What do you get when you cross Alice in Wonderland with Iron Man? Square Enix’s latest RPG Forspoken aims to answer that question, with A Fish Out of Water as protagonist Frey is thrown into a world of dragons and sorcery. Built on the same Luminous Engine that powered the team’s last game, Final Fantasy XV, it has a similar open world design, with animation, art, creature design and more that will look familiar.
The game has three Resolution, Quality, Ray Tracing, and Performance modes, each also with a 120Hz mode. Quality targets 3840x2160p with Dynamic Resolution Scale (DRS) enabled, which can be expanded by 75% overall down to 1920×1080. Ray Tracing mode reduces the ceiling to 2880x1620p and scales to 1440×810. Both of these modes use FSR2 reconstruction to revert back to 4K output when it’s not at that level, which is almost always the case in Ray Tracing mode and often in quality. Finally, performance targets 2560 x 1440 pixels in both Ceiling and FSR2 rebuilds, and can drop by 75% as well to 1280 x 720. This mode boosts performance to 60fps over the previous two versions, which were capped at 30fps.
The performance mode’s image quality impact is noticeable, but small enough compared to the gains it provides. However, there is a perfect compromise in 120Hz mode, at least in theory, if you have such a screen. With the 120Hz mode enabled, both Ray Tracing and Quality run at 40fps, meaning the effects and settings are identical to non-120Hz modes, but DRS is often below the range in heavy sequences due to a 25% drop in duration. the frame. In fact, this has a slight effect on the image to improve fluidity and control, which can be vital in such a fast, action-focused game.
The engine has high input latency, and running it at 30fps meant we got average times of 225ms with quality mode and 221ms in ray tracing mode, while 60fps performance mode provides a much faster average of 115ms a second. This is where having the 120Hz display provides the biggest boost, cutting about 30% off the Quality Tracking and Ray Tracing mode times, down to 163ms and 154ms respectively. This is due to the 25% smaller frame time as well as the fact that it can now be flipped to the next 8ms refresh when a frame is dropped, resulting in an average input time drop of about 60ms. The 60fps performance mode gains some from the 120Hz mode, but only the expected peak frame time is 8ms, giving a small 7.2% improvement in fluidity.
As such, even without getting into framerate, I’d suggest using the 120Hz mode for all modes if possible. If not, I’d recommend using Performance mode, as the camera, movement, and combat are severely hampered in 30fps modes as seen here.
In theory, these settings should cover all of our bases. Sadly, practically all targets are missed – and not just on occasions but often enough to be sub-par. Starting in performance mode, we “target” 60fps, but on bandwidth-heavy sections with foliage, partial alpha opaque or semi-transparent effects can cause the frame rate to drop by 25-30%, causing clips. long in the mid 40s to low. The game supports variable rate refresh (VRR), but these rates are lower than the active range of VRR on PS5, and you can still see and feel the dips.
When the 120Hz option is turned on, Performance mode is still capped at 60fps, but when drops occur, you can at least flop down to 8ms, which means this is still the fastest and most responsive gaming mode. Ray Tracing mode is next in line being between 8 and 14% faster than Quality mode when running on a 120Hz screen, but even then it can drop back to the low 30s often enough to feel like something Himself. This doesn’t mean all the time, with many sections of quiet exploration or scenes hitting 40fps, but assume heavy combat will kick in somewhere in the middle.
You might ask why they don’t turn on an unlocked option for 60Hz monitors, but this causes frame jumps between 16ms and 33ms when pushed to the 60Hz bin. However, on a 120Hz monitor, it corresponds to an average of 40fps at 25ms, which is why it looks smoother as frame times get closer together and even. Sadly, the quality mode is worse than Ray Tracing mode, and at 40fps it’s often lower than that and can drop into the mid-20s – again the dense opaque pixel fill rate seems to be the main culprit. As such, the 40fps mode is great in theory, but in practice the Quality mode suffers the most to not be worth it and the Ray Tracing mode, while better, still isn’t close enough From this aim to be called a true ground cucumber.
Image quality and effects
Visually, the game is a mix of old and new: world geometry, lighting, shadows, global lighting, flashy, and more looks good with a large number of polygons on characters, good textures, and general facial and skeletal animations. Compared to Final Fantasy XV, it’s superior, specifically in resolution and image stability, even compared to the PS4 Pro version of that game, but not by any degree a generational appearance apart from the improved Origins and Resolution. It does offer some upsides to the current generation though, bringing the quality to full 4K output and the addition of Ray Tracing in hybrid shadows with a soft-ink pen, with fine-touch hardening improved through more objects that cast shadows.
Quality mode increases LoD performance and Ray Tracing mode, with more shadow falls and more debris in certain areas. Ray Tracing is of the best quality, with shadow cascades mixed with ray-traced shadows within the first gamut, as in closest to the camera. These give softer shadows and better perimeter closure, but out of a side-by-side comparison aren’t significant enough to stand out for most players. Quality mode is somewhat more straightforward, helped by the in-engine contrast-adaptive sharpening pass-through, but in fact, both modes look similar enough that you can’t tell much of a difference after a few minutes of playing. Ray Tracing mode improves self-shading of characters in cutscenes, which are quite abundant throughout the game.
The character models are well built and realized, but often suffer in cutscenes due to lower bone pads than in many modern games, particularly in the mouth, eyes, and nose. The game is based on a combination of performance capture and key frame animation. This, along with the leap in some cinematics over others, means you can have huge gaps in model quality, lighting, materials, and animation between scenes and even from one model to another. Textures are definitely an aspect, mip maps often run on sub-par assets in cut scenes, which highlights that the engine/game still needs some optimization here, as textures can lag loading, leaving you with some grating and last gen Looking for details on PS5.
The upload highlights the game’s cross-generational roots, despite it being a PS5 and PC only game. Continuing a game takes less than two seconds, which makes the use of the PS5’s SSD and I/O design excellent. Loading into the game is slower, at just over 5 seconds. But the main problem is the constant fading to black and loading that you will see while playing. Admittedly, most are 2-3 seconds at most, but the nature of the constant fading, stopping, and starting to open a door, leave a fort, fight an enemy, or even within a cutscene can cause the game to break. This is compounded by several sections that lock you in place until the user interface, dialog, or prompts load. This was frustrating because it felt unnecessary and restrictive, meaning that the game didn’t feel like it was utilizing some of the key aspects of current generation consoles, instead feeling like a cross-generational game.
Audio production and mixing
The effects are fine, with decent mixing and production. The music, though not bad, is terribly repetitive and jumbled, with the music clumsily fading out or just stopping and new melodies beginning at certain points in play or cinema. This is compounded by some bad mixing that can leave the voices clashing with the music, and the dialogue is far from over the top level.
The Luminous Engine was a revelation just seven years ago with FFXV, delivering character models, cloth physics and hair that rival the best in the industry. The best of this game is in almost all aspects, but the gaming industry has moved on since then, and the engine hasn’t kept up with its pace. What it offers is a wide open land, high graphic quality and a wide range of modes. Unfortunately, none of these hit the expected mark in terms of quality and consistency, and I hope that patches can resolve some of the performance and quality issues mentioned here.