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A new graphics comparison has been put out by Digital Foundry for Dark Souls II. It compares the game's graphics between the PlayStation 3 build and the PlayStation 4 gold master disc build. The differences – especially measuring the 720p fidelity versus the 1080p fidelity – are quite startling.
Digital Foundry's video breakdown can be viewed below.
Some of the obvious changes include more sparks and particle effects in the PS4 version, which you get to see in definitive action at around the 1:09 mark. You also get to see more environmental lighting and per-particle lighting at the 1:17 mark (watch carefully as the light embers fall and individually cast light rays while passing by the camera).
Other obvious changes include the texture mapping resolution. One of my biggest issues with Dark Souls on the home consoles – apart from the absolutely abhorrent frame-rate – is that the textures were a blurry mess. They had to be down-scaled to meet the memory limitations of the seventh gen machines. This oftentimes created a washed out and drab look for Dark Souls.
From Software shows with the PS4 version (and presumably the Xbox One version) that the game does have some sparkle and shine. You can see how the lighting actually pops in various segments with full HDR, vibrant outdoor segments and a higher level of contrast, as brought out by Digital Foundry. Small changes in the lighting really changes the way the game looks, and it's all for the better.
I think one of the biggest takeaways is the acknowledgment of resolution differences. We've had so many people telling us that resolution doesn't matter, but it's sometimes the one thing that can make or break the immersion and detail of a game.
As Thomas Morgan put it...
“A pixel count shows up a perfect 1920x1080 resolution, something we also hope to verify on Xbox One on launch. That's also backed by post-process anti-aliasing that matches the FXAA technique seen on the existing PC release. Compared to last-gen standard, the upgrade in clarity from 720p is considerable.”
As far as frame-rate is concerned, the PS4's gold master version of Dark Souls II, the game maintains the frame-rate at a steady 60fps quite well. As noted by Digital Foundry's Thomas Morgan, there are some drops when the physics sometimes get hot and heavy, bringing the game down to the 45fps mark at times. You can check it out below.
If you come from the PS3 era of gaming and upgraded to a PS4, you're in for a real treat because you won't have to suffer through those awful frame-dips that sometimes went into the high-teens. As Morgan states...
“The bottom line is that moving from the PS3's 20fps makes a world of difference to controller response. It's an area that is crucial to mastering the game's combat timings, and once you've upgraded, going back to the sluggish last-gen editions is difficult.”
Going back is difficult? Try impossible. PC gamers know the feeling well. If you play a game like Sleeping Dogs or Grand Theft Auto IV on PC and then try to go back and play it on home consoles it's just abysmal. The frame-rate drops down into the 20s and upper teens is just unbearable. And as mentioned, it severely affects the game's input latency since you're pressing the buttons but the frames aren't keeping up with the response time of the controller. It's just a mess.
I can't believe some gamers suffered through seventh gen for as long as they did with some of the more graphically demanding games. The frame drops, blurry textures and low resolution was enough to make me throw my hands up.
Anyway, you can learn more about the improvements for Dark Souls II: Sins of the First Scholar right here. The new game is set for release on the new-gen systems starting April 17th, later this year.