Dark Souls II - Graphics Comparison - PC Preview

Garcia

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I'm still super hyped about this game, and pretty pleased with the quality of the PC port. But I still hold out hope that there's some way to mod back in some of the lighting.
The PC version offers a very solid ground for future modding since it's basically a Durante'd release; if games like TES: Oblivion have mods to enhance the atmosphere of its caves and other interior areas, I don't see why such graphical tweaks wouldn't also reach DS2 eventually (and the sooner it happens, the better for everyone).

I'm also quite pleased with the quality of the port and was quite surprised when I saw the metal shaders working their magic in favor of the game. I'm actually expecting to see how the Mirror Knight will look like in this version since the Pursuer looks several leaps better already.

Weapons look really pretty now, as do the armor sets and shields (the uncapped wooden textures look gorgeous, [URL="http://dl.pcgamer.com/LPC/darksouls2/darksouls2-full-16.png"]as do the metal reflections on swords and accessories.[/URL]).

The thing about Dark Souls 2 (and what makes it quite difficult to evaluate as a whole) is that it is extremely successful at delivering a genuinely fun and enjoyable Co-op/solo campaign while at the same time being a visually schizophrenic product. When it looks good it really, really looks beautiful and at the same time it is very nasty when it gets ugly.
 

nbthedude

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The original version looked great... this version looks like ass. It looks nothing like an artistic choice, it just looks like all the colour was removed.

I'm still super hyped about this game, and pretty pleased with the quality of the PC port. But I still hold out hope that there's some way to mod back in some of the lighting.
I'm not even disagreeing with you that the original version looks better. It is definitely more eye popping. I think that much is objectively true. But the question is whether or not they wanted the area to look eye popping. I wonder what the area would look like if they had kept the original color pallete and just took out the dynamic lighting. I definitely don't think it would be as dramatic as a difference.

I'm kind of reminded of FPS games where everything looks all shiny reflective. It's certainly more eye popping, but sometimes, that's not what you want, you know? I haven't played this area in context so I don't know. My only point is that there are a lot of changes being lumped into the "downgrade" category where in this case at least it seems clear to me the difference isn't just a matter of technical capability but literally changing the color pallete and the feel of the area.
 

erawsd

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Even a little more tlc would be good. The west has basically given this series life as it doesn't make the impact even in Japan so they should really start considering catering to our needs as we're the ones who've supported them and made the franchise into what it is thanks to word of mouth and even support for shoddy port jobs like DS on PC.
I have no idea what you're saying. What does the west need? And they are catering to the audience that has "made" the franchise into what it is -- console gamers.
 

Gvaz

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That looks like shit, are you kidding me?

It looks like a tinfoil texture on a sword...unless this sword has a buff on it or something.

Also something I noticed, every single particle effect or I guess the speculars in the dof lighting, is just a different color of a tiny little texture? in the shape of an fps crosshair. Go look at the 4k pictures. I'll wait.
 

Drazgul

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if games like TES: Oblivion have mods to enhance the atmosphere of its caves and other interior areas, I don't see why such graphical tweaks wouldn't also reach DS2 eventually (and the sooner it happens, the better for everyone).
TES (and Fallout) series offer unparalleled modding support for the community with their mod SDKs, you don't see many other games getting even close to that level. Sure, you can have stuff like texture replacement mods even without modding tools, but replacing lighting (which I'd argue is even more important than textures) is often impossible without them.
 

Vitor711

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Arguing about this without actually being able to post everything I could to argue about it is excruciating, so let's pick this up again tomorrow.
*This gun be good gif*

Can't wait to see what differences there are besides increased resolution and better texture work.

Man I wish the game was coming out sooner. It's the Easter weekend here in the UK too so 2 days of holiday - would have been perfect timing for a DS2 binge session.
 

Garcia

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That looks like shit, are you kidding me?

It looks like a tinfoil texture on a sword...unless this sword has a buff on it or something.

Also something I noticed, every single particle effect or I guess the speculars in the dof lighting, is just a different color of a tiny little texture? in the shape of an fps crosshair. Go look at the 4k pictures. I'll wait.
Don't forget that we're speaking of 2 versions of the same game though. If you look outside the window and compare DS2 to other recent titles of course it will look like shit. When you put the console releases and the PC uncapped port side by side it is clear that the PC version is the one that got all the goods. Even if metal looks cheap, it does shine and glow. Even when the enemies still move like crap, they now feel like they belong in the game because of the added polish brought back by all the shaders missing in consoles.

