We’ve seen evidence of what current “next-gen” engines can do. Just take a look at Crytek’s CryEngine 3 or DICE’s brand-new Frostbite 2. But according to Square Enix worldwide technology director Julien Merceron, graphics can and will be pushed further once actual next-generation machines are released.
“I think that we’re still going to see a big leap in graphics,” said Merceron during an interview at Develop. “In terms of technology I think we’ll see developers taking advantage of physically-based rendering, physically-based lighting. I think people will take advantage of global illumination, or at least some form approximation of global illumination, so that could have a significant impact on graphics quality.”
Roughly, that means developers will be able to achieve photo-realistic visuals, not unlike the ones we see in films that use CGI.
“It’s going to enable new forms of art direction, but it’s also going to enable deeper convergence between multiple media – being able to share more assets horizontally between movies, TV series and games,” explained Merceron.
But if Merceron is to be believed, not all games will see the improvement in graphics he’s talking about.
“We might end up seeing the difference way more in realistic-looking games, rather than those trying to achieve a cartoony look,” he said. “At some point, with all these games [that are] going for a cartoony look, consumers might get the feeling that it’s plateauing. But for games striving for a very realistic look, it’s going to be easy to see all the improvements, all the time.”
Now that we’ve got that covered, who’s interested in gameplay, storytelling and audio?