Final Fantasy VII Rebirth – PS5 Performance Review
12 mins read

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth – PS5 Performance Review


Final Fantasy VII remains one of the most beloved chapters in the long-running Square Enix franchise. With Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, the second entry in the trilogy that kicked off with 2020’s FF7 Remake, the game returns to a format much more similar to the PlayStation original, most notably with huge open zones to explore. Today we’ll be looking at the game’s performance on PS5 across its multiple modes of play, taking into account a performance and visual quality patch that dropped just barely ahead of the review embargo.

High Performance Gaming

As a PlayStation 5 exclusive, for now at least, the game mirrors much of the Intergrade upgrade released for the PS5 in 2021. Like Integrade, this is an Unreal Engine 4 game, offering the choice between a Graphics or Performance mode, along with HDR on or off.

The game performed well both before the patch and after, with less than a handful of dropped frames in the 30fps capped Graphics mode even prior to the patch, while the Performance mode makes sacrifices to visuals in order to double frame rates to 60fps. In that mode we see small areas of hiccups in long view distance battles and certainly high bandwidth sections with any heavy particle and alpha effects, or in scenes that use expensive post effects. These are very infrequent, and never worse than 33ms frame time spikes, remaining inside the Variable Refresh Rate range of the PlayStation 5 output if you have a screen that supports it. The absolute worst case found was during a scripted battle attack that filled the screen with effects, during which the game held a locked 30fps in the Graphics mode and a low of 50fps in the Performance mode.

With the 1.01 Patch applied we do see minor boosts in stability from the worst-performing sections. Taking a fixed real-time cutscene that originally dipped to a low of 52fps, things improved to a 54 fps low, meaning we maintain more frames within the required 16ms refresh. This offers a small 4% increase over the previous version, which is all but invisible to the player, but it may have bigger improvements elsewhere in such a wide open and dynamic game. This patch also attempts to improve the image quality issues we covered in our demo performance review and that were noted by the community online.

Visual Quality and Modes

Playing across a wide selection of the game, its visual and technical make-up across both modes is largely identical. As was the case with FF7 Remake, the Graphics mode is the best of the bunch, delivering a full 3840x2160p output that can scale to a counted low of approximately 2880x1620p. The game uses a heavy TAA implementation, which appears to be Unreal Engine 4’s own TAA. Prior to the patch, this also appeared to use the spatial TAAU upscale across the entire frame at the end of the raster output. What this means is that the image, including UI, post effects, alpha etc, will all shift to a lower or higher resolution depending on load, and then the engine uses a bicubic or nearest-neighbour spatial upscale sample to bring the game back to a target 4K output.

This is also true for the Performance mode, which tries to – spatially at least – upscale back to 4K from a much lower base. Performance targets a counted approximate high of the same 2880x1620p level when in non-dense areas of the world with little or no trees, alpha, or post effects present. However, in denser sections or heavy battles, such as when out in the Grasslands or other foliage-heavy areas, it can drop to a counted low of 1920×1080 and remain here for extended periods. Like the Graphics mode, that same heavy TAA looks to use spatial upscale to 4K, though with fewer pixels it is often far softer. Comparing the modes side-by-side, differences come down to resolution and a minor reduction in object Level of Detail, which is likely related to resolution.

The patch seems to focus on Performance mode specifically, as I didn’t see any improvements in image quality or performance on the Graphics mode. What the team appear to have done is attempt a sharpening of the image, to aid the lack of pixel samples, in order to improve clarity and high frequency elements. It does look remarkably similar to FSR1; however, any spatial up-sample technique can look similar depending on the taps made. It could also be an update to the TAAU spatial upscale UE4 Engine to use nearest-neighbour, which creates a slightly sharper but more pixelated image. Either way, the results are certainly not transformative, and this largely comes down to the same reasons I noted in our demo review.

