Fallout 4 is almost here, everyone! You’ll soon be able to run from one end of its wasteland to the other in about 12 minutes! You’ll soon be able to find new glitches! Your social life will take a turn for the worse and it won’t matter because now you have fully upgraded power armor and a Fat Man rocket launcher! Honestly though, this is the most excited I’ve ever let myself get for a game in recent years, and Bethesda has finally figured out that the Fallout franchise holds immense power and sway over gamers.
While we wait for launch day, hit the jump to check out some screenshots from the game, and learn about the graphics tech that powers your journey across the wasteland, searching for purpose. Click on the links under the pics for the uncompressed versions.
“The hardware we play games on continues to advance at a rapid pace with exciting new graphics features,” wrote Bethesda in a blog post on Bethesda.net. “Our Creation Engine has evolved to incorporate this new technology in order to empower the artists and designers at Bethesda Game Studios to create an immersive new world. The tech team here is closely aligned with the art team, and together we carefully selected each individual feature based on specific artistic and performance goals we wanted to achieve in creating this world.”
The result, as you probably could tell by previous sections of gameplay footage released at E3 and by Bethesda itself through trailers for the game, is a completely new look for the world of Fallout, with more visual fidelity, more detail, more individual objects, and just plain more things to see inside the game. As much as the quality of the game’s world and storyline was important to both the development team and the players they hoped to entertain, they still wanted sheer scope and enhanced visuals to play a part in bringing the post-apocalyptic wasteland to life better than Fallout 3 and New Vegas did.
“The first thing we did after Skyrim was to enhance the Creation Engine’s graphical core by adding a physically based deferred renderer. This new renderer allows us to add many more dynamic lights to every scene, and paint our surfaces with realistic materials,” added Bethesda.
Deferred rendering, for those who don’t know, is a technique where the game engine shades the vertex and pixel shaders for 3D objects on the second pass only, which allows time for the engine to compute more realistically how the object looks under different light sources, as well as giving a unique look to some textures on particular objects in the game. This gives metal objects a different look and feel to wood, as Bethesda points out, which both reflect light differently in real life.
Along with a better lighting engine, which gives more colour and depth to the game’s world than it did for Fallout 3 (which was plagued with grey and brown textures to reduce its memory footprint on older consoles), there’s also a newer, better dynamic weather and day/night system in place, complete with god rays, lens flares, and all other sorts of lighting effects that would make J. J. Abrams’ eyes widen. These technologies were developed in conjunction with NVIDIA, so the assumption is that there is some Gameworks code doing the work here. One hopes that when it comes to performance benchmarks done after launch, that there won’t be a severe performance hit lying in wait for users of AMD or Intel’s graphics chips.
There’s also a new material system that Bethesda wrote from scratch, which allows surfaces to get wet, to let cloth and hair blow in the wind, and to allow objects like clothes to move more realistically. None of this was included in New Vegas or The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and it’s a big change in the way that Bethesda does graphics for their games. If you’re currently wondering how much better they could make an Elder Scrolls game look, some of these screenshots will give you a hint of an answer.
If that technical mumbo-jumbo didn’t give you a headache yet, there’s also some graphics technology that makes its way into the creation engine for the first time and you’ll be able to play with to see what balance of settings and resolutions gives you the best performance. These are:
- Tiled deferred lighting
- Temporal anti-aliasing
- Screen space reflections
- Bokeh depth of field
- Screen space ambient occlusion
- Height fog
- Motion blur
- Filmic tonemapping
- Custom skin and hair shading
- Dynamic dismemberment using hardware tessellation
- Volumetric lighting
- Gamma correct physically based shading
Out of those, the only thing I’d ever disable is motion blur. While it’s useful to hide some things like stuttering or framerate drops if you’re panning the camera fast horizontally, it’s a drag on systems that are otherwise powerful enough to run the game on the highest settings, and so I’d recommend disabling it if you’re able to play the game with an average frame rate of more than 45 frames per second.
And if you weren’t impressed yet, here’s a shot of the game running on an ultra-wide multi-monitor setup. The original resolution of this image was 3915×897, so it isn’t an aspect ratio that is commonly used for multi-monitor setups, but it does look like the game is already set up for gaming on a 5×1 setup, or a 21:9 aspect ratio monitor. With the scenic vistas and detailed environments in the game so far, a ultra-wide window into the game’s world would be awesome just to appreciate how much detail there is, and how much work went into it.
Fallout 4 launches on 10 November 2015 worldwide for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. If you’re not hyped up enough already, you can watch the launch trailer for it, and perhaps put it on repeat to get ALL the feels.