A great way to get a sneak peak at up and coming games, or games that might otherwise never cross your radar, is to watch Tech release events. In between the programmer jargon of node based programming improvements and visual scripting tweaks, the Unity for All 2021 Showcase featured a number of past and current game developers whose games use specific features of the Unity engine to their benefit. Rather than watch the nearly hour long presentation, however, here is a highlight rundown of the highlighted games in this year’s Creator Showcase.
While the opening and closing feature reel had a wide variety of game genres, platforms, and demographics on display, the first proper highlight was on Amplitude Studios’ Humankind, a historical strategy game reminiscent of Civilization or Settlers of Catan. With minute AI animals populating their in-game map, they aimed for an animated, living board game feel, which looks promising. As of now, the game is set to release on April 22, 2021.
For solo devs, Unity highlighted the works of both Felix Schade’s Morbid Metal, for their use of dynamic lighting and light environments, and Leo Saalfrank’s Ferocious, for their use of photo-scanned assets and HDRP lighting. Both games look visually fantastic, with the water effects in Ferocious being particular stunning, giving the usual developmental challenges games face with water in natural environments. While neither game has a solid release date, what we have seen of them so far looks promising.
Next up, we have a classic presented in a new form by one Steve Collins, with the mobile title Crash Bandicoot: On the Run. Knowing that gamers use a wide variety of devices for their gaming needs, they wanted to focus on bringing a consistently good experience across a wide generation of devices, letting players play regardless of their current smartphone generation and geographical location. Crash Bandicoot: On the Run was soft launched in April 2020, with a full release later this year.
With a talk scheduled later on Wednesday in the GDC Showcase, POPULATION:ONE made an appearance as the sole VR title in the lineup, with its multiplayer FPS capabilities and vertical movement utilizing Unity’s engine to the max. Already released for both Oculus and Steam, POPULATION:ONE features crossplay support to make this vertical VR shooter even more epic.
Another eye-catching title, Due Process boasted use of multiplayer and Vivox programming to create an experience similar to Titanfall, while being a 5v5 tactical shooter. Though still in early access, any project from Annapurna Interactive holds promise, and the elements shown in this showcase were, of course, incredible.
Also currently in early access, Unknownworlds presented both their main title Subnautica, and the newer, still developing Subnautica: Below Zero, as part of their initiative to make their games available on more platforms. Primarily, they’re focus is on bringing both games to the Nintendo Switch, and confronting all the performance challenges that come with changing platforms and having large, underwater, open world environments.
Last but not least, we have Oddworld: Soulstorm with its use of cinematic workflow. Releasing on both the PS5 and PS4, cinematics were important to the visual design and structure of the game, which was further discussed during the later Unity Fireside Chat about Next Gen Consoles Opportunities. This can be viewed on the GDC Showcase client if you missed it.
For a tech heavy showcase, there were a lot of snippets of fan favorite games mixed into the longer intro and outro transitionals that weren’t convered in this article. After giving me a mini-heart attack with some Hollow Knight: Silksong footage (which, on reflection, was probably just existing work from the previous trailers as opposed to new content) it seemed that the majority of these reels were intended to catch viewers eyes, making them aware of the vast variety of games made using Unity, as opposed to teasing new releases. However, it’s always fun to see how far we’ve come, and remember where we’ve been.