At this year’s Digital Dragons event in Poland, Michael Drobot of Guerilla Games gave this presentation to show off Killzone Shadow Fall. The talk was given to show off Killzone Shadow Fall’s lighting system, which is obviously looking rather nice.
As part of the demonstration, it was disclosed that the real time reflections are achieved with ray tracing, something which has historically been used only in TV and movie CGI. Ray tracing is a technique that allows developers to trace the path of light through a pixel layer and accurately plot out its reflections in order to better simulate a variety of types of reflection. Crysis 3 used a similar technique, although with a healthy dose of trickery to get it working.
The technique is very process-intensive so it has generally not been a popular choice for videogames. Although it produces much more realistic results that traditional scanline rendering, it was always too slow to be used in games where speed is of the utmost importance. Killzone Shadow Fall and the PlayStation 4 seem to finally have delivered enough power to developers that ray tracing can be a practical solution.
So, basically for those of us who are perhaps less technically minded, Killzone Shadow Fall is going to be bloody gorgeous and the PlayStation 4 is powerful enough to allow big advancements in how great our games look.