Playing with the CryEngine Settings

Star Citizen is based on a customized version of the CryEngine 3 gaming engine, and a lot of configuration variables are available for fine tuning the engine settings to our specific environment. To use any of the settings, create a file at .\Cloud Imperium Games\StarCitizen\Public\User.cfg and add any relevant settings to it, one per line. The order matters because any setting set lower down will overwrite any settings set earlier in the file.

After a lot of trial and error I've eventually come up with a set of configuration options which seem ok for my hardware, you can download my User.cfg file here. In the following, I give some explanation of the most important configuration variables included into the file, so that you can use the file as a basis for building your own custom settings.


Editing stuff in the User.cfg can cause the game client to have problems logging in if values are set incorrectly. If you think something like this might be happening to you, cut or move the file to your desktop and try logging in. Always make a backup of the default User.cfg file (if any) so you can switch back to the original version if something goes wrong.

Configuration Variables

  • sys_spec - this setting sets the basis for your configuration. Allowed values: 1-4; 1 = low but best performance; 4 = very high graphics but most intensive.
  • sys_max_fps - max frames per seconds. Comment this line to have a less stable max framerate, but it will be at it’s highest. Typical values are 30 for slower PCs, or your monitor's refresh rate for faster PCs.
  • r_VSync - Toggles vertical sync. 0: Disabled; 1: Enabled. Set to 1 if you note a "screen tearing" effect on your monitor.
  • r_TexturesStreamPoolSize - Size of pool for textures streaming in MB. Default is 128(MB)
  • e_ShadowsPoolSize - This command sets the maximum amount of resolution available for shadows cast by dynamic lights other than the Sun. The lower the pool size, the more chance there is for performance issues and shadow glitches, so the default is recommended, or you can manually set it to 4096 to even 8192 if your Shadows setting is at its maximum, and/or you have manually increased shadow quality using some of the commands above.
  • e_ShadowsMaxTexRes - This command controls the resolution of shadows cast by the Sun. The lowest value used in the game is 512, and the maximum possible using the in-game settings is 1024, but you can alter it to other values, such as 256 or 128 for blurrier shadows that can boost performance, or 2048 or 4096 for more detailed shadows that will greatly reduce performance. The screenshots above show the effects on outdoor shadows of a low value of = 128 on the far left, then the standard = 1024, then the higher = 2048, and lastly, the framerate-crippling = 4096.
  • e_GsmCache - This command, if enabled (= 1), will update distant shadows less frequently. This can improve performance at the cost of some realism - though in practice the difference is typically unnoticeable in most scenes. Conversely, if you want to make sure shadows are displayed at their best, set this variable to = 0 to update them more frequently.
  • r_Sharpening -
  • r_MotionBlur - This setting controls the use of Motion Blur, which is most visible when turning around in the game. Setting it to 0 disables this form of blurring and can noticeably improve FPS; 1 enables it; 3 enables it and also allows it to blur not just your view, but also blur fast moving objects in DX10.
  • r_ShadowBlur - 0=Off, 1-3=Shadow Blur methods. This setting when enabled allows the blurring of the edges of shadows cast, giving greater realism, with a reduction in FPS based on the method used.