With tessellation now fully implemented, I was very curious to see how it would perform when applied to arbitrary models. With tessellation, vertices act like control points for a Bezier mesh that is subdivided dynamically in screen space. Could tessellation be used to add new details to any low-poly model?
Here is a low-res character model with a pointy head and obvious sharp edges all around his silhouette:
When tessellation is enabled, the sharp edges go away and the mesh magically appears more detailed:
Let's take a look at the "Doom Seeker" enemy model from Doom 3. The original model is 640 triangles:
Tessellation gets rid of the blocky outline.
And displacement adds new details to the model.
What about other shapes? Can this technique be used to turn any low-poly model into a high-res version? Here is a tire model from "The Zone" DLC. Even with displacement set to zero on edge vertices, cracks still appear.
So my conclusion on this is that tessellation is fantastic for closed organic shapes. In fact, I think it totally replaces separate LOD meshes for rocks, characters, and other organic shapes. However, it is not something you should use everywhere without any discretion.