I've run the new benchmark in every configuration of options available and am concerned about a couple of things.
1. Self-shadowing on characters and npc's seems way too strong, to the point of being ugly and harsh. There should never be 100% black shadows on anything. This is especially noticable during flying scenes, where even flying under a clear blue sky,
as much as 80% of each character is in shadow. It just looks harsh and ugly. Usually self-shadows are handled by ambient-occlusion shaders, but adjusting it in the benchmark settings does not change it.
2. Most of the outdoor areas seem very bland, as if there was a foggy haze covering everything, despite the fact the skies are clear and the sun is out. I'm not sure if this is a problem with saturation, seeing as there are objects and certain mineral deposits
that display a lot of color, but overall it's un-appealing to look at.
I do hope that someone on the staff can pass along these concerns to the developers, or perhaps reasure us that the finished product will adress them.
(I have noticed the same problem in many people's screen shots, so chime in if you agree)
PS:After reading some suggestions and looking through the settings in the benchmark again, I did two things. First was under Shadows/Self/show/hide...I switched it to hide, re-ran benchmark. The stark shadows were much less severe and I could see much more detail on things that were in shadow before. Second thing was to change my monitor settings from Normal to Game. This improved the color range quite a bit, and I think I was also failing to take into account the distances being shown at certain times which would account for the faded look.
I'm still a bit concerned that self shadows could be too strong, as I've never had this problem in FFXIV ARR proper, but I'll just accept that the developers are probably well aware of this. Thanks again for the replies.