The dynamic shadows in this game, imo, are the worst visual aspect of the game. Everything else about the game looks simply amazing.
However, the dynamic shadows, even on ultra, suffer from some pretty awful rendering issues, that are most noticeable when you are moving around (means they look awesome in screenshots, but awful in actual live gameplay). Trees, bushes, and things like fences and such, suffer the worst from these shoddy effects.
You can see an example of this in this video.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-wSTT6iUxk
Notice how there seems to be a preset box around the characters (or center of the screen) where shadows are rendered well, and anything outside of this "box" is lowered in quality. This creates an obvious and ugly break in the visual appearance that is very distracting
I know WHY its done, its done to help improve performance (although, if the player selects ULTRA setting, this shouldnt happen, ultra should mean NO intentional reduced quality and players understand that ultra means: your system better be a beast.)
Lower quality shadow options really arent even an option, because once you start lowering the shadowmap size, the game just becomes absurdly ugly and hard to look at. Like adding 8 bit graphics on top of something that looks nearly real life. Thus, leaving the only option for people who cant stand the ugly shadows, to turn them completely off.
The problem with this is that the game looks unrealistically bright and sometimes even semi blinding with no shadows at all. Objects and characters lack visual depth, often looking like they arent really connected to the ground they are walking on.
A simple fix for this would involve two things:
1. A blob shadow option for characters. Putting prerendered, circular, semi blurred shadow circles under each character and npc.
No, this is not at all realistic as far as how shadows look, but plenty of games do this as a low performance option which keeps the games visual depth, without having even uglier shadows that look like they are made out of square, flickering bricks.
2. Impliment prerenderd, blurred/smooth, non-dynamic shadows to major objects in the game like buildings, big rocks, walls, etc.
The nice thing about prerendered shadows is that they can stay the same level of quality, because they dont have to be affected in real time by lighting effects, camera changes, or other things interacting with them. Again, prerendered shadows isnt a new thing. Its something many games do. Sure, its doesnt look nearly as good as dynamic shadows set on ultra... but again, even shadows on ultra in this game, suffer some pretty ugly rendering issues.
Now that I think more on the subject, it would be more visually appealing to me, if there wasnt that pre-determined, high quality "box" around the characters or screen center, where the shadows were higher quality. Even having ALL the shadows be lower quality, but maintaining the same quality level across the ENTIRE screen is something Id greatly prefer. Especially over the current, immersion breaking, eye twitching, flickering mess that are the dynamic shadows currently in the game.