Forget chocolates and flowers and Valentine’s Day cards. Yes, February is traditionally a time for amore, but we’ve got something even more darling that’s sure to warm your hearts. Today, Ubisoft announced the next-gen release dates for Rayman Legends, which will be hopping onto PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on February 18 in North America and February 20 in Europe. The beloved platformer was already one of the top-rated games of 2013, but that didn’t stop Ubisoft Montpellier from putting even more love into these next-gen releases. We previously outlined some of what’s been enhanced for the new consoles (see: Rayman Legends Coming to Next-Gen Consoles) – but for even more insight, we had a heart-to-heart chat with Lead Game Designer Emile Morel.
You’ve added some new characters to the next-game versions. Tell us about them…
On Xbox One and PlayStation 4, you’ll find new playable characters to unlock in the Heroes Gallery. On Xbox One, there are two characters directly inspired by Far Cry 3’s famous villain: Vaas! Ray Vass and Far Glob are two bizarre heroes dressed as this famous psychotic pirate. Also on Xbox One, players will have the opportunity to play Splinter Ray, a Sam Fisher-inspired hero.
On PS4, you’ll get to play Assassin Ray, a hero inspired by Edward Kenway from Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag.
Also, using their Uplay points players will be able to buy the outrageous playable hero, Funky Ray.
Finally, players have the possibility to be awarded an exclusive VIP hero called Champion Ray (along with VIP status visible on the leaderboards). Champion Ray can be unlocked by the most active and highest-ranked players in the Online Challenges, as well as through active participation and involvement in the Rayman Legends community.
The Xbox One version has new time-limited achievements. How do these work?
On Xbox One, you’ll find 10 exclusive challenges that you have to complete in a limited amount of time. They’re in addition to the existing achievements on Xbox 360 and that will also be in the Xbox One version. These challenges require you to perform specific actions during a limited amount of time (one week). They are associated with various aspects of the game, such as player skills, co-op play, Kung Foot, and so on.
The PS4 also has a few nifty additions. Any insight into those?
Right away we saw how the PS4 touchpad could be a great tool to show players all the amazing details our artists have put inside the visuals and the animations of the game. That’s why we created the Camera Mode using this touchpad. By pressing the touchpad once, you freeze the game and enter Camera Mode. In this mode, by moving your fingers on the touchpad you can zoom in and out and also pan to adjust the frame. When you’re happy with your picture, you just have to press the Share button on the PS4 controller to share this picture with everyone. This mode is a great way to pause the game to look at all the amazing details the game contains and it’s also a great tool to be creative and build amazing pictures with all the elements you have in the game.
We are also using the touchpad of the PS4 controller to allow the player to scratch lucky tickets in the game. Using your fingers to scratch these tickets feels, of course, very natural, just like scratching an actual lottery ticket. You even hear the scratching sound coming out of the PS4 controller!
On PS4, you’ll also have the possibility to play the full game in Remote Play on a PlayStation Vita connected to your PS4. So even if someone wants to watch TV, you’ll be able to continue playing the game on your PS Vita.
What about the graphics? The game is already gorgeous, with its 2D hand-drawn art. How specifically has it been enhanced for next-gen?
The power behind the Xbox One and the PS4 allows us to display the game’s textures without any compression on these consoles. This makes the game’s visuals even sharper than before and will allow players to see even more of the details and nuances our artists put into the textures of the game. These uncompressed textures highlight the hand-drawn style of the game’s visuals.
The enhanced power of these new consoles has also allowed us to do away with the loading times when entering or exiting a level. Jumping inside a painting will now start the level immediately. Jumping in and out of a level has never been faster and it’s a great feeling to have such a seamless experience. Navigating in the game now feels smoother and your gaming experience is never stopped by loading transitions.
Did the UbiArt Framework help when building these next-gen versions?
UbiArt Framework was already allowing us to run the game at 60fps in 1080p on Xbox 360 and PS3, so it meant we already had more or less what you expect from a next-gen game in terms of display and fluidity. Building on that, porting the game with UbiArt Framework proved to be quite easy and the next-gen consoles allowed us to further optimize the game and make it a really amazing experience.
With the ease of streaming and sharing on next gen, do you hope to see more gamers streaming their best runs? And do you think this will enhance the experience?
We really hope that players will share their experiences in this game as much as possible, especially in the Online Challenges where we know that the competition can be very fierce! I especially hope that the best players in these challenges will share their best runs to show other players how they do it and what special tricks they use to make these amazing scores. Personally, I know that in the dev team some of us would love to learn the secret tricks from these high-ranked champions!
Along with the possibility to share and view their best runs, players can even broadcast their Kung Foot matches. All of this will really enhance the whole competition and multiplayer aspect of the game, and will push players to try again and again to improve themselves and beat the best scores!
Any secrets about the game that you can share? Something that you really love, that the fans might love too?
There’s something I really love in the game: It’s all the crazy elements we placed in the background of the levels. Most people don’t notice them, but if you take your time you can see some goofy things going on there: mushrooms playing acoustic guitar and trumpet, a tree suddenly starting to move and scampering away on its two little feet, and a lot of other crazy things! With even sharper visuals now on next-gen consoles – and the ability to zoom on the PS4 – I really hope that players will see and enjoy these funny animations!
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