It would be naive to assume that this is in-game footage. Aside from the obviously scripted camera, the animation looks a little too smooth, the physics a tad too realistic and the vistas a bit too gorgeous. But scripted events can still be rendered in-engine; they don’t necessarily require a ray tracer. In this complete waste-of-time blog, I hope to provide support for the theory that this footage could be in engine after all.
Using a raytracer method of shading, you will always have a perfect, flawless finish, unless the raytracer in question is shit. With that in mind, take a look at the screenshot above. Note the bread-knife serrated edge of that shader, something that you would not find in any pre-rendered cinematic, but is highly likely to be found in the typical pixel shader of any recent release you care to mention.
It isn’t very clear as a screenshot, so if you want, look at this moment during the trailer. The shadow against the wall is somewhat odd for a video game engine, wouldn’t you say? It seems to be a radiosity shadow, something thus far unique to pre-rendered CG, more or less anyway. However, if you look at detail, you’ll notice that it is, in fact, just one silhouette shadow multiplied a few times, which if I might observe, is fucking clever. Though this may subconsciously contribute to your belief that this is pre-rendered, it is entirely possible in a real-time engine.
The plant in this picture is a bit jaggy. Look, shut up for a second. Pre-rendered trailers don’t use low poly objects - so this is likely an in game asset. Occasionally, pre-rendered trailers will use in game objects and meshes, such as the Left 4 Dead opening scene, but these rare. You can count on something external from the game engine to look far more defined.
4. Look to the ubidays trailer
The trailer at Ubidays was revealed by Ubisoft to be entirely in-engine. There is a similar style and graphical prowess between the footage we saw over a year ago and the video leaked yesterday. Also, notice the presence of all the things I mentioned above in the debut trailer, the shading techniques and the very noticeable vertices in certain areas. I even remember a similar debate over this back then, before we knew that it was in engine.
5. You wouldn’t question it otherwise
If this was CG, you’d know it. Developers spending the money on CG want to make the most out of it; they will make it look far more cinematic and complex. Rendered trailers are approached from an entirely different angle because of their vastly broader potential.
All I'm trying to do here is put across the possibilities and the evidence so that you don't feel quite so stupid when it turns out you were wrong. It will probably turn out that it is pre-rendered and this entire post will have been complete and utter bullshit. At which point, I, as well as everyone else who tried to legitimately defend it, will look like unintelligible reactionary husks and any of us with a sense of dignity will be forced to commit sepuku to get over it. Or possibly just humbly admit fault, but you never know with the kind of psychos that comprise the BG&E fan community.