The sharpening does help increase detail and clarity on high-frequency textures and help define edges better. Resolution remains the same as before, as does the low-definition textures. The Temporal AA pass is extremely aggressive and can create lots of ghosting in the image, which does not help the game’s minute details. However, it does provide a largely stable and clean image throughout, giving the game a softer, more post-processed, offline CGI look. This is certainly by design and an artistic intention. Cutscenes are the best showcase of the visual quality in the game, as are the pyrotechnic-packed battles, again harkening back to the magic and effects design of the PlayStation original. Not all is positive with this though, as the game’s large scale seems to have made an even bigger impact on the production assets and variety, which affects the gameplay and real-time segments, although cinematics fare much better due to the fixed camera and asset control the teams have here.

Characters and World Details

The models of characters are easily the most impressive elements of the game. Depending on the sequence and areas in question, we have some strikingly beautiful effects in battle, with alpha flames mixed with extensive GPU-accelerated particles and physics-based destruction and interaction. Many sections have some well-placed spot, point, and area lights that cast high-quality shadows that stretch and dance. Outside, the shadow map cascade is noticeably short in both modes, but the game does mix shadow maps on characters to emulate a contact-hardening look for legs that occlude closer to the contact area of the ground and a more diffuse top half that is further away.

The cinematic sequences can be even more impressive, as the increased and improved lighting and shadows means that models can now be seen in the best light, literally. Material quality, self-shadowing, subsurface scattering, and bone rigging of faces and movement is dramatically better. Add in the cinematography of each, and the extensive use of expensive sprite sample bokeh depth of field, high quality per-pixel motion blur and no camera or radial blur offers, for the most part, the sharpest and most impressive visuals of the game. The Graphics mode is much better due to the significant pixel increase and thus sharper image, but both modes offer effects parity just at a lower precision.

That said, the high and lows are often enough to stand out. These come down to a few key aspects based on my analysis here. The TAA is strong, and although motion blur is off for camera motion, per-object blur on characters looks excellent but can add to the soft image. Texture filtering is still too low in both modes, although texture assets themselves as well as the MipMap bias in the performance mode do not compensate for the resolution shift. Screen space reflections can be good on some surfaces, but fall down with low sampling and little denoising from the TAA, causing artifacting – specifically on water bodies – even in cutscenes.

The biggest problem is that the game is chock full of low-fidelity walls, rocks, pictures, fabrics, signs, and even characters.

The biggest problem, though, is that the game is chock full of low-fidelity walls, rocks, pictures, fabrics, signs, and even characters. Compounding this is that some have very drab colours with blended browns, greys, and blues with little surface detail. As such we have a game that can both rise and fall on the visual rollercoaster. The lack of high-fidelity detail in the world as a whole makes it hard to pick out distinct objects or characters aside from when in battle or cinematics. It leaves many areas looking soupy in the Performance mode and soft in the Graphics mode. Using Cloud himself as an example, the lighting and material in some areas can leave his skin and details shiny and plastic looking, breaking physically based shading rules. In addition, his textures and detail can be soft, with hair cards causing fizzle. These issues extend across NPCs, teammates, and substantial portions of the game world.

Summary

Final Fantasy VII is a classic and Rebirth delivers on providing an incredible next chapter of the remake trilogy. This is a performance review though and on performance the team has delivered a near rock solid game that caters to both 30 and 60fps players. On a visual front though, it suffers from similar, and due to scale, more issues than Remake. This leaves a mixed impression, and though I hate to say it, it can look closer to a cross-generation game in some of the worst-case scenarios with regard to material details and quality.

The patch offers a small but noticeable increase to this, but more is required to aid the assets, and I feel this is beyond a simple patch. Asset quality and details can be muddy, even in the 4K mode, and even if other increases come in the form of improved Mip bias, adjusted TAA, or improved screen space shadow sampling, it would not resolve the lion’s share of the issues. That could only be improved with updated and higher quality assets and materials in the affected areas. Polygon count and textures would be the biggest focus for a later patch, which could transform the game’s look in those weaker areas. The team may be able to improve the game further, but at least you can play without any concerns on the performance side, and 30fps may have never looked so good.



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