The PS4 version of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn will enter its open beta testing soon, on February 22nd, and Producer and Director Naoki Yoshida went on record multiple times saying that the port of the game on Sony’s new console shows a level of visual fidelity comparable to the PC version on maximum settings.
Back in December we ran a screenshot comparison between the two versions, but it was flawed by the lack of direct feed footage from the PS4 version, forcing us to use pictures captured from a livestream. To those familiar with livestreaming, it was already noticeable that the two versions were very close but to anyone else it was hard to see due to the loss in color and definition caused by streaming through YouTube.
At last Square Enix sent in a batch of full resolution direct feed screenshots of the PS4 port in lossless PNG, allowing us to fetch a steel-clad comparison.
The PS4 screenshots provided by Square Enix were compared to PC screenshots as close as possible to the same angle (there may be a slight discrepancy due to the difference in height of the character used as a “camera”), taken exactly at the same time of the day/night cycle and with the same weather in order to reproduce exactly the same lighting conditions. The PC settings for the capture were the “maximum” settings at 1080p resolution. There’s no option currently within the game to improve the visuals further than that.
The PC used for the test was a rig with an AMD Phenom 2 X4 965 Black Edition overclocked to 3.8 Ghz, an overclocked Nvidia Geforce GTX 660 2 GB, and 8B GB RAM. It can run the game at a quite stable 60 frames per second or more when there isn’t too much crowd or in dungeons, but when there are 50+ characters on screens it can easily drop towards 30 frames per second due to the considerable amount of high detail models on screen.
But let’s move on to the screenshots. Clicking on them will open a new window with the full resolution version, and you’ll be able to easily flip between each pair to compare.
In this first pair of screenshots, for which we managed to reproduce the angle nearly perfectly, we can see that the two versions are basically identical, almost down to the pixel.The only difference, that you’ll have to really squint to see, is a very slight discrepancy in the density of the foliage, that looks slightly more dense on PS4 on the distant trees.
This screenshot actually lets us notice a very surprising detail: i fully expected the development team to use use the LOD option for the PS4 in order to increase performance. It’s an option that many PC users activate because the loss of fidelity is small and the increase in performance is sizable. What it does is using lower detail models for distant objects and lowering the visibility range of others. You can see how the PC version looks with it activated in the screeenshot below.
As you can see a few items aren’t visible, and the trees in the background look very different, especially the trunks aren’t affected by light as the same way as the rest. It’s very encouraging to see that Square Enix didn’t even need to use this option for the PS4 version. Below you can see an Animated GIF showing just how similar the two versions are, compared with the PC version using the LOD option (click on it to see the animation).
I reproduced this picture as closely as possible, and while it’s hard to get it pixel perfect while Ifrit breathes fire in your face, I believe I got a quite good result. Even here, basically every detail is identical, from Ifrit itself to the model and textures of the paladin artifact armor.
The only difference in this picture (besides the slightly lower angle because Square Enix evidently used a lalafell to take the screenshot on the PS4) is that the PS4 version appears to be more saturated and a bit darker, but that’s it. Textures, details, sharpness of the shadows…everything else is the same.
Let’s move to the lovely sea resort of Costa Del Sol (does it ring a bell, Final Fantasy VII fans?). This picture is interesting because it’s the only one that shows a real engine-dependent difference (besides the roegadyn warrior that didn’t care to move). The reflection on the surface of the sea looks slightly different and there’s a small discrepancy on how the light and shadow interact with the wood of the structure. It’s visible in the slope on the far left and on the wooden part of the roofing in the middle. Everything else is completely identical.
This pair of pictures from the Moraby Drydocks are again basically pixel perfect identical. The PS4 version is again just slightly more saturated than the PC version, but that’s it.
I couldn’t reproduce the picture above as perfectly as the others simply because I don’t have all the AF armor sets (I’m lazy when it comes to leveling up), and coordinating nine different people to be in the right place, with the right lighting conditions at the right time is basically impossible. Yet, if you compare the armor sets showcased, you’ll notice that they’re identical. All the details are there, and the model complexity and texture resolution are exactly the same.
The glow on the weapons is missing in the PS4 version simply because there are two versions of the Relic weapons. The normal version doesn’t glow, while the more powerful “Zenith” version does. I have the Zenith version of the sword, shield and axe, and had no way to deactivate it for the screenshots, but that’s not relevant to our comparison.
The results shown by the screenshots above is definitely impressive considering that the PS4 comes bundled with hardware that isn’t even comparable to most mid-to-high tier gaming PCs. The only unknown factor is what kind of actual frame rates the PS4 version will manage to hold, since that it’ll display the same number of characters at the same detail. Event attendees that already played it say that it’s very smooth, but we’ll have to see it with our own eyes to judge.
One thing is for sure: considering that Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is arguably the most graphically advanced MMORPG on the market, if the PS4 port will keep a good frame rate, the development team at Square Enix will have performed almost a technical miracle. Just like identical twins, the two versions have some extremely small differences, but they’re really negligible and don’t degrade the quality of the picture in any measurable way.
The developers of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn managed to surprise us with how they turned around what was considered by basically everyone a sinking ship, and now they may surprise us again with what could very well be one of the best PC to console ports made so far.