Is This the Last Wave of Engines?

Towards the tail end of this year with the desperate scraping of all your pennies to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the top titles, have you taken the time to have a look at the quality that is available? I feel as though we’re being spoiled with the games that are coming out and consoles are being taken to a whole new level. Looking at the lifespan of consoles this may very well be the final step for them before the next generation consoles are released.

As gameplay becomes smoother and explorable areas become more vast surely there are many new engines being tested and applied to the latest releases. Indeed there are! It appears that most of the top games have their own brand new engines apart from one. The recent release, RAGE, has the id Tech 5 engine driving it, The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim has the new Bethesda Creation engine and Battlefield 3 is sporting the crisp new Frostbite 2.

Skyrim id Tech 5
Creation: all explorable areas.

I haven’t had the pleasure of playing any of Skyrim yet however from what I’ve seen it looks nothing short of epic. The demo videos with Todd Howard narrating go into great detail about 3D modelling and landscaping. As for Battlefield 3 I have only played some of the Metro beta multiplayer level so it’s very difficult to judge with any sort of certainty. It looks good but I wouldn’t say great.

The game that I have had most exposure to is RAGE. Having played most of the game it looks great but falls short with areas that you can’t explore and textures that seem to render in front of your eyes. The question is, do you forgive and forget because it’s a new engine or do you slam the door on id Software and their new engine? Maybe consoles are being pushed too hard to squeeze out those precious frames per second that can make a game look perfect.

RAGE id Tech 5
id Tech 5 : Not all explorable areas

I intentionally left out one last title and it’s Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3. The reason I haven’t mentioned this is because the engine is still the same as its predecessor, Modern Warfare 2. Glen Scholfield, from Sledgehammer Games, has been quoted saying that he wants to deliver a game, not an engine. If you place Modern Warfare 2 and Modern Warfare 3 next to each other there have been significant changes in models, texture and animation but it’s still using the same vehicle to drive it all. This looks as though the engine for Modern Warfare 2 was of such a high calibre that it’s withstood the test of time.

I’m not sure what to conclude from all this. Does the Modern Warfare approach mean we can expect a higher quality of game because Sledgehammer Games haven’t spent valuable time improving the engine? Is id Tech 5 pushing consoles so hard now that the hardware can no longer handle what’s being thrown at it? There has been some speculation that we may see a new Xbox announced in 2012, however, Sony are adamant that the Playstation 3 has life in the old dog yet.

I am really enjoying the content that is being churned out presently and can’t wait to see what the future holds. I really hope we haven’t hit a plateau in the development process but I am sure some programming God out there will push the boat out to whet our appetites even further.


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