Final Fantasy 15's Graphics is Powered by the ‘Luminous Engine’

An example of the Luminous Engine, featuring Noctis
The Luminous Engine is Square-Enix’s extremely powerful and new graphic engine

Final Fantasy 15's graphics engine, the Luminous Engine, was made specifically for Final Fantasy 15

Technology has drastically advanced since the first Final Fantasy was released. The Final Fantasy series began as an 8-bit game for NES. It evolved to using 3D graphics with Final Fantasy 7, but they were still blocky and not too attractive. Roughly twenty years have passed since that time, and the graphics have evolved to the point where it doesn’t even look like it could be a part of the same series anymore. We now have Final Fantasy 15 which looks so real, it’s like watching a movie.

FINAL FANTASY XV – Luminous Studio 1.5 Tech Demo

Originally, Final Fantasy Versus 13 was using the Crystal Tools engine. During its long development, it became an open-world environment. The Crystal Tools engine that Final Fantasy 13 had used was not adequate enough to handle the technical aspects that came with an open-world environment. It was then decided that Final Fantasy Versus 13 would become Final Fantasy 15 and be released on the eighth-generation consoles using the more powerful Luminous Engine.

So, what is the Luminous Engine?

Constructing Noctis in the Luminous Engine

This picture shows how detailed the Luminous Engine allows the animation to be, resulting in realistic-looking graphics.

The Luminous Engine was built by Luminous Studios, which was developed internally by Square-Enix. It was inspired by other engines you may have heard of – the Unreal Engine and the CryEngine. What sets the Luminous Engine apart from its competition are the specs. Up to 100,000 polygons are used for each character, compared to the 20,000 polygons used for Final Fantasy 13. The hair alone in the Luminous Engine is comprised of around 20,000 polygons.

But, what really sets it apart is the fact that it uses real-time global illumination and photorealistic rendering. This allows the characters to portray a larger range of emotions. The engine makes the real-time animation nearly identical to the CGI animation, which makes it a very beautiful game to play.

The Future of the Luminous Engine

Since the Luminous Engine was specifically created for Final Fantasy 15, no other game currently uses it. (Final Fantasy 14 uses a “scaled-down” version.) Two tech demos were released to showcase the engine’s power and abilities, called Agni’s Philosophy and Witch Chapter 0.

Agni's Philosophy

So far, there are no plans for the Luminous Engine to be shared with companies outside of Square-Enix. It seems that for right now, it’s purely a Final Fantasy 15 engine; no other game has been announced yet that uses it. Two of their most anticipated titles – the remake of Final Fantasy 7 and Kingdom Hearts 3 – both use Unreal Engine 4.

Hopefully we will see the Luminous Engine return for a future Square-Enix title.

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