Early impressions suggest that Dark Souls II on PC is a vastly superior experience to its slightly shonky predecessor.
Even Peter "Durante" Thoman, the man who shot to Internet fame after releasing his comprehensive DSfix patch for the original Dark Souls, appears to be somewhat satisfied with the better quality port this time around.
Exploring the modding potential of the game in detail over at PC Gamer, Durante came to the conclusion that there was even more that could be done to make the game look good -- and also to allow players to customize it with their own textures. As such, the news that he has been working on a tool for Dark Souls II on PC is probably not a surprise -- but the news that it might benefit PC gaming in a more broad fashion might be.
Durante's new tool is called GeDoSaTo, an abbreviation of Generic DownSampling Tool. At present, it's primarily tuned for Dark Souls II and allows for a number of enhanced effects in the game ranging from the titular downsampling -- we'll get on to that in a moment -- to improved lighting, ambient occlusion and depth-of-field effects. But that "Generic" part in the title is important: as he explains in a blog post introducing the new tool, Durante's hope is that GeDoSaTo will be something that can be used for downsampling in a variety of other PC games.
But what is downsampling? It's a clever little trick used to improve the quality of graphics and reduce aliasing -- "jaggies" as they tended to be known in the PS2 era -- on the edges of polygonal graphics. The way it works is by forcing the game to render the graphics at a higher resolution than the screen on which it's being displayed, then scaling them down to fit the screen. So, for example, using GeDoSaTo, you could force Dark Souls to run at a crazy resolution like 7680x4320 -- also known as "Full Ultra HD" resolution -- and then scale it down to fit a 1080p display.
The effect can be surprisingly striking, and a few other games have experimented with it to date. CD Projekt Red's The Witcher 2 called it "übersampling," for example, and it gave that game's already impressive visuals a noticeable boost, particularly on big screens, though it required a seriously heavy-duty gaming rig to get the most out of it at a playable framerate.
An early version of GeDoSaTo is available now, though Durante notes that it's buggy and unstable -- using the Steam Overlay causes problems, for example -- and also only presently works with DirectX 9 games. But over time, the project will grow, improve and become more stable -- and in the long-term, it could have a very positive impact on PC game visuals in general, not just Dark Souls.