So, uhh, quick FYI, Epic Games, the video game studio behind Fortnite and Steam’s PC gaming store competitor, just announced their next gen graphics engine—as in, what most PlayStation 5 games will be running on—and based on the tech demo, it looks literally insane.
Take a look for yourself below.
FYI, Unreal Engine is the standard video game engine and developer tool used by video game studios. Fallout: New Vegas spiritual successor The Outer Worlds, Player’s Unknown Battlegrounds (PUBG), Final Fantasy VII Remake, Batman: Arkham City and Yoshi’s Crafted World (loved that one) all run on it, and they’re pretty contrastingly different types of games with different visual aesthetics.
Anyway, when the bootleg Lara Croft starts flying through the air and somersaulting through ancient Aztec buildings, my jaw quite literally dropped. And the level of detail in these statues is… far too much (in the best way possible). The graphics in this video and, assumedly, the next generation of games is and are going to be stupidly good. I just hope my crappy TV can run it.
Okay but how does it look *so good*?
So basically, video game graphics are made up of polygons and pixels and the more polygons there are, the more detailed a world and its environments are. But, currently, when there’s too many polygons and a piece of hardware can’t keep up, you have frame rate issues. This in both due to the way things are coded individually, the physical limitations of certain hard drives, RAM and graphics cards in consoles and PC hardware, and the engines themselves. But, allegedly, Unreal Engine 5 will allow you to have an almost unlimited amount of them creating stupidly detailed faces, lighting, models and environments, and, hopefully lower the risk of low frame rates (which was a huuuge deal to people when Watch Dogs 2 released in, uhh, 2016, lmao).
And, according to Epic Games, it’s all thanks to Unreal Engine’s two new technologies: Nanite and Lumen. Nanite is a virtualised geometry system that lets artists import and render 3D models and environments made up of over literally billions of polygons and triangles, while Lumen is an exciting new dynamic illumination tool that “immediately reacts to scene and light changes, and refuses interreflection with infinite bounces and indirect specular reflections in huge, detailed environments, at scales ranging from kilometres to millimetres.”
I have absolutely no idea what any of that means but it sounds impressive and the footage looks so fucking incredible. I mean, just look at the ways the water ripples and reacts to Jane walking through it, the dust and tiny rock particles rolling off cliffs and, ofc, the ridiculous pretty vista and long distance environments when she’s magically gliding to the portal at the end.
I think we’re past the photorealistic stage of video game graphics at this point, it genuinely looks prettier than real life.
Okay so when can I experience next gen graphics for myself?
According to Epic Games, Unreal Engine 5 won’t be available when the next generation of PlayStation and Xbox consoles launch sometime later this year. Currently, Epic’s Unreal Engine 4.25 fully supports next gen hardware, and will most likely be what games use at launch.
A preview build of UE5 will be released in early 2021 with a proper release scheduled for 2021. What that means is, come the PS5 and Xbox Scarlet, don’t expect this ridiculously polished level of graphics out the box. Even if you catch yourself frothing at every trailer to The Last Of Us: Part 2, which, uhh, btw, comes out next month on the 19th June.
After months of cute playable wellness routines and virtual social interaction in Animal Crossing, I’m ready to spiral and hide in my room for a weekend and get physically and emotionally fucked up playing TLOU2.
So, now that we now what the PlayStation 5 controller looks like and how pretty the future of gaming is going to be, all we need is to see the games that will come at launch and find out when the PlayStation 5 will launch. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the video game industry’s biggest trade show E3 has been cancelled this year, leaving a lot of video game publishers to turn to their own online press conferences, much like the much beloved Nintendo Direct format. While some publishers have been opting out of the trade show gradually over the years, either way it means we’re in for some solid gaming news soon.
In the meantime, I’ll be here, imagining what Final Fantasy VII Remake’s world and characters would look like in this engine (not like that game isn’t eye-catchingly beautiful already…), a breathtaking detailed New York in the sequel to Marvel’s Spider-Man and the sequel to the remake of violent daddy simulator God of War. Like, damn.