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Squad v2.12 full release notes

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From OffWorld Industries:

Squad’s v2.12 Update has been in development for a considerable amount of time here at Offworld Industries and the entire development team is excited for you to get your hands on it and finally experience it in the live game! For more on the development and challenges we faced with this update see our pre-launch blog post (LINK URL). As was noted earlier today we have discovered an exploit in Squad and while we believe we have it fixed in v2.12 there is a small chance that it might slightly delay the update’s release. We will keep you informed if this happens.

AN OVERHAUL OF SQUAD’S VISUALS

V2.12’s primary focus was on bringing improvements to Squad’s visuals, making for an all around better looking game, as well as adding new gameplay and tactical opportunities for our players based only on the higher quality visuals alone. We have completely reworked the game’s handling of dynamic shadows. Standard and Far Shadows have been replaced with more optimized Cascade Shadow Maps. We have managed to make the new system up to ten times more efficient than the old Far Shadows system. This work can have a significant effect on gameplay as Tallil shadows now render out to 1km at all graphics settings which ensures that Low settings no longer give a significant competitive advantage for spotting targets.

The update also brings an overhaul of how the game handles lighting. The development team focused on creating more physically accurate parameters for outdoor lighting, achieving brighter highlights, deeper shadows, greater contrast, and providing more accurate colour. With improved shadows and lighting also comes updates to the Graphics Settings Menu. We have overhauled the graphics scalability settings for Shadows and Ambient Occlusion. Please note that the associated quality and performance trade-offs have similarly changed. Players may want to try adjusting their Shadows and Ambient Occlusion Graphics settings for this update. We also added a “Shaders” Graphics Settings section which currently will primarily affect the complexity of the Landscape allowing lower-end hardware more performance options.

The final graphical update to pay particular attention to in v2.12 is that the team has worked to improve the visibility of muzzle flashes which will help make spotting enemies less difficult. We felt that this was necessary to offset the lighting and foliage changes, which can make spotting enemies more difficult. Our design intent is to allow for camouflage and cautious movement to be effective, but without excessively inhibiting other players’ situational awareness once a firefight begins.

GAMEPLAY IMPROVEMENTS

Squad’s v2.12 update also brings a host of additions, improvements, and changes to the game’s gameplay experience. We have updated the capture speed to scale with the number of players. Capture speed will be shortened if one team has significantly more players in the point than the other team. Here the intention is to encourage more strategic options, especially during the early stages in a round and during “Double Neutral” scenarios. Also updated is the “Buddy Boost” feature, with a focus on making it easier to use. Allowing a soldier to climb on top of another soldier to boost over a wall, we removed the force which previously prevented players from standing on each other’s heads. The system is limited to only one player being able to stand on another at a time, to prevent giant towers of players The Squad team’s focus here was to reward players who move and work together to overcome obstacles, encouraging and rewarding players who move in closer proximity and work as a squad rather than as individuals. Another gameplay change to note is that soldier stamina will no longer regenerate while vaulting and climbing, with stamina regeneration paused during these activities.

MAP OVERHAULS

V2.12 also features extensive overhauls to some existing maps with Yehorivka and Gorodok getting significant updates including lighting updates and new geographic features. The full Release Notes for v2.12 are below, and we encourage that you take the time to look for them, to get the full scope of what the Squad development team has been working on. As always please provide your feedback after playing Squad’s v2.12 Update on our forums (Link URL). If you experience any issues with the latest update please contact our Support Team (Link URL). CHANGELOG SHADOWS OVERHAUL

  • Complete rework of Squad’s approach to dynamic shadows. Standard and Far Shadows have been replaced with more optimized Cascade Shadow Maps.

  • Updated Shadows now render out to 1km at all graphics settings. In addition to improving the visual fidelity at all settings, this also ensures that Low settings no longer give a significant competitive advantage for spotting targets.

  • The one exception is Fallujah, where shadow render distance has not been extended, pending more extensive map optimizations.

Updated Terrain shadows to now render out to 8km.

  • Implemented infantry player and infantry weapon Capsule shadows as a performance optimization at low settings.

  • Improved Distance Field Ambient Occlusion (DFAO) and enabled at all quality levels. This effect simulates the dimming of ambient light in enclosed spaces like buildings and forests.

  • The effect has been significantly optimized at all quality levels, which has allowed us to force it on for visual consistency.

  • The effect has been visually improved to eliminate most graphical artefacts and preserve visual detail in dark spaces.

LIGHTING OVERHAUL Complete overhaul of the technical and artistic approach to lighting.

  • Switched to more physically accurate parameters for outdoor lighting. This achieved brighter highlights, deeper shadows, greater contrast, and more accurate colour. Some layers will continue to receive tweaks and improvements in the future.

  • Improved Ambient Lighting: Converted the Skylight to work with HDRI skyboxes, and removed the old Ambient Cubemaps. This gives the ambient lighting much better colour and contrast, which ensures that it fits the sky colour, and greatly improves the quality of the sky.

  • While all layers benefit from lighting changes out of the box, transitioning to a new HDRI sky-spheres is a very time-consuming process. More map layers will be upgraded with the HDRI sky spheres gradually in future updates.

Added subtle Volumetric Fog to all maps, which reacts to light more realistically.

  • Added Atmospheric Scattering to all maps, which improves ambient lighting and the shading of distant objects such as mountains.

