Tech by VICE

This Isn't a Real Beach

This artist's image renders using the Unreal Engine 4 are almost too good to be true.

by Alix Jean-Pharuns
Jul 2 2015, 6:45pm

A computer graphics artist who goes by the username Koola recently released a set of breathtaking scenery renders made using the popular video game development tool Unreal Engine 4.

The set includes extremely photorealistic autumn and winter woodlands, sandy beaches, and burned volcano landscapes—and it's almost impossible to tell the difference between these rendered images and actual photographs.

A mix of still images and a short demo video, the environments show off what's possible with the latest iteration of the Unreal Engine, which has powered video game franchises such as Gears of War and Mass Effect.

It's not just landscapes, either. Koola's Youtube channel shows how Unreal Engine 4 can render intricate three dimensional objects and indoor environments as well—all equally convincing.

This is exciting because now that Unreal Engine 4 is completely free to use, it could power a good portion of the next generation of popular video games. However, just because Koola is able to create these amazing, contained scenes, doesn't mean Gears of War 4 will look this good. Adding AI, physics, and all the other complicated computations that turn pretty graphics into a game will require hardware that is well beyond the reach of the average PC player—let alone the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, which are already lagging behind the latest video cards.

But the hardware will inevitably catch up at some point. Until then, just sit and look at the pretty pictures.