Lights, camera, gameplay
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is a stellar achievement on Switch for a number of reasons, and graphics is certainly part of that. The game is quite the looker, utilizing an anime-like style with some impressive lighting at play. If you’ve been looking to learn more about the work that went into setting up Xenoblade Chronicles 3’s lighting scheme, you should find a recent feature from Monolith Soft quite illuminating.
Monolith Soft programmer Kei Tateno recently held a lecture detailing the lighting of Xenoblade Chronicles 3, and it revealed a lot of insight into the project. You can see a summary of some details from that lecture below.
- the devs wanted to use light and shadows to reflect the game’s “Life and Death” theme
- the game uses shadows with higher contrast on characters for a more distinct look
- this was accomplished via a two-light shading system
- the game uses point lights to reflect effects like fire or lamps
- there are also directional lights from sources like moonlight
- previous Xenoblade games used a simplified method for representing light sources
- this two-light shading system presented a challenge with indoor lighting
- indoor lights often come directly from above, which can lead to faces looking off
- the two-light system could sometimes make some facial expressions look different
- the team got around this by using light normals (the orientation of a surface, and how it responds to lighting)
- along with this, the team also manually adjusted some shadows for indoor scenes