DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age PC Performance Review

Shadow Quality - Problems... Lots of Problems

DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age PC Performance Review

Shadow Quality - Problems... Lots of Problems

 
As we mentioned on page 3, Dragon Quest XI only has three graphical options, SHadows, Post Processing, and Anti Aliasing. Sadly, Dragon Quest's Shadows option is something that most players won't want to mess with, as moving below the game's maximum settings can result in several unwanted issues. 

We will start off by looking at an ordinary landscape within Dragon Quest XI, where we can see the addition of shadows has a considerable impact on the appearance of the scene, adding some much-needed contrast to the bright, summery landscape. 

Moving below Dragon Quest's highest shadow quality setting will result in a significant drop in shadow resolution, and a reduction in the distance which shadows are cast, resulting in tonnes of shadow draw-in, which is distracting at all settings below 3. 

 
(Shadows None VS Shadows 3 (Max))

DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age PC Performance Review  DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age PC Performance Review

 
With Shadows Setting 1, we can see that nearby shadows return to the game alongside cloud shadows, but even as close as the broken wall at the left side of the screenshot we can see that shadows are no longer drawn, an area that is terribly close to the camera, resulting in noticeable draw-in when players start to move forward.  

Perhaps a better solution here would have been to cast lower-resolution/quality shadows at a distance, rather than cull them from view entirely, but sadly this is not an option within Dragon Quest XI. 


(Shadows 1 VS Shadows 3 (Max))

DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age PC Performance Review  DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age PC Performance Review


Even Shadows Level 2 offers a significant downgrade over level 3, with shadows only casting as far as the broken wall and barely any further. Looking at the slider for levels 2 and 3 we can see precisely where the cull point is for distant shadows, a line that will slowly become a constant annoyance within the game.  


(Shadows 2 VS Shadows 3 (Max))

DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age PC Performance Review  DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age PC Performance Review
  

In this next screenshot, we can see exactly how using lower shadows can impact gameplay, especially in underground areas. Adjusting the slider below players will be able to see the line where shadows are culled from the scene, presenting a dragon to players which is difficult to spot when using higher shadows settings. 

In this scene, players are expected to walk towards the dragon and be surprised by it in a cutscene, a surprise that is ruined by lower shadow settings. When the dragon chases players later in this sequence, the line where shadows are culled seemingly illuminates the cave behind it, which simply put looks dumb and acts as a huge immersion breaker. This graphical oddity is one of the reasons why we do not recommend turning shadow resolution below the game's maximum setting.   

Remember, the screenshots below only compare shadow levels 2 and 3, with the culling line being pulled close to the camera with Shadow level 1. Which shadows turned off, caves appear garishly bright, but at least it becomes consistently bright. 


(Shadows 2 VS Shadows 3 (Max))

DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age PC Performance Review  DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age PC Performance Review
  

Below is another example of this shadow culling issue, which makes caves appear well illuminated, only to become dark as players approach. Setting shadows to lower than level three will become a huge annoyance for many PC players, with only level 3 offering the same quality levels as the game's PS4 version.  

 
(Shadows 2 VS Shadows 3 (Max))

DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age PC Performance Review  DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age PC Performance Review
  

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