The latest update to Final Fantasy XIV patch 5.2, Echoes of a Fallen Star, is now available and brings with it a new dungeon, raid, trial, and main scenario quests.
This week’s update to Final Fantasy XIV is bursting with content. First, there’s the main scenario quest update: Echoes of a Fallen Star, which continues the narrative of the Warrior of Darkness and Scions of the Seventh Dawn as they await for the Crystal Exarch to return them home.
Next up is the Eden’s Verse raid, which is the second chapter in the Eden raid series and includes both Normal and Savage difficulties. There’s also a new dungeon, Anamnesis Anyder that can be played through with other adventurers or NPCs using the Trust system. Finally, the Cinder Drift is a new trial that brings one of the most iconic boss fights to Final Fantasy XIV: Ruby Weapon. Ruby is the latest weapon for the Garlean military and can be challenged on Normal and Extreme difficulties.
If that wasn’t enough, there will also be new Beast Tribe quests, ocean fishing, and new Resistance Weapons that will see updates from patch 5.2 onward.
The end of 2019 is upon us and that means it is time for us to break down the top MMO news stories of 2019. To say that it was a wild year would be a bit of an understatement. There were a number of huge launches this year, rumors abound, and trouble for some of the industry’s biggest developers. These are the top MMO news stories of 2019.
Guild Wars 3 May Be in Development
In October ArenaNet President Mike O’Brien, known by the community as MO left the company after 19 years. At the time an unnamed source told Kotaku that he hand been working on an unannounced Guild Wars project that could potentially be Guild Wars 3. The source also said that Guild Wars 3 hadn’t been officially greenlit but that the work O’Brien and his team had been doing could have developed into a sequel. Since then there hasn’t been any update on the story but a number of other high profile departures from ArenaNet have taken place.
Remnant: From the Ashes Launch
The launch of Remnant: From the Ashes took MMOGames readers by storm this year as the announcement of it’s launch was one of our most-read news posts all year. This Souls-like shooter has overwhelmingly positive reviews on Steam and if you happen to be reading this while the Steam Winter Sale is on then you can get it 30% off. Its dark fantasy atmosphere is a rare treat and the fact that you can play it as a single-player game makes it all the better.
ArcheAge Buy to Play Option
Gamigo announced in August that ArcheAge would be getting a buy to play option called ArcheAge Unchained. This announcement seemed to come out of nowhere and captured the attention of untold thousands. When it launched in October the servers were plagued with thousands of people stuck in queues for hours on end, a testament to how popular the buy to play option was. The queues continued for several weeks after the launch though thankfully they did settle down eventually.
WoW Classic Launch
The launch of WoW Classic was somewhat overshadowed by some other events that were going on for Blizzard at the time, you’ll see more about them later. However, Vanilla WoW fans finally got what they had been asking for, a fresh start in World of Warcraft from the beginning, or at least as close to it as they will ever get. The launch also seemed to bring out some of the worst in people though, just before launch there was a debate about which servers to go on to avoid Twitch streamers because they weren’t part of the original experience in the game. A few months on now conversations about WoW Classic have died down fairly quickly. That’s not to say it wasn’t successful, but it was a bit like when Pokemon Go launched, everyone talked about it for a couple of weeks and then the vast majority of “tourist” players left and only the dedicated core remained.
Phantasy Star Online 2 in the West
Phantasy Star Online 2 launched in Japan in 2012 and ever since then there has been a very dedicated bunch of gamers who have lamented that PSO2 never made it to the West. Many had given up hope. Which is why it came as such a huge surprise when it was announced that the game would finally be launching in the West, or at least in North America. The game won’t be launching until Q2 2020 so expect to see a whole lot more about it in the coming months.
Brad McQuaid’s Death
This year the MMO industry lost one of its icons when developer Brad McQuaid suddenly died in November. McQuaid is best known for his work on fantasy MMORPGs starting with the original Everquest. He went on to create Vanguard: Saga of Heroes and was working on the development of Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen at the time of his passing. His death was unexpected and surprised the entire community. Developers of Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen have said they would continue the visionary work McQuaid had started.
FFXIV Shadowbringers Launch
Though there was no one single news post we could point to for the launch of FFXIV Shadowbringers and its massive popularity we would be remiss in leaving it out of this list. Shadowbringers has been called the best FFXIV expansion to date and in fact, many even hailed it as the best MMORPG expansion of all time. That amount of praise was almost enough to get our most reclusive writers to try FFXIV, almost. Still, it was a fantastic expansion and easily could have been the biggest news of the year had it happened in any year other than 2019.
Riot Games Discrimination and Walkout
This year had a rough start for Riot Games as it was knee-deep in sexism, sexual harassment, and discrimination allegations. In response, Riot suspended their COO and hired their first Chief Diversity Officer. Five lawsuits came about as a result of the allegations and two of them were forced into private arbitration. This while tech giants Google and Facebook announced they were ending forced arbitration for harassment cases. Riot continued to make a number of unpopular choices for their employees which resulted in an employee walkout, the first time that had ever happened in the video games industry. It all finally came to an end at the beginning of December when it was announced that Riot Games would pay at least $10 million to about a thousand female employees who are eligible for a share.
