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Dark Souls DSFix Visual Analysis
Company: Namco Bandai
Author: Sean Ridgeley
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: September 16th, 2012
SMAA, SSAO, Depth of Field, conclusion
Subpixel Morphological Antiliasing (SMAA) combines the benefits of the cheaper, generalized approach of MLAA with the more thorough but expensive approach of MSAA and SSAA, resulting in efficient anti-aliasing with a low performance impact.
Even bare, aliasing in Dark Souls isn't much noticeable, but SMAA is nontheless welcome, providing an added smoothness to stubborn edges with no real blur. The differences between the different levels of SMAA are negligible, however.
Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO) adds significant depth to any given scene thanks to more realistic shadowing.
Three levels of SSAO are now offered; all have the same performance impact, so it's all a matter of preference. The contrast between no SSAO and just 1 is significant, livening up scenes with the added touches the effect is beloved for; going from 1 to 2 simply offers a slightly stronger effect, while no noticeable changes can be observed between 2 and 3.
If you can afford it, this option is strongly recommended, though it's not essential either, so if your hardware is in really hard shape, you won't be missing out too much.
Depth of Field Resolution
Depth of Field blurs the background of a given scene to place emphasis on the foreground.
Assuming it doesn't hurt your performance too much and you like the look, this setting should be changed to the highest value below your vertical rendering resolution, in combination with the Depth of Field Blur setting below. So, if you've set your vertical rendering resolution to 1050 or 1080, set this to 810; if it's 1280x720, set it to 540, and so on.
On its own, raising this setting is likely to offer a sharper background image than you might like, as can be observed in the screens above. As mentioned, however, it's intended to be used in concert with the next setting.
Depth of Field Blur
This one adds a secondary blur, so you can still have Depth of Field rendered at high resolution, but achieve the original, strong effect. As with DOF Resolution, the option you should go with here is dependent -- if you left DOF Resolution at default, leave this at default too; if you set it to 540, go with 0 or 1 depending on your preference; if you went with 810 or 1080, go with 1 or 2, and if you went with 2160, go for 3 or 4.
Blur here is strongly down to preference; 1 is strong but not too aggressive, where 2 goes all out. Pick what you like.
DSFix adds much needed effects and options to Dark Souls, as you can see from the comparison shots. The mod suite has recently gone open source, so you can expect further centralized releases for it with even more features and improvements going forward.