PS4 Version Trailer: Improved Graphics

OhNurse

Fresh from TGS 2015 is a small trailer showing off the game to its future brand-new PS4 audience.

Update: Additional trailer shown last night:

So it seems they changed a few things and it does at least seem like an overall improvement to me, you may not agree. I’m gonna go over a few things but this won’t be a long post because for one I’m not a graphics expert so there are some things I’m not gonna be able to comment on and for another there’s not really a lot to cover anyway.

Gameplay Demo and Details

Below is a 15 minute playthrough of a quest just for TGS to demonstrate the changes to the graphics.

Gonna pop some details that were revealed during the TGS presentation as well:

  • Japan only. I don’t know where people got the idea that a PS4 version meant a US release was imminent but there, just in case you needed it confirmed.
  • Free to download and play.
  • Servers and updates are shared with the PC and PS:Vita versions.
  • Supports PS:Vita Remote Play.
  • Plans for SHARE and Touchpad support
  • Arks Cash may be purchasable from the Playstation Store (in planning, this may not happen)
  • The new graphics will be available on PC under “setting 6” in the options.
Shaders!

This isn’t something entirely alien to some members of the PSO2 playerbase. If you’re unaware, some people like to use tools such as RadeonPro and SweetFX to tweak the graphics of PSO2. Naturally, these mods can’t do anything much about the textures, but they can fuck around with the lighting and shaders. The result is often screenshots with excessive amounts of bloom and lolis that glow like the sun. I guess some people like their women like their lightbulbs; incandescent. I can’t criticize too heavily, I’ve also changed some settings in SweetFX enhance the visuals so to speak. I feel my settings are kind of marginal though, I’m not a fan of the look some players go for but that’s not really what we’re talking about in this post. Point is messing with the shaders is a pretty easy-ish way to drastically alter the look of the game.

So yeah, the first thing any veteran PSO2 player should notice from the trailer is that they’ve clearly done something to the shaders. Things are much more strongly lit. What’s more, it seems like some of the textures may have been changed and the normal maps on the environments are much more pronounced than they are currently (if they even exist at all right now).

Comparison Shots

Words are fine and all, but let’s compare screen-shots from my game to any shots we can from the trailer and elsewhere.

Evidently the colours are more vibrant and the grass has a greater sense of detail to it. The walls also have a texture to them, though whether that’s an improvement or not is going to be up to the individual. The area also appears to have more depth to it, with objects further away having the appropriate blue tint to it along with some desaturation.

The rest of this post will have additional comparisons, but this is likely the only fair comparison that can be made at the moment. The rest are screenshots taken from the trailer earlier in this post, which is compressed video so certain details can’t be appreciated.

You can see that the brightness is considerably higher on the PS4 version. The water texture also seems like it might be higher quality.

The glare on Tranmizer seems a little excessive here, but it does highlight its details quite nicely. The textures seem to be about the same quality, however.

Additional Shots – Post TGS Stream

Adding them here rather than making a new post.

desert_caseal_ps4

The HUcaseal in her slightly higher res glory. The character does seem to look a bit nicer. The ground also seems to have higher quality textures applied to it as well as the addition of bump-maps.

Notably the environment textures seem to be the same resolution here, but they may not have gotten around to this area yet. The main focus of this image is the sword’s photon blade effect, which is visibly glowing more on the PS4 image. This one is a bit of a wierd point for me, because really I never got why these weapons didn’t glow in the first place. Afterall, they did in Phantasy Star Universe, so that they couldn’t do a similar effect in a more advanced graphics engine is something I always found a little curious.

Tundra is both really bright and really blue…

Thoughts

Overall, the colours seem to be set to become more vivid, more saturated and a whole lot brighter in general. Possibly too bright in places. The textures might be better quality or they might not be, there’s not really enough to compare yet to say for sure. It seems environments have gained normal maps and interact with lighting more strongly. Details on the enemies seem to be better defined than in the current engine, likely just an effect of the improved shaders. Like I said, I’m not a graphics expert, so some of this I’m not too certain about.

What I can say is I’m not terribly surprised that the poly-count doesn’t seem to have improved any. That would be a considerably more daunting task to undertake than to address texture and shader problems, as changing the models would also mean re-rigging, re-doing UVs and probably other stuff I’m not aware of for every single model in the game. As someone who has frequently dug into the game’s files I can assure you there are way too many models they’d need to do this for to be done within a reasonable amount of time. If they really are upgrading textures, that’s already a tough job. I’ve experienced how half-assed “HD Texture Packs” look in games like Oblivion, Skyrim or Fallout 3/New Vegas. Anyone can take a texture and quadruple its resolution, it’ll still look like shit if it isn’t done properly.

While this is fine and dandy for the PS4 version, what are the odds that these changes will make it to the PC version? Fairly decent I feel, as the trailer is using the new PSO2 logo intended for Episode 4. As such, I expect that these graphics changes will be arriving on the PC with the Episode 4 update, whenever it decides to show itself. Hopefully, the graphics options will allow players to stick with something more akin to what we have now should people prefer the current look. Update: It was confirmed during the TGS stream that these graphics will be arriving on PC as well, under “setting 6”. This means that these new effects are entirely optional.

All of this is currently a work in progress, apparently. Frankly, while a graphics face-lift is appreciated I’m much more concerned about improvements to the game outside of this. Things like alterations to the item upgrade system, questing system, client orders and currency items/inventory as well as business model changes would be far more interesting to me than this.

We may learn more about this during the next live broadcast set to take place on the 20th of September (12:40-13:50 JST).

