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Dark Souls 2 Lighting changes/Downgrade

Brandon F

Well congratulations! You got yourself caught!
Jun 7, 2004
Disagreed completely, I was very glad to have used that lockstone. I fail to see how it would have been different in the other build too; you could also use the torch to illuminate the area either way? This light from the lockstone makes the annoying enemies far easier to handle. They'd be terrifying without the lockstone.
Oh I was only let down because I used the stone long after I had completed that area, thinking there was treasure in that lock I passed up. Had I used it on my normal progression, I would have felt differently. Just pointless after all the treasure was looted and the boss dead.

The lighting effect is really cool though, and makes the top level run easier without a torch.
Jun 25, 2006
After playing this for quite a bit, I've come to the conclusion that overall, the game does not look as good as Demon's or Dark Souls. Most textures are flat and boring, geometry seems a lot more simple, the backgrounds have incredibly noticeable and ugly 2D pictures noticeable from the very start of the game, and certain places that obviously were meant to be darkened are lit grey, showing flaws that were probably meant to be hidden.

What I mean by that last point is that if you remember back, there was a level in Demon's Souls called the Valley of Defilement, and there was a swamp area where you come out to a ledge and everything in the distance is pitch black and the only things you can see are faint torch lights. Well in one of the areas in Dark Souls 2, there is a similar places that seems like it should also be pitch black in the distance hiding ugly things like repetitive textures spread across a cave wall, but it's not, and instead I can see every single thing and it looks bad. At one point, looking a certain way, you can actually fill up your entire screen with one particular cave wall texture repeated over and over on a very simple wall. Mind you, this is from the other side of the cavern and it's probably not something you're supposed to see. It should be completely black from that far away.

I just played a good portion of Dark Souls right before I received Dark Souls 2, so I'm not just working from long term memories. I feel the switch to the new engine, making PC lead platform and downporting, and other questionable actions like allowing your character to see everything when it's pretty obvious certain elements were meant to be hidden hurts the visuals for these consoles versions. The few new things DS2 brings to the table visually doesn't seem to make up for the things I feel have actually gotten worse.

That being said, I can't put the damn game down. It's so damn fun. It just sucks that as I'm playing it and having fun, I'm constantly being reminded that I'm in a videogame and not in a expertly crafted world... a problem the previous games did not have.
The weird thing is that some of the early environments I've visited look fairly good as is despite some of the graphical effects being toned down or removed; they were specificially meant to be illuminated all along and not due to some thinly-veiled compromise in order to optimize the game's performance on consoles. Majula is quite pleasing to the eye (lesser fidelity in overall texture quality notwithstanding) and so is Heides' Tower of Flame. Some of the darker passages in that latter location (such as the path from Majula leading towards it) don't suffer from that funky downgraded lighting contrast either, even though visually there's more going on there than some of the dank dungeon rooms or caves in Forest of the Giants and Things Betwixt respectively.

In terms of level lay-out, I feel the Forest is an accomplished 'level' with its decent amount of verticality and the way it beckons the player to explore its numerous side paths, but aesthetically it's very inconsistent and you can tell some spots were meant to look very differently, be it due to some random emptiness that's completely out-of-place or the fire pit with those oversized lizards (highlighted in the OP). Never mind the sconces scattered about for your torches. In said areas I don't find the enemy models to be lacking too much either since the detail is still visible, but in several instances (especially if they're armored) it's apparent they were supposed to have that sheen to 'em - if not more pronounced lighting - much like in Dark Souls or in the DS II gameplay reveal to help not make them look so muddy or undefined, as you brought up. Those hammer-wielding Turtle Knights and those fat ogres look noticeably worse without them shining if you will, and I can only assume that's also one of those cutbacks (hopefully to be re-included on PC) that FROM felt the need to resort to for a smoother framerate, rather than an intentional revision in art style.

I've only played the game for approximately 10 hours though, so perhaps these kind of differences are more stark further down the road beyond the comparison images that were already posted here.


Jun 10, 2009
does anyone know WHY from wrote a new engine for this game instead of just using the phyre engine again?
it seems like all these shitty annoying issues like longer loading are because fromsoft arent exactly technical wizards and are better off just focusing on game design and letting someone else worry about the engine tech


Oct 1, 2006
does anyone know WHY from wrote a new engine for this game instead of just using the phyre engine again?
it seems like all these shitty annoying issues like longer loading are because fromsoft arent exactly technical wizards and are better off just focusing on game design and letting someone else worry about the engine tech
I don't know, but I have a good guess: they knew they needed new tech for their PC/PS4/XB1 future anyway, abd thought they should get started sooner rather than later.


Jun 12, 2011
I don't think though it is the phyre engine in the retail version.
To me it looks like the new engine, but crudely (and hurryingly) refitted (stripping out/turning off features) because of performance issues.

(This doesn't change the point: the game should be showcased in a reasonably truthful manner. Was it too late to change the box shots? Fine. But the screenshots and the video on the net can be updated easily with proper ones. Right now there are "PS3" promotional videos showing the old version of the game, which is extremely misleading.)


Apr 15, 2011
I actually decided to search on that and I saw some news story from an unknown site saying Dark Souls II was on a revamped PhyreEngine (and it WAS updated recently as I recall), then I find this and apparently they never used PhyreEngine at all, not for the Souls games anyway.

I guess they just heavily overhauled what they already had, it didn't feel THAT different from Demon's Souls/Dark Souls in how it worked, and it's probably more practical to keep using at least small portions of the original engine.


Jun 1, 2009
German site PC Games is on it, too, reporting that Namco Bandai is planning to release a statement concerning the downgrade next week.
I followed the sources and arrived here:


GAF -> Internet -> GAF

EDIT: Also the "next week" bit was from last friday, so we should hopefully be hearing something in the coming days.


Nov 16, 2006

Morrigan Stark

Arrogant Smirk
Jul 23, 2010
I just wanna note, coming back to this, you can apparently get more dragons if you break many of the eggs in the area.
I just got to that area. And it's freaking gorgeous. Seriously. If we obsess over gif comparison it might sting a bit, but when I was playing all I could think of was "wow".

And yes, dragons are aplenty and many are flying about. That area is more than just this one bridge, y'know?
May 6, 2012
San Diego, CA
Ok so here is what we know so far.

3 Builds

Reveal April 2013 (probably on PC), exclusive IGN Demo
1. Complex geometry (look at border of the door).
2. More complex textures.
3. Awesome lightning.
4. Small attention to detail like the cobwebs in the tunnel.
5. Normal mapping on walls of tunnel

TGS Demo Sep 2013 (running on non-dev PS3)
1. Keeps awesome lightning.
2. Reduced geometry (border of the door much simpler)
3. Some details removed like the cobweb of the reveal.
4. Textures look simpler than reveal
5. Has better shadows than reveal??

Retail February 2014
1. Lightning gutted
2. Simpler geometry kept from TGS
3. Textures untouched from TGS

Has anyone thought that maybe they couldnt get the lightning to work on the Xbox 360 version, so they decided to remove it from both?
Is it possible that the retail build is the same as the TGS build but the guy playing just doesnt light up a torch? cause those two are not an apples to apples comparison. Of course the hallway wont be lit the same if he doesnt have the torch which is the light source...

Also the lighting before he opens the door could easily look the same once you account for the fact that the TGS build looks different cause its off screen. These two shots really are not a good comparison.