What happens when a new generation of consoles rolls around and suddenly you have a whole load more power people expect you to play with? Why, it's no trouble at all for Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, as Ubisoft has been using PC releases to play with shiny tech on fast hardware for years. But what sort of shinies can we expect? Three words: "next-gen bush."
"For a long time the PC was our test bed for next-gen because of DX11, and we could have more RAM," associate producer Sylvain Trottier told Eurogamer.
"It was the closest thing to the next gen console, so yes it was. PC's always going to be one step ahead of any generation of consoles, so we're still going to push tech and experiment with other stuff that could benefit Assassin's Creed afterwards. For example all the DX11 work on the PC version of Assassin's Creed 3, we started from there to make our base for DX11 GPUs that are on the next gen consoles."
Trottier explain that the basic approach was to use fancier versions of assets seen in the current-gen editions. "On next-gen we take current gen assets and up-res them, add parallax mapping so rocks look even more like rocks, we add plant physics so they move with the wind that you can't do on current gen."
Other effects and pretties we can expect to see in the fancy versions of AC4 include god rays, more ambient wildlife like insects on trees, volumetric sea fog, and, yes, next-gen bushes.
AC4: Black Flag is coming to Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii U on October 29. Yes, as helpful as the PC has been for the game, its PC edition will follow a little later. And, of course, it'll be on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 too.