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Final Fantasy 14’s long-awaited graphics update in 7.0 will look better than the Dawntrail benchmark, Yoshi-P promises

Lifeless eyes, odd facial lighting and gloss issues caused by outdated character creation system

Swinging swords in Final Fantasy 14's Dawntrail benchmark
Image credit: Square Enix

Ahead of Final Fantasy 14’s next massive expansion, Dawntrail, arriving this summer, Square Enix recently put out a graphical benchmarking tool. Dawntrail’s benchmark is especially noteworthy as it’s the first time we’ve really been able to put the MMO’s much-anticipated graphical update arriving with 7.0 into practice and see what sort of demands it might make on our hardware by overhauling the 10-year-old game’s visuals.

While there’s plenty to love about the new look - especially the way the rejigged graphics handle small details such as facial hair and lips, the improvements made to displaying darker skin tones, and the chance to try out the upcoming female Hrothgar race - some players have expressed disappointment with some of the visual elements, with criticism of lifeless-looking eyes, iffy facial contours and both over-glossy and under-glossy textures on their characters when.

Luckily, producer-director Naoki ‘Yoshi-P’ Yoshida is on hand with some reassurance, issuing a blog post to quell worries that the visual update will leave some characters looking rougher. Yoshi-P explained that the complaints about eyes, facial shadowing and glossy surfaces in the Dawntrail benchmark came down to using parts of the MMo’s original character creation system, which is now a decade old and showing its age.

“The character creation environment should have been updated, but was overlooked as we prioritised the development of Dawntrail and tuning the graphical update in the actual game, for which I would like to apologise,” Yoshida wrote.

“Although it used the same processes as the actual game, certain aspects (such as weather) were combined to create special conditions exclusive to character creation. This was done to present the texture resolutions and shaders at their best based on the quality standards at the time, which included the PlayStation 3 version. Furthermore, its light sources take advantage of backlighting which, in this case, proved detrimental for showcasing the upcoming graphical update.”

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As such, the team are working on tweaking the elements to blame - a lack of pupil highlights in eyes, incorrect lighting and backlighting on faces, and weather conditions only found in the character creator that messes with the appearance of textures.

“We are currently expediting a rework of the environments and light sources of character creation for both the actual game and the benchmark,” Yoshida assured. “Changing these settings should greatly improve the situation, and I would appreciate it if you could bear with us as we work on updating the benchmark.”

Once the changes are made, the current benchmark will be updated with the shiny new one. Those tweaks will also find their way into the final game, too.

As part of the same blog post, Yoshida apologised for problems relating to missing high-res textures for certain races and issues with necklines and mouths, which should also all be fixed by the time Dawntrail launches later this year.

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