Tomb Raider Q&A: All The Details of Next-Gen
On the official Eidos forums, many fans have contributed to a massive Tomb Raider Q&A regarding the Definitive Edition, which will ship on 28th January for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Since the game has been already announced to be sold at full price, some have questioned whether the package was worth it or not; we have compiled some of the most interesting answers by Scot Amos, Executive Producer at Crystal Dynamics, below.
First of all, Amos mentioned that this is not just a quick porting job of a few months:
We started planning it as far back as Nov 2012 and started work in January 2013, and it’s not quite done yet… so it will be 1 full year by the time we launch in January, 2014.
One of the most interesting tweaks made by Crystal Dynamics is without a doubt the “facelift” of Lara Croft; Amos goes in great detail to describe it.
Our Sr. Art Director, Brian Horton, directed the exploration and development of the next-gen Lara as seen in Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition. We did start with the idea of updating just her skin or a few extra polygons, but as we started to learn more about the hardware and what was possible, we felt Lara deserved even more attention. So we had the same folks who built her for the initial PS3/X360 version dedicated to reworking her for the next-gen version. In the end… we’re excited about both this new step in upgrading Lara with her new TressFX hair, new sub-surface scattering on skin, and overall new look. But we’re never satisfied … meaning Brian and team are anxiously looking forward to feedback from everyone when they see her live on PS4/Xbox One in January as we listen to all feedback and will greedily take and reflect on your inputs for ways we could even improve her further in the future. Also, the new Lara is used across all in-game cut-scenes; including her new TressFX hair and new skin/material shaders.
Also, it seems like she wasn’t the only one getting the makeover:
Actually, all in-game characters were updated for next-gen; but Lara is the star so she got the super-deluxe treatment! We did up rez geometry, textures, and other aspects for all primary characters in the story.
Speaking of platform differences, PlayStation 4 uses the DualShock 4′s touchpad and both consoles use voice commands:
There are custom differences as you know for each – meaning PS4′s controller has a touch-pad on it, has the lit front that we do interact with from in-game; and Xbox One has Kinect which we make use of; both support in-game voice commands via Kinect for Xbox One and using a microphone attached to PS4′s controller or through Sony’s camera if you have one. We truly targeted delivering the best experience taking fullest advantage of both consoles so that players on either platform would have the awesome Tomb Raider experience no matter where they played. We see it as a matter of personal preference as we want everyone to have a great time in the game! And yes, gameplay in both versions is at full 1080p!
Some final details regarding physics improvements, frame rate (still TBA) and antialiasing techniques:
A few of our engineers were dedicated to improving physics both on Lara and in the world. A few quick examples – Lara has equipment on her that she acquires as she goes through her adventure. The climbing axe, her radio, her bow and a quiver of arrows, etc. All of these now have subtle but simulated physics on them so as she runs, jumps, falls, stumbles, they react accordingly giving her more grounding the world. Then the world itself… we added so many objects, plants, trees, and then wind and weather effects that also have physics simulation built into them to react with each other. Wind will make trees and leaves sway or flutter; cloth flaps against light or heavy winds accordingly; particles and Lara’s TressFX hair will drift according to the directional wind impact. All-in-all it adds a great additional depth and realism to the world.
I’m not quoting a framerate as we’re still optimizing the game – even today, even this close to final, we still have teams actively squeezing out everything we can to generate the best experience possible! We will happily talk more about our final end results in January once we’re totally done.
We used FXAA (fast approximate anti-aliasing) and MLAA (morphological anti-aliasing).
Take those as you will, of course. Personally, my guess is that for those who already bought the game on PC there won’t be anything really new; the players who got the game on PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 would notice the graphical enhancements, so in this case it depends on how much important graphics really is for you. However, if you did NOT play the game on any platform I highly suggest you do that, because Tomb Raider is one of the best games of 2013, as testified by the numerous picks of our editors in the Worlds Factory Awards 2013; if you have a next gen platform, the Definitive Edition could be a no-brainer then.