Today, during a dedicated panel at Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival in London, Square Enix provided new information and images of the upcoming first graphical update coming with the expansion "Dawntrail."
The details were provided by lead technical artist Tatsuya Okahisa, who talked about the update at length during the panel, which TechRaptor attended in person.
The key aims of the update are as follows:
- Enhancing screen-wide aesthetic appeal
- Enhancing texture and shadow resolution
- Improving material qualities
- Preserving the existing style
This sounds simple, but the developer is working on over 100 different elements of the game's visuals.
We get to see before and after screenshots of an elezen, with the normal mapping redone to remove artifacts that would highlight the polygons, on top of adding pores.
Subsurface scattering has also been added, which improves on the current shader with which light only bounces on the surface of the skin.
On the other hand, subsurface scattering enables light to penetrate the skin and scatter within the surface, creating a more lifelike look.
Back scattering has also been added, allowing the light to pass through appropriate areas, as you can see below in the ears.
Below you can see a Lalafell, which has been worked on with the aim of preserving their doll-like looks.
Here's a Roegadyn, who looks cooler thanks to the changes. The materials for the skin have been redone. 300 texture maps had to be updated.
For the Hrothgar, the development team has finally implemented a fur sharer.
Moving on to the updates done for the eyes. The calculation done for the highlights has been redone and a refraction formula has been added. This changes dynamically with the light.
The limbal ring in Au Ra's eyes has been changed from a polygon to a shader. This removes the sharp angles.
Next on the menu is hair, with texture resolution that has been greatly improved to achieve a smoother effect.
On top of that, the direction in which the hair flows has been defined enhancing the way the hair is hit by light, creating more natural highlights.
Gear is also being updated with the aim of improving the level of detail and adding material variation.
Below you can see the updated shaders which add better reflections and apply physics-based rendering.
Interestingly, while physics-based rendering is being applied, the developers aren't aiming for photorealism.
This means that, when there is a depiction that actually looks cooler, they can decide to go beyond the borders of physics. The calculations are changed to achieve a fantasy feeling.
The color of the environment also affects the reflection as you can see below.
The level of detail has also been greatly improved.
The following screenshots show the new different materials for metals, non-metals, and cloth.
These different materials have been applied to great effect to the new armor of the Viper job, revealed today.
The way glass and transparent objects are displayed has also been greatly enhanced.
Incidentally, the number of polygons of different races has been standardized in order to increase work efficiency.
We then move on to improvements made to creatures. Texture resolution and shaders have been updated. On top of that, new creatures introduced with the Dawntrail expansion will have a higher polygon count as well.
Below you can see the new fur shader in action on a mount.
Then it was background artist Masato Shiida's turn to show off improvements to the environment coming with the first graphical update.
Here you can take a look at how grass will change, becoming much more defined.
Thanks to the new reflections, aetherites will look much better, even more so in motion.
The next set of pictures shows the way the fong will change quite radically.
Another big improvement is about shadows. They will now be showcased much further away from the camera, making environments more dramatic and realistic.
The area that has shadows cast on it has been doubled.
Ambient Occlusion will be improved across the board.
A detail map will be added to surfaces so that they retain their definition when the camera gets close.
Of course, this isn't just about improving old areas, but in the new areas in Dawntrail there will be more objects, as you can see below.
Earlier today, Square Enix provided tons of new information and footage of the expansion Dawntrail, including the reveal of the new "Viper" Job. The expansion is coming in Summer 2024.
During the same keynote, we also heard about the Xbox beta which will help add Xbox Series X|S to the existing platforms (PC, PS4, and PS5)
We also got the announcement of a collaboration event with Final Fantasy XVI, alongside the release date of the crossover with Fall Guys.
Last, but not least, Hironobu Sakaguchi finally provided a clear answer on whether he could work as a guest creator on the game.