Graphics Critique (Image heavy)

From what I've read of other posts it sounds like this dead horse has been well beaten already, but there are definitely some identifiable issues with art design / direction that are really holding the game back. Despite running on an obviously more powerful engine and having higher quality individual art assets, overall the game doesn't seem that much better than the original Insurgency.

Rather than just complain about 'bad graphix' I'm here to offer some constructive criticism based on my own experience with Unreal Engine 4. I'm not going to explain any technical bits, this is meant for the dev team, but it might help articulate some people's criticism. I think the problems boil down to:

  • Overuse of modular grid pieces
  • Poor lightmap quality and resolution
  • Poor lighting
  • Lack of environment decals
  • Large flat surfaces not broken up by decals / vertex painting
  • Really terrible character art (though this feels like an intentional series staple at this point)

From the above list, the single biggest problem is the overuse of chunky (2mx2m) modular pieces to build the environment. It's understandable, given UE4's lack of decent CSG tools and BSP support, but the benefit of level design in Source is that you're free to break the grid. Here's the problem with making everything out of square grid pieces:

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This is what makes the game look cheap. It creates noticable grid lines everywhere, with no contrasting lines breaking up the surfaces, and it looks awful. The other downside to this technique is that textures repeat themselves a lot, which isn't broken up by any vertex paintable materials:
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(Look how boring that wall looks!)
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I realise levels might be getting a final 'polish' pass, this is meant as some constructive help as to where that effort should probably go. I might post some more if I play any other maps, though there are some where this is much less of an issue and visual quality is higher as a result (Farmhouse, for example).

Ok so I get the whole moderating-new-users thing, but it's a bit daft that this is immediately shoved to the 13th forum page as soon as it goes live surely?

Bumping. Good post on QOL items.

@fandango831 I agree, this is a nice post that needs more attention from the Devs

very in-depth.

noticed the same things, love that you did this.

Could you do an update? I found this interesting to read.

Cheers all. Glad it's helping articulate some other people's impressions, I think most people notice this kinda stuff but might not know why exactly it's happening. The main reason for this is that Source Engine has very freeform modelling (brush) tools in it's editor, so a lot of structures were irregular shapes and designs. The workflow with Unreal Engine is a lot trickier so making things out of big blocks is easier, but ultimately it looks really generic. It's very noticable in something like Fortnite, which is entirely made up of 2x2 grid sections as well, though that's because of the destroyable building element.

My advice to the dev team would be to block out levels / structures in the original Insurgency editor, and import them into UE4 for testing. Don't build maps out of snap-together pieces because they will always have this really grid-like structure which isn't realistic or aesthetically pleasing.

I wanted to post some different maps but since the beta's ended I can't. I did want to highlight another issue though, this is taken from Steam:

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There's some of the usual issues there; there's a vertical shadow on the right side where two modular wall pieces are next to eachother, there's a really hard line between the wall and ground, and the top trim of the building is a really plain repeating texture. But look at the top of that wall - it looks like something out of Half Life 2. There's a pretty simle way around this by using edge decals like this (left is just a box, middle is with a basic decal on the edges, right is what's actually happening). It's a fairly subtle change but it's really quick and easy, and makes surface edges look a lot less like 2004.

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There's a much better example of it in action here (not mine):

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