As previously mentioned, there was one Blizzard story that dominated them all this year and that was the boycott and backlash the company faced after suspending a pro-gamer after he showed his support for the Hong Kong protestors in a live event. The two casters who were interviewing him were also suspended. This resulted in a very public backlash that included US Senators as well as gamers and non-gamers across the world. There was even an employee protest at Blizzard HQ over Blizzard’s reaction to the events. In the end, Blizzard decided they would give the esports star his winnings and reduced everyone’s suspension to 6 months. Shortly after the story was all but forgotten as Blizzcon made some major announcements that seemed to distract fans.
City of Heroes Revival
The honor of the top MMO news story of 2019 goes to the revival of beloved superhero MMORPG City of Heroes. It was a crazy year but no story lifted more hearts in the MMO world than the return of City of Heroes. Earlier this year it was revealed that there had been a secret server of City of Heroes and shortly after that the first new City of Heroes server open to the public opened up. Since then thousands of accounts have been made across a number of different servers. These servers have small groups of volunteer developers working on making improvements to the 15-year-old game and there are quite a few to pick from, though the most populated are part of the Homecoming group. City of Heroes makes the top of our list for being the story that has had the widest and most long-lasting impact. We can’t wait to see what the new year holds for the revival of City of Heroes.
If you’re looking for something to do over the next couple of weeks then you might want to check out the FFXIV Login event which is going on right now. The event is open to anyone who has previously had a subscription and let it lapse. The account must have been inactive for at least 30 days. Your time during the event won’t be unlimited though, you’ll only get 5 days (120 hours) consecutively to play.
It may not sound like a lot of time, but actually it is enough to complete the entire Shadowbringers campaign and the 5.1 content. It’s a great time to get caught up before 5.2 lands in February if you’re behind and not ready or able to sub up during the holiday season.
The free login event will continue until January 14th, so even if you’re busy from now until New Years you can still get the chance to jump in and play. Though if you want to see the Starlight Celebration in action you will have to log in before December 31st when it ends.
Finally, it should be noted that during the event there will be maintenance done on the servers. You will not be able to log in during those times. Your account also needs to be in good standing. If you have an account with multiple accounts tied to it only the first one you log in will be allowed to take part in the free login event.
For more than a decade now World of Warcraft has dominated the MMORPG genre and helped shape the development of the entire genre. But nothing gold can stay. The bad news is that there are very few AAA MMORPGs being developed anymore. The good news is that there are still quite a few amazing ones out there you can play right now. Below is a list of games like World of Warcraft that you can download and jump into right now. It isn’t in any particular order, we wanted to mix in a variety of options to try to cover what everyone might be looking for. We did a similar list back in 2015 but felt it was time to give the topic another look.
Final Fantasy XIV
Final Fantasy XIV (FFXIV) may very well be the best MMORPG that is currently available on the market. It has had three amazing expansions, the most recent being Shadowbringers in July 2019. Shadowbringers was praised by many fans of the game to be the best MMORPG expansion there has ever been. On Metacritic the expansion has a critic score of 91 (out of 100) and a user score of 8.9 (Out of 10). This puts it in the number one spot for best PC game of 2019 on Metacritic.
Something that makes FFXIV stand out from other MMORPGs is that you are able to level all classes and jobs on one character. So, if you’re the type of person who enjoys trying out everything you won’t have to roll up a new character to do it. On the other hand, if you like having a lot of alts FFXIV may not be for you. This is a dungeon-based game and getting through the storyline will require you to complete dungeons.
Tera is a fantasy MMORPG that came out in North America and Europe in 2012, then released on consoles worldwide in April 2018. It uses action combat and a non-target battle system. This basically means that you have to make sure you’ve got your enemy in front of you in the cross-hair cursor in order to execute an attack. For anyone who is used to the old fashioned tab targeting that is usually found in MMOs this can be a difficult hurdle to overcome. Those that do get past it enjoy Tera for its many unique and interesting classes and the constant updates that are coming to the game despite its age. It’s clear that Tera still has many more years of life left in it so don’t let its age scare you away.
Guild Wars 2
Guild Wars 2 is without a doubt the most beautiful MMORPG there has ever been. It is absolutely gorgeous and the developers at ArenaNet know it. Fashion is a big part of the Guild Wars 2 experience, so much so that the game has the nickname Fashion Wars. It is broadly considered a more casual friendly MMO than most but that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges to be found. It’s a great game if you prefer to play your MMOs solo. The story is designed with a solo player in mind but there are still tons of opportunities for groups to play together too.
So far, Guild Wars 2 has had 2 expansions but it also gets content updates every 3 months. These include a brand new zone, another part in the ongoing story, and lots of beautiful weapon skins It also has a lively PvP scene with two different types of PvP to pick from.
For many MMO players today Runescape was their first love. The game has been around since 2001, making it even older than World of Warcraft. But, just because it’s nearly 20 years old doesn’t mean it is slowing down or that it looks 20 year old. It has had a number of updates over the years as technology has advanced.
Runescape isn’t for everyone though. The game puts a big emphasis on grinding which can be really unattractive to a lot of people. A lot of people also say that the community isn’t very newbie friendly. Which can be quite difficult to overcome if you’re looking for a communal experience from your MMORPG.
