The facial animation in The Last Of Us II is insane

I’m just blown away! Intimacy in games has a tendency to feel awkward because so far, game graphics just couldn’t pull off all the complexity and subtlety that goes into an emotionally convincing performance with the fine nuances that these kinds of scenes require.

This here really shows me that we’re on track to overcoming the uncanny valley.

Once we can depict scenes of intimacy, like this scene here, or even natural (non-pornographic) sex scenes with all the vulnerability and emotional nuance that we’d perceive in a similar live-action film scene, games will be able to match and exceed movies not just in entertainment, but as a medium for high Art and culture.

This scene is an impressive milestone on the way there.

It’s really getting up there. I think a lot of what makes this effective as well is the direction and camera work/ editing. Also lighting and sound. It plays just like a normal live action drama. So I think that really pulls the viewer in and it all feels much more natural. But there is an unmistakable warmth in the faces and eyes. They still feel artificial but also feel to me far more compelling than what we are normally used to. The familiar uncanny valley recoil factor isn’t so much there.

I’m thinking these cut scenes were all pre-rendered and probably extensively worked over and fine tuned. Even though they would likely have been assembled in engine to render. Probably composited and color graded in post as well. I’ve not worked on anything like this for a while. But if it was in engine we would always capture it and work with it in edit like any other pre-rendered footage. But also take advantage of the fact it was not in game to rework things a lot by hand. Importing custom sequences most times.

One word: polishing.
Naughty Dog was always top with animation, i think it looks so good because they take immense amounts of time into consideration to polish animation until its perfect.
Which is what makes the difference imho. Its not just technical advantages its the mindset behind what drives them to reach this level of quality.
I was impressed (but not surprised) by the whole game play and how fluid the transitions in-between animations where. No amount of popping and moving into place, everything just flows natural. The combat at the end was breathtaking because it felt so realistic (for a video game action scene).

well, they know how to push playstation hardware to its best result.

There are still things that can’t be solvedf without making the game impossible to work realtime (leaves entering the character, for example), but it’s gorgeous to see (and probably to play)