The developers making the next Assassin’s Creed game say they won’t compromise on the gameplay experience, and this forced them to compromise on some aspects of the open-world action game’s visuals.
GamesBeat reported earlier this week that Assassin’s Creed: Unity will run at 30 frames-per-second and at a resolution of 900p. That does not meet the 60 fps and 1080p that most gamers consider the standard for triple-A releases on the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. Some fans are not happy with this, and this forced Ubisoft to come out today and address this issue head-on.
One of the big issues that Ubisoft clearly wants to deal with (and put behind it) is the idea that the company held back the PlayStation 4 version to maintain parity with the Xbox One release. The publisher claims this isn’t the case.
“We’ve spent four years building the best game we could imagine,” Assassin’s Creed: Unity lead Vincent Pontbriand said in a canned interview on Ubisoft’s blog. “Why would we ever do anything to hold it back?”
In an interview earlier this week on Videogamer.com, Pontbriand said that his team went for parity to “avoid all the debates” about varying resolution and FPS on the different consoles. Now, the producer is saying that isn’t exactly the reason.
“I simply chose the wrong words when talking about the game’s resolution,” said Pontbriand. “And for that, I’m sorry.”
Pontbriand and the Ubisoft blog both go on to try to explain why Assassin’s Creed: Unity, which the company built specifically for the new systems, runs at a lower resolution than last year’s Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Well, it comes down to a number of factors.
First, the scale of Unity’s digital Paris is nearly 1-to-1 with the real thing. The cities and buildings in previous games, like Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood’s Florence, the game only rendered buildings and streets at three-quarter scale.
Second, Ubisoft wants to increase the number of nonplayer characters on the screen to make Paris feel more alive.
“Keep in mind that previous Assassin’s Creed games could support around 100 to 150 NPCs,” said Pontbriand. “Assassin’s Creed Unity has crowds of thousands of NPCs onscreen, and you can interact with each and every one them.”
Those NPCs also have improved artificial intelligence, which really taxes the main processor.
“There is a real cost to all those NPCs, to all the details in the city, to all the systems working together, and to the seamless co-op gameplay,” said Pontrbriand. “We wanted to be absolutely uncompromising when it comes to the overall gameplay experience. Those additional pixels [to get to 1080p] could only come at a cost to the gameplay.”
While this explanation does a fine job of pointing out the difficulty of getting to 1080p, it’s unlikely to completely win over many gamers. The new systems are not even a year old, and yet a new, top-of-the-line game is about to debut, and the developer had to compromise on the visuals. Gamers likely don’t want to hear that their new $400 to $500 gaming boxes are forcing developers to compromise.