I saw that set of 4K screenshots yesterday on the same TV where I played DS2 a month ago and there is a tangible difference between both versions; I also watched GiantBomb's QL on that same screen and even with their video compression, 60 FPS + unlocked textures + shaders do make a big difference.

About the things you mention, do you mean the ember sparks? I remember those flying particles being now quite abundant in FoFG.

TES (and Fallout) series offer unparalleled modding support for the community with their mod SDKs, you don't see many other games getting even close to that level. Sure, you can have stuff like texture replacement mods even without modding tools, but replacing lighting (which I'd argue is even more important than textures) is often impossible without them.
Totally agree with you: Lighting is a top priority. The washed out look of more than half of the game kills all the immersion. Couple that with locations that rival a mid/low-budget PS2 (sometimes PS1) game + the use of N64 fog effects and you're left with a visual disaster.
 

xBladeM6x

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  1. Denial - PC version won't look that shitty, they said it's developed for PC this time.
  2. Anger - It fucking better not be downgraded or people will just boycott them. PC can handle the lighting ffs. I'm not supporting lying devs.
  3. Bargaining - If the PC version has lighting in-tact then it'll sell well. In fact if it's not downgraded I'll buy two copies.
  4. Depression - Guys, please tell me the rumors are all untrue and it'll still look like it did in the demos. Please? Anyone? FROM? Namco?
  5. Acceptance - It looks better than the console version, but nothing like the demos.
This is great. I seemed to just jump from denial to acceptance immediately though. Lmao
 

Garcia

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I think most PC gamers feel the same (I do). Clean and smooth framerate is all I asked for and it will be delivered.
They delivered exactly the things they promised: Higher resolutions, uncompressed textures and solid 60 FPS.

Most o us were really anxious by how they handled all the downgrade outrage; them silently pulling out those fake screenshot shots from Steam, not speaking a single word for weeks, their insulting statement about their "delicately balanced game" (bullshit) and many, many other things were slowly pointing towards a very nasty outcome.

Some of us started to think they would pull a Dark Souls 1 once more. The fact that they at least delivered a competent quality level PC port should be acknowledged.

  1. Denial - PC version won't look that shitty, they said it's developed for PC this time.
  2. Anger - It fucking better not be downgraded or people will just boycott them. PC can handle the lighting ffs. I'm not supporting lying devs.
  3. Bargaining - If the PC version has lighting in-tact then it'll sell well. In fact if it's not downgraded I'll buy two copies.
  4. Depression - Guys, please tell me the rumors are all untrue and it'll still look like it did in the demos. Please? Anyone? FROM? Namco?
  5. Acceptance - It looks better than the console version, but nothing like the demos.
I slowly reached acceptance as I kept playing the PS3 version. It was clear that they didn't put enough time into the game or gave a fuck about the performance of the console releases; the PC version would only inherit all the existing problems. The first week (which is the only one I experienced) was an insult to the consumer. A fucking beta released at full price.
 

wickfut

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A part of me is thinking that the pre-release upgraded Dark Souls 2 extras are still within the game and are waiting for a 3rd party modder to unlock them. They're just releasing the PC version to be the same as the console version for parity, but with the graphic extras which change the game lighting being classed as unofficial and unsupported.
 

Unai

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The PC version offers a very solid ground for future modding since it's basically a Durante'd release; if games like TES: Oblivion have mods to enhance the atmosphere of its caves and other interior areas, I don't see why such graphical tweaks wouldn't also reach DS2 eventually (and the sooner it happens, the better for everyone).
Bethesda's games are a whole nother beast.
 

elyetis

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It's just really weird how inconsistent everything is. You have a bunch of things that look nice and a recurring statement of "that looks okay" and then a "what the fuck is that?" at least twice an image.
Pretty much my feeling too, like Dex815's picture
You go hey that's pretty nice ( flat, but nice ), and then you see the texture of the triangular fortification and just go "Ewww".
 

Servbot24

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It's just really weird how inconsistent everything is. You have a bunch of things that look nice and a recurring statement of "that looks okay" and then a "what the fuck is that?" at least twice an image.
That's mid-budget PS3/360 games for you.

