Are Watch Dogs And Star Wars: 1313 Really Next-Gen Games?

Are we actually seeing PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720 video games at E3 and no one's admitting it? That's been a popular theory all week here in Los Angeles, and reporters and game creators buzz about the extraordinary-looking gameplay demonstrations of Ubisoft's Watch Dogs and LucasArts' Star Wars 1313. Both games looked way too graphically impressive to believably be running on an Xbox 360 or PS3.

So what's the story here? It depends on how you interpret varios winks, smiles and statements.

"I think I know which platform that game is for," one top gaming executive said to me while we were discussing Watch Dogs. But he didn't want to blurt it out.

"That sure looked like a next-gen game to me," I later said to a Ubisoft developer, who is not on the publisher's Watch Dogs team. He smiled and kept his mouth shut.

A couple of days earlier, just minutes after Ubisoft's live gameplay demo of the Grand Theft Auto-meets-Deus Ex Watch Dogs games, Ubisoft spokespeople were stretching this way and that to not answer my simple question of which platforms that game is for. And then we found listings on Ubi's press site for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

For days, though, I've had a hard time believing that any game that looks like...


... is running on a current-gen console.

I pressed Ubi PR again yesterday, and a rep wrote this to me: "So far we have only confirmed PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. However, since Watch Dogs will not be shipping this year, we have time to build content for multiple platforms should we choose to. We'll continue to update you as details become available."

Notice that Watch Dogs didn't appear at Sony and Microsoft's press events, a strange omission for a stunning game that Ubisoft says is coming to those company's current consoles. I'm not sure about Microsoft, but I do know that Sony won't allow developers to run games off of anything but PS3 tech at their conference (another words, no PC-based demos). That might explain why we wouldn't see a demo there, but not even an announcement? Strange.

Star Wars 1313 looks even more visually stunning than Watch Dogs. For that one, LucasArts is saying only that the game demo is using a heavily-modified Unreal Engine 3 and is running on a PC.

A rep for Epic Games, the company that provides UE3 to studios like Lucas, told me that the version of the Engine that Lucas is using is close to what ran the extraordinary "Samaritan" demo that was shown a year ago at the Game Developers' Conference in San Francisco. That demo, the Epic rep reiterated to me this week, ran on a spec that requires better hardware than we've got in the 360 and PS3 (whether the Wii U could handle it remains an open question; Epic's not saying and we haven't been able to as Nintendo yet). That Samaritan demo was basically Epic's way of suggesting to console manufacturers what kind of hardware power it would be beneficial for them to have in their next consoles.

Microsoft and Sony won't talk about their new consoles yet. We know they're working on them. Microsoft's is code-named Durango; Sony's is Orbis. Companies like Ubisoft and LucasArts aren't going to announce those machines for them. But we expect these consoles in fewer than 18 months, and it sure looks like we're getting a glimpse of what games will look like on them.

We're also getting a glimpse, clearly, of how good PC games can look right now. And that is exciting, too.

There may well be an Xbox 360 and PS3 version of Watch Dogs or 1313, but they probably won't look like what we've seen this week. There will definitely be another Xbox and PlayStation. And how will the games running on them look? I think we've all seen. If not, just press play on the videos in this story.

As our Luke Plunkett said of the amazing new graphics tech unveiled by the creators of Final Fantasy this week: "The next generation of consoles may not be at this show, but their graphics certainly are."


    I'm kind of in the middle on this... I thought they looked amazing if they're on current gen, but I'd have hoped next gen would look a bit nicer. To be fair to them, though, if they're next gen then they'd still have at least 18 months or so of development ahead of them so there's a lot of room for improvement. Plus they'd be launch titles and they never make the most of the new hardware.

      Also worthy of consideration brains, is a comparison of the PS3 & Xbox 360 launch titles, to the current range... as developers become more familiar with the tech over time, they stretch the boundaries even further. New rendering methods are discovered, texturing technologies, SDK's improve, etc... another example would be Doom 3. One of the first games to actually require a 512mb for max graphics settings. The xbox port ran on a 733mhz processor (with 128kb L2 Cache), 64mb ram, and GPU equivalent to a Geforce 3 Ti 500. an unreal achievement, comparing hardware differences given that minimum pc specs for doom 3 were a P4 1.5Ghz CPU (or equivalent), 384MB of RAM, and a 64MB graphics card. and we all know how well games run on minimum system requirements. :)

      To be fair, head to your local videoshop and rent out some first gen 360 games. Far Cry Predator Instincts and Outpost I think it was called? Anyhow, get some first gen ones. They only look like slightly upgraded Xbox games with a few new bells and whistles. It took at least two generations of games to get rid of that look to them, these look like something that can be done on the 360/ps3 at this time (albeit a loss in detail would happen) but wouldnt be as pretty or as fluid.

