During Final Fantasy XIV's Fan Festival, director Naoki "Yoshi-P" Yoshida showed previews of the graphical update coming with the new expansion, Dawntrail.
The overhaul of FFXIV's graphics is one of the most anticipated changes to date. Considering A Realm Reborn will be turning 10 years old this August, the game is due for a makeover. After today's keynote, fans have a better idea of what that makeover entails, and what it will look like.
Yoshi-P stated that one of the goals for the graphical update would be to improve the overall look of everything on the screen. Higher resolution textures and shadows will be implemented to give gear, environments, and various materials a more realistic look.
The update to character models is looking great, too. According to Yoshi-P, the goal is to freshen up the look of characters without making them unrecognizable to players. Special care is being taken to make sure that beloved characters don't lose what makes them familiar to us, but they will still get a much-needed touch-up.
Developers have worked hard to improve the look of plants, as well. Forested areas look less sparse, and there appears to be more variety in the types of plants. Yoshi-P expressed excitement for the increase in screenshots that players will experience, especially in more natural areas. Unfortunately for fans of FFXIV's infamous polygonal grapes, he said that those would not be getting any extra attention.
Of these graphical updates, players can expect some to be implemented right away with version 7.0, while others will be added in more gradually. Improved lighting, shadows, and plants will be added in automatically from the release of the update. Characters will take longer, with some NPCs getting their improved look sooner than others. More generally, the graphical update will be implemented first for 7.0, then expanded to 2.0, and closed in on the rest of the game over time.