Yeah while this is impressive its really only useful for certain set pieces such as whats shown in the video. I don't think this would work too well for something more fast paced. Also if you look closely you can see a lot of pop in on the statues when they are in shadow. If this is basing polygon counts on ray traced lighting which it very well may be, anything in shadow is going to look pretty bad if you don't use conventional methods to model and texture the geometry
Focusing on the numbers, while it's what they push as "what it can do", is missing the bigger point made, I think. It's not "what the tech can do in a controlled situation". It's more "what the tech is doing, period" and the implications that has for designers and developers working with it.
Of course it's unlikely that any game is going to have scenes with over a billion triangles in a single frame. Except maybe in scripted cutscenes/cinematics. Even then, it just doesn't sound practical to throw more at the engine/hardware than is necessary. I doubut artists are going to start modeling stuff with 1 million polys, when a fraction of that will do, "because they can".
As an analogy... My video card (2070 Super) hits 200+ FPS on a number of games without vsync. However, my monitor only handles 60 fps sync'd. So, since I always play with vsync on (because screen tear haunts my dreams), anything over 60 FPS is wasted. However, I know I still have that unused horsepower available to hit 60fps in more demanding games where it's needed. Otherwise, while 200+ FPS sounds really impressive, it's not very practical in a typical gaming scenario. At least not for me.
That's how I look at this tech demo, and tech demos in general. Sure you're not going to start seeing games with billions of tris in a single scene, but the technology is there to make it possible, in the right circumstances. The net result is that games are still going to have the potential to look a lot better than the previoust tech, and at a comparable performance.
I mean, look at the tech demo for Unreal 4
when that was released. No UE4 game, that I'm aware of, ever pushed its graphics as far as what's in that demo, either. Same goes for UE3's tech demo
. But the technology demonstrated in each was/is used in games made with its respective engine. And besides, all else being equal, would you argue that games made with each generation of the tech weren't a notable improvement over previous versions (visually, etc)? I wouldn't, personally.
The real take-away of this video, at least for me, is how it removes several steps from the asset pipeline for artists. Being able to put full detailed models into a scene without having to worry about manually creating LODs, or having to generate normal maps or displacement maps shouldn't be understated. If you've ever gone through the process of baking normal maps, and setting up LODs on even less detailed objects, the process can be pretty tedious and time consuming. So, UE4 providing all that detail and LOD in real time is a big deal.
The radiosity lighting that updates dynamically as the environment changes, and does so realistically, based on surface type, etc, is also a huge improvement that eliminates the need for a lot of the manual lighting placement that was previously required to simulate similar effects.
The flocking system they describe for particles is also really cool. That a bunch of bats flew off out of that cave and realistically avoided the environment and each other, without an animator having to manually set those interactions up, is also a huge deal.
And so on.
In other words, it's not just how cool the tech looks. It's also the benefits it provides to those using it.
Sure, they're pushing these huge numbers in the demo (because people love big numbers). But to me, the real exciting stuff was the technology behind the scenes, and how much it frees up designers/artists/modelers, while improving the quality of the end result.
These are all things that add up to an engine that is going to power some pretty awesome gaming experiences in the years to come.
Personally, I'm really impressed and excited for this.
Of course, mileage may vary :p.
As a quick aside. Back when I first saw 'Advent Children', I wondered if or when we'd ever see real-time graphics tech capable of that level of fidelity. I'd say the answer is very much yes at this point.