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:
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:
(Look how boring that wall looks!)
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).