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A graphics comparison was recently let loose by YouTube outlet Candyland. They did a side-by-side look at the “low” and “ultra” settings on the PC version of Dragon Age: Inquisition. The results are pretty much what you might expect from an AAA game running the graphics on opposite ends of the visual spectrum.
We can see right off the bat the sort of directional shadows and specular lighting that takes place between the low and ultra settings. It's also worth noting that on the very low settings we see a reflective lighting mechanic that goes away when the dynamic shadows are enabled. The specular reflection is quite apparent on the character's hair.
We also get to see how on the low settings the particles, fog and smoke effects are barely present. However, on the ultra settings we see plenty of snow flurries, higher density fire effects and additional smoke effects in play.
There's also the standard post-processing effects like depth of field, as well as anti-aliasing in full effect on the ultra settings.
One of the things I thought was weird – and I can't determine if it was just based on the player's actions or if it was part of the cut-scene – but one of the characters had plenty of blood smeared across their clothing in the ultra settings but had nothing of the sort in the low settings. I would assume that's part of the decal effects being turned off in the low settings.
During combat there's also a few other special effects we get to see in play, including sparks, ripples and waves when magic attacks are executed.
Funnily enough, a lot of these differences in Dragon Age: Inquisition are muted or downplayed in the now controversial IGN comparison that went up here:
Some gamers felt it was a disingenuous and dishonest representation of the graphics disparity between the various platforms. One person even snagged a photo to compare the Candyland video with the IGN video and came up with this nice little tidbit.
You can read a bit more about the exploits over on the Kotaku in Action Reddit thread that discusses the breakdown and frustrations that gamers had with the Dragon Age comparison.
If graphics don't make or break the gameplay experience for you then you can ignore all the talk about what you get or what you don't get for $60 on the visual frontier. For everyone else, it might be wise to wait for an outpouring of user reviews and Let's Plays to get a round and sound view of the whole thing.
Dragon Age: Inquisition drops tomorrow, November 18th, for PS4, Xbox One and PC.
[Update: IGN publisher Tal Blevins was contacted by readers and had the video made private until they investigate. Part of his e-mail was shared on KiA where he states...
"The video team is looking into it, but after checking out the Ultra settings in the office today after your note came in, it does look like there was some sort of mix-up. We’ve pulled the video down for now and are looking into it. Will recut and explain if there was an error."
Blevins is willing to keep in contact with the community when errors like this occur, so it's good to use this opportunity to maintain a dialogue with a publication when these issues arise.]