  • Removed most artificial colour-grading. We now achieve the desired look using lighting alone, which preserves detail.

  • Removed Eye Adaptation from all layers to reduce exploits and allow for balanced gameplay in all areas.

  • Most night layers are now brighter in general.

  • Tunnels are now darker in general, to better represent these CQB areas.

  • Relit all tunnels with artificial lights and atmospheric effects, especially on Mestia.

  • Created a new shading pipeline for all grass and foliage, ensuring a more consistent and physically-accurate response to light. Fixed hundreds of foliage visual issues.

  • Overhauled thousands of materials, textures, and 3D models to react to light in a more physically accurate way.

LIGHTING AND ASSET FIXES

  • Optimized the sky textures, which previously could cause system hitching on older hardware.

  • Updated textures of most infantry weapons and HMG’s, to bring them in line with a more realistic metallic look.

  • Fixed ambient reflections failing to save properly, which resulted in some maps missing pre-rendered reflections.

  • Adjusted most soldier clothing materials to be more consistent with each other and to respond to light in a more physically accurate way.

  • Fixed thousands of legacy assets that exhibited visual artefacts in the new lighting and fog.

  • Fixed incorrect shading on several landscapes.

  • Adjusted how Mesh Distance Fields work in the game engine, especially for subterranean spaces like tunnels. This addressed a number of visual bugs.

  • Fixed Ambient Occlusion artefacts on thousands of buildings, environment objects, and foliage assets.

  • Fixed issue with shiny roads on several maps.

UPDATED GRAPHICS SETTINGS MENU We noticed that there were still some untapped areas to improve performance, as well as provide better scalability options across the board – including for users on lower-end hardware – in our graphics menu options. This will continue to be iterated on following 2.12, as we look to improve optimization and offer better scalability options.

  • Added a Tessellation graphics toggle. This feature is currently enabled on the following maps: Anvil, Gorodok, Manic-5, Mestia, and Yehorivka, greatly increasing the close-up detail of the Landscape. Tessellation itself has also been significantly optimized.

  • Added a Material Quality graphics setting. Currently, this primarily affects the complexity of the Landscape. This is intended to give low-end hardware more performance options.

  • Added Dynamic Mesh Quality setting: Scales the quality of distant skeletal meshes, including soldiers, vehicles, and weapons.

  • Added GPU Occlusion toggle: Enabling this feature may help improve performance by reducing occlusion query times. This may not provide a benefit on all computers. It can cause objects to pop-in after one frame, such as when rapidly turning a corner.

  • Added Low Quality Environment toggle: Aggressively reduces maximum allowed quality of foliage and small rocks. This is intended for very old systems for which Low settings are still not sufficient. Note that this setting is currently not affected by graphics presets, so remember to turn it off if you decide to stop using it.

  • Overhauled the graphics scalability settings for Shadows, Ambient Occlusion, and Textures.

  • Please note that the quality/performance tradeoffs for Shadows, Ambient Occlusion, and Textures at any given setting have changed substantially.

You may want to raise or lower your graphics settings from what you used before this update.

  • Increased the update rate of particles at all quality levels. This has increased both the visual quality and performance cost of particles. At Cinematic quality, there is no longer any limit to particle update rate, allowing you to see our VFX the way they were always intended to be seen.

  • Improved the way texture resolution scales down at distance. At higher quality, textures remain at full resolution further into the distance. Low is now much lower, and High/Epic is much higher.

  • Improved and optimized texture quality scaling. Textures do not become excessively blobby at lower settings. This also helps reduce the perceived smudgyness of anti-aliasing.

  • Optimized foliage by reducing the maximum number of non-visible foliage triangles allowed to be drawn at once.

  • Anti Aliasing toggle: While turning off AA is not officially supported, the menu has been redesigned with a more clear on/off toggle. Please note that this tickbox is not affected by changing Graphics Presets and must therefore be toggled manually.

  • Adjusted the layout and tooltips of the Graphics Settings menu to improve clarity and user experience.

LANDSCAPE AND GRASS IMPROVEMENTS

  • Updated a few maps with an initial implementation of a new landscape shader, which allows for greatly improved landscape detail. Updated landscapes are currently found on Manic-5, Mestia, Gorodok, Yehorivka, and Anvil.

  • Updated a few maps to use new grass. The grass is thicker, has more variety, and includes realistic clustering of similar foliage types (such as patches of flowers). This updated grass is currently found on Gorodok, Yehorivka, and Mestia.

  • Fixed a variety of foliage textures to help with brightness, saturation and some normals to prevent glowing foliage, due to materials with excessive subsurface brightness.

IMPROVED VISIBILITY OF MUZZLE FLASHES

  • Improved the visibility of muzzle flashes.

  • Updated all muzzle flashes to be larger, brighter, and more consistent.

  • Updated all muzzle flashes to now kick up much more dust after sustained firing.

  • Updated the render distance of muzzle flashes, this was previously only 50m – now muzzle flashes render out to 1000m.

SYSTEM & GAMEPLAY UPDATES GENERAL

  • Added improved Client Performance Stats to better review game performance on machines with a more data-driven approach.

  • Updated point capture speed to scale by the number of players.

  • Capture speed will be shortened if one team has significantly more players in the point, relative to the other team. Scaling starts when one team has an advantage of at least 4 players, which will provide a 1.1x speed multiplier. This increases to 1.2x with 5 and 1.3x with 6, up to a maximum of 1.5x.