Journalism Student most of the time, one of HackerNoon's Junior Editors for the rest of it.
Picture Credit: u/ffxivfashionista
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn has a reputation for being one of the best MMOs in terms of gameplay and story. Unfortunately, while it was good when it came out, its visuals show its age. It won’t take long before some potato-like graphics make themselves known. Fortunately, this is an easy problem to work around. Like many PC games, the community has used Reshade to make some FFXIV Reshade shaders to give the game a much-needed facelift.
Reshade describes itself as a “generic post-processing injector”. That is to say, it helps load in advanced visual effects that make games look better even if the game isn’t able to use these effects normally. Fancy things including SMAA, Gaussian blur (I had to look up what that actually did) and several different flavours of sharpening change the way the game can look.
Reshade itself is fairly common across video games with pretty much all games with decent visuals having a fan-made reshade shader available to use. Still, with the game as old as it is, getting Reshade FFXIV shaders goes a long way to making the game look better.
Also, using Reshade is technically against FFXIV’s terms of service so you probably shouldn’t get screenshots of these shaders up with your username.
GShade’s front page
Finding Reshade shaders is a typically troublesome process with shaders being uploaded everywhere from the Nexus to Twitter. FFXIV was no different and Reshade shaders used to be much more complicated. Fortunately, a talented group of players called GPosers have put together GShade. They’ve compiled shaders made throughout the community and got them together in GShade.
That said, there are a few shaders found on the FFXIV Nexus that can offer some alternatives if GShade doesn’t do it.
Installing the shaders is incredibly easy with GShade. All that it takes is running a quick installer that will set up Reshade for your game while installing an impressive, curated library of shaders. In the game itself, a dropdown menu can be used to easily swap between shaders.
Picture Credit: OMGEorzea on Stormshade
Playing FFXIV with Reshade is like night and day simply because of the way everything changes. It’s one thing to say that advanced post processing makes the game look better but it’s another to actually see the final result.
Unfortunately, this great power comes at a great price. Using Reshade’s effects too heavily can easily tank the framerate with some shaders effectively halving the framerate or even bringing it to single digits even on powerful machines. This is especially true in high-intensity situations like one of the game’s 24-man raids where the crazy level of spells going off will push GPUs to the limit.
Some effects are also unsuitable for gameplay in general. For example, the depth of field effect can render so much of the game out of focus that it is impossible to read the hotbar or see what the boss is casting.
Given the variety of shaders and the drawbacks with going completely crazy with them, understanding what they’re used for can save a lot of experimentation. Broadly speaking, shaders are either used for making the game look better in general or for photography. The former probably won’t shave off too many frames and will simply work. The latter is where Reshade’s features come into play.
Gameplay shaders, like OMGEorzea, tend to make the game more vibrant which helps combat look incredible when skills start getting cast en masse at bosses in the game’s many instances. Scenery and static objects look more distinct thanks to these shaders, though they are still made of some old textures.
A Screenshot taken with a shader. Picture Credit: u/Vederah
Shaders intended for photography are the sort that turns the game into a slideshow. These are packed with so many effects that FFXIV looks almost unrecognisable. Some are designed to bring out pastel colours while others are designed to darken images. Almost all of these use Depth of Field and god forbid you try using these in a Duty.
Overall, using Reshade on FFXIV is a bit of a no-brainer if your PC can handle it. The game’s dated graphics will get a much deserved face-lift for very little effort at the very least.
GShade’s incredibly easy installation process ensures that. At the very most, using these shaders give a whole new way to enjoy the games by way of photography with shaders and the game’s own gpose command.
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