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Last Guardian E3 Trailer: Is It Really In-Game?

Yes, there's no doubt we're late to the party with coverage of The Last Guardian's E3 trailer, but we really wanted a high quality video asset to work with before we analysed it in-depth. The results are somewhat intriguing, and the decision to wait was the right one, but even now there's still an element of uncertainty about what it is exactly that we're looking at.

First off, our general impressions. The chances are they're probably the same as yours: there's no doubt whatsoever that this is a trailer is a wonderful piece of work, and it succeeds mostly because of an ethos that we've seen elsewhere in Sony first party projects, in particular Killzone 2. While the basic magnificence speaks for itself, all console hardware has inherent technical limitations (in short, something has to give) but the impact of those compromises in-game can be lessened through the expert handling of art and tech in concert. So with that in mind, here's the lowdown on what Sony revealed during E3.

The Last Guardian trailer, with the customary technical annotations.

The cinematic style of the whole trailer makes it difficult to pick up what might be gameplay and what might be cut-scenes, but what is curious is that some scenes appear to have anti-aliasing, while others have none at all. Some scenes are confirmed 720p, while others - due to the compression of the video asset - are much more difficult to discern. Adding further to the confusion is the emergence of screenshots on one of our favourite overseas sites, the Korean Ruliweb.

The ambiguity continues: elements of these scenes are replicated in the trailer at 720p, but here they're 1080p with 2xAA. Click through for the full images.

There is the strong possibility that what we have here doesn't actually feature any gameplay at all, and similar to the original God of War 3 reveal video, is a purpose-built trailer using actual assets from the development but with no in-game action. An alternative is that the trailer is cut together with video taken from the game at various stages of development, which has some plausibility to it bearing in mind the existence of the older video that was leaked pre-E3.

Regardless, there's obviously something special here, but until code is in the wild, or good quality direct feed capture of actual gameplay becomes available, consider this analysis tentative and somewhat incomplete.

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About the Author
Richard Leadbetter avatar

Richard Leadbetter

Technology Editor, Digital Foundry

Rich has been a games journalist since the days of 16-bit and specialises in technical analysis. He's commonly known around Eurogamer as the Blacksmith of the Future.

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