Killer Instinct Season 3 is bringing improved graphics, three new maps and Arbiter as a character

As a part of their efforts to port Killer Instinct to Windows 10 the developers have managed to not only improve the graphics but also completely rework the lighting engine so that the stages look far, far superior than their previous iterations.

All of this information comes from an interview Ultra-Combo did with Killer Instinct's art director, Chad Green. If you're interested in a developer's perspective on Killer Instinct I'd recommend you give it a read because I will only highlight a few choice quotes:

"In terms of visuals, we are adding new graphics technology; reflection tech for the stages; re-introducing screen space color adjustments that work with gameplay; adding an all-new dynamic lighting system that provides greater realism and interaction for the characters and stages. Not only will Season 3 feature this new lighting, but we’ve gone back and re-lit everything for Season 1 and 2 as well.

Once in place, our stages were completely re-lit utilizing the new tools while characters received updates to their lighting probes, which allows them to interact with the stage lighting. Characters now composite into the scenes in a way that is really believable – allowing for good integration/compositing while maintaining readability – especially important in a fighting game.

We think the fans are really going to love the new visuals, they are going to notice details that they didn’t before – which showcase a wide range of characters and stages (such amazing locations to be fighting in!) When you add up the real-time reflections combined with the new lighting system, you get a very compelling look and feel that stays true to the style of KI but ‘ups the bar’ in regards to the game being a visual showcase."

It is really impressive how much a "simple" thing such as lighting can add to the ambiance and perceived quality of a stage. Just look at the comparison image Ultra-Combo provided, the difference is seemingly night and day despite the stages and models being more or less the same. What I feel makes the crucial difference is the removal of overly dark tones that made characters and objects fade in to the background, whereas the new brighter tones make them contrast resulting in much more lifelike visuals.

Besides simply talking about graphical improvements Chad Green also confirmed that Killer Instinct's Season 3 will be arriving with three brand new stages, one of which you can see in the trailer below. And to top it all off the new lighting improvements will be retroactively applied to all Killer Instinct maps, for free, once Season 3 arrives in March.

As a final note, here's the trailer for one of the newly announced Season 3 characters, the Arbiter from Halo and his brand new stage: