Final Fantasy XV – Demos vs. Final game in a graphical comparison
Despite reaching stores in the form of Final Fantasy, this ambitious Square Enix project was actually announced as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, at distant E3 2006. Under the tutelage of Tetsuya Nomura, a team at the Japanese company was trying to create a more oriented RPG for action, in the style of Kingdom Hearts, capable of offering an experience different from that expected from the Final Fantasy series. To find out more about the changes that have been applied over the years, and a comparison between the demos and the final game, Digital Foundry decided to walk the development history of Final Fantasy XV.
Looking at the presentation CGI trailer, you can see that some of the ideas are present in the final game, such as Noctis’ ability to teleport with the help of his weapons. A few years later we received a new CGI trailer, but without major news. This is due to the greater focus on Final Fantasy XIII and the small team that worked on Versus XIII at that time. In 2008, Square Enix presented its Crystal Tools, which contained an internal game engine that would be the basis of its future games. Only in 2010 did we have the first trailer that gave a small idea of how the game could be, where there are elements that remained until the final game.
However, it was at that time that we were introduced to Luminous Studio, the engine and tools that brought the final game to life. The mix of technologies made the situation confusing for fans and the development team. In 2012, to complicate matters, as the development team approached the desired vision, console manufacturers were preparing to introduce new consoles, and Square Enix then decided to change the name of the game, announcing Final Fantasy XV in 2013. By this time, it was announced that Hajime Tabata would take over the development, taking over from Tetsuya Nomura, and we started to see a better cadence of information and videos. Still, even after being revealed as Final Fantasy XV, the changes applied to the final game are still considerable.
It was only in the beginning of 2015, with the Episode: DUSCAE demo, that we had the first opportunity to try the game. While Square Enix listened to fans’ opinions, applying improvements and corrections that made the experience better. Now that we have the final game in stores, Digital Foundry decided to go back to the demos and compare it to the final game.
To begin with, the lighting system has been changed, and it now produces more realistic results. It was an artistic decision, which gives the final game a more real, and clearer tone. This ends up affecting the materials, natural and not only, that take on a more real tone. Another change is in the LOD system, and in the final game we see less details appearing out of nowhere, despite the way the shadows appear to remain similar. Some changes in the scenery, such as the positioning of flora and fauna, create a lot of differences, together with the help of altered lighting.
When comparing the ranch of the Chocobos, we can see a better filter on the textures in the demo, in some parts of the scenery, and even the water reveals changes, which may please some and not others. But the big improvement is in performance. Here we compared the demo Duscae on PS4, which suffers from problems with the frame rate and hiccups. It ran at 900p and with weak anti-aliasing. We used PS4 Pro in Lite mode, with a stable frame rate and a consistent frame rate (something that doesn’t happen on normal PS4 and PS4 Pro in High mode). Although the frame rate problem remains, the performance is much smoother and more consistent, an improvement that you will certainly be delighted to discover.