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WIP Lighting/Shadows UAT Playtest #2 – August 1st 2021

OWI_KrispyOWI_Krispy Vancouver, B.C.Posts: 56 Community Manager

Hello squaddies,

We have an updated Shadows & Lighting Overhaul playtest build that will be available for public play this weekend Sunday 1st August 2021. We especially want to hear from players currently running Squad on PCs which can be considered low/minimum specification to observe if players using such hardware are affected by any significant performance problems. We will shortly be updating the Squad Public Testing* App on Steam in preparation for the weekend. 

The playtest server will be available this Sunday, August 1st, and we would love to populate a full server, to have as many players - with varying hardware setups - as possible join us and help put it through its paces. The download should be available shortly on the Squad Public Testing app.

We welcome all player’s feedback and performance reports. Please use the #experimental-shadow-feedback discord channel or our joinsquad forums to provide this feedback.

When providing performance feedback, please supply the following information in your report:

  • CPU
  • Graphics Card
  • RAM
  • Resolution
  • In-Game Settings

NOTE: The lighting/shadow overhaul changes you see in this build WILL NOT be in the forthcoming v2.11 update, these changes are in a test phase for us to continue receiving feedback before we implement these changes to the live version of Squad in the future.

  • If you are experiencing issues in the build, be sure to go to Settings -> “CLEAR CACHE” after updating to see if this offers some improvements.

*The Squad - Public Testing application will only appear within your Steam Library if you own Squad, and can be easily found via the search function within your Steam Library.


What’s New

  • Reduced the occurrence of client hitching during gameplay compared to the previous Shadows & Lighting playtest build.
  • Muzzle flash effects have been overhauled and should be much more prominent and visible in this playtest. Also, infantry and vehicle muzzle flashes should now display at much further ranges than the current live build.
  • Gorodok grass prototype: Much more lush foliage with better variety and shading. Needs to be evaluated for both performance and gameplay impact. 
  • Gorodok landscape overhaul: Much more detailed and realistic landscape materials, featuring micro detailing and better shading. The landscape texture should no longer appear to repeat. 

Known Issues

  • In this playtest build, walking into a wall will force your character out of ADS. This is not an intentional feature, it is a bug.


For those that did not see the full details from the last playtest on June 27th, here are the full changes:

Previous Detailed Info on the Lighting & Shadows Overhaul

Currently in the live game, when players run with lower Shadows and lower Ambient Occlusion settings, this can allow for somewhat easier spotting of enemies in certain circumstances, while also greatly downgrading the game’s visual quality. Also, the current Far Shadows are not optimized, leading to performance degradation for most player setups when  Far Shadows are enabled.

This playtest version has an extensive overhaul of the way lighting and shadows work under the hood, accompanied by a vast new range of performance options, while greatly improving the overall visual quality of lighting and shadows across all quality settings. An essential aspect of this change is retaining a consistent gameplay experience across all settings levels - from low to epic - to reduce potential gameplay advantages that can be attained through toggling the various new shadows settings to a negligible level.

Shadows should now also give a better overall performance for all shadows settings, from low through high/epic settings. Even when running with the lowest possible settings, shadows will still be enabled to allow for an effect on gameplay consistent with higher shadow quality settings, albeit with greatly reduced visual quality to save on performance. We would love to get as many varied setups as possible playing to help us see what impact this potentially has on system performance - particularly on lower-end / minimum-spec hardware.


  • Setting Shadows to “Low” will retain most of the gameplay impact of shadows and Ambient Occlusion when they’re set to higher levels, but drastically reduce their quality. Currently in the live game, setting Shadows to “Low” removes shadows almost entirely.

This is expected to have a slight performance hit for players running on Low settings - but a large benefit to gameplay, in that all settings levels are much closer to presenting the same overall levels of lighting and shadows, thus providing similar effects on gameplay.

  • Removed Far Shadows tickbox - The new shadow implementation covers the range of the current Far Shadows at higher quality and a lower performance cost. The new shadows will have potentially up to 10x less performance cost compared to the current shadows in the live game.
  • Distant Field Ambient Occlusion will be enabled on all graphics quality settings, while having been optimized at lower quality settings. DFAO allows realistic dimming of enclosed spaces and areas of dense foliage. In combination with the extended shadow ranges, this will ensure that all players will have similar visibility when trying to spot targets. 


  • Low - 25% quality, 1 sample
  • Medium - 50% quality, 1 sample
  • High - 75% quality, 2 samples
  • Epic - 100% quality, 3 samples


  • Overhauled shadow rendering - all shadows will render up to 1.7 km at all quality levels, while having up to 8 km of surrounding mountain, terrain, and large detail shadows (some maps have exceptions and render at less range if the map is smaller or emphasises CQB, such as Fallujah, Logar, etc).
  • Optimized Shadow Cascades, as well as increased maximum resolution for epic settings:


  • Low - 1k, 3 Cascades
  • Medium - 2k, 3 Cascades
  • High - 4k, 4 Cascades
  • Epic - 8k, 5 Cascades


  • Note that for both Shadows and Ambient Occlusion, "Low" settings will be at lower resolutions than they are now to offset the performance cost of having more shadows on screen. “High” and  “Epic” settings will render shadows at a higher resolution than before, achieving improved visual quality while performing better than Far Shadows do in the current live version of the game. This means that you may want to raise or lower your Shadows and Ambient Occlusion graphics settings from what you normally run in the live game.
  • Ambient Occlusion will be reworked for underground areas such as tunnels and bunkers to allow for more accurate shading, better gameplay, and a greatly improved atmosphere.
  • Lighting will be improved on all layers. Some layers will be completely overhauled with new HDR lighting. The rest will be incrementally upgraded, and will gradually receive their finishing touches in further patches. 


Lighting Improvements

  • Updated lighting to give more contrast, brighter highlights, and deeper shadows on most map layers. 
  • Overhauled the colour grading and post-processing on all map layers. 
  • Implemented Volumetric Lighting on all map layers.
  • Reduced fog thickness on Tallil, Yehorivka, Gorodok, Lashkar, and Kohat. Adjustments of fog on many other layers.
  • Removed Eye Adaptation from all layers to reduce exploits and allow for balanced gameplay in all areas of our maps.
  • Removed Ambient Cubemaps from layers to reduce the washed out feeling across all maps.
  • Most night layers are now brighter.
  • Relit most underground tunnels with new lights and atmospheric effects, especially on Mestia.
  • Adjusted layout and tooltips of the Graphics menu to improve clarity and user experience. 
  • Added localized volumetric fog for dusty areas such as tunnels.

Lighting Fixes

  • Fixed Ambient Occlusion artifacts on thousands of buildings, environment objects, and foliage assets. 
  • Fixed Ambient Occlusion artifacts where underground tunnels intersect with the landscape.
  • Fixed incorrect PBR shading on several hundred environment assets.
  • There are still some shading artifacts with some older assets on maps. We are continuing to address these.
  • Fixed incorrect PBR shading on several landscapes, including Skorpo, Manic, Yehorivka, and Al Basrah.
  • Improved palm tree shaders to have light scattering through the leaves.
  • Fixed shiny road materials on many maps, including Al Basrah, Yehorivka, Belaya, and Goose Bay.


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