June 26, 2021

Final Fantasy 14: examining the complete saga - right up to its PS5 debut

Final Fantasy 14 is a game with a rich and storied history, spreading back across the generations to the PlayStation 3 era - and before that, to a 2010 PC release. Its status as an MMO separates it from Square-Enix's usual Final Fantasy offerings, but this game is very much worthy of its mainline series entry status. Today, we can play Final Fantasy 14 natively on PlayStation 5, but getting to the point of having a quality play experience on consoles seemed impossible when it first released, to the point where the game was even temporarily taken out of service. All of which brings us on to Digital Foundry video we're presenting today. Yes, you get to learn about Final Fantasy 14 on PS5 - and how it stacks up against PS4 and PS4 Pro offerings - but we go further, revisiting its misguided beginnings, its rebirth and its various expansions over the years.

We're very excited about this Final Fantasy 14 coverage. Marc 'Try4ce' Duddleson works on the excellent My Life in Gaming YouTube channel and occasionally guests on Digital Foundry - and despite not being a huge MMO fan, he absolutely loves Final Fantasy 14, having the authentic voice needed to assess the game as it is today and how it has evolved over the years. And in approaching this project, it's also been fascinating for the DF team to see how an experienced video producer gets to grip with our performance analysis tools and adapts the presentation to suit his vision for the project in hand.

And while the DF core team had little involvement in the production, you get the same level of detail as any of our projects - if not more so thanks to his deep knowledge of the game - which brings us on to the assessment of the PS5 built. Expectations should be kept in check - while FF14 is ever-evolving, it's still fundamentally a video game from 2013 and the engine has never been overhauled since. Even on PlayStation 5, the game retains the very dated FXAA anti-aliasing technique, shadow resolution could stand to be higher, and screen-space effects often fade well within the margins of your TV. Vegetation density and fade-in distance are the same in the PS4 and PS5 versions - and in fact, from what we can see, there are no visual enhancements on PS5 up against running the PS4 Pro version of the game, at least when it comes to comparing the two at the higher detail level.

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