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Final Fantasy 14: Dawntrail's 7.0 graphics update really is a game-changer—breathing life, colour, and atmosphere into the 11-year old MMO

One of the big-bill selling points of Final Fantasy 14: Dawntrail—which just released in early access this morning—was its 7.0 graphics overhaul. As fellow PC Gamer writer Mollie Taylor noted back during the media tour those «small subtle tweaks across the board» really have pulled together to create something magnificent.

Logging in today, rather than chewing into the new Main Scenario Questline (MSQ), I decided to go ahead and visit a ton of old zones to see just how different they were in the new dawn and, let me tell you, it's like night and day.

As a player, I'm not too particularly fussed about textures (although they do look far better) or number-crunching fidelity—but I do tend to notice lighting. Historically, that's been a bit of a low point for Final Fantasy 14, producing areas that look like they're aiming for vibrancy but land all washed out.

Gshade, a mod that allowed players to create presets, was so popular for this reason that its death due to the inclusion of baffling security measures tantamount to malware was a massive drama in the community.

Well, I'm pleased to report that things are much improved. Interestingly, while the game looks beautiful in the light of the sun, it's not until you get to moodier weather and times—dark nights, dense fogs, and vicious blizzards—that you really start to see what Square Enix is capable of.

The Ondo Cups, for example, is simply breathtaking now—the gloom descends upon its deep-sea landscape in a dense cloud, and the improved draw distances allow you to spy the fake city of Amarout through the mists.

The overhaul has massively improved the look of earlier expansions so much I'm tempted to go through everything on another alt. Ishgard feels appropriately frigid, and the Kugane's kaleidoscope of colours is actually, well, visible now without third party tools.

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All in all, Square's done a very commendable job. Final

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