Video game graphics have come a long way. What were once simple pixels have evolved into 3D models that border on photorealism, but realistic graphics can only go so far. If a video game character can’t properly mimic facial expressions or body movements, much of the magic is lost. Through real people acting with motion capture, though, game developers can easily copy the movements of the human body and maintain the illusion. E3 was full of games with good body and facial animations, but a few stood out from the rest.
The Last of Us 2
E3 2018 Games that Nailed Facial and Motion Capture
The Last of Us might be about surviving against the greatest myconid menace since the Matango, but as George Romero has taught us, zombie apocalypses are less about the brain-eaters and more about the human condition being laid bare in the wake of overwhelming tragedy. Human determination, grit, and despair; it’s all there, and the survivors experience all of it sooner or later. You can’t just say that the humans experience these emotions, though; the best way to show off an emotion is to show it through raw and powerful facial expressions, which is where face capture comes in.
The Last of Us Part II’s E3 trailer featured Ellie and somehow crammed almost every emotion possible into its 11-minute runtime. Not only were the emotions displayed with impeccable animation, but the face capture technology allowed Ellie to seamlessly shift from one expression to another. And that was just during a cutscene. When the trailer demonstrated gameplay, Ellie moved with the grace and gravity of a human forged by life-and-death struggles. She savagely swung weapons at bandits and gripped her arm whenever she was hit, and when Ellie hid under a truck and aimed her gun at an approaching person, she visibly shook with fear. You could literally taste each of Ellie’s emotions throughout the E3 trailer thanks to face and motion capture. And the same could be said of every other character in the trailer.