One of the main reasons Horizon Zero Dawn took so long to make is because Guerrilla Games created a brand new engine with which to build it. Known as the Decima Engine, it's only been put to use on a few games so far (that we know of), but the results speak for themselves. In addition to Aloy's debut and the sequel, Horizon Forbidden West, Kojima Productions famously used Decima to develop Death Stranding and, presumably, Death Stranding 2.
It sounds like that's far from the end for this engine. As part of a management shake-up at Guerrilla Games, technical director Michiel van der Leeuw has announced he will be working on Decima full-time. In a LinkedIn post, van der Leeuw says he'll be focusing on "our ambitious future plans for our own Decima engine". He says the team has "crafted a studio roadmap and future direction for our Decima engine so ambitious" that it now requires his full attention.
Of course, we don't know what that future direction looks like, but we can hazard a guess that more PS Studios may move onto Decima going forward. It could also elude to developing tools that allow the engine to be used for online service games, which is obviously a strategy that's in the pipeline at PlayStation.
Beyond that, imagining how the engine could improve is pretty tough; the results are already incredibly strong, having produced some of the most technically impressive open world games to date. Assuming Guerrilla and PS Studios will be moving to PS5-only development in future, it seems likely that Decima could be at the heart of some of the console's best-looking titles within a few years.
Are you excited for the future of Decima? Tell us in the comments section below.
The engine is clearly amazing so I'm taking this as good news. I'm actually curious if it's usable in different kinds of games - both in terms of genre and aesthetic.
Just finishing off Death Stranding Directors Cut and that’s a damn pretty game. Looking forward to seeing what they do with it
Wasnt until dawn and shadowfall also on decima? It would be smart for Sony to have one universal engine for all their studios.
I don't mind more studios using the Decima Engine but I hope it won't be a mandate like EA did with Frostbite. If a studio wants to use it great, if not let them choose what's best for their games.
@AinsleyE This. While it's good to get the most out of a fantastic engine, I don't want majority of AAA games to only rely on a handful of engines.
For example, GoW uses its own propriety engine that Santa Monica developed, and it looks and plays like a dream - with its distinct stylings - I wouldn't then want future titles moving over into Decima or UE5. We don't want games looking homogenised visually.
Sony Bend apparently using the Decima engine for they’re new game. Sony seem to be learning from Capcom and getting a lot of they’re studios to use the same engine.
It's a great engine I would like to see in other games, but it isn't one size fits all. There also benefits, in terms of hiring and getting people up to speed quickly, for NOT using a proprietary engine. Pros and Cons.
It makes more sense now why Angie Smets is taking a "head of development strategy" role. From what's rumoured there's at least 4 Horizon projects in the works from either Guerilla or other studios.
1. Zero Dawn remaster
2. Online coop spin off
3. A mobile MMO
4. And Horizon 3.
So it's likely that their on the Decima engine, so having people who are familiar with the tech in upper management roles to liaise with the studios should help with the development pipeline.
Makes me think about how Kojima's "Fox Engine" would have looked like after so many years of learning to optimize & use the full potential.
Decima was also used for Until Dawn which also looks great
@PSXDave Me too. I feel like KJP managed to adapt Decima into something that even looks like it was made in the FOX engine. If nobody told me it was actually Decima I would have thought they’d somehow licensed FOX from Konami.
Graphical fidelity is really great in both death stranding and horizon, but both horizon games are incredibly static, the worlds lack of interactions and the npcs dosen't react at all if i try to shot an arrow in their face or steal something, gta 3 or ghotic 2 still manage to beat horizon open world design 20 years later.
I wasn't a huge fan of horizon: forbidden west when tried it on ps5 - the open world and story just didn't grab me. However the visuals on display, specifically, the detail of character models and animations/presentation during conversations with NPC's, really blew me away. This was made all the more impressive by the fact that the game was running at 60fps in performance mode. The decima engine is absolutely fantastic and I would welcome it's use in more titles from PlayStation studios.
If the Zero Dawn remaster is a real thing that's pathetic.
I hope they can figure out a better solution for the in flight pop in issues. It was very jarring in the burning shores dlc.
Also, hire better writers and story designers!!!
@Al3 GTA though is a game all about, criminals, freedom and chaos with activities and wanted systems. Horizon is telling a particular story in its characters and world, if you had Aloy just randomly killing innocents and people reacting with horror then it doesn't fit with who she is or the story their telling.