Blade & Soul
Blade & Soul is sometimes called the World of Warcraft of Asia and despite its massive popularity in the East it rarely grabs headlines in the West. Which is unfortunate because it is a very good game that is a blast to play. It has been so popular in Asia that it had a 13 episode anime series adaptation. There is also an incredibly popular mobile version of the game. It stands out on this list for being more martial arts focused with classes like Kung Fu Master, Zen Archer, and Blade Master. If you’re looking for a completely unfamiliar MMORPG experience then give Blade & Soul a try.
Elder Scrolls Online
Despite its rough launch Elder Scrolls Online has gone on to become one of the most successful and most popular MMORPGs on the market right now. It is without a doubt one of the top 3 MMORPGs you can play right now. It is full of content that is accessible to both groups and solo players alike. It is still getting regular content updates with new expansions and DLC. For those familiar with Tamriel and the Elder Scrolls universe, the game takes place a millennium before Skyrim, 800 years before the events of Morrowind and Oblivion. If you’re looking for an MMORPG that is guaranteed to still have a long life ahead of itself then ESO may be the game for you. In a recent panel at PAX Australia ESO’s Creative Director said that Zenimax is planning to continue to support the game for a long time and that they have development plans through 2020 and beyond.
When it launched Rift was aiming to be a WoW killer and they weren’t shy about it with their advertising either. It is perhaps the most World of Warcraft like MMORPG that’s on the market without being a Chinese clone. Unfortunately it has had its share of struggles through the years and it has been relatively quiet since Gamigo bought it and developer Trion Worlds in October 2018. However, the core game and its expansions do still exist and it is all extremely playable. The playerbase may not be what it once was, but for a game that is 8 years old and has moved on to an entirely new developer it is still going strong.
Welcome to another edition of Art of Eorzea. This is the sister column to ‘Echoes of Eorzea’ and is dedicated to the artistic side of Final Fantasy XIV. In this article I will be giving you 10 tips on how to create images using only the Group Pose tool without ReShade.
As a long time user of both pure GPose and ReShade I’ve found a great joy and challenge using both for image creation. During my time in FFXIV I’ve met many wonderful screenshot enthusiasts using various combinations of GPose, ReShade and other tools to edit and create their imagery. On several occasions though I’ve been contacted by players who have mentioned to me that they believe they can’t take ‘good’ screenshots without the use or ReShade which they do not have access to. This is why I decided to try to dispel this misconception and offer some advice on how to create shots that looks similar to ReShade without the need for it at all. Please keep in mind, as always, I am no expert, these are just some methods I have picked up along the way through trial and error. I’ve tried my best to explain the light placement but I do apologize if it doesn’t make enough sense. It’s something that is very much easier to show than explain in words as you have a 360 degree field to play with. Light sources can create very different outcomes with fractional movement and adjustment. If you do have questions about a particular image please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below and I will try to explain further!
The current options available in the FFXIV Group Pose tool.
No imagery in this guide contains ReShade or third party edits of any kind.
Whenever you use a light source or filters within the GPose tool, it works with the environmental textures and colors in a manner of different ways. Adding metallic dyes to your main piece of gear can really change the dynamic of an image. It not only emphasizes the gear itself, but creates a new surface for the light to work with. It adds an additional point of focus to the image along with contrasting and highlighting tones. Dyes can be crafted, purchased from the market board or purchased with Chocobo feathers from the Calamity Salvager in major cities. Some armors already contain unique detailing and metallic features so it’s well worth having a play and seeing what results can be achieved when emphasizing reflective or metallic surfaces.
Location: Coerthas | Filter: Pastel 2 | Effect: Sakura | Action: Asuna | DoF: f/1.4 Manual: 31 | Lighting: Light 1- Type 2 RGB – 1,8,10 to the lower right. Light 2 – Type 1 RGB 10,3,7 in front. Light 3 – Type 1 RGB – 6,5,5 in front.
On Use Items
On use items, such as Magicked Prism (wings), Magicked Prism (flowers), Magicked Prism (confetti) and so on can create unique shadows, lighting and effects not achievable in the standard GPose system. Before entering GPose, use the on use item first, then emote, then expression and type /gpose. The effect will then play as you perform your emote and will loop. For example, in the image below, Novi is using the wings, which provides a great deal of focused light that frees me to use the strengthened effects filter and three other light sources to tailor the image to how I would like it to be presented. The wings provide extra lighting and shadows around her and her dress.
Location: Sanctum of the Twelve | Filter: Strengthened Effects | Effect: Particle | Item: Magicked Prism (wings) | Emote: Panic with smile expression | DoF: Yes | Lighting: Light 1- Type 1 RGB – 6,5,5 in front to the left back two clicks. Light 2 – Type 1 RGB 6,5,10 directly behind Novi slightly to the left (her right). Light 3 – Type 1 RGB – 6,5,5 directly above her head a few scrolls out to soften the lighting and add a little more light to the shadowed parts of her face.
