Recently I have been playing Red Dead Redemption 2 on PC and testing out different graphical settings (without even getting into the advanced stuff – there are a lot of dials to turn). There is some debate around TAA, which is definitely the preferred AA for the game, because it makes everything look vague, soft, blurry, and glowy. I noticed that, turning it off and using FXAA and (I think?) MSAA, the world looked sharper and had more refined details. It also helped the cacti in the New Austin region appear to not have a ridiculously bright glowing fringe around every single one of them. However – once I moved into the grassier areas around Valentine, I found that there was a relentless jagged texture garble inside of most of the brush/grasses, especially during the sunrises. And, if I turn all anti-aliasing off, the landscape can't go more than 30 yards out from the player character without revealing the blatant polygonal dithering that the AA covers up. In other words… there's a whole lot of aliasing going on.
In short, RDR2 on the PC looks like one giant texture glitch if you turn all Anti-Aliasing off, and no matter which one you pick, you will experience some form of textural oddities, particularly if you choose not to use TAA.
Now, I do stand by the fact that the game is a monumental accomplishment when it is firing on all cylinders (no pun intended), it is a gorgeous open world with lush environments that feel realer and more atmospheric than anything in gaming before, there is an incredible evocative mood in the game whether you are trudging through the snow, looking for shelter during a thunder storm, or just riding into town on a hot day while the bugs are buzzing. However, I do sometimes find the glowy textures a little annoying, there is a persistent 'softening' effect that the AA accomplishes that, if you compare to screenshots of the first game, takes away from the gritty, gloomy character of the architecture and landscapes.
I have a feeling that the massive open worlds of other next gen games may be using AA to a similar effect, as on console I have often noticed how much they have to compensate for freely rotating cameras, and Control on the PS4 was kind of an abomination of being beautiful yet also seemed to be doing some ridiculous patch-up work in postprocessing to keep things looking good. Do you feel like 'any method works' as long as it delivers a good looking game? Or is there something lost in these mega open-world games, that takes away from more intentional level design with defined sightlines, established perspectives, and foliage assets (or any kind of asset) that don't push too hard into realism to the point that they need postprocessing to not look terrible?
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