Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora Offers Ray-Traced GI and Reflections, Next-Gen NPC/Enemy AI

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At this year’s E3 Ubisoft finally pulled the curtain back on Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, which will be the first next-gen-exclusive title from the publisher, but what exactly does that mean? Sure, the trailer looked very pretty, but how is Massive Entertainment taking advantage of new hardware to deliver a truly different experience? Massive provides some answers to that question in a new “tech showcase” video, which you can check out below.

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According to Massive, they’ve upgraded their Snowdrop Engine in a big way in order to render the more natural environments of Pandora (well, natural in an alien sort of way). Using automated systems, they’re able to place huge amounts of foliage around the environment and a new dynamic wind system and shaders bring it to life. Of course, ray tracing will also be supported, specifically ray-traced global illumination and reflections.

Looking at the bigger picture, Massive promises new hardware will allow them to make a much denser world, as opposed to current/last-gen open world design, which typically consists of large empty spaces dotted with points of interest in order to accommodate background loading…

It's not just the old 'I'm taking this slow walk as I enter into the place because we have to stream everything in. It's little subtle things that people don't think about, which is how close together are all the places in the world. If you look at, with the old hard drives, they had to be spaced out very far [apart], because you had to stream out the old and stream in the new, so it just created a formulaic world.

Massive will also be using the additional hardware power for improved AI that will interact with the world in more realistic ways. NPCs will be aware of the weather and other things happening in the world and react accordingly, and enemies will avoid vegetation normally, but crash right through it when they’re chasing you. Overall, it sounds like Massive is really trying to up the immersion factor.

Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is coming to PC, Xbox Series X/S, PS5, Stadia, and Luna in 2022.

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