In 2001, Pixar's Monsters, Inc was not only a charming kids film, but a technological marvel: the Pixar animators' super computers had created a world full of fuzzy creatures with hair so natural-looking, you wanted to reach into the screen and give them a hug.
But this was in a closed environment, each strand hand-picked. Fast-forward to 2019 and EA is showing off an equally, if not more, impressive demo.
Check out the video below. It shows off EA's Frostbite engine, developed by in-house studio DICE, demoing hair-rendering technology using what's thought to be comparable to next-generation gaming hardware:
Fantastic, right? Sure, the mannequin is a lot less huggable than Monsters, Inc's Sully, but the hair is just as lifelike. The key difference? This isn't a canned, choreographed performance – this is hair moving in real-time, using EA's in-game engine.
- PS5 games: all the rumours and confirmed titles so far
- Who will win the next gen war? Check out Xbox Two vs PS5: predicting the future
Now, before tongues start wagging, we can't say for certain if this is representative of what to expect visually from any next-gen PS5 or Xbox Two (now officially called Xbox Series X) hardware. Their complete specs remain a tightly guarded secret.
But you can bet your last dollar that EA, being one of the biggest game publishers in the known universe, will have access to them at this point, and that demos like this are in anticipation of what they know is coming.
Keep in mind though that this is hair rendering done in pretty much isolation – there's no open world rendering in the background here for instance, so who knows how much system resource this is requiring. But as an indication of where things could go, this is mouth watering.
It's also a bit of a PR booster for EA, too. The Frostbite engine has come under fire recently, given as it was reportedly a key factor in why recent hotly-anticipated titles Anthem and Mass Effect Andromeda were lukewarm on release.
Developer Bioware simply struggled to get it to work with their ideas, and with EA studios mandated to employ it, couldn't work around its deficiencies.
That's not to say it's not produced great work elsewhere, with the Battlefield series and EA's sports titles built on it to great effect (even if Respawn's Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order will be skipping it).
FIFA 20, for instance, will continue to use the engine, and the demo shows EA's continued commitment to the tool - so future footballers could (and, hopefully, will) have even more luscious locks.
- Don't forget Project Atlas too, EA's grand vision for cloud gaming