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This Unity tech demo shows the potential future of open world games

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Last week, Unity held its annual developer convention “Unite” (opens in new tab) in Los Angeles, where it showed off a new plan to rebuild its wildly popular engine from its core foundations. This includes the introduction of multiple new updates and work-in-progress technologies. One of these reveals was essentially a glimpse into the future of what open world games might look like. 

Dubbed the Entity Component System (ECS for short), Unity describes it (opens in new tab)as “a way of writing code that focuses on the actual problems you are solving: the data and behaviour that make up your game.” Unity claims this "data-oriented" system lets developers iterate on their designs much more efficiently than using the current, object-oriented system.

Unity showed off the potential results of this with a short video demonstrating the tech in action. In the demo, the player explores a gigantic cyberpunk city inside a flying car, weaving between endless rows of skyscrapers hundreds of feet high. The demo is only twenty seconds long, but that’s more than enough time for it to make its impact. According to Unity, this demo was created in two months by the ECS team, with help from just two artists. You can watch that video below.

Going into further detail on the Unity blog, the company explained the demo also showed off several other features of ESC, including “asynchronous scene streaming”, a brand new system for object culling, and HLOD, or “hierarchical level-of-detail”, which adjusts the detail on in-game objects relative to the distance the player is from them.

Meanwhile, other reveals at Unite included an “FPS Sample” game, which is an Overwatch-style multiplayer FPS that Unity users can effectively use as a playable tutorial, able to pull the demo apart and examine how each aspect of it works. Unity also showed off a visual effects graph for intuitively creating new VFX, which they demonstrated via a three-minute demo about exploring a derelict spaceship.

Unity is planning to release the ECS demo to the public “with full source and assets” in 2019. If nothing else, its retrofuturist dystopia should whet your appetite until whenever CD Projekt launches Cyberpunk 2077.