Massive's Snowdrop Engine: The Division

BigTnaples

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Feb 10, 2011
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(Not Mine/Shots from Flikr, everything below are mine, hence they are much shittier)

If you want to REALLY see what this engine and Massive can do, look no furthur than this Flickr Page.


And this Gamersyde Timelapse. Incredible stuff.


Absolutely incredible, The Division Manhatten vs Real Manhatten.


So there have been a ton of arguments about The Division and it's technical prowess. Everything from, "It looks Amazing" to "It looks good but huge downgrade from 13", to "It looks like a PS3 game, I am not joking. No hyperbole, PS3 game." Much of the talk of downgrades stems from the fact that The Division is a Ubisoft published game, and they are known these days for such shenanigans.

However, Ubisoft is merely publishing and supporting the dev team they purchased in 08, Massive Entertainment, who were responsible for the great, and also technically impressive RTS games, Ground Control, and World in Conflict.

To start out, there was a Target Video/Vertical Slice/Early WiP, whatever you want to call the announcement video in 2013. That video did set a graphical expectation. However, after 3 years, much had changed. And understandably so, 3 years is as long or longer than the entire development cycle of many games, from scratch paper to gold. We now have the beta in our hands, and have had some time to mess around in the alternate Manhattan Massive has created.

And it is bloody amazing.

Right off the bat, there is one Key "Downgrade" from the early demos. And that is global illumination.

This effect, is beautiful, grounding, and very expensive. (If you remember it was stripped from UE4 for this reason. )
Note it's absence here.
However, most not all of both graphical, and game-play elements from the 2013 video, are still here in the beta. That shows amazing sense of vision, and adherence to what Massive wanted the game to be.

  • Volumetric Smoke/Fog? Check.
  • Night/Day Cycle with fully Dynamic weather and lighting? Check.

  • Bokeh DoF? Check.

  • One of the most comprehensive destruction models to date? Check.

  • Subsurface Scattering? Check.

  • No loading? Check.

  • Volumetric Lighting? Check.

  • Screen Space Reflections Everywhere? Check.

I could go on.

This actually began when I was comparing The 2014 Gameplay Demo. , to the beta, since we actually have the exact same playable area of the game (though 2 years apart in time) to compare.


So I went frame by frame of the 2014 gameplay trailer. And while some assets have obviously changed, or moved around. They are not downgrades. Just changes. In fact again, aside from Global Illumination, (paint buckets?) And possibly the fidelity of the Flamethrower stream, EVERYTHING from the 2014 demo is retained.

Keep in mind, things are moved, altered, and ToD/Weather are not the same. Also, the left are youtube captures. Working with what I have got.
High Quality Version of 2014 Demo
Again, there are definitely differences. But most are changes, not upgrades or downgrades. So, enough about downgrades or no downgrades. What does the engine do? Including but not limited to!!!

SnowDrop Engines Destruction:

MUST WATCH
http://youtu.be/UKtjDDsO6Y4

Amazing.

Reflections:
Everywhere!
Yes, the player is reflected in that ornament, that dryer, and that mirror, and hundreds of other objects/materials in the world.

Volumetric Lighting/Lit Particles and Fog
I mean. Holy Shit.
Environmental Detail/Clutter/Environmental Storytelling:

Edit: Also, this kind of stuff, is amazing.


The snow on and inside of that traffic cone (as well as everything else) accumulating, and falling off when you kick it, then re-building up...melting, footprints, that stuff is amazing. The weather effects are insane too, when it gets snowstorm-y it's so hard to see and awesome.
Keep in mind, I took all of these shots in around an hour, for the express purpose of this thread, and as such, my screenshots are only a small fraction of the examples I have seen during my playtime with the Beta. These screens were all taken on my gaming PC, 3770k, SLI 970's, 16GB, W10. Max Settings.
Most of my playtime with the beta however was with the PS4 version, while not quite up to par with PC obviously, it still looks damned amazing.


