We’ve heard a lot about DirectX 12 being a revolutionary step forward for games development, and how the new API makes more efficient use of high-performance hardware. But aside from a few demos like the Forza 5 presentation at GDC 2014, we haven’t really seen the visual fruits of DX12’s labor.
At Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Build Developer’s Conference, Square Enix demonstrated an incredible tech demo that showcases the true potential of DirectX 12.
Witch Chapter 0 [cry] is made up of wholly real-time gameplay footage, and represents a magnificent spectacle in visual fidelity and high-def clarity. Sharp-eyed viewers will recognize that dark-haired sorceress as the same woman featured in the Final Fantasy Agni’s Philosophy tech demo shown at E3 2012.
To ensure optimum performance, the demonstration was running on a NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA) GeForce GTX TITAN X-4-way SLI PC.
While DirectX 12 speaks volumes for future games development, Square Enix will use it to bolster their current projects too.
“The efforts from this project will power future game development as well as FINAL FANTASY XV, currently a work in progress,” says Square Enix’s Hajime Tabata.
Built in Square Enix’s next-generation LUMINOUS Engine using the new DX12 API, the demo is resonant with such a deep level of realism that captures and portrays one of the most difficult human emotions to render: soul-crushing anguish.
Jen-Hsun Huang, Nvidia’s president and CEO, was so impressed by the demo that he says it features the “most ambitious real-time, cinematic-quality graphics ever undertaken”.
It’s incredible to see CG-quality graphics displayed as real-time gameplay, and the announcer breaks down the tech and how DX12 was used to craft such dazzling imagery:
“The most incredible part about what you’re seeing is the density of data that’s involved in this. Each of these scenes are made up of over 63-million polygons. That’s about 6x to 12x more than we could do with DX11.”
“Just to give you an idea on the textures you’re seeing–those are 8K by 8K textures. Again significantly more than we were able to do with DirectX 11.”
“Every piece of hair you’re seeing is being rendered as a polygon–this isn’t surface mesh stuff. As those polygons are running through the pipeline they’re running over 50 different shaders to generate that level of clarity.”
Square Enix has undoubtedly given us a peek at the future of high-performance gaming, and it’ll be interesting to see how the developers adapt tech tech for DX12-compatible consoles like the Xbox One. Although Windows 10 PC’s will get the most out of DirectX 12, the Xbox One will reap many benefits of the new API, but particulars have been scarce.
For years Final Fantasy fans have been enraptured by the CGI cutscenes featured in games. Those dynamic scenes were treats, they represented a leap forwards in performance–but now simple, everyday gameplay will match the quality of these scenes.
But these improvements aren’t just limited to Final Fantasy; we’ll likely see DX12 utilize across all Square Enix games, including Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and maybe even Kingdom Hearts 3.