What will the next generation bring in terms of upgraded visuals?
Well, the biggest leap will involve a sense of realism, according to Square Enix worldwide technology director Julien Merceron. He told VideoGamer that we can all expect a "big leap" in the graphics department when the next generation rolls around. Said Merceron:
"I think that we're still going to see a big leap in graphics. 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."
This would imply that just about every production will benefit from enhanced technology, but specifically, games that strive for realism and authenticity might blow you away. Merceron believes there's plenty of "room for improvement" and rather than use past video game titles as examples, he opts to use movies:
"There's a lot of room for improvement, and consumers will be able to see that in future graphics innovation techniques. Now, if you take most of the Pixar movies from the last five to six years… do you see a big difference between one that was released five years ago, and one that was released last year? I'm actually not sure we see a huge difference.
But if you take a film like Avatar, there's a huge leap in the graphics techniques that are being used and the level of realism. The conclusion I would draw from that is we might end up seeing the difference way more in realistic-looking games, rather than those trying to achieve a cartoony look. 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."
Personally, I'd like to speculate further but history holds me back. The bottom line is that we never really know what to expect. All the gamers were blown away when the Nintendo arrived; prior to that, the best we had seen was on systems like the Atari, Intellivision, and Colecovision. Then it just kept happening. At some point, every gamer alive would find themselves saying, "damn, not sure how it could get any better than this." But invariably…it always does. 😉