Next-gen consoles like PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X will introduce a ton of new technical advancements, with one of the most notable being ray tracing, a next-gen feature that can realistically simulate multiple sources of light in a single environment. While some high-end PC games already take advantage of ray tracing, it still isn't widely used in game development just yet, even if there are ray tracing mods out there for some PC ports, like Grand Theft Auto V.
We've still yet to see just how a feature like this might look in a Final Fantasy game — not even in Final Fantasy VII Remake — but a new mod for the PC version of Square Enix's Final Fantasy XV incorporating the technical feature has given us a glimpse at what the rumored Final Fantasy XVI might one day look on next-gen consoles.
The results are nothing short of stunning.
A "revised reshade" video featuring this ray tracing mod made by Digital Dreams for Final Fantasy XV was published on July 13. While the lighting is subtle, the level of detail it adds to the way light interacts with the environment is nothing short of astounding. It transforms a game with development roots dating as far back as 2006 into something that looks like a next-gen blockbuster for the PS5. The environments look more detailed and realistic than ever, and it's all from the addition of ray tracing and playing on Ultra settings that allow you to play it at 1440p.
Check out the video below and see the improvements for yourself:
Digital Dreams credits the "beta version of (Pascal Gilcher) RayTraced Global Illumination shader for Reshade" for the visuals that you see in the video above. While it technically isn't "real" ray tracing, it comes close to the real thing and the benefits from it are obvious. Most of the commenters seem wildly impressed. "This looks like a different game in comparison," one wrote.
While this mod is fan-made, one has to wonder how Square Enix might utilize the power of next-generation consoles for their games. If a fan can make Final Fantasy look this good, what can Square Enix do with its development team and the power of something like Unreal Engine 5? At this time, Square Enix has not confirmed next-gen ports or enhancements for Final Fantasy XV, so you'll have to stick to the PC mod to experience ray tracing for now.
Square Enix has already begun teasing its next-gen lineup with games like Marvel's Avengers, Outriders, and PS5 console exclusive Project Athia. If any one these titles utilize ray tracing, they could look utterly breathtaking on next-gen hardware.
The Inverse Analysis — This video makes the benefits of improved lighting clear, so we can only hope that Square Enix's next games can meet or surpass these visuals. For that, we can look to the Square Enix games that are expected but not officially unveiled. For starters, ray tracing could make the open world of Gaia even more beautiful to explore than Midgar in Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 2. Final Fantasy 16 is also rumored to be in development, and if it's still several years out, it will almost certainly be a next-gen exclusive.
If this does turn out to be the case, it would be awesome to see Final Fantasy 16 take advantage of ray tracing in a way that looks as good, or better, than this Final Fantasy XV mod.
Final Fantasy XV is currently available for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Google Stadia.