You go hey that's pretty nice ( flat, but nice ), and then you see the texture of the triangular fortification and just go "Ewww".
If you literally spend your time in the game hunting for textures that aren't as good as other textures, yes, you're likely to have this reaction a few times. If you're a normal person you're not going to notice because you're actually playing the game.

I'm pretty positive that some of you enjoy making yourselves miserable.
 

Garcia

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A part of me is thinking that the pre-release upgraded Dark Souls 2 extras are still within the game and are waiting for a 3rd party modder to unlock them. They're just releasing the PC version to be the same as the console version for parity, but with the graphic extras which change the game lighting being classed as unofficial and unsupported.
Do you mean the beta assets?

LOL. . . That wasn't ever meant to be a full game. It was just a fake demo to generate hype and land pre-orders. What you see is what we got.
 

elyetis

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If you literally spend your time in the game hunting for textures that aren't as good as other textures, yes, you're likely to have this reaction a few times. If you're a normal person you're not going to notice because you're actually playing the game.

I'm pretty positive that some of you enjoy making yourselves miserable.
I don't have to hunt them in most of those pcgamer.com 4k-screenshots it's just simply there almost every time.

And for god sake can people stop acting like every time someone complain about something in your precious girlfriend of a game, it mean he can't also enjoy the game despite those.

I get it her personnalty, err I mean the gameplay is so good that I will become blind to everything else.
Or I could still see those problem yet enjoy the game, but still being vocal about them in hope that it mean a better sequel.
 

Shinjica

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That's mid-budget PS3/360 games for you.



If you literally spend your time in the game hunting for textures that aren't as good as other textures, yes, you're likely to have this reaction a few times. If you're a normal person you're not going to notice because you're actually playing the game.

I'm pretty positive that some of you enjoy making yourselves miserable.
Then Durante is the most miserable here because he write an article about the graphics and texture in DKII
 

wickfut

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Do you mean the beta assets?

LOL. . . That wasn't ever meant to be a full game. It was just a fake demo to generate hype and land pre-orders. What you see is what we got.
No. I mean the reduction in ambient lighting levels, the slightly different and more polished rendering with decent AO and blur, object self shadowing, the specular and environment reflections on enemies like those Turtle knight things and Mirror Knight, specular reflections on the wall textures and floors, the extra dynamic shadows etc.

It's all engine related and not game asset related.
 

Shinjica

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Pretty sure that article will be positive about the PC version and its graphics.
Still, instead of playing the game, he spend some time watching the environment, texture and graphical aspect. So miserable, really really miserable.
 

Garcia

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No. I mean the reduction in ambient lighting levels, the slightly different and more polished rendering with decent AO and blur, object self shadowing, the specular and environment reflections on enemies like those Turtle knight things and Mirror Knight, specular reflections on the wall textures and floors, the extra dynamic shadows etc.

It's all engine related and not game asset related.
One of the strangest things is the dynamic lighting and the cast shadows. Certain torches still generate them while others do not. For all we know, all of those effects that you just mentioned could be either hiding inside the game code or were entirely (or selectively) chopped off. Hopefully, they are still intact, waiting for further scrutiny to bring them back.
 
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Still, instead of playing the game, he spend some time watching the environment, texture and graphical aspect. So miserable, really really miserable.
Durante gets off on that stuff, I'm sure he's enjoying it.

getting paid to analyze DSII is also pretty good.
 

Morrigan Stark

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The washed out look of more than half of the game kills all the immersion. Couple that with locations that rival a mid/low-budget PS2 (sometimes PS1) game + the use of N64 fog effects and you're left with a visual disaster. [...] A fucking beta released at full price.
Dat GAF hyperbole, people. Do you even realize how much you invite ridicule by such absurd statements?

The first week (which is the only one I experienced) was an insult to the consumer.
I didn't feel insulted. I'm still playing 1 month later and having a blast.

That's mid-budget PS3/360 games for you.
Nuh-huh, it's totes a PS1 game. It is known.

If you literally spend your time in the game hunting for textures that aren't as good as other textures, yes, you're likely to have this reaction a few times. If you're a normal person you're not going to notice because you're actually playing the game.
So much truth.