        Yeah I agree - some early 360 stuff looks basically like high-def port of original Xbox titles and they've come in leaps and bounds since - compare the first Mass Effect with Mass Effect 2 - it's like they're on different consoles!.

    I think the information (or lack thereof) can be interpreted for confirmation bias either way. If you say to Ubisoft "wow, that sure looks next-gen" he could smile knowingly because either a) you're onto something but he can't say, or; b) he's taking that as a compliment, because they made the game look so great on 7 year old hardware.

    Here's my silly ego-centric thought process:

    I'm sure we'll be seeing the Xbox v3 in late 2013 (i.e.: in stores in time for Christmas), so I hope that Watch Dogs is one of the last releases we see on the 360, or is held off to Q1 2014. While I want to see a stronger launch lineup for the Xbox v3 than the 360 had, I plan to wait about 3-4 months after launch before picking one up in case there's any hardware issues. (Plus if it launches in say November 2013, that 4 month wait will coincide with annual bonus time, which is the only time I can generally pick up large ticket items like new electronics). I'd hate to inadvertantly overlook any REALLY good games in that interim period. Just don't make this an Xbox 3 launch title!

    "Next Gen" <- I read this as "PC"

      Exactly. BF3 was shown off at E3 last year on a high end PC and i didn't hear anyone saying "we are witnessing the next generation of console graphics". It's the same case as it was then; it's just merely publishers realising that they need better hardware than 5 or 6 year old consoles to show off their games.

      Maybe i am wrong, maybe this is early development for future consoles, but to me that just doesn't seem all that likely. Prove me wrong though Ubisoft and LucasArts.....prove me wrong!!!

    Ahhh correct me if im wrong, but wasn't 99% of the games shown at E3 this year demo'd on high end PC's?

      Yeah - they look pretty much like I'd expect for a PC game to me - could be case of OC being the lead platform, with plans to down scale.

        That seems the most likely scenario. They could just be running it on PC because it's still fairly early in development and that's a safer option than a PS3 or 360 devkit, but I'm completely pulling that rationale out of my butt, so there's probably someone with actual technical knowledge who can explain why I'm wrong.

    Man they are still a while away, plus Watch Dogs is still slated for release on current consoles.

    Don't forget the first generation of console games generally look very ordinary compared to how they get once people learn the hardware.

    Try putting Crysis 2 next to Perfect Dark Zero and have a look how far the Xbox 360 has come, or even Halo 3 next to the Halo 4 demo.

    I just want new hardware so I have an excuse to upgrade my TV!

      Perfect Dark isn't the best comparison to make, that game spent most of it's life being developed as an Xbox 1 game and was shuffled over at the last minute. Gears 1 would probably make for a better one to stack up against Crysis 2 since it was always targeted for the 360 platform.

    It's a high end PC...

    another words ---> in other words? I'm hoping that was just an auto correct mistake.

      Yer on a gaiming webbsite, if yar nawt an inglish teecher then please, feel free to bee kwiet.

        Which is staffed by "professional" journalists vying for our mouse clicks to ensure their ad revenue is high enough to continue the site. So expecting them to be able to spell and use correct grammer isn't that unrealistic. (although Kotaku's past history tells me it probably won't get much better anytime soon)!

          The correct spelling of "grammer" is "grammar", sir. If we're going to mock journalists for their poor spelling, do we not owe them the courtesy of ensuring our own is correct? Also, I may be splitting hairs here, but "past history" is a tautology... Either past or history will suffice. Cheers!

    It's worth noting that the Watch Dogs demo was on a PC.

