Unreal Engine 4 won't be shown to the public till later this year, but Epic's Mark Rein has set the expectation bar high by describing it as well beyond last year's amazing Samaritan tech demo - and wanred console manufacturers that they need to keep up.
Shack News asked Rein if the Unreal Engine 4 being shown to developers behind closed doors at GDC 2012 was anything like the Samaritan demo.
"If Samaritan looked like a piece of crap, that's what Unreal Engine 4 would look like," was his startling reply.
"Our goal with Samaritan was to show you the future. It came a lot sooner than we expected."
When showing the impressive graphics tech at GSC 2011, Epic said it wanted to set a benchmark for future hardware, running the demo in real time on an expensive rig with three graphics cards. Just one year on, hardware has advanced so far that the demo requires just one high-end GPU.
"We didn't expect this to come out so soon. If they can do this this year on a single video card, maybe next year on a laptop," he said.
The rapid acceleration of graphics hardware means Rein now has even higher expectations of the next batch of consoles, calling on manufacturers to make them as "bleeding edge" as possible.
"We are absolutely every day [pushing platform holders]. This is why we did Samaritan and why we're doing a really high-end demo in the room here," he told CVG.
"We really are pushing these guys, because if they don't, Apple will go right past them."
Rein warned Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo that console gaming could "go away" if hardware doesn't deliver.
"The console gaming experience is about delivering something that's way out past the bleeding edge and subsidising it through the software royalty model - just like Apple does with the phones," he said.
"That's the console gaming model, and if you don't do that - if you don't stretch just far enough, you don't just have enough of a difference to make people want to take the leap with you... it all falls down."
Epic doesn't believe that's going to happen, but it's lobbying strongly anyway,
"I think the console guys are going to blow us all away. But we're on them," he said.
"There's no end in sight for what we can do with unlimited technology. So we're always going to be pushing and I'm sure we'll be pushing for more than is possible to give. But yes, we feel that's kind of our duty. That's what Epic is here for."