Explore the immersive world of Genshin Impact with the next-generation performance of the PS5

Genshin Impact, an awe-inspiring open-world action RPG, takes players on a journey through the breathtaking world of Teyvat. As a mysterious “Traveler”, players embark on a quest to uncover the fate of their lost siblings, gradually unveiling the secrets of Teyvat.

Recently, the development team behind Genshin decided to bring the game to the PS5 platform, allowing more players to experience the joy of the game. This article explores how the Genshin Impact production team utilized Unity for cross-platform development.

Cross-platform game development

In terms of content production, the PS4 and PS5 versions of Genshin Impact are virtually identical. The first step was to develop a framework for the PS5 and further build a brand-new graphics library. Most importantly, there were some content enhancements such as level of detail (LOD) and mapping.

To fill such a vast world on the PS5, the production team made adjustments to the use of LOD groups, resulting in more draw calls and triangle meshes. The improvement in graphic quality increased the workload on the CPU and GPU, so the production team effectively balanced these pressures through LOD strategies. In addition to LOD, they also increased the resolution of various texture maps for all scenes, characters, and effects in the native PS5 version. These enhancements make the image quality appear more realistic and exquisite. While these modifications may impose a considerable burden on the GPU, they believe that with game optimization, it will provide players with the best gaming experience.

In addition, Sony has made significant improvements to the PlayStation Network for PS5. To address these changes, the team has integrated the latest PS5 plugins from Unity and enhanced the interactive features of Genshin Impact, in order to enhance the overall user experience of PSN.

The Team’s Challenges

During the transition from PS4 to PS5, the team’s challenges were primarily focused on understanding the new hardware and maximizing its performance. As a result, the team devised a long-term optimization plan that would allow them to fully leverage the PS5 as a brand-new platform to deliver a flawless gaming experience to players.

The team has become even more rigorous in terms of stability and completing testing than ever before. Their goal remains to create an enjoyable game for players while minimizing the occurrence of bugs.

Customized for the PS5

Although the built-in rendering pipeline on the PS4 can provide high-quality graphics to a large extent, the team is eager to leverage the stronger hardware performance of the PS5 to create even more realistic and detailed game visuals for players. The entire rendering pipeline has been improved to deliver better graphics for the game. They assert that the upcoming PS5 version is just the beginning. As Genshin Impact will continue to support downloads on the PS5, there will certainly be more new features and versions released thereafter.

The management of workload by the Genshin creative team

It is no secret that the Genshin Impact game utilizes Unity, but the team has custom-built their own graphics library and file loading system from scratch. This has allowed them a great deal of freedom in terms of code control and attention to detail, as they have developed the entire game internally, undertaking a massive workload while racing against tight timelines.

In addition to supporting various graphical features of the game, they also desired to execute certain functionalities, which would be handled by the driver layer on PC. However, on PS5, all operations had to be manually executed. For instance, while you can collect a variety of data to render something, when inputting this data into the hardware of the PS5, it can directly modify certain calculations or states. In other words, errors in the data could potentially cause an immediate crash of the PS5 application.

Developing the graphics library for the PS5 requires a certain level of expertise and a deep understanding of the hardware. The team spent nearly two months on the first version of the game and then continued with debugging. The team attributes all of this to the graphics library; after all, without the library, there would be no graphics. All modules depend on it for validation. That’s why the workload for developing the graphics library is much greater than that of other modules.

The PS5 hardware is equipped with new features, particularly ray tracing and a powerful SSD. Due to limited resources, the development team intends to provide native PS5 Genshin Impact as soon as possible. Their idea is to complement our game’s art style while ensuring that the enhanced lighting effects provided by ray tracing are in harmony with the overall experience. For this reason, they are being extremely cautious when modifying the lighting effects. They need the support of the art team to determine the best approach. Given the complexity of such a large-scale game, this can be quite time-consuming.

In the end, their attention shifted towards a customized file loading system that harnesses the power of SSD and reduces loading times, thereby enhancing the gaming experience. The team opted to develop a tailor-made file loading system for SSD. While SSD hardware itself is already powerful enough, its full potential can be unleashed when combined with the loading system.

Maximizing SSD capabilities

Genshin Impact is an open-world game, and loading has always been a challenge for open-world games. This is because, unlike other game genres, they are not linear in nature. Therefore, in order to provide a better experience for Genshin Impact players on PS5, the team sought to utilize the capabilities of SSD to shorten the game’s loading times. As a result, players can spend time enjoying the game rather than waiting for it to load.

In fact, when running Genshin Impact on PS5 in compatibility mode with PS4, the loading time is compared to the original PS4 version. Even in compatibility mode, it is still faster than the native PS4 version. In terms of percentage, the speed improvement is indeed astonishing. Based on this situation, the team decided to focus on customizing the file loading system to enhance players’ gaming experience.

The SSD speed on PS5 is incredibly fast, with remarkable reading speed. What’s more, the files waiting to be read are small in size. The team effectively organized the commands for reading the SSD to allow hardware to fully utilize the SSD capabilities and achieve faster loading.

As the file loading speed is fast, it ensures that the CPU carefully processes these files into basic data during gameplay. Compared to completely rewriting the graphics library, this workload is lighter, but it is a new hardware that requires thorough research and testing.

Creating PS5 applications with Unity

During the game development phase, the team decided to make Genshin Impact a cross-platform game. Therefore, the game had to be developed in the direction of cross-platform compatibility, and the team made advanced plans to avoid duplicated work. Thanks to these plans, activities within the game can now take place simultaneously on all platforms.

Unity’s versatile engine is highly suitable for cross-platform development. It offers extensive multi-platform support, significantly enhancing the flexibility of applications and ensuring clarity and simplicity in lower-level architectural aspects of game development. This expedites the game development process. Additionally, Unity’s teams in China and the United States provide support to game production teams. They actively seek feedback from game production teams, enhancing Unity’s sensitivity to future trends in game technology.

For the PS5 version of Genshin Impact, most of the content is created by the team themselves, making them more aware of how to improve the game. In the long run, as Unity continues to develop new technologies, the Genshin production team will engage in deeper collaboration with the Unity team in the future. In discussions with Unity’s US team, they mentioned the addition of many practical features in 2020 and 2021. Therefore, in the future, there will certainly be closer collaboration between the two teams, bringing players a better gaming experience.

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