Bioware did right by PC gamers with the launch of Dragon Age II, offering up a PC-only high resolution texture pack download. In the following slideshow, we take a look at some before and after shots of the game's first few scenes.
First scene: low-res textures
Our test system is the Gateway FX6840-15e, an $1,100 desktop, connected to a 24-inch LCD set to 1,920 x 1,200 resolution. The PC's 1GB AMD Radeon HD 5750 graphics card is a fast-enough mid-range card, with enough video RAM to handle the high resolution textures.
Our graphics settings for this shot, and the remaining shots as follows:
Renderer: DirectX 11
V Sync: Off Graphics detail: Very high
Anisotropic filtering: Off
Screen space ambient occlusion: On
Diffusion depth of field: On
High-quality blur: On
We then toggled high resolution textures to take the following screen grabs. We turned high-res textures off for this first shot. (Click here for larger image.)
The high-resolution textures seem to have the biggest impact on the scenery. The character doesn't seem to change much, but note the finer detail on the ground in this shot compared with the previous image. (Click here for larger image.)
Even though the high resolution textures are disabled in this screenshot, the game still looks very good. It helps that Bioware used a broader color palatte for Dragon Age II, compared with the largely brown-and-green Dragon Age: Origins.(Click here for larger image.)
With high resolution textures enabled for this shot, the ground looks more cracked and burnt than the previous image. The stone work on the ruined tower also gains some fidelity. (Click here for larger image.)
We were tempted to keep playing Dragon Age II in the interest of making the most thorough texture comparison possible, but unfortunately we can't spend our entire workday gaming. We did proceed far enough to grab this screen of the city outskirts though, just to show a different kind of environment.
The city walls and the ground gained the most detail when we amped up the texture resolution in this shot.
Based on what we've seen so far, we can't say the Dragon Age II texture pack brought our immersion level to soaring new heights, but the differences are there if you look for them. It's possible that it might have a bigger impact in the game's later scenes, too. Either way, we're glad to see Bioware help PC gamers give their gaming hardware a workout. (Click here for larger image.)