Epic Games gave gamers a glimpse into the future yesterday when they released a set of stunning screenshots that showcased what should be possible if Microsoft and Sony make the next generation of consoles more powerful.
Epic showed off their new engine behind closed doors at the Game Developers Conference earlier this year. The screenshots were taken from a 153 second Unreal 4 real-time demo powered by the new Nvidia Kepler GTX 680 graphic cards.
The new Kepler range of graphics card has just been released by Nvidia and showcase a massive step forward in manufacturing and cooling. Architecturally, Kepler is both faster than the previous Fermi GPU and uses less power; there are many more cores but they run at 750MHz rather than 1.3GHz.
It’s thougt that if Microsoft and Sony do decide to make their next-gen consoles to a higher specification, Epic would like to see the companies use Kepler as a minimum benchmark.
The screenshots show an armoured demon knight in a scene reminiscent of Game of Thrones. The detail shown off in the lava, hammer and fortress go way beyond the current capabilites of current gen consoles and even high-end PCs.
The new engine, which is likely to power a host of games on the new consoles, is designed to show lens flare, distortion, environmental destruction and other fancy graphics techniques. The new engine introduces a treasure trove of new graphical improvements from dynamic lighting to new physics and particle systems.
“There is a huge responsibility on the shoulders of our engine team and our studio to drag this industry into the next generation,” said Gears of War Design Director Cliff Bleszinski.
“It is up to Epic, and Tim Sweeney in particular, to motivate Sony and Microsoft not to phone in what these next consoles are going to be. It needs to be a quantum leap. They need to damn near render Avatar in real time, because I want it and gamers want it – even if they don’t know they want it.”
Sweeney added: “We’re much more in sync with the console makers than any other developer is. That means we can give detailed recommendations with a complete understanding of what is going to be commercially possible.”
Epic Games – who has actually seen the current spec sheet for the new PS4 and next Xbox – is said to be “actively lobbying” for them to be a lot more powerful.
The problem for Sony & Microsoft is if they go for Kepler there is no way they’d be able to keep the retail price down, but with Microsoft testing the water with a mobile phone subscription model for the Xbox 360 – it could be possible to achieve a £200-£300 price tag and include the bleeding edge of technology.
Epic will reveal the Unreal Engine 4 to the public at the E3 trade show in June.