Faster load times, sharper visuals, smoother frame rates, and some DualSense perks means PS5 owners can get more out of FFXIV.
As if you needed another reason to jump into Final Fantasy XIV--the popular MMORPG from Square Enix--the PlayStation 5 version of the game just went into open beta this week. It's available for all players who have a PS4 copy of the game or are currently running the free trial with their account, and it comes with a slew of perks afforded by the more powerful hardware. From super-fast load times to crisper visuals, FFXIV can now take full advantage of the PS5 as opposed to simply running the PS4 version through backwards compatibility.
When running the PS5 version, you have three graphics options: "Full HD" that does 1080p and prioritizes hitting 60fps, "WQHD" that uses a 1440p resolution while targeting up to 60fps, and "4K" that runs native 4K resolution and improves overall draw distance but will experience lower frame rates. I spent a few hours hanging in the Limsa Lominsa lower decks with the large and rather enthusiastic crowds and ran a few dungeons to get a feel for how the PS5 handles high player counts in each mode. Even though it can struggle at times, this is a major improvement over the PS4's capabilities and a worthy upgrade for those who play on console.
In 4K mode, you'll notice the game chugging to what feels like around 30fps in the huge Lominsan crowds, and doesn't always hit a silky smooth frame rate when out and about in the less dense areas of FFXIV's world. However, the visuals are crisp, akin to running maximum settings on the PC version at native 4K. Although you're not getting 60fps, I felt the experience was consistent enough as to not detract from gameplay, which I gathered from running The Twinning dungeon.
When using WQHD (1440p resolution), the frame rate picked up noticeably--this is what I would recommend PS5 players to use. While 4K can make an aged game look a bit fresher, visuals were never really FFXIV's strong suit. The boost in frame rate lets you have a better handle of things, especially in battle. Even in just navigating the world, playing the game is much easier on the eyes when things are moving smoothly and consistently. This still comes with some hiccups here and there: Encountering dense crowds in popular zones during peak hours result in some noticeable performance drops. They're just not as pronounced as they are in 4K.
PS5 players who haven't made the jump to a 4K display yet get a bit of a treat with the 1080p Full HD mode which seems to keep the frame rate closer 60fps more consistently. Of course, those on 4K displays will notice visual compromises.
What's a constant for all PS5 players are the ultra-fast load times. While the console's SSD makes loading for backwards compatible games much shorter, native PS5 versions of games are capable of tapping into more of the hardware's potential. Warping from zone to zone only takes a matter of seconds, regardless of where you're going in FFXIV's world. It only took five to seven seconds to teleport between each different zone, like from Limsa Lominsa to New Gridania to Kugane to The Crystarium. On the PS4's HDD, loading in these instances often took more than 20 seconds. The PS5 rivals the NVMe SSD I've been using on my PC, and it's great to see that the console (which is using the same tech) can flex its power to provide a more seamless experience.
One more PS5-specific thing worth mentioning is the DualSense capabilities. The subtleties of controller vibration come through in this updated version of FFXIV, which is a neat feature. Rumble reacts to the surfaces you're stepping on, but it's more pronounced with mounts. I could feel the wings of my Yol mount flap through the sides of the DualSense. I could also sense the impact of mounts lifting off and landing on the ground. Although it's a non-essential feature, it's something that could encourage me to spend time on the PS5 version, especially if future updates add more extensive DualSense features.
I'll admit that I've been spoiled by spending almost all of my 800+ hours in FFXIV on PC with mostly high-end hardware. This is a thing very specific to FFXIV, but if you're not using a display with pronounced colors, the game can look rather washed out--I get around this by using the Reshade mod on PC that offers a slew of options like bloom, richer colors, and better contrast. So with that being my point of reference, I still acknowledge that the PS5 version stands strong. After all, FFXIV is a tremendous game, and even though it can show its age from a visual standpoint, the PS5 provides some noteworthy upgrades for console players.
Also, keep in mind that Square Enix said we can expect more performance updates over time through subsequent patches--it's tough to say exactly what this is going to mean. This is currently a beta, but Square Enix stated that if all goes well, it'll simply roll the beta into full service. But for now, the free upgrade is a great perk for PS5 owners that enhances the console experience in meaningful ways.
Now, this is where I direct you toward all our FFXIV coverage and, yes, the hefty free trial that includes the full base game and first expansion Heavensward, which lets you play through all content up to level 60. If you're looking to jump in, check out my FFXIV beginner's guide to get started on the right foot. Patch 5.5 just dropped and while I will have thoughts and feelings to share soon, you can catch up on everything we know about the upcoming Endwalker expansion and read my interview with director/producer Naoki Yoshida about FFXIV's past and future.