A talented Unreal Engine 4 artist has been busy trying to perfect real-time graphics in the game engine, achieving near photorealistic visuals over the course of the project. The image above is indeed not a photo, but an in-engine screenshot captured in UE4. It looks stunningly realistic, and he demo environment is all playable in real-time, with a single GeForce GTX 1080 Ti capable of hitting 60 frames per second at 4K resolution.

“Over the last [few] years I have been focused on advancing real time graphics by improving the quality of content," explains the creator, Art by Rens. “During this time I looked at the possibility of realism and breaking current workflow to try and increase the visual quality of games. With hardware and software continuously evolving and new techniques becoming available, it creates endless possibilities to explore.”

The work involved travelling to Fuerteventura, in the Canary Islands, to capture images of various rock materials for use in photogrammetry. In total, he captured more than 200 unique rocks, each of which can be dotted about the environment. He used techniques learned from the film industry and applied them to a virtual world, finding it was possible to capture, process and create a photorealistic environment within just a few days.

The results, I’m sure you’ll agree, are pretty stunning. There was me thinking Battlefield 1’s rock formations were impressive, but this is another matter entirely. There’s an impressive level of detail on show here, and you’d be hard pressed to guess whether any of these images were computer generated or not.

Rens reckons a regular card like a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti or GeForce GTX 1060 should be more than capable of running this demo scene at 1080p. He's running it at 4K with dual GeForce GTX 1080 Ti's in SLI and an Intel Core i7-5960X CPU and 64GB DDR4 memory, so he's obviously not having any problems running it at a decent clip.

It's a great theoretical piece of art and an exciting insight to where we should be in terms of gaming visuals eventually. Real-time gaming with photogrammetry is used by a number of games today, and it's conceivable that this extra step in quality may not be too far off. It is worth bearing in mind however that this demo contains no physics computations, no AI and no interactions, so it's very basic aside from the visual quality. As a taster though, it's mighty impressive for what amounts to a bunch of rocks.