As an expert in video games, I can in my learned experience confirm that the next generation of gaming is going to look well chuffing good. With Xbox Series X throwing a ludicrous amount of numbers and something about terror floppies in the run-up to the release of that powerhouse, we’re looking at a future where games once again push the envelope on what’s possible.
The thing is, we’re kind of already there. With a select handful of games and consoles such as the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, we’re already seeing gigantic leaps in visual fidelity. Characters look better, everything has a texture that looks real and every explosion now comes with a mandatory million embers to really sell you on the pyrotechnics.
The video games of tomorrow will look better in the right hands, but those upgrades will be as subtle as they are overt when well executed. That’s the opinion of several developers who sat down for a chat with IGN, detailing how next-gen power will be used to nail one aspect of game design that has eluded many a developer: Hair. “It’s always been really difficult to make really good hair,” former Naughty Dog creative director Bruce Straley said to IGN.
And then hair responding to different environments – hair and water, hair and wind, hair and hair gel, are all reactions that can be processed.
To be fair, there has been a push towards creating luscious locks of keratin on video game characters, but that technology be crazy though. The best example would possibly be Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, where Crystal Dynamics pioneered a whole heap of new TressFX technology to give Lara a more realistic head of hair.
“We definitely believe the hair technology we developed with AMD [for Tomb Raider 2013] was a foundation for the way we believe hair will be rendered in the future video game graphics. And, as pioneers of this – there’s not many people to look at for reference other than films – we have been pushing that technology to find ways to make it even better,” game director Brian Horton explained in an interview on the official Tomb Raider Tumblr back in 2015.
Besides technology that’ll make you wonder if video game characters are born with or maybe it’s Maybelline, one other area of atmospheric game design getting a significant bump with next-gen hardware are effects such as “smoke, fog, and clouds” according to Virtuos VP of Games Elijah Freeman:
Yes, improved smoke effects will be great to look at, but the ability to just barely glimpse an enemy if the light catches them right after you’ve thrown a smoke grenade adds a new level of nuance to playstyles.
You look at how a story is told visually, and there’s so much more that goes into the crafting of these games than just character models with digital freckles. So many subtle elements can make or break the immersion, and seeing developers talk more about these factors in the run-up to the release of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X is simply magnificent stuff. Those covert leaps forward combined with consoles that prioritise quality of life improvements, may just make the next console cycle the best one ever.
Last Updated: March 6, 2020