Jamal Rashid's ambitious GTA 5 visual overhaul mod NaturalVision Remastered first caught my eye last year. At the time, it was the result of 1,200 hours of work (now a whopping 3,600)—including over 40 hours of video, photograph, and Google Street Map research—and provided a gorgeous reworking of Los Santos and beyond.
Now, several months on, its latest update not only looks even prettier—it expands its scope beyond superficial aesthetics.
"With the newest update, I've transformed NaturalVision Remastered from a simple graphics overhaul to something much bigger," Rashid tells me via email. "Now it includes a few gameplay changes, weapon changes, vehicle tweaks and much more. I have a relaxed schedule for the time being, which allows me to sit here and mod this game. As I add more content, the amount of time between each update goes up. As a result, there is increased pressure from the audience. I've learned that it's okay to take as much time as needed if you plan on delivering quality content."
Rashid explains that making roads look wet in 'Extrasunny' weather became this update's biggest challenge, and that making environments look cooler during morning and afternoon times—"where the sun is closer to the horizon and shines on the roads"—was tricky.
"I enabled rain and disabled all the rain particles for this specific weather, but I was left with noise from the invisible rain and puddles that continued to form on the ground," says Rashid. "I gave up on this task months ago, but recently I ended up finding a hidden timecycle variable within the Halloween weather which completely disables any noise from the rain and prevents puddles from forming. It's exactly what I wanted. Now I had slightly shiny roads in Extrasunny weather with invisible rain falling at all times and no puddles."
Rashid continues: "But wait—this change caused the pedestrians to start walking away because the AI thinks it's raining. Next I spent hours trying to find a workaround. Part of this included driving up and down a virtual street dozens of times and restarting my game after each tweak in order to observe how the pedestrians behave in different weather conditions. I ended up swapping the 'Rain' parameters with 'Snow' in some of the AI files and enabled invisible snow particles in Rain, Thunder and Clearing weathers. This finally fixed everything that I wanted."
Rashid says his favourite part of the update process is getting feedback from his close circle of beta testers, and that down the line he may rework 'Cloudy' and 'Smog' weather from scratch to match his increasingly high standards.
Here's a gallery of screens from NVR's latest update, with some interesting coinciding commentary from its creator (click the top right for expanded images).
"I increased the procedural grass density beyond the normal limit. My game settings are fully maxed out in the "Before" image. Increasing the grass density only causes an FPS loss of 1 or 2 frames. I think it's totally worth it for the result you're seeing here."
"I increased the amount of litter/trash spawned around certain parts of the city. I felt as if this gave the city a little more life to it. Think of it as background noise."
NaturalVision Remastered's latest update is out now. More information, including installation instructions, can be found overhere.