Frontiers of Pandora developers explain why the game is only next-gen
Most of the games coming out right now are intergenerational titles, as is typically the case with console generation transitions, and that will likely continue to be the case for at least a year or so, if not longer. When Ubisoft is Avatar: Pandora’s Borders launches next year, however, it won’t be released for PS4 and Xbox One. So why exactly is this the case? According to its developers Ubisoft Massive, who recently spoke with IGN, Avatar: Pandora’s Borders leverages PS5 and Xbox Series X / S hardware to do things that would not have been possible on PS4 and Xbox One.
For example, the game emphasizes flying through its open world, which is much more technically demanding. Creative Director Magnus Jansén spoke about the possibility of adding extra detail to environments even from a distance, rather than just things that are up close. “[New consoles allowed] us to have much better object detail near you, but also when you are flying high in the air – to have a nice view and a far rendering, where we can even use ray tracing to cast shadows very far away, you know, three or four kilometers from you. Jansén said.
Meanwhile, technical director of programming Nikolay Stefanov explained that being able to stream data at high speed is also crucial to keep pace with players moving around the world. “You are flying at tremendous speeds on a Banshee over this very, very detailed landscape,” Stefanov said. “It doesn’t matter how much we can give back, unless we can get it out so quickly when we move very quickly from one place to another. So just this move to these new hard drives, it can’t be underestimated because, and it really has a lot of implications.
The developers also explained that working exclusively with new hardware also allowed them to design the game’s open world differently. No longer bound by older constraints, Ubisoft Massive attempted to create a more organic world. Says Jansén: “With the old hard drives, we had to space them out very [apart], because you had to broadcast the old and broadcast the new, so it created a stereotypical world. So there is a ton of stuff like that.
On top of that, Ubisoft Massive is also implementing changes and improvements in the AI and interactions with NPCs and creatures in the game that take advantage of more powerful hardware from the new consoles. “Wildlife, AI, the way they follow you, the way they attack you, technological advancements and the way we leverage the power of our in-house Snowdrop engine allows us to [to] do amazing things that wouldn’t be possible [otherwise], said Jansén.
“For big creatures, whenever they’re calm, obviously they’re walking around trees and things like that,” Stefanov explained. “But when they run away, or attack you, or whatever, they’re just going to go through bamboo and other vegetation and destroy them completely. I think it’s really cool to be able to see all these effects that NPCs have an effect on the environment, as well as the fact that you also have an effect on the environment.
Avatar: Pandora’s Borders will launch next year on PS5, Xbox Series X / S, PC and Stadia.