Next-gen graphics are... hard
The above image is pretty awful. It's grainy, you can barely see what's going on. Even if you could see it clearly, most of the words don't make sense on their own, let alone in the context of one another. Take it as a metaphor: There are things about video game development that you aren’t going to understand in a million years.
Such was the takeaway from the Next-Gen Character Rendering panel that Activision Blizzard researchers Jorge Jimenez and Javier von der Pahlen held on Wednesday afternoon. Hell, the panel's synopsis scarcely makes sense: "efforts toward photorealistic character rendering are futile if they don't include subsurface scattering rendering (SSS), realistic eye shading, physically based rendering, depth of field, film grain, plausible bloom, film-like tone mapping, very detailed assets, soft shadows, and an accurate anti-aliasing solution."
Suffice it to say, next-gen games will look purty. Don't ask how or why.