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Some games apply a full-screen filter effect that desaturates picture, causing the colors to be "washed out".

For example, in Zelda: Breath of the Wild:

enter image description here

Someone used Photoshop to remove the filter, giving this result:

enter image description here

Is there a performance or other technical benefit to applying this kind of filter, or is it a purely aesthetic choice?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I would say it is aesthetic as using a fog/haze shader would negatively affect performance. \$\endgroup\$ – lozzajp Mar 16 '17 at 13:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ I thought it might be used to mask some actual performance enhancements, like LoD scaling or "more foggy" fog. \$\endgroup\$ – Konrad Zemek Mar 16 '17 at 13:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ In the old days the main performance enhancement from fog was to hide an overly short draw distance; the Turok games were particularly notorious for this. Since in these screenshots it's evident that there's nothing wrong with the draw distance, we can conclude that this particular performance reason is not why they're using fog. \$\endgroup\$ – Maximus Minimus Mar 16 '17 at 13:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's a Reddit comment (and followup) with some credibly sounding theories, e.g. "avoiding complex lighting effects on distant objects". I'm not sure how correct they are, though. \$\endgroup\$ – Konrad Zemek Mar 16 '17 at 14:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've made edits to distance the question from looking like a "why did they do this in Zelda" question and more about the performance benefit (if any) of the effect in question. I also pulled some of the screenshots inline; I think this addresses the off-topic issues. Also the digression about the reddit thread is probably best taken to Game Development Chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Mar 16 '17 at 15:30
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Fog is usually there to hide something or to make a game look more realistic.

Let's go way back, to the days of the first Silent Hill game. This is a very known tale alreadx so I keep it short. The developers had FPS issues when they tried rendering the game, so they had to take the view distance shorter. This made the game have a noticable cutoff, so to hide this, they added fog, which made the game have that eerie feeling it's known of. This is not the first use of fog, but it's a pretty know one.

Fast forward 10 or so years, and the fog's purpose is still the same, but rather than hiding a cutoff point, it hides things such as changing from models to billboards (which can't be hid any other way), straight up using 2d images instead of models for distant object you can't get to, and LOD changes. If you look at the Breadth of the Wild images, you can notice this. The terrain in the background is far less detailed and has a bad texture on it.

Fog can also add realism to the game, it can obviously symbolise weather and make the player a bit more freaked out.

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