Unreal Engine 4 was shown to some of Epic's partners behind closed doors at GDC this year, but it's only now that we're starting to get the first taste of what can kind of graphics it'll push. Wired has an interesting look at the next-gen engine, along with beautiful screenshots and comments from Epic.
As Wired puts it, "UE4 represents nothing less than the foundation for the next decade of gaming. It may make Microsoft and Sony rethink how much horsepower they'll need for their new hardware. It will streamline game development, allowing studios to do in 12 months what can take two years or more today. And most important, it will make the videogames that have defined the past decade look like puppet shows."
"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"Cliff Bleszinski
Indeed, Epic design director Cliff Bleszinski believes Epic is in the driver's seat when it comes to next-gen. "There is a huge responsibility on the shoulders of our engine team and our studio to drag this industry into the next generation," he said. "It is up to Epic, and [CEO] 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."
It's very well possible that Epic has seen the proposed specs of the new consoles from Microsoft and Sony, and the company may be actively pushing the platform holders to make the hardware more powerful. Epic is famously quoted for asking Microsoft to include double the RAM in Xbox 360, costing the company a billion dollars, so there's certainly a track record there.
Wired's description of the engine certainly sounds amazing, but the consoles will need to be able to handle the engine. "...the Epic team has packed all the show-off effects that have flummoxed developers for years: lens flare, bokeh distortion, lava flow, environmental destruction, fire, and detail in landscapes many miles away. Plus, it's breathtakingly photo-realistic-or would be if demon knights were, you know, a real thing," the article states.
We can expect much more on UE4 at E3 next month, when Epic unveils it to the world.