying various effects to the image before it is displayed. Therefore, the performance impact is significant.

It also depends on the game, of course, but usually, you will notice a significant performance drop when you enable post-processing.

In general, we can say that higher post-processing lowers the FPS.

Post-processing is more of a GPU-heavy task that tends to put less load on your CPU.

So if you have a strong GPU, you can rather afford to play with post-processing and will also lose less FPS than a low-end system.

In first-person shooters, the frames per second (FPS) rate is always an important issue, and every ambitious gamer wants to have as many FPS as possible.

In this article, we have explained why this is the case.

Does Post-Processing Cause Input Lag?

Yes, that too, post-processing causes input lag. This is because shaders are added to an image that has already been rendered.

Depending on how many effects are applied, the latency can vary. For example, in a scene where only a few post-processings are done, the input lag is lower, while it automatically increases as the post-processings increase.

Again, I want to point out that the amount of input lag you experience by enabling this feature depends on your hardware.

If you have high-end hardware that is up to the task, you probably won’t feel any difference in terms of input lag whether you turn the feature on or off. 

With an average PC, however, it can be quite different, and you may experience enormous input lag.

In addition, of course, the more post-processing effects are active, the higher the input lag. 

In some cases, we are talking about up to 80ms delay.

It doesn’t sound like much, but this will often mean your death without a chance to fight back at all, especially in first-person shooters. 

Also, you have to consider that many processes on your PC lead to input lag, which currently can’t be reduced any further for technical reasons, e.g., your screen’s response time or your internet connection to the game server. So you always have an input lag anyway.

Furthermore, suppose there is also an “unnecessary” input lag due to post-processing. In that case, you might even feel it when typing with a mouse and keyboard while playing (the game feels anything but smooth then).

As already explained, you give yourself a significant disadvantage compared to opponents who don’t have the input lag.

Final Thoughts

Post-processing effects are options to make the game experience more beautiful and realistic. If you are playing the story mode of your first-person shooter, feel free to turn on as many effects as your PC can handle without getting FPS drops. As a result, the game will definitely be more immersive.

However, as soon as you enter a competitive situation against other players, it’s not about nice graphics anymore but about performance (more FPS, less input lag) and fast detection of your opponents, so you should do without all post-processing effects in such a case.

In my pro gamer time in CS 1.6 and as a competitive player in PUBG and Valorant, I ALWAYS disabled all post-processing effects. However, I have to admit that some good players in PUBG use these effects, at least with the “low” or “middle” setting, because it helps them in situations with large distances and many trees, etc., to recognize the opponents.

Especially in PUBG, such situations are very frequent; therefore, you should test whether the post-processing might even simplify the taunting of the opponents in such games.

In games like CS:GO or Valorant, with short distances and few objects, you should always do without post-processing effects, at least if you want to play competitively.

Masakari out – moep, moep!

Former pro gamer Andreas "Masakari" Mamerow has been an active gamer for over 35 years, more than 20 of them in the competitive scene (Esports). In CS 1.5/1.6, PUBG and Valorant, he has led and coached teams at the highest level.
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