The small Chinese team just took the wraps off of its breathtaking action-adventure gaming Black Myth: Wukong, which has become a viral sensation overnight and could be one of the best showpieces yet for the new consoles as well as high-end gaming desktops.
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Why should you care? Well, if you’re a fan of the so-called ‘Souls’ games — challenging third-person combat games with deep, intricately constructed worlds to explore — then Black Myth: Wukong is in that vein.
The game is based on the Journey to the West mythology, which follows the story of a Buddist monk that traveled from his home in Southern China to India to bring back a holy text to his country while being protected by the Monkey King - a mix of a human, monkey, and trickster god. Black Myth: Wukong appears to run with the fantastical elements of that story, as we see the player character transform into an insect, use other magical abilities, and fight werewolf-like enemies as well as a giant wolf-like creature that wouldn’t look out of place in From Software’s Bloodborne.
Given the 13-minute trailer was in Chinese, a language we’re not really au fait with, it’s tricky to get much narrative detail from the video. But what we could see is it looks seriously pretty.
Next-gen gaming in motion
There’s sumptuous detail in the forest area the trailer takes palace in, with leaves, tufts of grass, and moss-covered rock looking good enough to tempt you to reach out and touch them. The combat in Black Myth: Wu Kong also looks pretty slick, with smooth movements and animations, as well as a variety of graphical effects bursting onto the screen with each successful hit.
Lighting also looks pretty incredible, though we didn’t detect any ray-tracing at play. Given the rendering technique is going to be supported by the PS5 and Xbox Series X, as well as boosted in the upcoming Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080, that's a little surprising. Though Black Myth: Wukong looks gorgeous all the same.
We’ve seen impressive graphics in plenty of current generation games, with Red Dead Redemption 2 and The Last of Us 2 being standout examples. But it’s the extra level of detail, increased effects, and fluidity of movement and animation that the likes of Black Myth: Wu Kong seem to be promising for next-generation games on both the upcoming consoles and powerful PCs.
Interestingly, Black Myth: Wukong is using the Unreal Engine 4 rather than the new fifth-generation engine. So if a game can look that good on an engine that’s been around for a while, it’s a promising sign for the type of graphics we can expect from the Unreal Engine 5 outside of tech demos.
There is a caveat in that Chinese indie studio Game Science probably won’t have Black Myth: Wukong out for at least a year or so. The game is “still far from completion” despite how polished it looks in the trailer.
In short, the next generation of games consoles means a new generation of visually sumptuous titles, which you’ll be able to tap into even if you eschew the PS5 and Xbox Series X in favor of one of our picks for the best gaming PCs.
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Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.