Strengthened effects is one of the GPose filters I use most often to replicate the presentation of ReShade. Although at first it appears ‘too strong’ in its natural form, with the use of the lighting sources you can nullify the heaviness of the filter and re-color the image without loss of contrasting tones. This filter combined with the ‘wet attire’ status effect can create a nice smooth result (if you’re not already in water).
Location: Costa del Sol | Filter: Strengthened Effects | Effect: Particle | Lighting: Light 1- Type 1, zoomed out from face (warmed tone). Light 2 – Type 1 purple light source placed behind the camera slightly to the right.
Light Sources & Highlighting
Lighting placement can be key to emphasize a subject within an image, be it water, structure or a character. For a portrait shot I will generally set all sources to level one to start with and place one light source right behind her head or neck area (perhaps between the shoulder blades – don’t be afraid to scroll right in). Return the camera to the front, zoom out a couple of scroll backs on the mouse, then place the second light source diagonally down to the left and the last diagonally up from the right or vice versa depending on the composition and emote. There is a video linked below that will explain and show this a little better. Slight adjustments can be made at any time to make sure you are defining your character in the best way without over exposure. If the lighting effects appears too strong, try to adjust the natural color to a slightly warmer/different tone which will soften the light a fraction.
An example of highlighting a character with two light sources. The top image is Pastel 2 with neutral lighting. The lower image is Strengthened Effects with different color lights.
If I want a strong set of highlights (as shown above), I will use a slightly different method by placing two type 1 light sources behind her around the head and ankle area. I will then adjust the placement and color of these depending on the pose. If the features need to be more visible I’ll zoom out (with the camera facing her) and place the third light source a little way back, up and diagonal from her face so that it’s lit but not enough to negate the highlights and contrast created by the back lighting.
Note: Even with a black and white filter use remember that different color light sources will still affects the outcome of the image, you can see the biggest changes between green lighting and red lighting where different tones are emphasized. When using a black and white filter you can use the Brilliant 1 screen effect to brighten the image a little further.
Location: Apartment | Room Light 0 | Background: Black Stage Panel | Filter: Strengthened Effects | Wet Attire: Yes | I didn’t manage to write down the values for this image but there is a red light source just behind to the left, and a yellow source down to the right to provide highlighting. The third source is zoomed out, up and above her face area to provide some subtle lighting to her skin.
Particle, Sakura & Status Effects
The status effects can be a powerful addition to an image. Using the Particle effect can add a more ethereal and serene feel to an image, enhancing any spell animations which may have been used as the action. The Sakura effect makes a nice environmental addition to some Samurai action effects or in conjunction with similarly colored/themed environments. The ‘wet attire’ character status effect can also provide a more ‘shiny’ surface to work with, which will make the image and textures appear more smooth. This affect will darken the character though so be sure to put this on before lighting your character.
Location: House garden | Filter: Pastel 2 | Effect: Sakura| Item: Magicked Prism (petals) | Action: Oka (SAM) | Emote: Shut eyes | DoF: f/1.4 Manual: 10 | Lighting: Light 1- Type 1 RGB – 6,5,5 behind, providing definition highlights. Light 2 – Type 1 RGB 10,4,7 to provide color highlight from the right. Light 3 – Type 3 RGB – 6,5,5 zoomed out facing the character, above slightly to the right.
Location: Umbral Isles | Filter: Strengthened Effects | Effect: Particle | Action: Benefic (AST) | DoF: Yes | Three light sources were used at type one strength, two behind Novi to add highlights and one to the left to enhance the shadows of her outfit.Sadly I wrote over the file name that had further details!
As a general rule, framing can really change the dynamic of an image. It generally dictates the flow in which you wish the viewer to read the image. There is, of course the general rule of thirds photography principle to keep in mind.
Rule of thirds grid.
“The rule of thirds involves mentally dividing up your image using 2 horizontal lines and 2 vertical lines, as shown below. You then position the important elements in your scene along those lines, or at the points where they meet.” – Photographymad.com
“Studies have shown that when viewing images that people’s eyes usually go to one of the intersection points most naturally rather than the centre of the shot – using the rule of thirds works with this natural way of viewing an image rather than working against it.” – Digital Photography School.
Although making use of the framing (tilt and zoom) options can result in a more interesting image and make good use of negative space, it may be better to go with your gut feeling of how you would like to frame and present your shot. Photography principles are just that, principles, not rigid rules set in stone. Art is subjective. I personally frame an image with my subject and focus in mind, being conscious of excess redundant space within the image.
Try to make use of the zoom and tilt camera options to bring a more interesting dynamic to your image.
Depth of Field
As discussed at great length in the DoF Guide, depth of field usage can be used to create greater focus to your image, and in doing so adds, well.. Depth! With the more recently added DoF options within GPose a player now has more options to create a good depth of field without the need for ReShade. Both images below are created by using the Depth of Field option adjusted to focus the object in the forefront of the image with the Pastel 2 filter on.
Emotes, Actions & Spell Effects
Study your emotes frame by frame, note useful ones and utilize the favorites list. Due to the wonderful FFXIV motion capture used to create emote animations, each frame can change the image dramatically, actions and spell effects included. Spell effects can heavily control and dictate the feel of an image as well as providing a combination of lighting which will affect the image in multiple ways.
Note: Press the 1 and 2 key in quick succession to view the emote frame by frame (or as close to as possible).
Location: Palace of the Dead | Filter: Strengthened Effects | Effect: Particle | Action: Limit Break 2 (NIN) | Lighting: Light 1- Type 1 RGB – 6,5,5 behind Novi to create some highlights on her to balance with the strong animation of the action effect.
Location: Ifrit | Action: Ruin 3 | Lighting: Please see next image down for similar lighting setup.
One way to make your image stand out is to match or contrast the lighting based on your characters tones. Lighting is a powerful tool as is, but when you take color theory into account when lighting or creating a backdrop for your character, you can achieve enhanced results. Each lighting source has an RGB slider. You can use similar lighting colors (monochromatic) to your character to match or enhance gear, or choose a range of complementary colors to make your character stand out more. For example, if Novi’s natural tones are more towards the yellow end of the spectrum I would use blue’s and purple shades to provide a more dramatic contrast. If I wanted to enhance her natural coloring’s I would aim for pale yellows. If there is a specific part of your character you wish to highlight, for example blue eyes, you could add some items to the image that match the accent color or use blue lighting to add additional emphasis. Orange toned background could be used to provide contrast if blue is the accent color.
Within certain areas of the game a relatively unique effect can be seen on the environment and your character, for example the Ifrit arena and the Umbral Isles. These locations provide smoother texture over the character surfaces, increased shadows, smoothness and metallic enhancements. Combining the effects of the location with the gpose tools can create a powerful image, especially with the use of metallic dyes we discussed earlier in the guide.
Location: Ifrit | Filter: Strengthened Effects | Effect: Particle | Item: Magicked Prism (wings) | Emote: Swiftcast | DoF: f/1.4 Manual: 19 | Lighting: Light 1- Type 1 RGB – 10,6,4 down to her left. Light 2 – Type 1 RGB 10,2,0 directly in front of Novi to provide highlighting. Light 3 – Type 3 RGB – 6,5,5 down to the right.
Weather conditions should also be kept in mind as the sun or moon position can create some nice additional highlighting and contrast to the area or character.
For portrait shots there are now many wonderful and inexpensive options in game to create a clean background for your image. The ‘Stage Panel’ can be bought from the housing vendors for 4000 Gil and placed within a house, apartment or FC room. Rectangular partitions are available through crafting or the market board, though these cost a little bit more. Both are dyeable and so can be used as a black or white backdrop, or a complementary/monochromatic color based on your character tones or outfit.
Location: Apartment | Room Light 0 | Background: Black Stage Panel | Filter: Strengthened Effects | Wet Attire: Yes | Emote: Eastern Dance | DoF: f/1.4 Manual: 7 | Lighting: Light 1- Type 1 RGB – 7,6,6 behind shoulders. Light 2 – Type 2 RGB 7,6,6 directly zoomed out in front of Novi.
Place your light sources after selecting a filter. This way you can color the lighting more appropriately to enhance the filter. You can always scroll through other filters to see how the lighting works with them, sometimes you might find a better combination!
Using the ‘wet attire’ effect will make your character more shiny and smooth. This surface works better in conjunction with lighting and depth of field effects.
If you pull the manual depth of field slider one click closer to your character you will get a softer outline, creating a slight gaussian blur effect.
Try not to heavily saturate, over-expose or create extreme contrast within an image. The exception for contrast being for black and white shots with noir/dramatic theme. If you feel your image is looking too over exposed either move the light source back a little or swing the camera up or down a little to place the light at a slightly different angle.
If you’d like to add more or less natural lighting to your character, you can do so by pressing the Escape, navigate to System Configuration then under the Display Settings (scroll down) there is a ‘character lighting’ slider.
Avoid visible clipping of armours, hair and tails.
Take pride in the images *you* create. Your creative journey is your own and we are all learning and have different levels of experience. Constant comparison to someone you feel is ‘better’ will only impede your journey and diminish your creativity. Having said that, surrounding yourself with work you find inspirational (without pressurized creative comparison) which can help you strive to learn and try more. It’s a strange scale to balance though!
If you are interested to become more involved in the screenshot communities of FFXIV please check out FFXIVSnaps and Eorzean Idols for more information.
Thank you for reading, I hope some, if not all of these tips can be useful to you! If you have any questions or would like clarification on anything mentioned in this article please drop a comment down below or get in contact either through here, Screenographic or Twitter.
Welcome to another edition of Art of Eorzea. This is the sister column to ‘Echoes of Eorzea’ and is dedicated to the artistic side of Final Fantasy XIV. In this series have already covered ‘Screenshot Basics’ and an ‘In-depth Depth of Field’ guide, however, within the very first article I specified that I’d be exploring many aspects of screenshot photography, expanding on each area, such as DoF, color theory, framing and lighting.
To ascertain what would be the most useful subject to cover next in this series, I asked the FFXIV community on Twitter by use of a poll. The highest percentage fell upon the creation of a ReShade preset guide and, as ReShade very heavily falls into the creative side of gaming, it’s a very worthy subject to be covering in my opinion. I really hope that this article can be of some use to you on some level. If you don’t know what ReShade is, the following articles may be of some use:
Before I continue I would like to take a moment to emphasize that I am no expert, and any creative opinions are entirely subjective (my experience can be found here). The following advice and tips are just explanations of the way I do things, they may not be perfect in the slightest!
Late afternoon in La Noscea.
Results will vary based on time of day, character clothing, hair color, skin tone, weather, how vivid the color in the environment is and many other factors. I’ve tested the preset in both day and night conditions and it ‘seems’ to work well (unless the light is too bright). Hopefully by the end of this article you will know enough to be able to adjust your filter to suit your environment.
Where to begin?
The first thing I think of when beginning the creation of a filter is an imagined ideal end result. Do I want it to look autumnal, or stark, or suitable for portraits? With the help of the new Group Pose time-stop feature, creating filters suited to environments has become a lot less stressful as you can now pause the time of day when entering GPose.
Today I will be starting with my usual filter basics and then leave you with some optional extras which will allow you to easily tweak the look of the filter.
Tip: Keep in mind that, even though you create your filter for a certain environment, you can test it out alongside the GPose filters and various lighting environments to see if it becomes more versatile.
Basic 10 Step ReShade Filter
For each shader I mention, I will reference the description from the ReShade Settings Guide (or summarize it) alongside my own comments if applicable. Ideally, this will be a basic environmental filter which will emphasize color, contrast and image depth with slight sharpening.
For the sake of comparison this preset was created at the Last Vigil in Ishgard.
Important: Please remember to disable GPose ‘Depth of Field’ setting before creating any sort of filter preset (it will throw off your DoF and sharpening).
The video above shows the before and after stages of this ReShade preset as well as some of the variables each shader can achieve. Sadly my screen recorder (Action!) crashed the game six times while trying to film the creation live, so I had to go back to film afterwards with OBS (and pray Ishgard weather conditions didn’t change). The best I could do was to deconstruct and reconstruct the filter to show you how the layers build up, I do apologize that there was not more. Should you not be able to discern the settings from the screenshots, they are available within the video. I have tried to not go over the top with the filter and maintain a relatively ‘neutral but enhanced’ look, though I’m not sure if I succeeded or failed in that regard but I hope you like the results.
ONE | MXAO
MXAO is at the top of my list because it gives me a good idea where character and object shading is going to be, then when it comes to adding in the contrast and brightness in other shaders. This way I’ve got a good idea what I’m working with and I won’t go overboard on the shadows, which could create very heavy and jagged lines.
Description: In Final Fantasy XIV ReShade, MXAO creates a very noticeable difference between images, creating depth and shade.
“MXAO can both apply little shading almost for free or heavy shading for screenshots to completely change the look of the scenery.” Source.
Keep in mind that this is an environmentally dependent preset, so one set of values may work for certain hairstyles, yet for others, you might have to pull the slider to the opposite side and lessen the intensity to create a more subtle effect or compensate for certain shapes. The most important slider here is Sample Radius (determines where the shadow will sit), so set that first before altering the others.
TWO | Adaptive Sharpen
Next, let’s sharpen the image a little to provide slightly cleaner lines and emphasise features.
Description: Adaptive Sharpen is versatile and its primary use is to provide definition around objects within an image. I tend to use this option in its default form more than any other sharpening shader. You may increase the sharpening strength to suit your need, although I would recommend having lower values for wider distance shots as it may make the image look very grainy or cartoon-like.
THREE | Tonemap
Tonemap might seem a rather extreme addition to the filter at this point and ‘washes out’ a lot of the color but when I build a filter I think in terms of building blocks. This shader provides the ability to lay down the foundation of the color changes and also provides the ability to make some basic contrast and brightness alterations. Keep in mind you can always come back to this at a later stage and make some careful adjustments.
Description: Tonemap is another color manipulation setting incorporating Gamma, Exposure, Saturation, and Bleach. However, the most important feature of Tonemap is the Defog setting. The color you choose in the bottom right is the color it will remove from the image.
FOUR | Clarity
Although subtle, I feel that clarity adds some more image depth that MXAO doesn’t quite capture and emphasizes objects in the image a little more with out excessive sharpening.
Description: Clarity essentially emphasizes the shadows in the image to provide more contrast. This shader is somewhat similar to the ‘strengthened effects’ GPose filter. There is a lot of flexibility in this preset and it’s well worth spending some time on as your image can get a great boost from it.
FIVE | Levels
Levels will act as the base for the image contrast, as you can see in comparison to image three, it has become significantly more bold and less ‘washed out’.
Description: Levels only has two settings to worry about, BlackPoint and WhitePoint. BlackPoint emphasizes the dark areas and WhitePoint, the lighter areas. This is a very simplistic way of adding contrast to the image.
SIX | FilmicPass
This shader is very much personal choice but I absolutely love including it within my presets, it makes the tones quite unique but keep in mind you may have to balance other settings around it. The shader itself also has great control of lighting and saturation so it’s great for multi-purpose use.
Description: FilmicPass provides both contrast and background darkening. The most important values to keep an eye on are Strength, Fade, Contrast, Linearization, Bleach, EffectGamma and Saturation. The values required for a daytime shot will be quite different as these values will over expose your character quite badly because they are designed to compensate for low light.
