Dark Souls 2 Early PS3 Build vs Retail Build Shows Severely Downgraded Lighting And Graphics


Now that Dark Souls 2 is officially out in the wild, it is time to examine the claims of the lighting and graphics downgrade. Unfortunately, the worse has come true, and the lighting and graphics have seem to take a hit, confirmed by other reviews as well. What’s worse here is the fact that the early PS3 build of Dark Souls 2 – that had playable demo, and shown in many of the trailers/videos – showed no such downgrade. So what exactly went wrong here?

Below, you can see two GIFs, one of them is from the PlayStation Access video, which showed an early build of the PS3 version. The other GIF is from the retail version of the game. You can easily see the downgrade in this GIF, where the lighting and graphics have seem to taken a hit.

Early Build Retail Build

Gamespot review also mentioned this downgrade in lighting, claiming that it makes the game look washed out at some places. However, as you can see in our comparison between PS3 vs Xbox 360 version for Dark Souls 2, the game still looks beautiful despite the different lighting solution, although the quality of the graphics is rather inconsistent. It might look beautiful at some places and ugly at others.

Here is another screenshot comparison for both builds. The PS3 build is from January 2014 while the other screenshot is from the retail version of the game.

Retail Build
Early Build

Dark Souls 2 will be available on the PS3 and Xbox 360 today. The PC version will release on April 25th, it is unknown whether this lighting downgrade carries over to the PC version or not. There is no word yet on a PS4 or Xbox One release.

Thanks (NeoGAF)

What do you think about this difference between the early build and the retail build? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Яков Штеффен

    It still looks great considering low power of 10-years old consoles. You cant expect trailer quality graphics on such cheap hardware.

  • Kari

    the engine was displayed on PC for next gen gaming… maybe this graphics are only for the PC version ? And that if they sold the pc game along side the ps3 and 360 version , maybe everyone would want pc

  • William Fenton

    Where do you think they will get the system power needed to upgrade those graphics, magic elfs?

  • blastx

    They did this so they can show PS4 and Xbox one version and say something like : see! only with the power of next-gen consoles!

    That’s a selling point.

    • Angie Fonseca

      Well that doesn’t make any sense when the PC is FAR more powerful then both the PS4 and X1. Plus it was stated by FROM Software that the first game-play reveal (that still holds up as the best looking footage) was running on PC. So that completely takes the wind out of your comments legitimacy.

  • raruna

    This stuff is NOT cool. They advertised one thing and delivered another entirely. I don’t care if they did it to “focus on gameplay”, because if they knew beforehand that their engine wouldn’t hold up and they would have to downgrade, they should have been up-front about it.

    This is some serious bait and switch.

    I’m still gonna try it out on PC, because at least then I have hopes of it being fixed, either by From Software or by the fans.

  • SamusCR1

    Well all we can do is to make our voices heard so Namco or fromsoft make an statement about this mess.

    This is unbeliveable..just cancelled my pre order until Namco adresses
    this mess. I dont care much about graphics but im worried that what they
    did was false advertisement, they advertised a whole new engine and new
    lightning mechanics and at the end they remove it and made it look

    • SlammedTiger

      *rests head on left hand* They didn’t “false advertise”. They didn’t promise the game would look the way it did in E3 and we had no real right to assume as much from demo gameplay. The reason they chose to downgrade the graphical fidelity was due to limitations of the consoles. If they attempted to make the game look like this on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 the framerate would be worse than going through Blighttown with a bad hard drive. The things they promised were that the game would still be challenging, yet accessible to a wider audience, the framerate would be (mostly) stable, attacking would flow better, the enemies would be smarter, and the game would be available on March 11th. They kept these promises, but did not “false advertise” the graphics.

      The only thing I’m upset about in this game is the lighting. I was a part of the CBT and enjoyed it tremendously. I thought the idea of having to decide whether to rely on a torch or your shield was great for tactical gameplay and made the game that much harder. The internal lighting that the player emits was later added due to newer players (and/or retarded vets) finding it “too difficult” to navigate the darker sections of the game without an external light-source that didn’t affect your need for a shield. There were a lot of things they could have added to negate this effect, I’ve seen many suggestions on the Dark Souls subreddit. But they just decided to add that stupid glow again and made every dark area too well-lit without a torch. That completely defeats the purpose of adding the torch in the first place. The Gutter is no longer even a challenge, I memorized the path and can see just fine with my glow effect.

      If you want to do something, leave feedback to From Software asking them to remove the external light that players emit and add in items (in any further new DLC if anything) that will make it easier to see in the dark. There are already torches, the sorcery Cast Light, etc. that exists in the standalone that work just fine as a light source for people who do not have the luxury of purchasing DLC as many others have, so there’s no need to worry about that. Bring back difficulty. Accessibility is great, but the game is too easy if you don’t even have to use what is considered by the developers to be one of the most important aspects of the game.

  • Jprnotld87

    What sucks is while playing through for a couple hours I was confused as to why the torches where being used. Now I see they implemented them thinking the lighting was gonna be awesome then maybe last minute changed it now the torches are useless. I configured the gamma exactly how the game tells me and not once have I needed a torch to see anything.

    • Matt Dickinson

      Maybe next gen ports will better realise the original vision?

  • Aaron

    It makes me angry because it ruins the atmosphere, I rather them disable special effects like SSAO and Depth of Field then higher resolution textures and lighting…… I dont like being sold one thing and getting something different.

    • Cobac Razvan

      Really ? You didn’t knew that this is the marketing practice made by the majority if not all publishers? It’s marketing, does it really strike you that the gaming industry also have such practices ? Or do you live in a place where McDonalds products really look like those in commercials ?

      Welcome to a consumerism filled planet with a good deal of marketing 101.
      I’d also prefer to think that those early showings are from next-gen try-outs. They did say the Dark Souls engine was made with next-gen in mind.
      Multi-platform games will usually always use footage right from the PC version with maxed 16x everything and all that eye-watering curtain of sweetness and crispy crispness.

      • Mathew Haight

        So what we should just sit back and take it. It hurts more because fromsoft has never done this before. The graphics shown are the graphics you get, good or bad.

  • Aatu Aapeli

    Please, check your spelling.

    • DarthDiggler

      Also the nit picking. 🙂