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DF Weekly: Final Fantasy 16 raises more questions about current-gen 60fps gaming

Another week, another DF Direct Weekly, and we kick off our show with ‘reaction to the reaction’ to our Final Fantasy 16 review. Square-Enix delivers a beautiful, visually accomplished game but one that is (in our opinion at least) best played in its 30fps quality mode. There is a 60fps alternative, but performance is highly variable and resolution takes a substantial hit. In our show this week, my colleague John Linneman suggests that the game may have been developed with 30fps in mind and that the performance mode was added later, explaining why it seems like a poor fit for the content. I’m inclined to agree.

Final Fantasy 16 is not a cross generational game, meaning that its visuals were designed from the ground-up with the features and performance of the PlayStation 5 specifically in mind – and that’s important. We’ve perhaps been spoiled by so many games arriving with performance modes because they were primarily designed to accommodate the last generation of console hardware. In this scenario, the CPU and GPU power of the new machines makes doubling up on performance while improving resolutions and features a lot simpler. However, to push visuals to the next level, those same console resources need to work more intensively, meaning that 60 frames per second is not always possible.

When you look at the dynamic resolution range of Final Fantasy 16 in its 30fps performance mode (native 1080p to native 1440p, with an FSR pass to 4K), that seems to be the primary target for the development team. The game’s assets, levels and coding may well have been built around those specifications. To achieve 60 frames per second and to do it consistently essentially requires targeting that from the outset of development, which does not seem to be the case here. What is interesting is how the DSR target shifts. Square-Enix aims for 60fps combat as a priority in performance mode, lowering resolution in combat scenarios to just 720p, raising the lower bounds outside of that, resulting in lower performance.

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