Zero Dawn and Forbidden West are both among my favorite games. They're exceptionally beautiful and the control over Aloy is fantastic. I absolutely have my fingers crossed that we'll be able to see this engine used in a wide variety of other open world games in different settings. I doubt I'll ever get tired of the format, just keep it fresh with new stories and characters.
Death Stranding sells the Decima engine to me. Horizon’s fine, but it’s Ubisoft-esque. I know it’s unpopular in some circles to say, but Horizon does Ubisoft better than Ubisoft top to bottom. It’s solid for that, but DS is totally unique though and a showcase that the engine is capable of making different styles of games. It goes to show the engine could be used in all different capabilities for different genres, styles, and themes. Let’s see it used in a multiplayer experience or horror or any other genre and see what it can do. Can’t wait to see more of the engine!
Decima is an amazing engine, but I also don't want to see too much homogenization. But it's absolutely a fantastic looking engine with excellent performance to boot.
@KundaliniRising333 I agree about a remaster. The game looks fantastic as-is. It looks better than GoW2018 thanks to the engine, IMO. Looks better than a lot of "native" PS5 games. There's absolutely no reason to "remaster" a game that's still for sale and still beautiful. This min-max idea that a game only matters if it's newly launched with the current most state of the art graphics is bizarre. Maybe it does work for sales, but that still doesn't make it less sad.
@Americansamurai1 Not necessarily, remember when EA tried to standardize on Frostbite and it caused more harm than good, and now they've backed away from that? Capcom's been standardizing on REngine though and it's been going well. It depends on what the engine really does well and what its weaknesses are.
@NEStalgia yeah true, the engine would have to be very versatile. Be curious to see if any new games will be announced using it.
You can say allot of things about the writing in Forbidden West but one thing that's not debatable is that is an absolutely gorgeous game, as good as you're going to see on any platform!
Great engine, it really looks stunning.
That said, let Studio decide what works best for their vision. It is one more option for them - not shoehorned on everything.
Respawn with SW Jedi is a great example.
In addition to Decima, Naughty Dog and Sony Santa Monica have their own engines and I'm not sure what Insomniac and Bungie use. I'd like to think that between the options available in house that all PS Studios would be able to use what makes sense for the game and have the help available to make it work.
They are upgrading the engine to make better use of the PS5 hardware, I expect?
They've got to leave the PS4 hardware behind, and I say that as a PS4 Pro with SSD owner 'cos at the moment, there's just not enough of a difference.
@sanderson72 Burning Shores already introduced some of that and I'd definitely expect more new technical features in the future.
Weird, I think most of Sony's other recent titles would be a better basis for future output. Horizon might be Sony's prettiest game but all of their other recent titles feel better to play, don't have the same issues with bugs that Horizon has, and look just as nice.
@Juanalf absolutely, I find the writing tedious but the game looks superb. Great engine. Would love to see what it is capable of in some original titles.
Whether it will keep pace with UE5 is the big question mark though. It looks darn amazing at the moment in a world of UE4 titles, but anyone setting out to make a new game now, will be launching right near the end of this generation and probably more likely on PS6.
It will be a different world from the one we inhabit today, with games looking a lot different to the cross-gen titles that plague us at the moment.
No multiple engines really opens up a variety of projects to choose from, and there are lots of learning opportunities.
@Infern0 I don't know about that. Maintain separate engines requires more capital and time. They should take the best of all of their internal engine and have one universal engine. This would decrease dev time imo
Decima is certainly one powerful engine, proves that with Horizon and its an open world game!! Would love to see a linear, story driven game using Decima, that would push the engine even further.
Grammar police time.
elude - to evade or escape from
allude - to make an indirect reference
@JB_Whiting that wouldn't be the case. We're not going to see ND or Santa Monica ditch their proprietary engines and we're not gonna see Insomniac ditch theirs either. They've come a long way and that's what makes owning a PS good, the fact that their games mostly play different and you get differing high quality experiences. PS studios will use what works best for them and this is not EA.
Frostbite was used for almost everything because it was already established, had great fidelity, was expensive and most importantly for the studio heads, it wouldn't make sense to get their other studios to work on creating an engine as they usually release on a yearly or bi yearly basis.
Same reason why MLB has a sucky engine that looks like it's been barely updated since PS3 days
Well considering that unreal 5 has come out and with the new technology within that, surely they are taking notes and changing the engine to get the best outcome.
Plus has any first party studios released anything with Ray tracing, apart from spiderman and rachet.
We all have to remember no games from First party apart from rachet. Have released any games for just PS5.
Not counting burning shores because I believe that was made for ps4 to begin with.
