Unity's Book of the Dead demo seriously impressed when it appeared earlier this year, with luscious, lifelike environments and an incredible character. However, given it was running on PC hardware we presumed it was only made possible with some very serious hardware.
But tonight at GDC, as part of its keynote, Unity showed what looked to be the same demo running in real-time on a PS4 Pro. It was hard to tell, given the projector used for the presentations, whether it exactly matched the quality of the video released previously, but it certainly looked to, and it was being controlled live on stage. The demo was running at a steady 30fps.
The Book of the Dead was created by Unity's Demo Team, who were on hand to talk us through it. But the what really impressed today was the work of the graphics team, lead since the beginning of last year by Natalya Tatarchuk, director of global graphics, who joined from Bungie.
She demoed more features of the new HD render pipeline (HD RP), including some impressive workflow improvements to creating lightmaps in realtime. The demo was shown in the Unity editor and it was impressive how quick and easy it was to make changes and to identify and separate various light sources in order to fix problems.
In our recent interview with founder Joachim Ante, he talks at length about improving Unity's performance to make full use of multi-threaded processors. If the GPU side of the engine really is as powerful as this suggests, both in terms of performance and ease of use, then the engine has taken a big step towards competing in the triple-A games space.
HD RP will be available in an experimental form in Unity 2018.1 in April.