Hats off to Massive for making one of the most detailed and technically impressive games of all time up to this point. Really can't wait to see what more we will get to see in the final game.

What are small details you noticed in the beta? Such as Dogs being on tires, NPC's interacting in multitudes of ways? Snow building up and melting throughout the day, etc...
 

LiK

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Mar 26, 2007
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#2
the game still looks pretty gorgeous. I was incredibly impressed with the amount of detail in the city while I was exploring. character model faces could be better but it's pretty impressive.
 
Jul 3, 2014
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Thanks for this. Been seeing a lot of people trash the game and as I am holding off from the beta, it's good to hear the game doesn't look like trash as others claim.
 
Jul 20, 2015
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#4
Maybe you could make a gallery of these images so that mobile users don't burn through a bumch of data at once?

Good write up, though. Games, especially this one, are pushing the limits. I don't understand the downgrade stuff as well. As great as this game looks, some people just like to find stuff to complain about.
 

Kade

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Jul 23, 2006
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#7
Not sure how it looks on console but I was really impressed with it on PC. Last night I put on a podcast and just ran around the city as the game cycled through all the time of day and weather effects.
 
Aug 15, 2007
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It's definitely a good looking game. Saying it looks like a PS3 game is quite frankly bullshit - I could maybe see that argument for the downgraded version of Watch_Dogs we ended up getting, but not for The Division.

Having said that, I played the Beta on PS4, and it definitely doesn't look as good as those PC screenshots (nor would I expect it to). I think there are a few games that look better on consoles visually, like Arkham Knight and Battlefront, but it's still unquestionably a nice looking game.
 

Crossing Eden

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Feb 14, 2014
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#12
Paintbuckets can be found in the final combat area of the madison hospital mission, the fluid effect from the 2014 demo was retained. :D Seriously, I get a kick out of "looks like a ps3 game." People have some amazing rose tinted memories of what last gen open world games looked like and how they ran, ESPECIALLY on ps3.
 
Dec 5, 2008
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#13
I thought it looked incredible. I had some minor performance issues on PC, but that aside, I thought it was one of the best looking games I've played. I especially loved how they handled the day/night cycle and weather effects. I don't usually care that much about graphics, but this time they swayed me to get the PC version over the PS4 version.
 
Aug 15, 2007
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It does look nice. My only problem is its aesthetic isn't very appealing. But I guess that's par the course for games based on reality. Maybe it's just because it's New York with snow.
Yeah, I think that's my real issue with it. The aesthetic is just boring. I think after playing 10+ years worth of Tom Clancy games I'm tired of how generic they feel from an identity standpoint. I'd much rather developers do more stylized visuals on current hardware than just photorealism, but that's a preference thing.
 

BigTnaples

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Feb 10, 2011
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Jun 10, 2013
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#19
It is all rather impressive, looking rather lovely IMO and performing without hiccups frame rate wise, from what I've played. Also being able to go into areas and underground with no loading is bonus points in my book. I also gotta applaud them on the attention to detail stuff they've done, as mentioned in the OP.

From time to time when I'm not shooting, I like to soak in the details and observe. For example, you can see crows(?) fighting rats or dogs barking at people or heck plastic bags stuck in the trees. Even take shots at windows to make random faces. Definitely feels like a world to explore.
 

BY2K

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Sep 12, 2010
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#21
Still a very impressive looking game. Just missing the bells and whistles from the E3 demo.

However, after playing the beta, while I think it's a decent game, not sure it's gonna win any GOTY awards.
 

HStallion

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Nov 23, 2015
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#23
Game looks amazing. I kind of wish it wasn't just NYC all over again. Seen that city so many times that at this point it could look like real life and I would probably be less enthused than if it had been any other city in the world.
 
Aug 30, 2010
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Thanks for this. Been seeing a lot of people trash the game and as I am holding off from the beta, it's good to hear the game doesn't look like trash as others claim.
Game looks absolutely amazing on ps4. The modern setting doesn't give it as much time to shine as other games but the effects and weather are stunning.
 
