Season 3 of Killer Instinct is about a month from release (scheduled for March 24) and a couple of days ago, Iron Galaxy Studios (which took over from Double Helix after they were bought by Amazon) detailed the graphical improvements being added to the game.
More specifically, new graphics technologies are being added such as reflections in the stages and a brand new dynamic lighting system which makes a better usage of Xbox One's power. Art Director Chad Greene described these changes in detail:
In terms of visuals, we are adding new graphics technology; reflection tech for the stages; re-introducing screen space color adjustments that work with gameplay; adding an all-new dynamic lighting system that provides greater realism and interaction for the characters and stages. Not only will Season 3 feature this new lighting, but we’ve gone back and re-lit everything for Season 1 and 2 as well. We can’t wait for our fans to see the enhancements of KI’s visuals!
Killer Instinct S1 had a “deep black” look that many fans really loved, and we’ve gone back to it (with a ton of upgrades!), so you’ll see deeper darks and more “mood” throughout all the stages.
As technology advances, graphics are becoming more and more powerful and the gamers have come to expect stunning visuals on today’s console hardware. Early in development of S3, we knew that we wanted to raise the bar on many levels and have a deep passion for delivering on ‘next gen’ visuals. In order to do this, we had to overhaul the tools and the pipeline and we’re really happy with the results and how we are utilizing the graphic power of the Xbox One.
Our lighting system was very specialized, and it was time for an overhaul. We met as a team to ideate and decided to use a system that allowed us to obtain dynamic lighting for the game, but work with our existing game engine. Once in place, our stages were completely re-lit utilizing the new tools while characters received updates to their lighting probes, which allows them to interact with the stage lighting. Characters now composite into the scenes in a way that is really believable – allowing for good integration/compositing while maintaining readability – especially important in a fighting game.
We are now able to get realistic bounce and fill lighting on the characters and we are using strong rim lighting (from behind) to further pull the characters out from the background.
We think the fans are really going to love the new visuals, they are going to notice details that they didn’t before – which showcase a wide range of characters and stages (such amazing locations to be fighting in!) When you add up the real-time reflections combined with the new lighting system, you get a very compelling look and feel that stays true to the style of Killer Instinct but ‘ups the bar’ in regards to the game being a visual showcase.
You can check a couple of comparison screenshots below. Obviously, Killer Instinct will look even better on PC though we haven't really received any news about the specific enhancements for this version, scheduled to become available alongside Season 3. Hopefully Microsoft will showcase it a little during the upcoming press event due to happen next week in San Francisco.