Machine Learning Takes GTA V Photorealism to Never-Before-Seen Levels

A team of three literally changed the game.
Fabienne Lang
GTA V's original version (left) and the photorealistic version (right)Intel ISL/YouTube

Gaming graphics have improved in leaps and bounds in the past decades, and even though many games look already incredibly realistic, one mod might have just taken the ticket for the most realistic one.

Thanks to this mod, Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) nearly looks photorealistic. Developed by Stephan Richter, Hassan Abu AlHaija, and Vladen Koltun, the team of three managed to use machine learning to its benefit and created an impressive photorealistic view of the famous game. 

The team published its findings on the pre-publisher website arXiv on Monday, May 10. It's also shared its feat on Github under the project's title: Enhancing Photorealism Enhancement, and you can view the enhanced photorealism in action in a GTA V game in the digestible video the trio posted on YouTube.

Even though GTA V already looks great in its bright and sharp tones, the new method uses more natural, neutral colors (like we see in real life), improves reflections, enhances road texture, and offers a few other tweaks here and there to make it appear more photorealistic. 

According to the team, this kind of AI-based system won't be added anytime soon to the gaming world, as it requires a lot more imagery and footage as samples before changing entire games. 

This kind of AI method, though, could be added in machine learning systems to speed games up, mentions the team.

And in terms of the AI method the team used, it's a new kind of AI enhancement that uses patches (like similar-looking cars, people, and roads) that look very similar to the real deal to offer reference points for the enhancement, all while managing to maintain high frame rates. 

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In essence, by enhancing and improving the information and the quality fed to machines, as well as how it's delivered, you can vastly improve the end results.

Some might say that the beauty of some games lies in the fact that they're a "prettier" version of what we see on Earth, while others might be thrilled to navigate through very realistic scenes. From upgraded curved monitors to machine learning, there's a lot that can be done to improve the gaming experience.

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