It’s a rare experience to see a game you’re actively playing get reinvented before your eyes. To see its visuals become sharper. Watch its places come alive in ways you don’t expect. FFXIV on PS5, while still in a beta phase, shows a promising future for how the game looks on console, bringing the developers’ vision of the world into striking life.
I opened up the PS5 beta to find myself in Costa del Sol, looking out over the sunswept docks and waters. Peering at the basic structures and plants, everything seemed to have a crisper look to it. Details were sharper, or elements that I never noticed before became clear. I took off into the air on my mount, and found myself looking down into the clear water and the plants beneath. I don’t think I’d ever picked up on those details over years of playing, and just took in the colors beneath the waves.
The increased clarity of the visuals in FFXIV PS5 feel like they reinvent those places you’ve been exploring over the years. I wandered the fields surrounding Limsa Lominsa, finding my eye drawn to flowers I’d never taken notice of before. Small details on the old houses and nearby cities made me pause. Limsa Lominsa itself became that much more staggering and impressive to see, its brilliant white towers shining in the daylight. The scope, both big and small, of each place seemed to demand more attention, and you get to truly appreciate the art that the development team put into it.
Not that this stuff wasn’t there before, but when the visuals weren’t this clear, it was a little harder to notice. It’s like viewing the world before you knew you needed glasses. There’s a kind of fog that obscured things, or a muddiness that was normal, so you dismissed it. The higher-quality visuals in this release show you what you have been missing on console, bringing it to vibrant life on your big screen tv.
FFXIV PS5 had a few different options for visuals in its Screen Configuration. You could switch between Full HD, WQHD, and 4K, as well as an increase in UI size to (theoretically) go along with it. I found the WQHD ran the smoothest, keeping everything looking fantastic in motion on my Sony 4K TV. The switch to 4K actually made things feel a bit slower in some busy areas, with movements looking less impressive to my eye if there was a lot going on. You have options to see what you like best, though, which was a nice touch.
FFXIV PS5 doesn’t just offer a visual upgrade, but also improves loading times vastly. Not that the loads ever took very long when I played, but for my runs at the PS5 version, the loads were just shy of instantaneous, even in busy zones. I could cross from one zone to the next in rapid succession, or teleport over and over again, and still barely had to do any waiting before I was in the next spot. Again, I never much found this to be a big issue before, but the new loads are a nice touch.
Some rumble feedback has been brought into the game as well. When flying around, you can feel the wind moving across your mount’s wings, causing tiny vibrations. There’s also some small shakes that come from walking on certain types of terrain, giving you that little hint of extra immersion. I’m not a massive fan of rumble features, but I have to admit they offer an extra sense of realism to walking or flying.
What I liked much better was the audio that came from the controller speakers. Whenever you get accepted for a Duty in FFXIV PS5 or your Limit Break is ready, you hear the sound effect come from the controller instead. This keeps those important noises from getting lost in the shuffle (I tend to miss those cues if I’m not paying attention, but they were unmissable when coming from the controller), but they also sounded really sharp coming from the PS5’s controller speaker.
The visual upgrade is definitely a welcome thing, as, while it makes the game pretty to look at, it also makes you enjoy what the game’s creators have put so much time into. Someone took the time to create all of those flowers and trees we rush past while crossing zones. An artist had to design those towering buildings and lonely towns. There’s a human being somewhere who spent hours and hours bringing the game’s monsters to life. While they looked nice before, this release brings them into a clarity that makes you feel like you can’t help but admire their work.
The greatest accomplishment of FFXIV PS5, to me, is that you can really appreciate what’s been built here and allow yourself to be immersed in this world that’s been created for us to play and craft and fight in. It makes it hard to miss the hard work that went into every corner of the Gold Saucer or Mih Khetto’s Ampitheatre every time there’s a holiday event. It made me newly appreciate the labor and art talent that went into a game I’ve been playing for years, and I’m excited to see how other players feel about it when the full release happens.
The Beta upgrade of Final Fantasy XIV on PS5 is available now on the PlayStation Store.