    I dont know about this... at the end of every console's cycle comes the games that really look the best. I mean just look at The Last of Us -- thats probably more visually stunning then both of these games and we KNOW that its running on PS3. So i dont think these games are next-gen yet... just really well optimized for the hardware (or running on ultra-high end PC hardware).

    yeah looks like all the major developers are looking forward to next-gen. Epic with their Unreal 4, Square Enix with their Luminous etc. Feels like they're all flexing their muscles now that they have more power to work with

    Do the commenters here not realize that just because they said it was on PC, does not say it's not a next-gen title? They aren't exactly going to claim it's running on a 360/PS3 are they, as we aren't that dense. And they also aren't going to just blurt out that it's running on a PS4, which leaves PC. PC is the creditable answer. It very well may actually be running on a PC also, but why showcase it with those graphics and then down-scale it? Last years E3 had most games demo-ing on their relative systems as far as I remember, then all of a sudden this year we get multi-playforms being shown on high end PC? I smell next gen.

    Yeah high end pc's but hopefully close to what the next Gen consoles will be like.That Final Fantasy demo althogh running in real-time was proberly running on a workstation or pc cluster and not representative of next gen xonsoles.

    Hopefully these games can at least run like this on the Wii U. If not, then the Wii U is officially taking the same steps it took with the Wii.

    I totally get that there's graphical trickery you can do with old hardware once it's been kicking around for a bit, but I have trouble believing Watch Dogs can run on a 360.

    These rendering techniques are pretty standard in current (high-end) PC video cards, so if this is next-gen console, imagine what the PC platform will be able to do in 1-2 years.

      My imagination only coughs up a bunch of half-arsed ports for average console games, sprinkled with a decent multiplatform FPS every now and then.

      And wave after wave of disappointing MMO releases.

      Its been like that for as long as I can remember, at least.

        yeah, thats the real problem isnt it. PC is now only really a secondary-platform for most developers. It ends up being a platform that gets "tweaked/optimized" console-ports, rather than titles that aim to take advantage of its full power (some rare exceptions exist, of course).

    There's nothing stopping them releasing the game on next-gen systems [i]and[/i] current-gen systems at the same time. The older systems would obviously not look as good, but assuming these are both late 2013 games, Ubisoft and Lucasarts would have to weigh up releasing for a combined 120 million+ install base, or an install base starting at 0. Smart thing to do would be to hedge their bets.

    lol And all of it was being done on PC. God reading the comments makes me facepalm. all of it isnt next Gen its current Gen. on PCs. Watch Dogs was being run on PC and so were a lot of other demos at E3.

    Most of the Demo's were run, on PC. This doesn't mean we are seeing next generation games. But it does pose the question. If these aren't current generation games is it really honest to be showing the higher graphical capabilities that the newer tech that can be accessed on PC is capable of.

    When those who don't really pay attention might buy one of these games to find that it doesn't live up to what was promised if they are in fact in the current generation.

    After all we saw the difference between PC and console BF3.

    Hell I would even argue the force unleashed. Which had the tech demo showing how stuff could be destroyed was misleading considering that the destroying was never implemented at that high a level(Most likely because the game had slowdowns when things got to hectic as it was.)

    To be fair, I thought Watch Dogs looked like it was running on a similar engine to AC3 - they look pretty similar - and that can run on current-gen (console) hardware and still look amazing. Optimisation and experience with the platform can go a long way... and the minor quality differences between AC3 and Watch Dogs could be put down to optimisation and system familiarity.
    Every year, we're blown away by what developers can achieve on this 7yo(?) tech. It's only because of rumours of next gen consoles that we hope they've not managed to do it again.

    I just figured they were PC demos, which is very likely the case. Though if I may offer something in the current gen. of consoles' defense: the Santa Monica team behind God of War and partial development of Journey have proven that you can make a game incredibly beautiful on the Playstation 3 if you understand every nook and cranny involved in its development on that console. It's the only reason the current generation of consoles have lasted so damn long - if the developers weren't able to strive towards the console's true max potential a little further each year, they would have died off a long time ago.

    they are next-gen graphics wrapped around old gen gameplay. they are interactive movies. the masses do not like to have to make choices in their games when they are not making these choices based on all the facts because it is not real life. personally i don't like my hand held. games like uncharted and CoD prove this. just too linear for someone who has played hundreds and hundreds of games over a 30 year period to find interesting anymore. they are all just updates on FMV games of old and even dragons lair.

    but at least they have pretty graphics to keep the media happy

      So you obviously didn't watch the demo for watch dogs then?

    i read this Article title and was like wtf pc games durr hahaha

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