You'll have to take my word for it, but right now Batman: Arkham Knight is easily one of the most graphically impressive titles due to be released for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC this year. Rocksteady has a demo of the title up and running on PC, but it's not yet ready to show it off publicly. But, it's impressive to look at; it is literally full of graphics.
Batman: Arkham Knight is one of the first games to focus solely on developing for the new consoles, then, and I asked Rocksteady brand marketing producer Dax Ginn (who might have the most energy in the whole games industry) about how the studio is finding developing its latest game with new hardware. "I asked this very question of our lead engine coder," said Ginn, "and his reaction was that he doesn't have to say 'no' anymore."
"From his perspective, having a lot of horsepower means, when our creative guys want to do something, he doesn't have to say 'no you can't do that', he says, 'yeah, here are the limitations you need to work in, but what you want to do is generally possible.' There's a lot of insane positive energy at Rocksteady at the moment because we're working in an environment where anything is possible. That's a fantastic feeling to have as a developer."
But comparisons between the PS4 and Xbox One are inevitable, with new owners desperate to know how their choice of hardware purchase stacks up against the other. What's it like seeing an audience so deeply focused on things like resolution and frame rate right now?
"I think it's very easy to focus on those things early on in a new generation of hardware," said Ginn, "because there isn't a lot out there yet to inform where the baseline is--what's everyone able to achieve? And then what is something really special over and above that? By the end of the cycle of PS3 and Xbox 360, we were fantastic at making games for that hardware. At the beginning, there's always this teething period for all developers, it doesn't matter how experienced you are at getting your head around a new generation of hardware. In that time, it's very easy to focus on ideas that everyone understands, and frame rate and frame size are those things.
"But I think as the generation matures, there will be much more development and maturity of ideas like, 'How emotional is this experience?' or 'What's the value of replay?' The much more mature discussions and conversations that we were having towards the end of the last generation. I suspect that will come back, it just requires there to be more runs on the board for people to analyse, compare, and contrast."