Final Fantasy XIV PS4 vs PS3 Screenshot Comparison: Huge Difference Shows Generational Leap

on December 24, 2013 2:45 PM

A few days ago we posted a screenshot comparison between the upcoming PS4 version  of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm  Reborn and the PC version at maximum settings. A few of our readers asked us to do the same between the PS4 version of the PS3 version, to get an idea of the leap in visual fidelity they can expect when they’ll receive their free upgrade to the port on Sony’s new console, which will be released in April and will enter its closed beta phase on February 22nd.

The method we used for the comparison was the same we used for the previous one. The screenshots of the PS4 version come from the gameplay footage livestreamed in 1080p during the latest Letter from the Producer Live. While we saved all the pictures in PNG and selected frames in which the character was completely stationary in order to minimize the effect of livestreaming compression, it’s important to mention that said compression does exist, resulting in a slight flattening in colors and a partially blurred image, so keep it in mind when comparing resolution. Since the PS4 version will be rendered in 1080p native resolution, the crispness of the image should be pretty much the same as the PC version, which has been included for reference at the bottom of each PS4/PS3 pairing of screenshots.

PS3 screenshots have been taken directly from the console, using PNG capture for a lossless representation, and reproducting as best as possible the angles and lighting conditions of the PS4 screenshots, over which obviously we had no control over (due to the fact that they were livestreamed by the developer).

Below you can see seven screenshots for each version. You can click on them to open a new tab with each to see them at full resolution.

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The screenshot above shows a good mix of elements between architecture and water. The generational leap is evident especially due to resolution, aliasing (it’s very visible in the PS3 version on the character and on the straight lines of the tables and of the stone ledge between the wooden area and the water). Flowers and vegetation also show a huge discrepancy in definition and the reflections of the light on the water are much less complex on PS3.

Of course the character between the PS3 version and the PS4 version is not the same as we didn’t have a lalafell in a darklight cowl like the one used by Naoki Yoshida during the livestream.

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This is another good example. The textures and normal maps of the PS3 version are quite literally a muddy mess compared to the PS4. It’s very visible looking at the vegetation, the cobblestone and the bottom of the lake. Lighting also appears simplified in the old-gen port, and that’s especially visible in the shadows, some of which don’t appear at all.

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The differences is resolution, texture resolution and normal maps are also very visible in the screenshots above, even more so looking at the close-up area of the bottom of the lake. The shadow of the pillar on the right also displays that shadow rendering is much less advanced on PS3 and the shadow maps are much less detailed.

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In this close up character shot we actually tried to reproduce the lalafell used by Yoshida-san, even if the clothing isn’t the same (the cowl he had is part of the endgame, while our lalafell was level 1). While the character’s face displays the same details in the PS3 version, it’s very visibly much more pixelated. Aliasing is especially visible around the hair, while the PS4 version is much better.

This screenshot is also good to display the difference in rendering of distant objects, especially if you look towards the extreme right of the screen. The small column poking over the bushes (the one leaning to the right) is obviously shows a much simpler model on PS3 due to the heavier use of LOD to cause less strain on the hardware. There’s also a lot less vegetation in the background behind it.

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These screenshots and the ones that will follow can’t be used to compare lighting as they’ve been taken inside a city, and at the moment cities in the live game on PS3 and PC are decorated for the Starlight Celebration Holiday event, meaning that weather is constantly set to snow. It also means that there are several Holiday decorations in the PS3 and PC version that don’t appear in the PS4 version (the PS4 footage was taken in a test environment that didn’t have the event). Just ignore those, as they aren’t normally part of the environment.

In this one we can see an enormous difference in the definition of the cobblestone due to the lower resolution of both textures and normal maps. Aliasing is also very visible in the PS3 version, while the PS4 one is a lot smoother. A good element to look at are the wavy decorations under the small domes around the aetherite and the textures on the stone pillars in the background, not to mention the golden area at the base of the aetherite itself.

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This one is one of the best examples, showing all the differences above and more. The flowers in the middle of the screenshot are almost impossible to distinguish in the PS3 version, and the sign that says “Upper Decks” in Eorzean on the right is a muddy, blurred mess that can’t even be read. You can notice a large discrepancy even in the detail of the decorations of the base of the lamppost on the left and on the railing.

In conclusion, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is probably the cross-gen game that shows its generational leap the most. The PS3 version quite evidently strains Sony’s seven year-old hardware to its limits, often struggling to hold framerate. MMORPGs are notoriously much more demanding, hardware-wise, than basically any other genre of games, and due to that the PS3 port isn’t really too pleasant to look at, especially if you’re used to the PC version, which is basically the most visually impressive MMORPG currently on the market.

The difference with the PS4 version is simply huge, showing a massively superior level of detail compared to its console predecessor in basically every aspect: resolution, texture resolution, normal maps, shadows, draw distance, LOD and more.

To the differences showcased in the screenshots we have to add the fact that the PS4 version will display as many characters as the PC one, while the PS3 version only displays a very limited amount (excess ones are invisible), and that’s an enormous difference in polygon count and textures loaded in memory.

It’s basically like night and day, and current PS3 users that plan on switching to the PS4 are definitely in for a treat in April. On top of that the upgrade is free, so what’s not to love?

 /  Executive News Editor
Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.
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