Nvidia E3 2013 Highlights

Paul Lilly

Nvidia shows off Warframe, Witcher 3, and more!

Folks, PC gaming is alive and well. That's the big takeaway from our time spent with Nvidia at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), in which the GPU maker declared that the PC is the "most important gaming platform." To prove it, Nvidia hit us with some statistics from GDC indicating that 48 percent of game developers are focusing their efforts on the PC, versus 13 percent who are working on titles for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, 11 percent on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and 5 percent for the Wii U. That's only one example.

Game revenue paints a similar portrait. According to DFC Intelligence, the PC platform generates more revenue than either the PlayStation or Xbox platforms. By 2015, DFC predicts PC game revenue will top $20 billion, roughly twice as much as PlayStation and four times as much as Xbox. Pretty staggering, isn't it?

Worried that might change with the introduction of the PS4 and Xbox One? Rest easy, PC gaming worry-wart, because as we've seen in the past, the dynamic nature of PCs and inevitable upgrades to components always end up trumping the hardware baked inside of consoles. As for the next generation of consoles, Nvidia points out that even its current generation GPUs for the PC beat what's coming on the console later this year (see above slide).

Not that we need Nvidia to tell us PC gaming is thriving, it's certainly nice to hear a major GPU player reaffirm its commitment to a platform that everyone in the media seems to be overlooking these days. Nvidia also hit us over the head with several upcoming game demos showcasing its technology. Here's a look at Borderlands 2 DLC:

The DLC was built inside of Gearbox and delivers more content, more playtime, and pretty much more of everything. It will cost $10 -- same as previous DLC -- and will be free to those who own a Season Pass. As you're watching the demo above, pay attention to the particle effects and PhysX simulation.

Next up we have a peek at Hawken, a free-to-play, multiplayer mech combat game developed by Adhesive Games.

One of the neat things about Hawken is that all of the destructible pieces are interactive and can be kicked around the landscape. Like the Borderlands 2 DLC demo, there's heavy use of particle effects. What you're watching above is a tech demo showcasing the dynamic particle system.

Moving right along, here's a look at Warframe, a free-to-play cooperative third-person shooter developed by Digital Extremes. Or, as the developers describe it, "a little bit like Mass Effect 3 multiplayer meets Ninja Gaiden."

Some of the Nvidia-based technical aspects found throughout are screen space reflections (they're not geometry dependent like most reflections, so they can be applied at any angle), APEX snow and other particle effects, shadows, turbulence, and more. Warframe uses APEX effects liberally, which means the game will look best on Nvidia hardware.

Next is a look at Splinter Cell Blacklist, an upcoming third-person action-adventure stealth game published by Ubisoft and the sixth installment of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell series.

One thing the developer wanted to point out right away was that it began working with Nvidia a few months ago on lights and shadows. Three things that helped with that were TXAA (the "platinum standard for anti-aliasing"), horizon-based ambient occlusion, and high resolution shadows. The three combined ensure the light and shadows have depth, which is critical to the core gameplay. Unfortunately, the demo we saw was of a DirectX 9 version of the game, though a DirectX 11 version with all the bells and whistles is definitely planned.

Finally, we have some footage of Witcher 3, which we've broken up into two separate videos. The first shows off some Nvidia effects.

The short demo highligts things like bloom shafts, aerial perspective fog, volume based translucency, semi volumetric clouds, fur simulation, real-time reflections, some water effects, and other goodies. All neat stuff.

The second Witcher 3 video shows the fur effects in more detail. It's an interesting demonstration that comes on the heels of AMD bragging about its TressFX technology for more realistic hair effects. Apparently Nvidia users can look forward to detailed hair, too.

That wraps up our collection of game demos from Nvidia's booth, though before you click on out of here, be sure to flip through our gallery to see some slides from the presentation.

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