End of Episode 3: Thoughts on The 34th Broadcast

abyssmatoi

The 34th live broadcast just ended on a somewhat limp note it has to be said. Overall, given that it was allegedly meant to be the host of some major news I feel the show was kind of disappointing for it. They did however reveal some things, so I’ll discuss some of those and maybe look at some of the things they didn’t announce with relation to things found in the data. Not gonna cover all of it though, because no one cares about the collabs.

A summary re-cap can be found on Bumped here.

Ultimate Changes: Giving You a Reason to Run Naberius Again 

Yes, Ultimate Naberius will become relevant once more. How will this be achieved? By adding yet another currency of course as well as adding in a few more 12* weapons. On top of this, they’ll be adding Hans and Franka orders akin to the ones that already exist for Kuron. These will reward you with Yurlunger stones from Lilipa as well as the new “Garrel” stones that will be obtainable from Ultimate Naberius required for the new 13* “Nemesis” series of weapons.


Skip to 2:00 to get to the Ultimate stuff.

This is a welcome-ish change. I’ve said before that it was a daft decision to leave Ultimate Naberius in the dust like they did with both the Ultimate Lilipa and Free-Field Kuron updates. That said, I fear for my inventory space if they continue to add all these currencies to solve the problem. This is also an age-old complaint of mine, one they have not only not addressed but continue to make worse.

 Roadmap

roadmap

This road-map covers Autumn and early Winter it appears.

For this Autumn we’ve got:

  • New Story Quest
  • New Dark Falz
  • New 12 Person Boss Battle
  • New Anime Collaboration Scratch
  • Limited Quest

Somewhat confusingly they list the new Dark Falz and 12-person boss battle as separate items. I’d figure they’d be related, given there’s nothing else in the data to suggest a new raidboss that isn’t a Falz. This could be referring to Dark Falz Abyss and the 12-man is Dark Falz Double seeing as technically Double isn’t a new Dark Falz. But then, Dark Falz Abyss could well be the Profound Darkness (or a simulacrum) which also isn’t a Dark Falz! A might confusing.

For the Winter we’ve got:

  • New Video Game Collaboration Scratch
  • New Time Attack Quest
  • New Mining Base Defense
  • Extreme Quest Expansion
  • A new legend..

Mining Base Defense 4 has been known about for some time. It’s possible that this is where Dark Falz Apprentice may make her full form known, as she’s finally gained a full form in the client’s data. It’s also nice to see that Extreme Quests will get some attention again, as they’re among my favorite quests in the game. While I feel like it’s likely to get the Extra Hard treatment that Advance Quests got a while back, there has been nothing said about it so far, I’m expecting either additional floors with Lv80 enemies or an entire new Extreme Quest that includes Harukotan enemies. Good chance that Ultimate enemies might well sneak their way into the quests, though perhaps not as I’ll elaborate in this next bit…

Things Not Said.

No mention of Ultimate Amduscia. The data-miners have known about the area for a long time now, we know it’s coming but it’s seemingly mentioned nowhere on the road-map. This could put the addition of the quest after the Extreme Quest expansion and thusly some time in early 2016. All we know is that they’re counted as “Episode 3” enemies, so they ought to be out before the expansion at least, but who knows. So while Ultimate Naberius and Lilipa enemies could sneak their way into the first two Extreme Quests, the second may be missing its Ultimate Dragonkin equivalents. Likewise, the third quest would be lacking any Ultimate bird Darkers or Oceanids, if an Ultimate Vopar is ever to be an area anyway.

There was also no mention of Dark Falz: Apprentice. Or at least so it would appear. Curious given how big a deal Apprentice finally having a form should be, but then again mentioning her at all could spoil the contents of the quest.

There was also no mention of the Episode 4 content, though that’s somewhat understandable.

End of Episode 3

newlogo

Like the blog title suggests, Episode 3 is indeed drawing to a close. Following that will of course be Episode 4, entitled “Reborn” for now. That’s essentially all that has been announced for it, aside that the logo is the same as the one used in the upcoming PSO2 anime. Trailer for the end of Episode 3 below:

So yeah, that’ll be the Dark Falz Abyss model extracted a while back. It also seems that the next Story Quest will be set on Corrupted Naberius, possibly confirming the link between the Profound Darkness and those areas. I mean that and the rough similarity in appearance between Abyss and Anga Fundarge anyway!

As a side note, I’m getting increasingly irritated at their insistence of showing the trailer characters constantly dying in all their trailers. It does less to make the content seem more intimidating and does more to just annoy, I feel. Especially as most of them seem like they’re deliberately walking into certain doom just for the trailer footage.

So with Episode 4 officially announced for 2016, what do we know about it so far? Nearly fuck all! The only real snippets in the client are references to a “phantom” series of enemies, which are specifically noted as Episode 4 enemies. With enemies like “Phantom Rex”, “Phantom Man Assault”, “Phantom Man Gun” and “Phantom Heli” you might be forgiven for thinking it’s a bizarre Metal Gear Solid crossover. Unfortunately, it’s no longer possible to ascertain if a new planet is coming. As mere speculation, they could be a new Darker Type, a new form of corrupted ARKS or something entirely unrelated.

PSO2 on the PS4

Yo, remember when they said that a console version wasn’t gonna happen? Well I guess that went out the window! To be fair, it was already out of the window when they released the PS:Vita version of the game. Do I really care? No, though the only real concern is similar to the concerns they had before; where developing and managing the game for multiple platforms may make things more difficult for them. Perhaps the relative success of the game since has granted them the resources to cope now, who knows.

PS4 players will be welcomed to the world of PSO2 some time in 2016. It will be playable at this year’s Tokyo Game Show.

And yes, still no word on an NA/EU release. Did you really expect it?