Epic has released a demo video for its highly anticipated Unreal Engine 4, giving the world its first glimpse into next generation graphics technology.
This real time demo showcases a slew of graphical adaptations and improvements allowing hyper realistic graphics and environmental interactions. However, the most impressive thing about the demo is that it is run completely in the editor software on PC technology that is off the shelf.
In the demo, as a massive castle crumbles to the ground and an ancient evil awakens, the vast graphical improvements become quickly evident. The castle floods with light, huge gusts of snow engulf the surroundings, and lava flows through the throne room with exquisite detail only rivaled by high end cinematic CGI.
Sophisticated dynamic illumination allows for the player’s point of view and location of the light source to determine where and how a room becomes illuminated. Per pixel lens flare adjusts based on the angle the player looks at a light source, and light reactive materials now give off a realistic reflection based upon their shape and location in relation to a light source. Rich, deep particle effects also allow for a million individually rendered particles to react to the environment and lighting.
All of these improvements on the rendering capabilities of the environment and how objects interact with it really prove that real graphical enhancement comes from the way 3D objects interact with their surroundings.
Even though the graphical abilities are jaw dropping, Epic focused a great deal on usability for the developers and artists. Extremely fast integration time allows developers to see and apply their changes in game, in real time, without leaving the editor program.
Kimset 2, an advanced visual scripting editor, will also allow developers to work more efficiently using UE4. This allows changes to be viewed in a real time flow chart as opposed to programming code. They will be able to see what coding changes mean for their artwork and where there were applied without actually understanding programming code.
UE4, set for release no earlier than 2013, will serve as bedrock technology for a multitude of games on the next generation of consoles. However, currently, it is much too powerful for any console to run.