How ShadowPlay Highlights and Nvidia Ansel make GeForce cards more fun

GeForce Experience is making it easy—and fun—to share your most glorious gaming successes.

Credit: Gordon Mah Ung/IDG

For years, the software that shipped with graphics cards didn’t add a lot of value when you were actually, you know, playing games. Sure, you wanted the latest drivers for the best performance, and it’s nice to be able to adjust how your monitors behave or optimize your games with a click—but none of that is exciting in the heat of the moment. Nvidia’s new ShadowPlay Highlights and Ansel features in GeForce Experience change that.

Let’s dig into how ShadowPlay Highlights and Ansel make using GeForce graphics cards just plain more fun, letting you easily create and share stunning gameplay videos and glamoured-up screenshots, respectively. You’ll need a GeForce graphics card to take advantage of these Nvidia-created goodies, of course.

If you’ve ever wanted to mimic PewDiePie or DeadEndThrills, read on, but be warned: Once you’ve dabbled in these dandy features, you’ll wish they were available in every game.

What is ShadowPlay Highlights?

shadowplay highlights nvidia Nvidia

ShadowPlay Highlights builds atop Nvidia’s long-lauded ShadowPlay technology, which helps make GeForce Experience the best PC game recording software for owners of Nvidia hardware. It takes the hassle out of capturing your most glorious gaming experiences, automatically saving video of key moments like kills, deaths, match wins, and more, then letting you share those clips easily to Facebook and YouTube—or you can save the clips locally. It’s similar to a feature that rival game capture service uses to grab your e-sports highlights, but built right into your graphics card’s software.

And ShadowPlay Highlights is a blast. I’m not the type of person who normally blasts videos of my gaming escapades out to the Internet because, well, editing and uploading videos sounds like the last thing I want to do when I find some free time to play. ShadowPlay Highlights takes all the time and legwork out of the process, so that even video noobs like yours truly can start sharing gaming clips and aspire to become a YouTube sensation one day. (Hey, it could happen—right?)

Here’s an Nvidia video showing how it works. I’d share Highlights of my own, but watching me get massacred after landing in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds again and again isn’t exactly must-see TV. 

The biggest issue is finding games that support it. Like the version of the feature, ShadowPlay Highlights only works for games that explicitly support it, and given that it’s only been available for a short time, that whitelist is limited to a scant two games at the moment: Cliff Bleszinski’s LawBreakers ($30 on Amazon) and the wildly popular PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds ($30 on Amazon). More PC games are planning to include ShadowPlay Highlights support, though, including Final Fantasy XV, the martial arts RPG Absolver ($30 on Steam), and campaign shooter Raider of the Broken Planet.

Here’s hoping a lot more will come sooner than later. Popular e-sports games would be a good place to start—I don't think it's coincidental that the first two ShadowPlay Highlights titles are first-person shooters. In the meantime, ShadowPlay Highlights is stellar for chronicling LawBreakers multi-kills or the journey to those elusive PUBG chicken dinners.

How to use ShadowPlay Highlights

Using ShadowPlay Highlights should be fairly straightforward if you’ve got GeForce Experience installed. Nvidia says it’s supposed to be on by default, and you’ll see a ShadowPlay prompt to allow automatic Highlights capture once you start playing a Battlegrounds or LawBreakers match.

shadowplay highlights Brad Chacos/IDG

Of course, I do, GFE. That’s the whole point of this article!

If you don’t see the prompt for some reason (which was the case for me in Battlegrounds), open GeForce Experience, and enable the in-game overlay on its settings page. Press Alt+Z to summon the ShadowPlay overlay and click the gear icon on the right side of the screen. Open the Highlights option (in the interface shown below, where the gear icon shifts to the left), and make sure the feature is enabled. (This interface also lets you choose where unsaved clips are temporarily stored, and the maximum amount of storage space it’ll use.)

gfe highlights Nvidia

And if you still don’t see the prompt when you start a match, head into the game’s options and make sure ShadowPlay Highlights is active there, too. It’s under “Video Capture” in Battlegrounds and “Enable Nvidia Highlights” in LawBreakers.

enable shadowplay highlights Nvidia

The option to enable ShadowPlay Highlights in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.

When it’s working, you’ll see a tiny square icon of a clapperboard in the lower-right corner of the screen. At the end of your match, the ShadowPlay Highlights overlay will appear in Battlegrounds when you exit to the lobby, so you can share or save your automatically created clips. In LawBreakers, you’ll see a button stating how many highlight clips were created in the post-match screen, next to the Continue button. It’ll bring up the same GeForce Experience overlay.

lawbreakers highlights Nvidia

See the button that says “4 Highlights”?

shadowplay highlights pubg Brad Chacos/IDG

The GFE overlay lets you tweak and share your ShadowPlay Highlights.

You can tweak which clips ShadowPlay Highlights saves in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and LawBreakers, too. Click the Details button on either game’s icon on the GeForce Experience home screen to go to its options. Select the ShadowPlay Highlights icon from the strip above the upper-right edge of the picture, then click Edit. In the pop-up that appears you can select which types of in-game actions the feature will automatically capture. (You know, in case you don’t want those embarrassing self-knockouts recorded for posterity.) Here’s what both games capture by default.

shadowplay highlights lawbreakers Nvidia

The ShadowPlay Highlights LawBreakers captures by default.

shadowplay highlights options Brad Chacos/IDG

The ShadowPlay Highlights PUBG captures by default.

Developers select what types of in-game moments are eligible for the Highlights treatment, as you can see. But as much as ShadowPlay Highlights rocks for pumping out gaming videos, it’s time to turn our attention to gaming pictures and Nvidia Ansel—which is even more fun to actually play with.

Next page: Nvidia Ansel super screenshots

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Brad Chacos

Brad Chacos

PC World (US online)
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