Borderlands 2 – Performance tips

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These are fixes that might help you out if you’re finding your older system is struggling to handling the game (Borderlands 2); a few others are for general convenience; and a few might make the whole game a little prettier, especially if you’ve got hardware to handle it.

You’ll find your .ini files here:

C:\Users\%USERNAME%\Documents\My Games\Borderlands 2\WillowGame\Config\

Once you’ve located that folder, you’ll want to back it up completely before you start messing with anything. That way, you can pull back the default files should something get screwed up. You’ll also want to back up your saved game as well, if you have it. Find that at:

C:\Users\%USERNAME%\Documents\My Games\Borderlands 2\WillowGame\SaveData\

All set? Okay, with the Config folder opened inside the WillowGame folder, you’ll find a series of .ini files that handle different things. Each tweak will call out the appropriate file, which you’ll want to edit in a text editor such as Notepad. You’ll need to use the Find function (ctrl+F) to locate the appropriate lines for each tweak.

Disable Startup Movies

This will allow you to turn off the various logos when the game starts up. They’re already skippable with a quick click, but this allows you to deactivate all of them.

In WillowEngine.ini, find these lines:



Then, add a ; , like a comment, in front of each “StartupMovie” line. The result will be this:



And you’re done — none of the usual logos will load when you start up Borderlands 2, and you’ll get into the game quicker.

Disable Framerate Smoothing

This might help you get better performance if you’re having some graphical issues.

In WillowEngine.ini, find this line:


If it’s set to TRUE, you can disable it by setting it to FALSE, like this:


Disable Black Outline Shader

You know that big black outline that surrounds most objects and gives them a more cartoonish look? It’s cool, but removing it is another way you can tone down the graphical requirements of Borderlands 2 to get it to run better.

In WillowEngine.ini, find this line:


To turn off the shader, you need to make adjustments to the line — namely, remove both instances of the word “Willow,” so it looks like this:


Disable Cel Shading

In WillowEngine.ini, find the same line as above:


And change it to:


That will remove the black outline shader as above, and also disable the cel shading effect to make the graphics slightly more realistic and add more contrast on surfaces. You’ll also get a pretty marked performance boost, because these shaders take a fair amount of processing power.

Borderlands 2 - Performance tips

Borderlands 2 - Performance tips - Cell-shading ON

Borderlands 2 - Performance tips

Borderlands 2 - Performance tips - Cell-Shading OFF

Disable Shadows and Lighting to Boost Performance

In WillowEngine.ini, find these lines (all of which are under [SystemSettings] but not all of which are together:



Set them all to “False”. The lines should look like this:



If you’ve already knocked your graphical settings down to the minimums and are still having troubles with framerate, turning off those settings may help.

Reduce Texture Pop-in Time on Ammo

If you’ve noticed texture pop-up when you open loot containers and it’s irritating you, you can greatly reduce it or eliminate it with this alteration.

In WillowEngine.ini, find these lines:



Reducing the texture pop-in requires you to turn down the values by changing them all to zero. They should look like this:



Reduce All Texture Pop-in

You can also alter the time it takes for textures to render throughout the game. I’m unsure just how noticeable an effect this tweak actually creates, but it may make the game run a little smoother.

In WillowEngine.ini, find [SystemSettings].

Scroll down until you see a number of lines that start with the phrase TEXTUREGROUP.

On each of those lines, copy and add this text string: ,NumStreamedMips=0

A note about Texture Pop-in

Texture Pop-in is a problem that has plagued many games within the current and past generation. When textures are not loaded in time or not loaded correctly low resolution images appear. This can remain for several seconds until the final texture loads.

The Unreal Engine is best known for such a flaw and many games based on the engine have had this problem. This was an intentional programming trick in Halo 2: in order to make it possible for there to be only one loading screen, so that the entire game can be played without breaking the flow, textures load in on the fly.

Unfortunately, the effect was far, far more pronounced and noticeable than developers had hoped, particularly in cutscenes, and even though it was on more powerful hardware, the follow-up Halo 3 returned to multiple loading screens to avoid this problem.

Enable/Disable Reflections

You can turn reflections in water and other surfaces on and off independently of your other graphics settings if you choose.

In WillowEngine.ini, find these lines:



Just switch the True/False value to turn them on or off. They’ll look like this:



Boost Texture Resolutions

If you want to kick up the graphical fidelity of Borderlands 2, you can increase the resolution of some textures so they’ll look more like those of cutscenes. Expect this tweak to negatively impact your performance, however.

In WillowEngine.ini, find these lines:



And change them to this:



Enabling Console

If you want to enable the in-game console, go to the WillowGame/Config directory in "My Documents/My Games/Borderlands 2" and also in your installed game directory.

In both of these, open the Input inis files. These would be:

  • WillowInput.ini in the DOCUMENTS directory;
  • DefaultInput.ini in the installed directory (usually in Program Files or in Program Files (x86) (64-bit Windows installation) folder;

Find the [Engine.Console] section in both of them. Under both the files’ [Engine.Console] section, add:


Tilde is the ‘~’ sign which will be used to open the console in-game.

SMAA instead of FXAA

SMAA is an acronym for Subpixel Morphological AntiAliasing and it is a new great method to antialias computer graphics polygons and fullscreen (not only) scenes at high resolutions (for example HD and Full HD).

This technique is more light to be handled by a GPU respect of old techniques like MSAA and FXAA and it delivers a more stable image/scene of the animation on the screen, smoothing the image without blurring it.

SMAA is a very efficient GPU-based MLAA implementation, capable of handling subpixel features seamlessly, and featuring an advanced pattern detection & handling mechanism.

If you feel that FXAA is too blurry and causing you problems, you might want to use the SMAA injector, which can be found here.

Download version 1.2 from the website, or from HeelpBook going to the Download section at the end of this article.

Extract the files, and then go to the d3d9 folder. Drag all the files there to:

…/Borderlands 2/Binaries/Win32/

Do note that the above is the installed game directory, and NOT the My Documents directory. Play the game and you should see that SMAA is forced, and there will barely be any performance loss.


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