PS4 and Xbox One not ready for photorealistic visuals, say tool providers

PS4 and Xbox One not ready for photorealistic visuals, say tool providers
Aaron Lee

By Aaron Lee

September 26th 2013 at 12:35PM

Next-gen consoles have potential, but engineers are taking a careful view on the topic

Photorealistic graphics could still be many years away, despite the potential shown by Sony and Microsoft’s next-gen machines, say graphics engineers working on software for the upcoming platforms.

The drive for photorealism has been something of a holy grail for the games industry, and many of those working towards it feel that it will enable games to express more emotion.

At this year’s Develop Conference, Unreal Engine creator Tim Sweeney predicted that it could be as little as ten years or less for us to see photorealistic graphics that are “indistinguishable” from reality.

“For pure rendering it might be true,” Masaki Kawase, lead software engineer and shader architect at Silicon Studio, told Develop when we asked him his view on Sweeney’s prediction.

“The human eye might not distinguish the difference between still images like pictures compared side by side. However, as soon as humans interact with photorealistic graphics, they would look artificial rather quickly.”

Kawase’s firm is behind post-processing middleware Yebis 2, which is being used in the likes of Final Fantasy XV and Valhalla Knights 3. He was among a number of graphics engineers we spoke to about what kind of visuals we can expect to see from the latest crop of video games hardware.

He continued: “The Xbox One and PS4 are powerful systems capable of delivering stunning visuals, but I don’t expect that we will see graphics that are indistinguishable from reality until future console generations.”

On the other hand, however, video games pre-rendered animations and cinematics have, arguably, reached a point where they are comparable to CG films.

And Epic Games’ own Unreal Engine 4 demos have caught huge attention from viewers.

Jorge Jimenez, part of Activision Blizzard’s core R&D graphics team, was one such person that Epic’s technology has impressed: “It was stunning to see the effect of good antialiasing in the real-time SIGGRAPH Unreal Engine Infiltrator presentation – turning it off completely ruined the CG film look and feel.”

Read more views about what photorealism will mean for game creator and players in the next generation here.