SEVEN | DPX
Here I’m using DPX to emphasize the cooler tones without losing saturation, depth or contrast.
Description: DPX is a powerful preset in terms of the color manipulation of your image. You have control over Contrast, Saturation, Colorfulness, Strength, RBG Curve and RBGc.These settings are relatively safe to play about with to see the color alterations that can be achieved. Having a play works best for a preset such as this.
EIGHT | Tint
Changing the color tone of your image can have a huge impact on your final image and in this instance I’m using the tint to add a slight warmth back into the more pale tones such as Novi’s skin and the sky. In effect, I am replacing the warm tones of the were lessened by Tonemap/DPX, but these tones are artificial and of my own choosing.
If I add a tint into images it may be necessary go back and edit the Tonemap again to make sure that the color balance is as desired.
Description: Sepia is a handy setting to use if you wish to subtly tint one of your presets. Just modify the RGB value (or enter your desired hex code) and adjust the strength.
NINE | Technicolor2
In all honesty I don’t know how my brain works, but here I can only assume that I’m using Technicolor2 to emphasize both the cold and (artificial) warm tone structure developed using the other color management shaders. In all honesty, I just do what my eyes tell me to!
Description: The technicolor setting aims to recreate the Technicolor three-strip process. Technicolor 2 has slightly more versatility and may play a useful part in slight alterations of color in conjunction with other settings.
TEN | Depth of Field
As a photographer I enjoy using depth of field in my images above any other style or technique, the same goes for my Final Fantasy XIV images. I don’t seem to be capable of creating a preset without it!
Description: The depth of field variables within the ReShade presets are possibly some of the more complex options in the lineup and can very easily break, so pay attention to what you are changing and note the value before changing it. For a standard preset with simple DoF, I will turn on the DOF_AUTOFOCUS and DOF_MOUSEDRIVEN_AF in the general DoF settings. Mouse driven AF simply means the mouse will determine where the focal level is detected. [Full DoF Guide here.]
Why leave DoF until last? It’s easier to see the whole picture during the color/light editing process, and then add in the DoF. If gamma/exposure alterations need to be made because of DoF bloom then you can go back to Tonemap or FilmicPass and alter those settings retrospectively.
Landscape versatility: Filter used in Eastern La Noscea on a bright, clear day.
Note: You are absolutely not obligated to use all of these shaders or even replicate the settings I have used. A similar filter could be achieved in fewer steps but I feel each of the color altering shaders offers something unique and it’s just my preference to use a few of them during the process of creating a filter base such as this one. I also based the main chunk of this shader around color and contrast management because these are the foundations of all my presets. Many other additional shader choices would be down to personal taste such as adding blooms, lens flares or special effects, so working with the basics seemed logical.
Please, please remember to back up your presets!
The above video displays some of the capabilities and uses of the addition shaders mentioned below.
If you’d like to add a little more depth and interest to your images, depth haze is a great way to do it. From steamy pools to eerie forests, this is a fantastic and versatile shader.
Description: Depth Haze is similar to Adaptive Fog although far more subtle. The shader places a fog effect in the far distance.
Description: Similar to DepthHaze but with greater flexibility and stronger effects. This preset is also wonderful for creating silhouette images for the background with the right configuration. It also makes a great green-screen!
Description: Emphasize gives you color in the foreground of the image, fading out to grayscale in the background. You can manually alter the color focus by using the FocusRangeDepth and the ManualFocusDepth.
Depending on the look you are going for, this shader gives you the ability to add a soft lighting effect without losing the sharpening effect from Adaptive Sharpen (as you may do with Gaussian Blur).
Description: This is a great setting for adding not only more light and contrast to your images but allows a subtle ‘bokeh’ type effect that I spent a very long time in the lens flare section looking for!
Description: Ideal if you want to add a slight bloom to your image without losing too much clarity. It is a wonderful effect, but sometimes this shader is bugged unless moved to the top of the use list in the preset .ini file. Please do not make modifications to these files if you are a novice user!
Tip: Depending on brightness of day use levels to realign the contrast and exposure.
Why am I not giving the preset away with this article? Simply put, it would defeat the object of me showing you how the filter is made and I’d like you to have a play with the settings! This way you may find something more suited to your tastes visually. If you do have a go please be sure to tag me @aeyvi on twitter to show me your screenshots (I really would love to see them)!
Portrait aspirations: Although the filter has very warm tones it still seems to work in a dark studio with one subtle GPose light source (level 1) positioned on Novi’s right side.
The ReShade Settings guide has a visual index of various other shader settings if you’d like some inspiration.
All the images in this article have been created using the same filter featured in the guide, as versatile as the filter has (luckily) proved to be, not all conditions worked well, as shown below.
Not so versatile: Light studio environments do not wield the best results.
If you got this far, thank you so much for taking a look at the article. I can’t tell you how unbelievably grateful I am for the support that I’ve received from the community in regards to this column and my screenshot adventures. If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have the confidence to keep working on my screenshot portfolio or write these articles.
