When Ubisoft showed Watch Dogs at E3 this year, people were stunned. We saw something that was not only a showcase for what video games are capable of, but also showed a glimpse of what next gen has in store for us. It’s not clear yet what platforms the game will support, although Ubisoft has mentioned that the game will be released on PS3 and Xbox 360. The E3 demo made one thing clear, this isn’t something that is possible on current gen consoles, and according to Ubisoft, it was running on high end PC. There’s more to it than meets the eye though, and while people continue to ogle at the graphics, there are a lot of things that stood out in terms of game design that could be beneficial for next gen.
It’s a known fact that developers’ hands are tied with current gen hardware, and even though we have seen plenty of spectacular games that display incredible visual fidelity if you attempt to scrutinize it properly, you will find out that most of achieve that through smoke and mirrors. But they would not need to next-gen, if Watch Dogs is an indicator of what’s possible.
1) Massive open-world games: At the end of the Watch Dogs demo, you saw how large the city was, and while most open-world games this gen have reused a lot of assets, resulting in places looking a lot similar to each other, expect improvement in this area next-gen.
2) Graphics: The combat sequence that was shown in the Watch Dogs demo will put a lot of linear good looking games this gen to shame, and considering how large the world is, pulling off that visual fidelity in such a game is no mean feat. We may finally see games like Uncharted offering you a lot of room to explore without guiding you in a single line.
3) In-depth environment design: The Invisible walls that you see in most console games this gen are actually technical limitations and the developer’s way of saying don’t go there. Ever wondered why most of the buildings in open-world games this gen are like cardboard cut outs? It’s because, it’s all an illusion created to fit the game in the tiny 512MB RAM of a current gen console.