With the release of A Plague Tale: Requiem coming October 18, whether you’re familiar with its sequel or new to the series, you may naturally wonder about what technology is in store for this new instalment. Luckily for our impatient, Plague-ready fighting spirits, Nicolas Bécavin from Asobo Studio accepted our invitation to talk about the subject, sharing some of his lead engine programmer’s insight on the game!
Xbox Series X|S are the only Xbox consoles Requiem will be released on. What is the reason for this choice?
We came to this decision early in the process, as we had a shared vision for Requiem; we wanted to create a next step in the adventure, a 2.0 experience, not just a re-enactment of the first game. So, we quickly came to the conclusion that we had to set ourselves free from old-gen constraints to take complete advantage of the new gen. The game’s scope has grown consistently wider this way, with more content and better life expectancy, and heightened game-specific features such as the rats and the environment, resulting in a much bigger game with a fresh feel.
All eyes are on the rats! We’ve seen a mind-boggling number of them in the extended gameplay trailer. Can you tell us more about this new generation of monstrous pests?
Rats are central to A Plague Tale, the horror of the game revolves around them, and we wanted to have that multiplied. The first major visual impact is the number of rats appearing on screen. It’s increased from 5,000 to 300,000. We’ve also reworked the aspect of the swarms they form; instead of creating whirls as in Innocence, their movement will appear as a giant wave, something like a tsunami of rats. Many sequences have been precomputed to best control this effect. They’ve also become more intelligent, they’ll move with more awareness of the environment, will know how to avoid light better. We owe a lot to our own, in-house engine, that we’ve been developing alongside our different projects, as it allows us to focus on such specific features, without having to rely on an external team.
What about character animation, how did your motion capture technique evolve?
Requiem introduces full motion capture to A Plague Tale. Innocence was already using body motion capture; we now have facial motion capture on top. A Plague Tale is a deeply moving tale about the cruelty of the world and it’s so meaningful to have an actress lend a human face to Amicia and communicate the many emotions she’s subject to throughout the game. So, we’re extremely happy to bring this new layer of emotion to the game.
Will there be other important visual enhancements?
The new gen allows for a much more immersive and dynamic visual environment. That includes enhanced draw distance, which contributes to the sense of openness which distinguishes Requiem from its prequel. There will also be a great deal of extra details thanks to the power of the GPU, from improved…