I'd rather there be a heterogeneous array of engines being explored rather than a single, homogeneous mass. At the very least, allow new engines to be built upon the foundations of the old, as with Source engine. Otherwise, it could get to be quite worrying if things like, for example, physics end up feeling almost identical across half a dozen games or more.
The water and under it is amazing in Horizon FW. Would be so cool to see a Sony studio making a pirate game.
Decima is a fantastic engine and Burning Shores is easily one of the best looking titles of all time.
I guess an immediate improvement would be to include Ray Tracing. Although Horizon and others have easily shown that non-RT lighting can be very effective, the main drawback is the low-quality reflective surfaces. A similar problem is found in many 1st party Sony titles - GoW and TLoU pt.I are prime examples with some pretty bad cube maps. For the PS5 versions of Decima games I think it would be a good idea keep the baked lighting (Horizon has great baked bounce lighting) and SSAO, and then just go for RT reflections to keep the load 'light'.
Edit: some SSGI wouldn't go amiss either.
It's not a bad idea as gamers are starting to notice a distinct "unreal" look to games.
Having another engine around that can deliver a different look and specifically takes advantage of the PS5 architecture can only bring good things.
@JB_Whiting yeah, they created an engine specifically for GoW 2018 and then refused for ragnorök obviously. I wonder what the future holds for that franchise. Naughty Dog also has their own engine so no, I would be shocked if they required anyone to use Decima. Sony seems to try trust it's studios. At least the big 5.
@Loamy I would hope all their studios engines are being updated. Especially the way data is steamed because that ssd is fast! It's kinda crazy when you consider that most of their studios have created in house engines and they all are tailored to what the studio goes best. I'll be honest, I loved the inFamous games but I did not see GoT coming. They really improved that engine and created something truly fanatic.
the new uncharted game with the Decima Engine would be interesting. i'm sure a lot of the new studios they bought will be using it as well.
@AinsleyE The biggest problem with frostbite is that it was good (and still is) only for one type of game. Almost everything that was not meant for a first-person-shooter game had to be made by studios that were learning to use Frostbite, and not only that, the engine upgrades were not shared among the studios, so if one studio made steps in adapting Frostbite for their game, another studio would have to start all over, even if mechanically their games would behave the same.
I'd love elden ring etc to use this engine moving forwards instead of the old creaky engine they currently employ. I know the games are supposed to look old and decrepit but surely they can look beautiful at the same time 🤔
@sanderson72 The Demon Souls remake alone was a reason to update to the PS5 and if you look how stable it runs it's just a dream. Rachet and Clank looked fantastic. Ghost of Thushima looks and plays fantastic. I still have a ton of games to play but with these 3 alone im so happy.
I am quite surprised we never got more games using the Decima engine, glad to seem that will change.
@Americansamurai1 Killzone Shadow Fall was the first game to use Decima. Built from the ground up to leverage the PS4 hardware.
I'm assuming they are now updating the engine to fully leverage the PS5. As amazing as Forbidden West is, it's still built on Last Gen tech.
Very excited to see where the engine goes now it has been untethered from the limitations of PS4.
@VRjunky yeah very curious to see what the first PS5 only game will look like from the decima engine most likely it will be death stranding 2.
@Flaming_Kaiser Indeed! I was one of the lucky few who scored a PS5 on launch day and I was absolutely floored by the Demons Souls Remake!
Being a huge fan of the PS3 original, I was in awe of what Bluepoint had achieved, especially considering it was a launch title.
The Flame Lurker boss fight in that new engine goes down as one of the most visually impressive set pieces I have ever witnessed. I died quite a few times just because I was so distracted by the spectacle on show LoL.
@VRjunky I played through it 3,5 times for the Platinum it was a blast. 😁👍
But im yet to do it again.
@Flaming_Kaiser I'm going to be honest and say it defeated me a second time on PS5.
I got about halfway through on PS3 before giving up. Went back a few times but never got much further. I was one of the people who refused to watch any tutorials or guides, I found much of the delight of Fromsoft games was figuring out the obscure gameplay and progression mechanics.
On PS5 I only have the Man-eater, the next level boss after that (I've got no idea about either) but those ***** keep kicking my butt. And the final Boss.
I have been meaning to go back and play another build, but this working for a living nonsense takes up too much gaming time!
I was incredibly excited when they announced Demons Souls Remake as a launch game. It's second only to Killzone Shadow Fall in regards to a launch title showing a true generation leap. The sheer geometric density, near instant load times, that completely dynamic global illumination system, my god it looked good! And all at 60fps! Bluepoint were on point LoL.
I do wonder what they are working on now?
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