Stardock CEO On PS5’s Potential To Reach Photorealism: ‘I Think We Can Achieve It With Current Cycle’

We’re just waiting for the software to catch up with the hardware.

Posted By | On 28th, Mar. 2017 Under News | Follow This Author @Pramath1605

The ultimate aim of all the advancements in video games and graphics tech is to achieve photorealism- graphics so good that they are indistinguishable from photos or videos of real life. We have made some startling strides towards achieving that, at least on a macro, broader scale- but in many ways, photorealism seems as far from our grasp now as it did thirty years ago, in the era of the NES.

So, given that even with the PS4 Pro – which is a reasonably powerful console – we haven’t yet been able to hit photorealism, is there a possibility that we do with the next console cycle? When the PS5 finally rolls around? That’s what we asked Stardock CEO Brad Wardell when we had a discussion with him. Stardock is a highly technically inclined company, having made some truly stunning looking games such as Ashes of the Singularity for PC, and any of its executives know what they are talking about- which is why Wardell’s comments struck us as so interesting.

“Well, I think we can [achieve photorealism] with the current cycle, actually,” he said. “We can go full realism. I mean, can we get past uncanny valley? Probably not. But when I think photo, I think still images. And we can definitely do that! For one frame- it’s usually the animation or how the light interacts with certain materials that makes you go, ‘this isn’t quite right.’

The problem, according to Wardell, is no longer the hardware we have on hand- it’s the software we are using to utilize that hardware. “You know, a lot of it comes down to the engines too,” he said. “The hardware guys probably shake their fists at the software, because everyone is using these engines nowadays, these off the shelf engines that were written back in the early 2000s. And sure, they’ve iterated, but they’re still based on the assumption that one CPU core is talking to one GPU, for example. They’re not doing- for example, their lighting techniques are very much a video game style lighting technique, and not what you would see in a movie or CGI. But they could- the hardware can. It’s just that the software doesn’t allow them to.

So essentially, it sounds like we are just waiting for the engines to catch up with where the hardware was years ago, at this point. Epic, Unity, DICE and others- you all know what to do.

Stay tuned for more coverage from our interview with Brad Wardell in the coming days.

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  • Starman

    Cut scene …..not in game .
    More Hype the the fanboy camp..

    • Old Skool

      Exactly. The uninformed or the attention span…less will run rampant with this info.
      Anyways, if they were to try ingame photorealism with current gen, games would be running at 5 frames per second. Most games this gen cant even stay locked at 30 fps with 1080 or 900p this gen regardless the console.

    • Demetrius Radford

      Not really. Look at last gen how graphics got better because of engine overhauls. They find more tricks and efficient ways to get better effects

    • Old Skool

      This gen is not the same as last gen which is why they are coming out with stronger consoles within a much shorter time frame opposed to last gen because they knew they (Sony and Microsoft) released fairly weak consoles in the first place.
      When Sony announced the PS4 they said they’re system will make every game run 1080p 60 fps as a standard. Now even though the PS4 is stronger than Xone, the base PS4 struggled to achieve that.
      Even the most impressive looking games like Uncharted have to make sacrifices because the system isn’t strong enough to handle both The impressive graphics,resolution with 60 frames.
      Yes it’s 60 frames in multiplayer but it’s not locked and the graphics in that portion of the game are nowhere near as great as they are in the single player.

    • C. Hoffer

      I think some of those 1080p at 60fps promises are kind of a ‘perception’ target/trap.
      I think back to how they would look at future systems and it was something like this……..
      You create a scene on a 360 and say I’m going to bump the resolution (to 1080p) to minimize jaggies and add some more items on the screen….how much GPU/CPU horsepower do you need? The tech comes back and says 2x the GPU/CPU and you will be Perfect for 60fps!
      You then build the system….but the graphic demand isn’t just resolution anymore, its screen density & photorealism.
      Something that just wasn’t achievable on the 360 so they never planned for it. All they really counted on was pushing more pixels in the form of resolution and more triangles to smooth out items and match resolution increases more accurately.
      Suddenly the vastly more complex scene can NOT run at 1080p/60fps. But if they were to recreate the same scene with the old 360 level (or near it) complexity…suddenly its running at 120fps!
      Moral of the story – 4k is great but we really need a lot more power just to run at 1080p and get that photo realistic scene. Achieve that and then get a lot more power together because you will need huge amounts to transfer it to 4k.

    • C. Hoffer

      Some engines are definitely better than others. Frostbite is one that has potential but I think they spend more time trying to tweak old engine parts rather than rewrite them to take real advantage of the hardware available.

  • Gamez Rule

    Makes sense really. If devs put their heads together they might just come up with an engine that could allow photorealism. Be good if they did☺

    • Mark

      Yeah but it’s more than just “putting their heads together”…..R&D costs alot of money to create new lighting and graphic algorythms. That’s why Indie devs usually only provide Snes quality visuals. It costs alot. So we’re only talking a small amount of studios that has the capability to do this. Frostbite 3 is built for DirectX12 and PS4 GNMX, advanced API’s for a modern engine that utilizes the CPU and GPUs the way Brad mentions (BF1). Don’t know why I just told u all that….

    • Gamez Rule

      Look at how the Decima engine was born and then enhanced not only by Guerrilla Games, but also Hideo Kojima. That’s what I mean by getting devs heads together. Makes sense as more can be achieved.

    • Mark

      I hear u

    • Gamez Rule

      Be great if ALL devs could do that. IMO that would be awesome for gamers.

    • Mark

      Yeah but Kojima and Guerrilla are amongst the best…..basically we’ll only see a handful or so of games every year, that scratch the surface of photorealism. The good news is that not all big and small studios have moved toward current gen APIs, so in the next years we should see more games looking even better…..which contradicts what I just said! Lmao

    • Gamez Rule


      I knew what you meant.

  • Luke Skywalker
  • crazy_black_man-

    I’ll be damned if I didnt just buy 2 4KHDR tvs yesterday, and just traded a PS4 in for a Pro today. What in the damn hail got into me? Hilariousness! I’m ready though.

    • ShowanW

      2 tvs bruh?… and a 4Pro all in one shot?

      that’s some baller type spending… lol

    • crazy_black_man-

      I traded one of my PS4’s in to Gamestop for $170 and got the Pro and Horizon Zero Dawn, which I must say is beyond amazing.

    • Gamez Rule

      How you liking HZD?

    • crazy_black_man-


    • Gamez Rule

      I’ve been playing it on PS4-Pro on a KS8000 TV in HDR and it looks crazy. Hopefully we can have some updates with more maps to keep the game active with new weapons etc.

    • C. Hoffer

      Nice! Which TV models did you get?

    • crazy_black_man-

      Theyre not top of the line but they reviewed well, and Bestbuy had them for a price I was willing to pay. Theyre both the Hisense 55inch models @ $549 a piece.–led-2160p-smart-4k-ultra-hd-tv-with-high-dynamic-range-black/5524900.p?skuId=5524900

  • Hvd

    if it doesnt happen on the pc it wont happen on a console.for the ps5 to get photorealism the pc would have it years ahead

  • TwoLiterSoda

    Personally I think photorealism is overrated. As long as the graphics are well done, great frame rate, smooth animations, and so on, that’s enough for me. If a have looks too real that’s a big turn off imo.

  • omarcominyo

    I’d rather they worked more on gameplay ie framerate AI etc

  • Eddie Battikha

    The last of us 2 will max out PS4 Pro, we won’t see photorealistic graphics until PS4 Pro 2 or PS5 Fall 2018.

  • Mark

    Dice? They’re already there Pramath


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