Watch The Unreal Evolution Of Video Game Graphics

Watch The Unreal Evolution Of Video Game Graphics

Here’s a look at the history of the Unreal Engine, put together by Kotaku video editor Chris Person.

Unreal, isn’t it? It’s spectacular to see how Epic’s powerful gaming engine has evolved over the years — and how our standards have evolved with it. Just a decade ago, we thought those goofy faces at the beginning of the video were just about as good as graphics could get. Today, things are different. We demand much more from our goofy faces. Like realistic cheekbones.

We’ll see more on the fourth incarnation of Unreal Engine, which Epic showed off earlier today, this June.


  • It’s interesting how the tech has changed, but the theme hasn’t.

    Still uber-violent to serve the needs of teenage boys.

  • It looks like the skill level of the artists also improved – low poly or no, that first character looked amateurish

    • I’d say it would be more a limitation or the engine/processor power more than artistic ability. The artist would be working with not only a much smaller polygon count but texture maps were a lot smaller to.

    • Also to add to Nate’s post, the tech behind creating and animating 3d models has changed tremendously since the first unreal engine came out, remember these models were not created in the unreal engine, they were created in programs like 3d studio max, Maya or softimage.

      • Models nowadays are still made in 3D packages, texturing is still done in Photoshop type imaging packages, not in the Unreal engine. I agree that the tools are now a lot better and make it easier to get a good result (see ZBrush and Bodypaint)

        What I meant was that the artist had a poor grasp of human anatomy and the texturing work is kinda sucky, even for low res. It’s like the artist used no reference material whatsoever.

        Back in the day, this level of artistic expertise was industry standard, hence my comment about the improvement of artists skill level. Wasn’t trolling.

  • wow. it has come a long way. will be interesting what games they will use this new engine for

  • Not trying to be dismissive but, aside from being able to see the difference on an intellectual level, it all looks the same to me.

  • I thought we always had the ability to do high detail stuff (or at least MUCH higher then was in game) but computers couldn’t handle it. Hence the difference in detail between 3D fighters and RTS games.

    • I think it depends what you do, 3D fighters for the most part have a fixed camera so everything they are rendering is on screen, hence you can put all your polygon budget up on the screen at once, for a 3D shooter or platformer a lot of it is off-screen on the chance that you’ll swing the camera around to check it out hence why they’ve always been lower in detail.

      Crash Bandicoot looked so good on the PS1 compared to other games that gen for the same reason, you couldn’t move the camera so Naughty Dog didn’t have to draw anything that was behind crash, hence all of that detail ended up on the screen.

  • The Samaritain demo for UT3 already shows just how far the UT3 engine has gotten, from it’s incarnation in 2006!

    So imagine games first rendered in the UT4 engine… to 2018. Hopefully, the quaility of games will advance at that level (but that’s not up to Epic to decide!)

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