Posted on July 02 2016 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
Digital Foundry took a second crack at analyzing
Breath of the Wild after finally gaining access themselves to record high quality, direct feed footage (and of note, this is the best footage of the game in terms of pure quality available online at the moment). What they discovered is rather interesting. Before I get into a summary, I should note they were able to confirm this is an unoptomized version of the game running on a debug Wii U and that rain was purposefully removed from the demo due to it not being optimized yet. Essentially, if you were worried about some of the less then stellar frame rate dips, just know this is not the final, fully polished, experience.
This also, as an aside, confirms the Wii U version of the game is certainly not finished just yet, as a lot of polish and optimization techniques are still going on.
As noted in the title, some of the most impressive features this game has, beyond a fully interactive environment and really great enemy AI, is that the game features real-time reflections and uses AA. AA is a method to eliminate jagged edges while real-time reflections is often not used on hardware like the Wii U and instead various other visual tricks are often in place. Nintendo was somehow able to make this system work for this title, possibly showing a bit of Nintendo’s technical prowess.
In addition, shadow maps change with the time of day, a typical feature of games this big, but for some reason wasn’t present in
Xenoblade Chronicle’s X. They also greatly remark on the impressiveness of the game’s light-shafts. While volumetric light shafts are really at the top of the pile, they couldn’t actually confirm this was in place and it’s doubtful given the limitations of Wii U hardware. However, no matter what sort of technique is used, it’s extremely impressive to the point they couldn’t really determine a difference between what this game is doing and what other top tier lighting systems do.
They had some debate about AA but finally settled on the fact they are using it, though the reason it comes into question is the likely use of bi-lineal filtering, which isn’t overly surprising and can lead to a bit of the confusing of any AA being in affect.
Of note, at the end of the video is a nice little addition physics fun, just showing how truly in-depth this somewhat revolutionary physics system really is. Of note, at one point they also mention what makes this game stand out so much in comparison to other open world adventures isn’t that it’s Zelda doing it, but rather the complete inter-woven world physics and interactions, which from what they can recall has never truly been present quite like this in any other game to date. Of course, they could be wrong, as that statement works based upon personal experience and memory.
Either way, this is a great breakdown that shows just how technically advanced Breath of the Wild is, and all of this is currently being pulled off, though at unstable frame rates, on the Wii U. It will be really interesting seeing, assuming the NX is more powerful than the Wii U, what improvements are going to occur beyond a natural resolution bump. Longer draw distances? Less popin? Better texture filters? Whatever it is, it will likely be rather impressive as a launch title.