After a few weeks of work, a group of modders created the Starfield Luma Native HDR mod, which they claim is the only authentic way to play the sci-fi role-playing game from Bethesda in native HDR because all other approaches fall short of providing a proper High Dynamic Range presentation.
The output HDR image is simply taken from the SDR image in the Xbox version because it appears to employ an internal version of AutoHDR rather than a native implementation.
Windows AutoHDR is restricted to 8-bit output on PC, interprets the game with the incorrect gamma (sRGB instead of 2.2), oversaturates the in-game user interface, and is only capable of peak brightnesses of 1000 nits.
Thus, four relatively well-known modders teamed up to build Starfield Luma Native HDR after the modding community successfully reverse-engineered the game’s code. The Control HDR mod by Remedy developer Filippo Tarpini, popularly known as Pumbo, is well-known, but he also contributed to the HDR implementation of the upcoming Alan Wake 2. I got the chance to discuss this project with him.
Starfield Luma Native HDR MOD features:
- Increased buffer accuracy in SDR and HDR, which reduced banding all around (SDR is now 10bit instead of 8bit)
- Normalized LUTs (the grey/flat look is mostly gone, but the color tint is still there)
- Fixed bink fullscreen videos playing back with the wrong colors (BT.601 instead of BT.709) and made them use AutoHDR
- Improved the sharpening passes
- Improved film grain to be more realistic and nice to look at (rebalancing the grain size and strength on dark/bright colors)
- Fixed the game using very wrong gamma formulas
The advantages of the tweak don’t just apply to HDR modes, though. The comparison screenshots can be used to evaluate how much even SDR has improved in terms of color accuracy and accurate black rendition. The options menu allows for a simple configuration of every improvement.
Both HDR10 and scRGB are supported by High Dynamic Range formats by Starfield Luma Native HDR. Due to the present limitation of NVIDIA’s technology, the latter, which is theoretically more accurate, cannot be used if you have installed the DLSS 3 (Frame Generation) patches. There shouldn’t be any problems with other mods other than that. Even using bespoke LUTs is possible, but users must off the LUTs Correction setting in that case to prevent duplicate correction.
To meet more modern standards while maintaining the same degree of performance, tone mapping, post-processing, and color correction have been redone. There are two installation methods available for Starfield Luma Native HDR: SFSE and ASI. Players who purchased the game through the Microsoft Store/Game Pass should utilize the latter since the Starfield Script Extender does not support that version.