One of the best parts of the visuals of the footage we’ve seen so far of Dark Souls II was its lighting, but looks like something has changed, as discovered by NeoGAF user Metroid-Squadron.
Apparently, as you can see in the screencaps below, showcasing the same areas of the PS3 version, many environmental shadows and area occlusion have been removed radically dulled, creating an much flatter overall picture. Unfortunately the screenshots are compressed, but that doesn’t really influence their lighting, providing a good comparison none the less.
The earlier version of each pair is above and the recent version is below.
The best way to see the difference is checking the videos below for yourself. The first, from the end of January. is courtesy of Sony Computer Entertainment UK (the relevant part starts at the 3:49 mark), while the second has been posted yesterday by YouTube user DarkSlayerV (relevant part at 6:15).
We don’t know the reasons behind the visual changes, and if they are the results of an art direction choice or a necessary countermeasure to performance issues, but they are definitely very visible.
Reports also mention that the earlier lighting effects are still present during cutscenes, and then are turned off as soon as control is given back to the player.
It’s doubtless that the changes won’t influence the fun factor of the game, that still seems definitely high, but if you loved the eerie lighting and deep shadows showcased in the earlier footage, you may want to know that, at least for the areas that we’ve been given the chance to see, it won’t be the same anymore.
Unfortunately similar earlier footage explicitly labeled as the Xbox 360 version doesn’t exist, so making the same comparison is not possible, but the final version looks pretty much the same as the PS3 one. Hopefully the PC version, that will be released on April 25th, will feature the same lighting we saw a few months ago.