Ubisoft recently released a new trailer to demonstrate the new capabilities of the game engine powering Assassin's Creed Unity. We learn a little more about the improved combat mechanics, the upgraded parkour abilities, as well as the game's day and night cycle that has been upscaled to fit the needs of new generation hardware.
The four minute trailer is narrated by the game's creative director, Alex Amancio. We learn that the new game uses an overhauled map making pipeline – something that really has no effect on the end-user, but actually helps with the amount of content the end-user will be able to interact with when all is said and done – enabling the developers to easily swap in and out various building assets to help the design flow and how well players will be able to traverse the massive landscape of Paris during the French Revolution.
We get to see a bit more about the use of HDR lighting, reflective material, scattering and appropriate dynamic shifts between light and dark illumination sources. We didn't get to see how well this works for transitioning between indoor and outdoor segments. As the video showcases, we definitely get to see how outdoors looks – but how well does the light transition, for instance, when a player walks into a candle-lit house during the night? Are we looking at real-time illumination from the candle or a fixed light source that keeps things visible for the player?
In older games the lighting entities were always fixed for both indoor and outdoor settings, so however light or dark it was on the outside is how dark or light it would be indoors. It's a problem that usually plagues many open-world titles, which is why enterable buildings are so rare in many games because they also require separate light modules so they don't suffer from the issue I just mentioned above. A lot of times these multiple performance-taxing properties are why many open-world games feel so limited in some areas, but Ubisoft is hoping to address this in Assassin's Creed Unity.
Also, not to linger too long on the issue, but Global Illumination is an instant problem-solver for the outdoor versus indoor lighting hiccup that some open world titles suffer from (which is also an issue that Dean “Rocket” Hall and crew currently have to resolve in DayZ's standalone alpha). It's an engine-specific feature that, so far, has only made appearances for the Unreal Engine 4 and for Unity's upcoming Unity 5 engine.
Getting back to the promo video... the trailer also details some new combat mechanics that some players will definitely enjoy, such as being able to roll and parry while also unleashing counter-attacks. The problem in Assassin's Creed games has never been an issue of maneuverability or attack options, but rather the limited A.I., and how they react to players; oftentimes they just stand around waiting to be attacked, and lunging with lots of infrequency. Hopefully the A.I., is as challenging as the game's options in which to fight and dispatch them.
You can look for Assassin's Creed Unity to launch this fall for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. Need to learn more? Feel free to visit the official website.