Square Enix plan on releasing a DirectX 11 client for Final Fantasy XIV on PC at the same time as the game’s upcoming Heavensward expansion. During a recent “Letter From the Producer” Q&A, Square provided a few visual examples of what sort of graphical improvements the DirectX 11 client will bring.
“Please keep in mind that by going from DirectX 9 to DirectX 11, you won’t necessarily see any obvious dramatic changes. Rather, the differences pertain to some of the finer aspects of the game’s graphical quality,” director Naoki Yoshida said. He then went on to show off the following slides to demonstrate the subtle changes.
The left side is the current game running DirectX 9, and the right side is the DirectX 11 version. By using tessellation, it’s possible to create a more realistic three-dimensional portrayal of shimmering water than with DirectX 9, in which water effects were drawn on a single plane.
This can be seen in a variety of places throughout the game. It was impossible with DirectX 9, but with DirectX 11 you’ll be able to see reflected lights and even character reflections in finely polished floors.
This is probably the easiest difference to see. You’ll be able to see light refract and waver when hitting water.
The SSAO (screen space ambient occlusion) used with DirectX 11 has been upgraded, allowing for shadows and details that add more depth and realism to the objects depicted in-game.
The depiction of rugged surfaces has been vastly improved. The Ul’dahn terrain seen in this slide shows a significant difference despite using the same amount of resources. The difference is quite remarkable in dungeons as well. In addition, players will find that DirectX 11 will be less resource-intensive for GPUs that support it. In some cases this will also result in an improved frame rate. Furthermore, with the DirectX 11 version, characters will be rendered with uncompressed textures, making them look even more impressive. The visual quality of objects in the background has also improved, and even the texture of characters’ skin will look more realistic.
Square Enix have not yet shared a date for the Heavensward expansion, or the DirectX 11 client, which will be released at the same time. You can read the full Q&A summary on the Final Fantasy XIV forums.