With GTA Online firmly causing headaches and trying to get its feet in the ground, similar to how APB originally launched and tried getting its feet in the ground, Reloaded Productions doesn't want to stand around and wait for Rockstar to sail smoothly out of the choppy seas, and that's why they've preemptively started taking measures to stay competitive.
Over on the APB blog there's an awesome, informative piece about a great number of things related to APB's future and competition with Rockstar's GTA Online. The main point, however, is that due to competition Reloaded Productions is taking APB: R to places it's never been.
First up, the team outlines how they took a hit when GTA V originally released in September – but it wasn't just GamersFirst who saw players migrate from their game(s) to dabble in Rockstar's latest open-world masterpiece, every game kind of took a hit when GTA V released.
While Reloaded and GamersFirst recovered from the slight setback, they had already put into motion a plan to retaliate. The team had secretly been working on an ambitious task for quite some time, a task we briefly mentioned when APB: Reloaded originally had an optimization overhaul earlier this year: The task of moving the game onward and upward toward a bigger and better engine.
Just for clarity purposes, the current version of the Unreal Engine that APB is running on is the trash version of the engine, the one that gave a lot of developers a lot of problems and was poorly optimized. Reloaded decided to eye the latest Unreal Engine 3 release preceding Epic's unveiling of the Unreal Engine 4. Hence, the Unreal Engine 3.5 -- the one that was optimized used to make the cash-in Gears of War: Judgment -- is the one that Reloaded Productions has already started using to transfer over APB: Reloaded.
Now the real sexy part about the news is that the team has nearly finished overhauling APB from the old source code to the new source code, which was about 10,000. In fact, they've wrapped up enough of the dirty work that they're confident enough to say that they could be requiring play-testers for the new and improved APB: Reloaded as soon as the first quarter of 2014, which his amazing!
So real quick, some of the highlights of Unreal Engine 3.5 includes better lighting systems, faster load times for materials and asset streaming, better memory management for larger environments and more on-screen actors/props, and improved physics and shadow systems. Reloaded is also moving over some of the custom mechanics that RealTime Worlds designed for APB, so that the game will have the best of both worlds.
I'm terribly excited about this because this engine upgrade opens the potential possibility of action districts with double the amount of participants, scaled performance so people with low-end PCs and laptops will be able to play the game with ease and much, much larger environments. In a way, APB: Reloaded could be very competitive with GTA Online after the engine migration and I can't wait.