Speaking to IGN, Technical Director of Programming Nikolay Stefanov explained why the PS4 and Xbox One consoles couldn’t facilitate the developer’s technical ambition for Avatar. “[New consoles allowed] us to have much better object detail up close to you, but also when you're flying high up in the air – to have a lovely vista and far-distance rendering, where we can even use the ray tracing to do shadows super far away, you know, three or four kilometers away from you."
In regards to map design, Avatar’s creative director Magnus Jansén drew the line of distinction between last-gen and the new, explaining: "It's not just the old 'I'm taking this slow walk as I enter into the place because we have to stream everything in', it's little subtle things that people don't think about, which is how close together are all the places in the world.
"If you look at, with the old hard drives, they had to be spaced out very far, because you had to stream out the old and stream in the new, so it just created a formulaic world. So, there's a ton of stuff like that."
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Reading through the interview, you might get the sense that Ubisoft Massive is taking current-gen technology quite seriously. PS5 and Xbox Series X SSDs are significantly quicker for loading scenes than last-gen’s ageing hard drives, which would be to the benefit of the open world sandbox featured in Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora.
If you’re familiar with the Avatar franchise, you recognize that the world of Pandora features no shortage of dense jungles, forest and the like. Rich amounts of foliage have always been relatively taxing to process, which comes down to the sheer amount of objects that need to be rendered into the scene. This can often negatively impact frame rates and overall graphical quality, and we imagine both the PS5 and Xbox Series X will likely still see some frame drops here and there as a result.
We’re certainly curious to see the results of Ubisoft Massive’s efforts with Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. As Ubisoft’s first exclusively current-gen title, it has an opportunity to set a high bar for what PS5 and Xbox Series X are truly capable of when not being held back by previous generation caveats.
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