Unity’s ‘Enemies’ tech demo is not the checkmate it should be

Of all the major game engines floating around, Unity is probably not what comes to mind when you think of graphical fidelity. That’s a view the tech company continues to try to change with a real-time cinematic demo showcasing some brilliant new digital humans.

Nicknamed “Enemies”, a Unit blog post dives into some of the improvements made since the last tech demo, The Heretic. A new tension technology allows you to map wrinkles and blood flow without demanding facial equipment, while a skin attachment system allows for high-density meshes on the skin’s surface, such as peach down. The demo also features a new hair solution for more believable locks, along with a new skin tone and more responsive eyes.

What this results in is some pretty damn photorealistic screenshots. But in motion, there’s still something a little weird about the animation, a dim glow in the lighting. It looks good, but not groundbreaking in the way we’d expect from tech demos. There is certainly no comparison with Unreal Engine 5’s stunning 2020 reveal.

(Image credit: Unity)

My main concern, as someone who works and has released games in Unity, is that I don’t go to Unity for the raw graphical power of an Unreal – I come because it’s easy to throw plugins and assets into a blender and walk away with something. very good very fast. This accessibility is what, for better or worse, has made Unity the must-have tool for new developers.

But for a long time, Unity has apparently neglected to make its tools more developer-friendly in the service of pursuing the same cinematic ambition we’ve seen. Unreal used on the set of The Mandalorian. Hollywood VFX is undoubtedly where the money is, but recent Unity releases seem increasingly sketchy. When I go to start new projects, I go back to the 2017 or 2019 versions of Unity, which tend to have better add-on compatibility and fewer unfinished features.

No doubt enemies will be exciting for developers looking to bring more realism to their characters, and technological advances expand the possibilities for all developers working with the tools. But it’s hard for me to see where myself and other small-scale, independent, amateur developers benefit from a foundation that is less interested in making games than making movies.

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