| Tags: FFXIV
| Author Timo Reinecke
Newfound Futures: Final Fantasy XIV Prepares For its First Graphical Update
Final Fantasy XIV's Letter from the Producer Live 68 teased the game's first Graphical Overhaul, planned with the release of 7.0
Its brave to boldly announce the next expansion only two months after your current one releases. Naoki Yoshida is as confident and optimistic as ever about Final Fantasy XIV's future. And something fans have been asking for years about a graphical upgrade.
With the release of the PlayStation 5 version last year, Final Fantasy XIV got a little facelift. 4K icons and HUD, but apparently this was just a precursor of what is to come. Yes, Final Fantasy XIV will get a massive graphical overhaul with the release of its next expansion and Yoshida started this out with a little bit of a shock. This was the first upgraded Image we saw of XIV's iconic Midlander.
This is far from Final Fantasy XIV's current visual identity. And going forward, Final Fantasy XIV is not chasing after photo-realistic textures. Nor should players expect the game to have the visual quality of a big budget single player title. As Yoshida states, players shouldn't expect that level of graphical fidelity from a game that has to display hundreds of players while still being visually coherent. So the goal is to go after an overall pleasing, updated aesthetic while also keeping Final Fantasy XIV's current look. The overhaul is largely influenced by famous artist's such Yoshitaka Amano and Akihiko Yoshida.
A Warrior of Light Re-envisioned
So far the team has been experimenting with new updated aesthetics for about a month. But the results can already speak for themselves.
Not only will textures get a massive overhaul; there's also a series of lighting and shader effects to be added. New systems that allow grass and leaves to look more naturally and of course there will be a general upgrade to the games lighting engine. But all of this comes with a little caveat, since they'll only be able to do a general overhaul over a long time span, players should not expect these updates to be a one and done. It is going to be a gradual process from 7.0 onwards. This is a compromise Naoki Yoshida had to make with the team.
So there will be an odd transitional period in the future where older and newer assets won't quite mash together. But going forward the priority is especially older assets — keep in mind some of them are from 2005, popular gear sets and of course character models.
The focus of the player model overhauls are going to be shaders to make skin and hair look more realistic. Yoshida also pointed out that they put extra effort into the shadows being cast. Which you'll be able to see in further examples. But he also laments they won't be able to to bring all NPC's up to the new standard in time. Still, at least the new shader and shadow effects will ease the blow, even if they might seem a little out of place among newer assets. But on the upside, most of XIV's NPC's use the same assets as player models so that issue won't be that frequent going forward.
In addition to that, they're also planning for an overhaul of the current set of animations. Making player emotes longer, removing some of the stiffness in older animations and maybe even remaking them. All of this still a massive work in progress, but they'll keep us posted on it.
A Realm Re-envisioned
Of course, this overhaul also extends to the games already vast zones. First we got an example of two Zones of the most recent expansion, Yoshida was very proud of what the team invisions these and other places to become.
Most importantly the foliage generation receive a massive overhaul. Because Yoshida thinks they ruined some of Endwalker's best moments with some of the low polygon textures. And after laughing about 4K grapes, he also praised the teams efforts to remake Thavnair's port. With the planned overhaul, not only will they be able to implement several layers of textures, but also add more detail to places to make them feel more lived in. And while we currently don't know to what extent all the Zones will be re-envisioned — if this experiment is anything to go by, the world of Hydaelyn will soon look prettier than ever.
A Realm Relit
While Final Fantasy XIV's 1.0 version was famous bringing all kinds PC's to their knees — not everything was bad. The shader effects; especially the material effects, made the game look way ahead of its time. Those features had to be removed with the release of A Realm Reborn for the sake of performance. But since technology has advanced by miles since then, Final Fantasy XIV wants to give the tech another shot. Namely by adding more light sources to scenes, but also making some of the surface effects to make fabrics on Gear Sets and the environment more realistic. Here are a few examples:
Of course, these are also still a work in progress and far from what the team expects to deliver once 7.0 releases. But multiple light sources, environmental details that will finally be able to cast their own shadows and several surface shaders. Such as the reflection of polished wood or gold, will give Final Fantasy XIV's look a long overdue upgrade. But the team reassures us once more, that they wish to keep the current visual identity.
What this means of the Future of Final Fantasy XIV
With the raise of graphical fidelity, will also come an increase in hardware requirements. The first since the game left the PlayStation 3 with the release of Stormblood. But Naoki Yoshida reassures the community that at least for 7.0, the game will still be available for PlayStation 4. And while they are not sure what will happen to the PC version just yet, the goal remains to make the game playable for as many configurations as possible. Since accessibility has always been a big part of Final Fantasy XIV's development, they don't want to force people to upgrade their systems just to play. Which means they're currently looking into methods to keep the minimal hardware requirements at a minimum.
But that's not all we've gotten from the Live Letter! Not only will Final Final Fantasy XIV see an overhaul with older content. And there's a Roadmap for the 6.X series of patches.