The Final Fantasy Fan Festival provided a whole lot of things for Final Fantasy XIV players to get excited about, and a lot of that excitement is coming early with FFXIV patch 4.5, which will not only introduce a new Job ahead of time but will also lay the groundwork for the upcoming Shadowbringers expansion.
According to details revealed during the Live Letter held at the Fan Festival, Blue Mage will be a “limited” class restricted to a cap of level 50 and unable to enter normal content queues. However, it will also have a variety of entirely unique and extremely powerful skills for a distinct solo experience. Blue Mages will even get their own queue known as The Masked Carnivale, which provides additional challenges once their Blue Mage is at level 50. Players can still form groups themselves if they so wish, however.
In addition to the Blue Mage’s arrival, patch 4.5 will bring on another series of Main Scenario Quests; further Hildibrand adventures, wrap up the Four Lords content; add the third chapter in the Return to Ivalice raids; and introduce other content and quality-of-life features like the ability to travel between servers on the same data center via Aetheryte.
Patch 4.5 will be released in two parts, with part 1 due in January of 2019. As for the Shadowbringers expansion, that comes in Summer of 2019, bringing more new Jobs, a new race and a whole lot more. A teaser site for Shadowbringers is currently online, while a video showcasing the Blue Mage in action is below.
Now THIS is how you host an event for the fans (cough cough). Final Fantasy XIV’s upcoming content is definitely exciting, and we’ve still got another two Fan Festivals in Paris and Japan coming down the line, so we expect the Shadowbringers reveals to get even more impressive.
A recent Final Fantasy XV anniversary livestream had a whole lot to say to mark the game’s two-year anniversary, and while most of the announcements are understandably single-player focused, there are a couple of multiplayer-related tidbits in there. Namely, a standalone release for the multiplayer Comrades mode and a crossover event with Final Fantasy XIV.
Multiplayer: Comrades, the small-scale online co-op multiplayer mode of the game that was released last year, is now going to be its own standalone title for Xbox One and PS4. This effectively shuts down the mode’s inclusion from the original title, though the PC version will continue to receive these updates.
This new release will introduce 10 new bosses for players to face off against. It will arrive on December 12th at 5pm PST and will cost $9.99 for new arrivals or will be granted for free to those who purchased the expansion previously.
As for the Final Fantasy XIV crossover event, that will also arrive on December 12th as a free update to all Final Fantasy XV players. The crossover quest will introduce Noctis and his companions to the Miqo’te Y’jhimei, ultimately culminating in a fight against the wind Primal Garuda from FFXIV. Special XIV-themed costumes await as a reward for completing this event.
Naturally, there are trailers for these updates. The XIV collab trailer can be viewed here and the latest Comrades trailer is here.
It’s interesting that they’ve decided to release Comrades as a standalone title on consoles, but considering that the original game’s DLC is winding down, perhaps they’re trying to trim as much as they can. In any case, we do hope that fans of this particular title enjoy both the online multiplayer and the collab event.
The supplemental Final Fantasy XIV patch 4.45 has released, and with it a couple of nice little side activities for players of the MMORPG to take up. Primarily, the new Eureka land of Pyros and the further adventures of Hildibrand, Investigator Extraordinaire.
Eureka Pyros brings players into an underground network of caves in the mountains of the zone, trading in cold tundra views of the previous region to rock and magma. The new region also brings on the previously detailed Logos Actions system that affords classes new skills in the instance.
Patch 4.45 also continues Hildibrand’s sidequest, where players must assist the self-described investigator extraordinaire in finding a legendary sword of great power. There’s also been additional furnishings, emotes and hairstyles added with this patch.
To be completely honest, our eyes are still a little crossed after looking at that explanation of the Logos Actions system…but maybe it’ll become more lucid once we’ve had some hands-on time with it. In any case, we hope that these little additions of content for FFXIV are enjoyable to fans.
More than a few of us were pretty much in love with Final Fantasy XIV‘s newest mount, and really you can’t blame us because “sky whale” is the best fantasy thing ever. However, if you’re more about actual gameplay things, there’s a dev blog detailing a new Eureka Pyros system that lets the game’s Jobs take on some new abilities.
We’ll get the sky whales thing out of the way first: the game’s Mog Station cash shop is now selling the Indigo Whale mount, a floating whale that can travel across land, air and underwater. The mount can seat one other party member and, like other mounts from the cash shop, is an account-wide item. It’ll set you back about $30.
On the gameplay side of things, the most recent dev blog has outlined the Logos Action system that’s coming with the arrival of Eureka Pyros. This new system will allow Jobs to take on new skills that would otherwise not be available to them, such as letting a Ninja use tank abilities or a Black Mage use heals.
Here’s, roughly, how it works: you collect logograms from activities in Eureka Pyros and bring them to an NPC to combine into a Logos Duty Action. Three of these skills can be stored at a time, and as players push through the Eureka Pyros story, they’ll even be able to tie two actions together into one skill.
There’s a bit more to it than that synopsis, of course, so those interested will want to read the full post. If you’d rather see more sky whale, though, we’ve got you covered with the video below.
Guys, the whale has a bunch of rugs on it. Ahem…the Logos Action system definitely sounds interesting and we kind of hope that it finds its way into the full game, but we’re also not holding our breath in seeing that happen. …sky whale.