4A Games chief technical officer Oles Shishkovstov says the developer behind the Metro series is working on an open-world title. In a lengthy interview with Eurogamer, he also goes into great detail about programming for both of the current gen game consoles and discusses how ongoing improvements to their toolsets will contribute to their next game.
4A Games and publisher Deep Silver recently released updated versions of both Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light. Each is being sold separately and bundled together in a package called Metro Redux. The updates represent a total remaster, a kind of director's cut, and have taken the Ukrainian studio more than a year to complete. Metro Redux is available on PC, as well as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
While both console versions of Metro Redux run consistently at 60 fps, the PS4 version shipped with a higher resolution than the Xbox One. Shishkovstov did not shy away from discussing the differences between the two consoles.
PS4 is just a bit more powerful.
"PS4 is just a bit more powerful," he said, pointing to slightly beefier components inside the PS4. "I've seen a lot of cases while profiling Xbox One when the GPU could perform fast enough but only when the CPU is basically idle. Unfortunately I've even seen the other way round, when the CPU does perform as expected but only under idle GPU, even if it [the CPU] is supposed to get prioritized memory access. That is why Microsoft's decision to boost the clocks just before the launch was a sensible thing to do with the design set in stone."
Microsoft made a change to the Xbox One's development kit in June, removing the allotment of GPU resources given to the Kinect motion-sensing peripheral. At the time, Microsoft said it would return "up to 10 percent" of the console's potential GPU power to developers. Shishkovstov says that in reality the change didn't give him nearly that much wiggle room.
"It is not like 'here, take that ten percent of performance we've stolen before', actually it is variable," he said. "Sometimes you can use 1.5 percent more, and sometimes seven percent and so on. We could possibly have aimed for a higher res [on Metro Redux], but we went for a 100 percent stable, vsync-locked frame-rate this time. That is not to say we could not have done more with more time, and per my earlier answer, the [Xbox One development tools] and system software continues to improve every month."
We may push 40 percent more pixels per frame on PS4, but it's not 40 percent better as a result.
He was also quick to point out that raw power isn't everything.
"Counting pixel output probably isn't the best way to measure the difference between them though. There are plenty of other [and more important factors] that affect image quality besides resolution. We may push 40 percent more pixels per frame on PS4, but it's not 40 percent better as a result ... your own eyes can tell you that."
Everything that 4A Games has learned from developing for the new consoles is feeding back into their next title, which Shishkovstov said would be open-world.
"For the game we are working on now, our designers have shifted to a more sand-box-style experience - less linear but still hugely story-driven."
If that's the case, it could mean a return to the gameplay style of the STALKER series, a game which much of the core team at 4A worked on prior to starting their own studio.