It’s a mindf*ck
Hold up! Don’t like reading? Watch instead…
If you haven’t seen it yet, this video is blowing up the FPS community.
Developed and posted by Twitter user Alexandre Spindler (@esankiy), the 9+ million viewed unnamed project has answered the question,
“What’s the most realistic-looking first-person shooter?”
Although it’s still nowhere close to being finished and might not ever become a fully-fleshed-out game, Alexandre has shown the world what Unreal Engine 5 is capable of.
The unnamed game’s war-torn urban landscape is a perfect setting to demonstrate 3 reasons why most games that want to achieve the holy grail of “realism,” fail to even come close.
And here’s hoping Alexandre doesn’t fall into these traps.
1. The Uncanny Valley
Twitter naturally compresses video so it’d be very interesting to see the original, but from what Alexandre has shown off, it’s blowing everyone’s mind because it does this one weird trick that all gamers hate:
Gives us less.
It’s a paradox, but shooters aiming for realism always fail the Turing test for the simple reason that they look too good — less visual information is actually more.
Real life isn’t high-resolution. Real life is blurry, fuzzy, and imperfectly lit.
If this unnamed game wants to keep its look and be a modern game, it has to find a way to deliver a 4k resolution experience without giving us the typical 4k experience.
If it fails to do that, then say hello to another Tarkov — high-res textures, great lighting, technically beautiful, but doesn’t look remotely real.
2. Camera Work
We’ve all seen videos shot on GoPros attached to someone’s helmet or chest.
Alexandre’s decision to make an FPS oriented around a bodycam instead of a traditional in-game camera helps sell the realism.
By the looks of it, he’s on his way to nailing the balance between Jason Bourne shaky-camera syndrome and the stable camera we all come to expect in a first-person shooter.
If you want to see an example of how not to implement a realistic camera in your game, go check out another upcoming Unreal Engine 5 FPS, Shrapnel.
To be a functional game though, Alexandre might need to tune down the camera wobble and pull back the fish-eye lens — and that might end up destroying the realism. It’ll be interesting to see how the camera evolves in the development process, but we might end up disappointed.
3. Don’t Mess This Up
It doesn’t matter how realistic the game looks — Mortal Kombat literally scanned in actors for the first three games — if Alexandre can’t get this right, everything falls apart.
If you’re old enough, you remember that the 2000s era of the internet was dominated by Flash games and videos.
And at that time, no other Flash content was eating up high school cafeteria conversation like the Newground’s Xiao Xiao stick figure series.
It exposed one important law about all interactive media:
Animation makes or breaks immersion.
It didn’t matter that Xiao Xiao’s character models were literal stick figures, the animation alone elevated the series to GOAT status. Our brains filled in the blanks and we may as well have been watching a Hong Kong Kung Fu flick.
And that’s what’s going to sabotage Alexandre’s unnamed game if they screw it up.
If you look closely, the illusion of realism breaks at parts in the video where NPCs are being shot at. You can have 1 trillion pixels on the screen, ray tracing cranked up to 11, and 400 frames per second… if objects in the world move funny, the mindfuck collapses.
It’s the most exciting time to be a gamer and this viral video is proof of it.
Alexandre has opened up a new Pandora’s box for the gaming industry — a level of fidelity and style accessible by anyone through Unreal Engine 5.
While games like God of War: Ragnarok and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy may look great, they still look like video games. Imagine playing in worlds where our brains fall hook, line, and sinker for visual effects the same way we don’t suspect a thing in some of Hollywood’s greatest achievements.
That’s the world we’re heading to and it can’t come soon enough.
Keep dreaming, and as always, stay cool gentlemen.