Overflowing with potential.
Its been close to nine years since Square Enix announced Final Fantasy Versus XIII exclusively for the PlayStation 3. Since then the game was canceled and then rebranded as Final Fantasy 15 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Needless to say that ever since Square Enix showcased the gameplay trailer for Final Fantasy 15 at E3 2014, the expectations for the role playing game is through the roof. The gameplay looked gorgeous and was essentially our first look into the so called next generation of video games.
Heading into the Duscae demo, we had set our technical expectations low. We were not sure how cross generation transition had impacted the game’s visual prowess but after playing through the Duscae demo on both the PS4 and Xbox One, we were left impressed. In the last few years, Square Enix have been sharing a few development details regarding Luminous, the engine that Final Fantasy 15 is running on. The demo is utilizing version 1.40 of the engine which allows for complex bone animations and realistic player movement while running or walking.
File Size for Xbox One: 6.29 GB
File Size for PS4: 5.27 GB
A head to head video comparison. Please select 1080p and 60 fps for best possible video quality.
According to reports, the game utilizes five million polygons per frame with each character utilizing up to 100,000 polygons. In our view, the game utilizes one of the best hair simulation tech which puts it on par with other resource heavy methods such as AMD’s TressFX. This custom solution allows each fine thread to wave around, bounce or settle down according to the character’s movements. The game features large draw distances and an aggressive level of detail and occlusion engine which helps in reducing the pop in issues, which has been plaguing several open world games in the past.
Square Enix have been very clear regarding what resolution the PS4 and Xbox One versions will be running at. Although they did not explicitly mentioned the numerics, they did stated that it won’t be at 1080p and 30 frames per second. Our tests indicate that the PS4 version runs at 900p compared to a dynamic sub-800p on Xbox One, with a more stable frame rate on the former but mind you, there are frame rate drops on both versions and none of them are successful maintaining a locked 30fps experience [Average on PS4 was 28 and on the Xbox One it was 26]. Please note that we are not complaining since the game is deep in development and we remain hopeful that the final code will run at 1080p at 30 frames per second.
Head to head screenshot comparison between PS4 [left] and Xbox One [right] clearly showing the superior image quality on the former. Uncompressed images available on request. Let us know in the comments below.
Texture filtering implementation is disappointing in both version as anisotropic filtering is completely absent. The game utilizes fast approximate anti aliasing , which might be a perfect solution on consoles given their sub power hardware, but if you look closely the textures do not look sharp during edge detection, not to mention the jaggies are noticeable given the games sub-HD resolution. The game seems to be using a custom AO solution which is close to screen space ambient occlusion, it does a decent job of calculating each point’s shadow while being exposed to ambient lighting. This also helps in reducing shadow dithering to an extent but the problem still persists. At some places we found instances of blurry textures, it seems that they were simply lifted from last generation.
One of the highlights of the demo was the post processing techniques and effects provided by Silicon Studios’ YEBIS 3 engine. For those who are unaware, Silicon Studios provides a complete middleware solution for complex optical and lighting effects. The demo features cinematic depth of field which does a great job of detaching an object from the background, adding a sense of realism and artistic look and feel to the scenery.
A real time tech demo for the luminous engine released two years ago gave us an idea on how how FF15 might look like. At the moment, it falls short.
A few screenshots from Square Enix that showcase HDR and post processing effects.
Motion Blur is used aplenty in the game, especially during quick camera movements which manages to add a sense of perception and urgency when the player is fighting against the enemies. The game heavily uses high dynamic range which adds more dynamic range to the scene by calculating the ratio of light to dark, and by using tone mapping the engine manages to reduce strong contrast from the scene’s radiance, thereby keeping the colors and depth of the screen intact. Other minor if intricate details include lens and glare effects, a day night-cycle, which further adds a cinematic look and feel to the gameplay.
The demo itself is impressive from a gameplay perspective but that is something our preview team will decide but from a technical perspective, the demo has managed to surpass our expectations. Granted there are hiccups such as low quality textures, sub HD resolution, somewhat unstable frame rate and stutters but the game is still heavily in development and possibly a year away from release. If Square Enix can get up the resolution and utilize a better AA solution than we may possibly have one of the best looking games from a cinematic outlook.