I'm pretty positive that some of you enjoy making yourselves miserable.
I'm starting to think so too.
 
Jun 25, 2006
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It's an entire pallete color and tonally mood change. I don't get the part about people being upset. It seems arbitrary and stupid.

Yes the original version is more of a technical accomplishment. But it isn't like the second version is just a downgraded version. The washed out pallet clearly indicates a different tone and feel. It's not just like they removed some effects. They changed the tone and feel of the area. That's an artistic decision as much as a technical one.

It's pretty blatantly obvious that the transition from a sepia tone to a grey tone is not a technical one. It's a choice.
I'm not even disagreeing with you that the original version looks better. It is definitely more eye popping. I think that much is objectively true. But the question is whether or not they wanted the area to look eye popping. I wonder what the area would look like if they had kept the original color pallete and just took out the dynamic lighting. I definitely don't think it would be as dramatic as a difference.

I'm kind of reminded of FPS games where everything looks all shiny reflective. It's certainly more eye popping, but sometimes, that's not what you want, you know? I haven't played this area in context so I don't know. My only point is that there are a lot of changes being lumped into the "downgrade" category where in this case at least it seems clear to me the difference isn't just a matter of technical capability but literally changing the color pallete and the feel of the area.
This is the biggest load of nonsense that I've read with regards to the glaring instances of Dark Souls II's visual downgrade. I've played through the campaign twice now and there are many examples where it's extremely apparent they just cut back on effects or environmental dressing in order to get the framerate running at a relatively smooth pace for ageing consoles and not due to an artistic change-of-mind.

Mirror Knight? The one thing I'll give you is that you could make a valid argument about the particle effects in the original reveal having been distracting with how busy they were, but his armor set and shield losing all of its luster within his own arena is not an artistic choice, it's a cutback. It strangely enough retains its intended shine in other locations when you wear the armor for yourself or when either the boss or the player character stands on the remains of the pillar, so there goes that. The skybox in the area is either far less detailed or simply gone compared to how it used to look like, never mind how drab the lighting looks even with the stormy weather. Compare the fog door between builds. The hallway with the re-animated statues. Virtually all of it screams "we couldn't realize our original vision on ancient hardware" rather than "we as artists thought the finalized version looks aesthetically better," which it very clearly does not.

Forest of the Fallen Giants, the first real level you'll navigate through at the beginning of your playthrough? Sconces still scattered around outdoors despite the place being lit in broad daylight, and there are more stages where something similar occurs. The fire salamander pit looks horrendous; no chance in hell the developers told themselves that the final result is a superior change in its artistic direction with less detailed textures, inferior geometry and a cheap filter smeared across the screen. The pitiful background scenery is another one of these framerate-related downgrades that cannot be explained in any other way. The sole intentional artistic redesign there are the Turtle Knights: originally they had a metalic sheen, but the item descriptions on their armor explains why their armor has become so dirty.

The dungeon that was tentatively called The Mansion of the Dragons? Borderline unrecognizable player shadow with how pixelated it is. Corridor with the lockstone mechanism utterly devoid of detail with all the paintings and furniture outright removed. The god damn giant dragon skeleton disappearing in the tackiest way possible a mere two - three seconds after it lunges out at you. Dragon's Aerie, the gameplay reveal clip with the draw bridge? Numerous spots where the textures of the rock formations (of which there are plenty) might as well belong in a PS2 game, no exaggeration. And I'm not talking about those in the far background alone either. While it still looks fairly nice in the retail version on its own merits, there's no denying it looks significantly more muddy in comparison, on top of there being less dragons flying around above your head
(even when you artificially increase their number by crushing their eggs)
.

Furthermore, lethal grab animations where your character's body dissolves into thin air well before the attack itself has ended; this usually wasn't the case with Dark Souls 1. Dark areas suffer from fucked-up gamma / brightness settings, likely due to FROM caving in to negative feedback during the beta stress test rather than it being an artistic decision. Certain armors
(read: returning sets from Dark Souls 1)
look worse, period. The list goes on and on. It supposedly "being a choice" is not convincing at all for those like myself who have already seen all or most of what Dark Souls II has to offer. I still enjoyed the game quite a lot and areas like Tower of Flame highlight that it can still be a looker despite the above sloppiness, but let's not get crazy here with attempts to justify the extensive downgrading.