I’m curiously looking forward to the release of Killer Instinct’s third season later this year. Apart from the fact that Microsoft are bringing the game to PCs as part of their renewed push to promote PC gaming through Windows 10, there’s also the part that Killer Instinct is — just quietly — really, really good.
Both platforms will get KI’s third season next month, but they’re not just going to get some new characters and stages: they’ll get a total graphics overhaul as well.
In a post on the official Killer Instinct website, the game’s art director Chad Greene talked about how the third season of the 1v1 brawler would feature an “all-new dynamic lighting system” with added reflections, more stage and character interactions, as well as deeper darks on stages.
“We met as a team to ideate and decided to use a system that allowed us to obtain dynamic lighting for the game, but work with our existing game engine,” Greene said. “We are now able to get realistic bounce and fill lighting on the characters and we are using strong rim lighting (from behind) to further pull the characters out from the background.”
Here’s a before and after of one stage to help illustrate the changes.
The stage certainly looks a lot less muddy. I quite like the sharpness on the planetarium on the right hand side as well and the touch of candles.
It also reminds me of some of the criticisms levelled against stages in Street Fighter 5. You couldn’t accuse the KI Season 3 stages — the ones that have been shown off so far, anyway — of lacking detail or being flat.
But we’ll see how that all shakes out in March. There’s not a definite release date beyond that, although the game will be available on Xbox One and PCs running Windows 10.