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Incredible Ratchet & Clank gameplay demo reveals PS
发表时间:2020-12-27 12:05     阅读次数:
The world-warping content in today's Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart demo came in two forms. First is a sort of quick-lasso system that lets you warp within a given battling arena. Here's the "before"... ...and here's the "after." This kind of rapid-fire movement forces the engine to essentially render nearly double the on-screen geometry to represent where you're warping to warping from. Hence, it's more complex than existing games like Portal. Another example. Lasso begins. Lasso concludes. The other "rift" content in the game sees players warping from one massive geometrical sequence to another. The heroes get caught up in a purple dimensional vortex for approximately 1.5 seconds, as a sort of next-gen "elevator" loading sequence. Then almost immediately... ...they're spit into an entirely new world, fully realized with tons of view distance, geometrical content, and animated characters. And each screen shows either the warp point they're leaving or are about to enter. By the time you even begin wrapping your head around this canyon sequence... ...you're blasting through a portal to a Blade Runner-esque cyberpunk cityscape. Shortly after this flight continues, you're blown through another portal... ...to a pirate ship? What in the world, Insomniac Games? The whole thing is breathtaking to see in action.

Ever since the hype campaigns began for the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, we've gotten apparent teases of real-time next-gen gameplay, enough to convince us that these systems are adequately powerful. But the full-blown execution of what "only on PlayStation 5" can look like finally crystallized for the first time on Thursday. It came in the form of six uninterrupted minutes of live gameplay from Insomniac Games' Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, which will debut on the PS5 during the console's "launch window," we learned today.

Sony couldn't have rolled out a better, more convincing sense of what top-to-bottom next-gen gaming architecture can deliver than this shiny, explosive, SSD-powered sequence—and so far, it's more stunning than anything we've seen from Xbox Series X-exclusive fare.

Portals far beyond Portal

The new Sony console's first sales point is illustrated in the top gallery, though merely looking at the images misses a key part of the equation: miniscule load times between insanely complicated sequences.

We'd already seen teases of the game's rift-jumping mechanic, where the series' run-and-gun heroes warp from one dimension to the next on a regular basis. In action, this plays out with two types of portals. Yellow portals can be activated with an apparent lasso, which whips your character from one side of the room to the other—while rendering the nearby geometry in duplicate, as opposed to merely serving as a generic grappling hook. Comparatively, Valve's classic puzzle series Portal was careful to not double-render its geometry through its warping portals, instead cleverly disguising the content you warped through.

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This new lasso mechanic admittedly goes for visual overkill to achieve the same mechanical result as older Portal games, but hey, it looks sick in action.

Further ReadingSony details PS5’s fast SSD, variable clock rates, 3D audio tech [Updated]But the other half of R&C:RA's warping mechanic, through purple portals, is an absolute jaw-dropper in action. The demo shows its player falling through purple portals and floating through a multi-dimensional rift for up to 1.5 seconds at a time, at which point an entirely new level appears, complete with ridiculous draw distances, insane amounts of geometry, and a dizzying amount of animated characters. This content hinges largely on PlayStation 5's solid state drive technology, which Sony has previously championed in terms of high levels of bandwidth.

The effect isn't lightning-instant, mind you, what with those 1- or 1.5-second pauses between dimensions, but compared to the previous generation's emphasis on hiding techniques like waiting in elevators, going around corners, or ducking-and-crawling through tight spaces, the result is an absolute generational leap. No, wait, that doesn't sound big enough. It's a generational rocket forward. I'm absolutely floored by how it looks in action (which you can see in an embedded video at the end of the article).

Clank, your polish is lookin' good, buddy Notice how Clank's metal casing reflects all surrounding light with a more realistic indirect bounce than you might get from standard fake-reflection effects like cube maps and screen-space reflections. Insomniac Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment Whether this is low-resolution ray tracing or a cheaper ray matching technique, the amount of bounced light on these floors is unbelievable—all bolstered by a really impressive warping effect on the tiled floor. Notice in particular the different color of the red structure reflected on the right side of the image. That's due to an entirely different viewing angle, which would be impossible to reflect so accurately with last-gen effects. How accurate is the reflection here on Clank's body? Go to the next image to see. Clank doesn't reflect the yellow warping portals in this demo, but everything else appears to be ridiculously accurate. Is it a cube map or a pure ray tracing solution? We can't say, but it sure looks nice. One of Ratchet's new weapons is a water-spewing turret, and it freezes foes in place and turns them into plants. Let's zoom for a better look... ...because that is a ton of particle-driven detail dumped on their frozen bodies. Speaking of cool effects, this laser attack appears to consist of a full particle pipeline, not a faked, repeated texture. Ridiculous amounts of characters and detail fill each scene, as portals dump more foes into a given scene for the sake of insane challenge. Per-object motion blur for this 30fps demo, plus a ton of particle effects. Particles up the wazoo as all of this content—characters, explosions, flying cars—fills the screen with plenty of view-distance depth. The demo's bustling cityscape sure is full of flying cars. And, you know, Insomniac just knows how to deliver a Pixar-caliber cut scene, which is less of a technology thing and more of an artistic one. Props to them for that.

The other PS5 difference comes in the form of two particular visual effects: ray tracing and particle effects. Instead of describing everything at length here in this paragraph, I urge you to read the above captions, which break down how each scene is rich with the kind of visual detail that can only work by leveraging next-gen console architecture.

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We'll obviously have to go hands-on with the game and analyze various moments, particularly zooming in on characters outside of cut scenes, to see how often ray tracing is skipped in favor of cheaper tricks like screen-space reflections and cube maps. But in one indoor sequence in particular, we see that the PS5 delivers a solid albeit low-resolution version of apparent ray tracing, and it appears to pick up off-screen geometry to deliver a convincing reflection pipeline.

The obvious concession at this point is the demo's inability to lock to a 30fps refresh rate; these kinds of effects, after all, are computationally expensive to render on high-end GPUs, even when they have ray tracing built into their architecture. [Update, August 28: After I originally suggested that "60fps is off the table," Insomniac told R&C fans to expect an optional 60fps mode at a lower pixel resolution.] We'll have to wait and see how Insomniac gets this much visual quality to the finish line, or whether it offers fans options like resolution reduction or disabling ray tracing altogether. But if the developer can lock these effects to at least a 30fps refresh, I'm on board for accepting so much detail at the expense of animation speeds, given how gorgeous the results already look.

Quite honestly, the whole thing makes me pray even harder that my PS5 pre-order registration worked out. And while we know Xbox Series X is equipped to deliver similar effects (click here to learn about XSX's Velocity Architecture, for starters), we're eager to see similarly stunning results from that console's upcoming games.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart extended gameplay trailer.

Listing image by Insomniac Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment

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