The latest round of consoles (XBOX One + PS4) have allowed developers to push graphics forward. On the PC side of things, the next generation of engines and graphical capabilities are being pushed even further.
This week a developer released some footage from a realistic beach environment built in the Unreal Engine, and it’s amazing:
Despite the fact that there is no shooting, exploring, or any other game elements, this is important: producing these types of graphics used to be only possible by dedicated teams using specialized software – the next generation of game tech is democratizing these tools, and brining them to an increasingly large audience. These accessible tools have fueled the indie game movement, and allowed for unprecedented experimentation and exploration.
You can see more use of Unreal Engine technology here, used for architectural visualization: