The Division PC Leaks Aren’t Actually @ Maxed Settings: NVIDIA Effects Are Missing
Over the weekend, there were several leaks showing The Division PC for the first time. Some users were underwhelmed at the visuals, which were purportedly portraying maxed settings.
However, as it turns out this wasn't the case. Specifically, Reddit user WolfieZee noticed that Ambient Occlusion was strangely missing from those leaked images and videos of The Division PC, which spawned a massive thread in the game's subreddit.
This was confirmed by Neogaf user Cyberpunked, who claims to have played a recent build of the game in which all the NVIDIA effects (HBAO+ and PCSS) were missing.
He's right. None of the nvidia effects were working in the build I played the other day. You could change the setting, but they required a restart, and when you did that, they would just reset to "high". That said, HBAO+ isn't the games only form of AO.
This same user was also reportedly impressed by the environmental damage system implemented by Ubisoft Massive in the game.
The damage system is quite impressive. For example I was in the subway system, and just shot some of the tiles on the wall to see what would happen, and I found that each individual tile, about 10cmx10cm, could be individually broken into a lot off different pieces, depending on where you shot them.
Going back to the missing NVIDIA effects in The Division PC leaks, even the leaker himself conceded that there might be a bug. As mentioned by Cyberpunked above, the effects could be selected in the settings but there appears to be a bug preventing their correct application into the game.
NVIDIA itself seems to confirm this implicitly in its guide to the upcoming beta test. They're going to release a Game Ready driver which will enable "work-in-progress" versions of both HBAO+ and PCSS.
Those who get a key who also have a GeForce GTX GPU, and our Game Ready driver, will receive the definitive gaming experience during the three-day test.
And amongst the many PC graphics options you’ll discover the ability to enable work-in-progress versions of NVIDIA HBAO+ and NVIDIA PCSS on compatible graphics cards, improving graphical fidelity in The Division’s detailed urban environment.
For those who are not familiar with those terms, HBAO+ is NVIDIA's custom version of Horizon Based Ambient Occlusion. According to NVIDIA, HBAO+ doubles the detail level of the AO effect when compared to standard HBAO while running three times faster.
The technology has seen widespread use in recent games and it's not exclusive to NVIDIA cards. You can see an example of how much difference HBAO+ can make in the following GIF image from Assassin's Creed Unity.
NVIDIA's PCSS, on the other hand, are Percentage Closer Soft Shadows that progressively soften as the distance from the casting object increases, just like in real life. NVIDIA also included high-quality shadow filtering techniques that reduce the prominence of shadow aliasing while using PCSS.
Now, that doesn't mean The Division PC will end up looking like the original reveal all of a sudden. However, these missing effects will surely make it look better than what we've seen in the leaks.
We'll be posting impressions and screenshots from the beta in a few days, anyway. As a reminder, it will be active on Xbox One from January 28 and PC/PS4 from January 29, with all versions going offline on January 31.
Ubisoft has posted the Closed Beta Patch Notes on the official forums, in case you're interested:
Added support for multiple in-game languages:
All platforms: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish
PC, PS4: Japanese
Weapon and Item Mods can now be changed directly from the inventory screen
[Xbox One and PS4] Changed weapon swap button mapping to:
[Tap] Primary/Secondary weapon
[Double Tap] Switch to Sidearm
UI improvements for better readability and usability
Additional balancing of weapons, enemy NPCs, and character progression
Added another Dark Zone gate to the Beta Map area
Changed Dark Zone brackets level range
Depending on your level, you will now be matched with level 4-7 players and enemies, or level 8 players and enemies
Landmarks have been added to the Dark Zone Map area
With these landmarks you will find more challenging encounters rewarding you with better loot
Loading of textures and models should no longer suffer delays on console
More than 10,000 bugs have been fixed, including many of the most reported bugs during the Alpha.
Missing sound with specific weapons and mods combinations
Repeating audio when opening the Mega Map
Mission objectives not completing correctly
Floating characters and weapons
Character loading stuck at 95%