Someone Needs to Say It: Fallout 4 Features the Worst Deferred Render I've Ever Seen

Discussion in 'Design and Criticism' started by GaemzDood, May 14, 2017.

  1. GaemzDood

    GaemzDood Well-Known Member

    In case if you don't know what deferred rendering is, I'll explain it in layman's terms, at least to me. According to Wikipedia, deferred rendering works in multiple passes. In the first pass of a deferred shader, only data that is required for shading computation is gathered. Positions, normals, and materials for each surface are rendered into the geometry buffer (G-buffer) using "render to texture". After this, a pixel shader computes the direct and indirect lighting at each pixel using the information of the texture buffers in screen space. However, as basic deferred shading is often too expensive in terms of ROPs and overdraw when it comes to large light sources and light pre-pass shading results in heavy overdraw due to rendering geometry passes twice, most developers this generation have resorted to tiled deferred shading, which is what Fallout 4 uses.

    More info on compute tiled deferred shading here.

    Now back to the main topic. I'm no developer, but I know a good deferred render when I see one. The Metro games are probably the best examples I can think of off the top of my head. Fallout 4's method is nothing short of poorly optimized to me. Why do they make heavy use of light-maps? Why don't muzzle flashes, workshop lights, flashlights, and interior lights cast shadows when single pass forward rendered games like Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare pull this off? Interiors especially require lots of dynamic lights to look good, at least to me.

    That's not even getting to the usage of PBR, which I didn't even notice most of the time, probably due to the fact that they didn't update their assets for it.

    Overall, it just seems like they missed their performance target.

    Sent from my SM-G900V using genital warts
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  2. theMightyME

    theMightyME Editor in Chief of TVEnthusiast

    Thank you for your bravery, I am glad somebody finally said it.. phew...
    • LOL LOL x 2
  3. simplyTravis

    simplyTravis "A nice guy, but looks like a f'n Jedi!"

    Got any pictures of what you are talking about exactly? Like a comparison shot?
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  4. Odo

    Odo Well-Known Member

    You mean that even though the rendering process happens multiple times in Fallout 4, the lightning results are worse than what we see in games with single rendering?

    Some places are designed by the user in Fallout 4, right? Would it be a reason, at least for the interior of those houses/shelters?
  5. GaemzDood

    GaemzDood Well-Known Member

    It looks super flat, over darkened, and unnatural. Using point lights with objects that are supposed to cast shadows looks unbelievably unnatural.

    Now here's True Shadows.
    Bam. Every object casts a shadow now.

    PipBoy light and muzzle flash lighting, same situation. You need a mod to make it cast shadows.

    Literally no light casts shadows without mods. This should be a nonissue since the game uses deferred rendering, but it seems like most lights in the vanilla game are point lights or prebaked.

    They're designed with in-game assets though. And yes, Fallout 4's deferred lighting system looks inferior to Advanced Warfare's single pass Forward render. While Advanced Warfare's light and shadow interaction can still look unnatural (notice how the flare isn't casting shadows on the environments or characters here) owing to the fact that only 8 dynamic lights can be on screen at once, at least spotlights can cast dynamic shadows.
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  6. Shoulder

    Shoulder Shouldy McShoulderface chippin' in

    If you ask me, I think those shadows in that example comparison is not that realistic due to how sharp the shadows look. They should be more diffused and softer in look, which I don't see that in that shadow example. It's not bad, and it certainly does seem to enhance the look, but the non-shadow photo is not horrible by any stretch. It reminds me of Half-Life 2 in that regard, and I still think that looks good to this day, 13 years later.
  7. GaemzDood

    GaemzDood Well-Known Member

    Soft shadows are usually programmed "to the metal." Short of using alpha blending techniques a la Silent Hill 2 for PS2, it's a surprising amount of work.
  8. Shoulder

    Shoulder Shouldy McShoulderface chippin' in

    So would that possibly explain why the developers did not go with the type of shadows that you posted in that comparison? It's not as though implementing shadows is a trivial matter, nor that some of the aspects of the game itself are considered mission critical to add, given the time requirements, and deadlines.

    Perhaps it was simply a matter the developers did not feel it as crucial to add.
  9. GaemzDood

    GaemzDood Well-Known Member

    The game definitely strikes me as rushed. Otherwise they wouldn't have butchered the lore as badly as they did.

    Sent from my SM-G900V using genital warts
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