During the latest Letter from the Producer Live Square Enix broadcasted more than 20 minutes of gameplay footage of the PS4 version of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. In our interview at Gamescom Director and Producer Naoki Yoshida claimed that the PS4 version would have the same visual quality as the PC version, and in following Q&As he also mentioned that he meant the PC version at its highest settings.
So how does the PS4 version showcased last week compare against the highest settings running at 1080p resolution (as that will be the resolution of the PS4 version, while PC can go higher) of the PC version? We set out to discover just that.
The PS4 footage was livestreamed in 1080p resolution, but of course there was a loss in definition (when you livestream a game the output is a bit more blurry) and color brightness due to compression. Luckily we already know that the game on PS4 runs at 1080p native resolution, so that kind of element is secondary to this comparison. What’s very relevant is to compare elements like the polygon count, textures, shadows, lighting, and the density of the objects on the screen (vegetation is normally the perfect telltale) to see if the PS4 version hasn’t been simplified from the PC original.
In order to get the best result for the comparison, we selected shots from the livestream when the character was completely motionless, in order to avoid further blurring and artifacts due to broadcasting compression. We also saved all the screenshots in PNG in order for them to be lossless. Finally we placed our character exactly in the same position, with the same camera angle (that really took some juggling) at roughly the same time in the day/night cycle of the game. Of course the character is different, but unfortunately we didn’t have a lalafell in a Darklight Cowl at our disposal.
Below you can see seven screenshots for each version. You can click on them to open a new tab with each at full 1080p resolution, and you can flip between tabs to compare them even better.
This screenshot is perfect for the comparison as it mixes a wide variety of elements including water, shadows, architecture and vegetation. Despite the blue due to the livestream compression of the PS4 version, all those elements look identical. The polygon count is apparently the same and absolutely no object is missing from the console version. The only slight difference is a darker shadow on the cliff on the top right on the PC version, that could be caused by a slight discrepancy in the angle of the sun, gamma settings or a small difference in ambient occlusion.
For this screenshot I actually created a lalafell as similar as possible to the one used by Naoki Yoshida (and it was quite a romp to bring her to Camp Bronze Lake at level 1). While the clothing is different, we can easily see that the details on the face are the same, with no loss in quality in the PS4 version. The environment and aetherite also look the same.
Another screenshot with a lot of water, architecture and a bit of vegetation. Even here we get the same results: polycount seems identical and objects match perfectly. The shadows are the same as well, and show the same definition.
Here’s another screenshot that mixes various elements and that shows very clearly that the two versions are virtually identical. The stone props are very good to showcase that normal mapping also comes with the same quality between the two versions.
This screenshot and the two that will follow can’t be used to compare lighting (but the four pairs above are plenty for that) as they’ve been taken inside a city, and at the moment cities in the live game on PC are decorated for the Starlight Celebration Holiday event, meaning that weather is constantly set to snow. It also means that there will be several Holiday decorations in the PC version that won’t appear in the PS4 version. Just ignore those, as they aren’t normally part of the environment.
In this screenshot we can get a closer look at the normal map of the cobblestone and at a patch of flowers on the background. Again, they’re basically identical for both versions.
The same result from the pair of screenshots above can be seen in this one, with the same normal mapping, the same textures, same polygon count and the same flowers. Everything looks the same besides the lighting and the Holiday decorations.
In this last screenshot we can enjoy the complexity of some of the structures in Limsa Lominsa and its aetherite. Even here everything looks the same, with no discepancy in the displayed objects (besides the Holiday decorations) and in their polycount, textures and normal mapping.
In conclusion, while we could not compare resolution and antialiasing (the PC version actually has a pretty low quality FXAA antialiasing), and we’ll have to do a second comparison as soon as Square Enix releases some good direct feed screenshots of the game, we can definitely say that for what everything else is concerned the PS4 version and the PC version at highest settings (in 1080p resolution) look basically identical. The only relevant difference we noticed was a possible discrepancy in ambient occlusion in only one screenshots, but that was quite minor and could be due to unrelated elements (IE: the position of the sun or gamma settings).
Ultimately we can definitely say that, for the elements we could gauge in this comparison, not only the PS4 version looks fantastic, but the promise of a visual quality comparable to the PC version at its highest settings has been fulfilled.
The PS4 version of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn will be released next April, and will enter its closed beta phase on February the 22nd, at the same time as the console’s release in Japan.