The correct answer, as EVE Online players already know, is last year, when an expansion to the game brought about avatars that must surely be the envy of every other video game involving human characters on the planet.
The lighting helps, especially the way it reacts to their skin and hair (and the fact Dead End Thrills took the shots at with 2160p rendering), but what I like most about them is the fact they're so human in their proportions. They don't look like cartoon characters, they don't look like comic book characters, their eyes, noses, everything looks as it should.
Take special note of the eyes, and the lips, and how they're able to convey subtle emotions.
I'm not saying they look real, or are able to overcome the uncanny valley, but stuff like this is a definite step in the right direction. Especially since these aren't characters specifically modelled by an artist, they're created by the players themselves.
It's also a reminder that for all of people's talk of "next gen" visuals with Sony and Microsoft's next console, in many ways that "next gen" is already here. It's just on the PC.
EVE Online [Dead End Thrills]