Jul 29, 2014
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I was personally impressed by just how seamless the beta was, going from private session to the open Dark Zones. All things considered, the graphical downgrade was warranted and I still consider the game to look good, and I can't deny that it has some technical prowess.
 
Aug 15, 2007
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Still a very impressive looking game. Just missing the bells and whistles from the E3 demo.

However, after playing the beta, while I think it's a decent game, not sure it's gonna win any GOTY awards.
I think it's going to be the next Destiny. Okay reviews, massive online community. Especially considering Destiny players are complaining about not enough content lately, I wouldn't be surprised at all if they jump ship to The Division until D2 comes out.
 
Sep 20, 2013
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does the game still have the melting snow? i remember being super impressed by that back when it was announced. the idea they were trying to capture a multitude of weather types. but I've watched a few timelapse videos and it just doesn't seem to be there anymore. or at least toned down a lot.
 
Jun 1, 2013
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Thanks for this. Been seeing a lot of people trash the game and as I am holding off from the beta, it's good to hear the game doesn't look like trash as others claim.
This seems odd, with any downgrade there's always going to be people whining, but I found most people aren't really trashing the way it looks graphically. They're trashing how it "looks". People are worried it's going to be Destiny all over again and I can't say their fears are unfounded.
 
Aug 30, 2010
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#37
I think it's going to be the next Destiny. Okay reviews, massive online community. Especially considering Destiny players are complaining about not enough content lately, I wouldn't be surprised at all if they jump ship to The Division until D2 comes out.
All my destiny friends are loving the beta, even more than I am. I quit it Sunday morning and they kept playing.

This seems odd, with any downgrade there's always going to be people whining, but I found most people aren't really trashing the way it looks graphically. They're trashing how it "looks". People are worried it's going to be Destiny all over again and I can't say their fears are unfounded.
Oh the content will definitely be the same or even less than vanilla destiny. That seems plainly obvious to me from the beta and map size. That's fine by me though. The DZ will keep it fun.
 

Sn4ke_911

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May 9, 2009
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#38
does the game still have the melting snow? i remember being super impressed by that back when it was announced. the idea they were trying to capture a multitude of weather types. but I've watched a few timelapse videos and it just doesn't seem to be there anymore. or at least toned down a lot.
Yes.

This is on the lowest possible settings.

Before:


After:
 
Feb 6, 2014
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This seems odd, with any downgrade there's always going to be people whining, but I found most people aren't really trashing the way it looks graphically. They're trashing how it "looks". People are worried it's going to be Destiny all over again and I can't say their fears are unfounded.
I still don't get why destiny keeps being brought up in every division thread. It's such an unfounded comparison.
 
Aug 30, 2010
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This is what it had to live up to.




Despite looking great it was always going to be some kind of a disappointment graphically.

If only Ubisoft didn't feel compelled to bring early vertical slices to E3.

I'd rather they keep shooting for the moon and scaling back than the opposite.

I still don't get why destiny keeps being brought up in every division thread. It's such an unfounded comparison.
Not really. The same social hook destiny has is what the division has.
 
Mar 21, 2010
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#47
No input lag for me on PS4
?
I'm actually surprised at how responsive it is compared to earlier impressions.
Haven't experienced any lag at all.

But...I'm glad my excitement for this looks like it'll be realized. Can't wait to scour every nook n cranny in this city.
yea, I didn't encounter any input lag either
I'm legit surprised. Go play MGS5 or Infamous ss/fl and go back to the division, the difference is huge
 
Jun 29, 2011
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What games actually have GI?
Real time? Scarcely any in a meaningful sense.

Baked?

Lot's!

I agree with the OP, it is incredibly impressive on many levels. The hunt to track down what got better between reveal and now, and what got worse, is very important. The Engine and art deserves a more nuanced discussion than just "DOWNGRADESOFT".