Vincent Pontbriand, the producer of Assassin’s Creed Unity, sparked an internet firestorm when he defended Ubisoft’s decision to lock the Xbox One and Playstation 4 versions of the game at the same resolution of 900p/30 frames per second. This exact controversy happened last year when Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag on the PS4 could run at 1080p via a patch while the Xbox One remained at 900p. At the time of this article, the original reporting website, Videogamer.com, is unavailable, but, thankfully, Eurogamer provides an accurate mirror of Pontbriand’s exact statements.
Technically we’re CPU-bound. The GPUs are really powerful, obviously the graphics look pretty good, but it’s the CPU [that] has to process the AI, the number of NPCs we have on screen, all these systems running in parallel.
We were quickly bottlenecked by that and it was a bit frustrating because we thought that this was going to be a tenfold improvement over everything AI-wise, and we realised it was going to be pretty hard. It’s not the number of polygons that affect the framerate. We could be running at 100fps if it was just graphics, but because of AI, we’re still limited to 30 frames per second.
Suffice to say, there has been quite a strong backlash from Assassins Creed fans and general gamers alike against Ubisoft. This isn’t even the first resolution controversy for the company of this year since Watch_Dogs had wildly inconsistent resolutions between the various home consoles. The official response to the Parity controversy has been that the producer was ‘misinterpreted’ and that they needed to build a new engine from the ground up. The official stance from Ubisoft now is that neither the final technical details for the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One version are ‘locked down’ yet. Only time and content patches will reveal the truth about Assassin Creed Unity’s resolution and the quality of its AI on the consoles.
Interesting enough, this is the first holiday season ever with a Microsoft platform as the ‘lead platform’ for an Assassin’s Creed title as seen in this tweet during E3 2014. This tweet from E3 2014 leads some to wonder if there is more at play than just CPU limitations.