Fans have been begging Ubisoft for an Assassin's Creed game where you can hop through multiple time periods. It's the ultimate form of bringing the historical adventures to life in ways that we haven't seen before. Well, all of that wondering, begging, pleading, and hoping may finally come to fruition. Ubisoft is exploring the design concept of having future games in the Assassin's Creed franchise make it possible for you to travel between different time periods, and experience more than just one open-world adventure in a single epoch.
According to a news post on the Ubisoft website, future games may actually include traveling through multiple time periods in different locations featuring different characters, all in one play experience. According to Ubisoft's Canadian studio executive vice president, Lionel Raynaud, the budding technology in hardware developments will make it possible for the time-period hopping to take place...
But we will have technology that will break the [current] limits of memory, for instance, because of new technologies that are arriving. We would be able to -- in the same world -- have several historical periods, for instance, in Assassin's Creed, and use the Animus to travel from one to the other.
So, what Raynaud is talking about refers to to both physical memory storage and memory access storage. In both cases you would need a lot of memory and very fast memory bandwidth to be able to hop between different time periods in an effective and timely manner. In most Assassin's Creed games, since they utilize shared assets across various gameplay regions spread out across the giant open-world map, it makes it easier to load in and load out assets that stay cached in memory.
If you transfer to a whole different epoch, it means changing the NPCs so they have different clothing and behavior, changing the buildings so that they represent the time period, changing the weather effects if it's set in a different part of the world, and completely altering features such as transportation, roadways, weapons, and sound effects. All of those assets take up memory, and the higher their fidelity the more memory it takes up.
This is usually why, when modders import maps from previous games into new games, like with Grand Theft Auto, and upscale the textures and replace the models, you usually need a lot of spare physical memory free in order to load all of those new art assets. It's basically doubling the size of the game. When you move from one area to the next and it has to load, all of the old area and assets have to be scrubbed from the RAM and the new assets have to be loaded in, which can be extremely taxing on the hardware. Ubisoft did lightly experiment with different time periods in Assassin's Creed: Unity, but it was a small area in a small segment of the game.
What Reynauld is talking about is that newer hardware with faster memory bandwidth (which can decrease load times) will make it viable to have multiple time periods and worlds available for players to explore without it being too taxing on the hardware.
The VP is obviously talking about upcoming game consoles, but so far neither Sony nor Microsoft have announced any new tech... yet. If he's already had some access to the specs then it could speak volumes as to the scope of the games we can expect next generation.