Ubisoft have a history of pushing exclusive graphical features for the PC platform, particularly if you’re an Nvidia user. So naturally, with the release of Far Cry 4 and Assassin’s Creed Unity later this year, PC owners were expecting something extra. This all ties in rather nicely with Nvidia’s recent unveiling of the Maxwell architecture too, eh?
So, what PC graphical features do both titles have? Well, TXAA was a given for inclusion. TXAA is a Temporal Anti-Aliasing method which is more accurate and less shimmery (that’s a technical term if ever I’ve heard one) than say FXAA. It’s a pretty nice Anti-Aliasing mode, though clearly other methods such as SSAA are ‘better’ but they’re also much more expensive to run on the GPU.
HBAO+ was also pretty much a given, just in case you’re not familiar with the technique, it’s an improved form of Ambient Occlusion. AO (to give it a friendlier title) is extremely important for shadows. Ambient Occlusion is present in console versions of titles (without it, the lighting and shadow system in the game would look pretty flat), but PC’s have a greater degree of GPU grunt disposable and therefore the more accurate HBAO+ is available.
Next we’ve got PCSS (Percent-Closer Soft Shadows) which as the name suggests improves on the shadows in the titles. Percent-Closer Soft Shadows builds on the foundations of Shadow Mapping, by shading each pixel in the eye view (in other words, what we can see on screen), a floating point value (which are more accurate) will be provided by PCSS. This floating point value indicates the amount of shadowing at each shaded point. Once again, this technique is more accurate than traditional Shadow Mapping (which it replaces), but has the positive effect of looking better.
Nvidia FUR is also said to be part of both Assassin’s Creed Unity and Far Cry 4. FC4 in particular could benefit heavily from this technology, as animal fur, hair and other such objects are notoriously difficult for computer graphics to emulate. Nvidia’s FUR technology (which is also present in the upcoming Witcher 3) goes some way to address this. If AMD’s TressFX technology is anything to go by, it’ll be quite GPU intensive.
There was also a tech leak which shows that AC Unity will indeed feature full Tessellation for the PC release. Most likely the consoles versions will feature it, but the PC version of games usually bumps the Tessellation settings up some (this was the case in say Watch Dogs too).
It’ll be interesting to see if Nvidia Hardware Physx is present in either of Ubisoft’s titles. Currently it’s unconfirmed as far as I know, but it’d not be surprising. It was present in Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, which we investigate in our analysis. Nvidia are also happy to spout regarding their technology on their webpage, but very little specifics regarding either Far Cry 4 or Assassin’s Creed Unity.