It must be awfully tricky making a game run on both current-and next-gen systems, taking advantage of the power of new consoles while keeping things running on the old ones. With Assassin's Creed IV, one of the highest profile cross-gen games around, it sounds like the current-gen side of things was, perhaps unsurprisingly, a real hassle.
"Development on both consoles was very smooth since they are both very similar to PCs," said AC IV director Ashraf Ismail today in a Reddit AMA. "Both XboxOne and PS4 were easy to deal with and the 1st partys were both there to help us out. The one gray area was understanding both Sony and MS requirements for the consoles. They were trying to figure them out themselves. Overall it was super smooth to develop on [next-gen systems]."
Making the game work on last-gen systems, however, was "very difficult and even nightmarish," Ismali said. He didn't elaborate just why this was, but after playing through the game on PS3, it seems like Ubisoft pulled some kind of magic trick to get everything working with current-gen consoles' comparatively sparse RAM allotment.
I played a good chunk of the PS4 version of the game, and while I'd advise holding out for next-gen versions (or PC) if you're getting one of those platforms, the PS3 version really does look and run just fine. Choppy in places, and certainly not as shiny as next-gen, but totally playable and generally lovely-looking.
We'll have more in-depth impressions of cross-gen multiplatform games like AC IV once we've had a chance to test them out on both Xbox One and PS4. But it's nice to hear that developers will indeed have an easier time making games for the new systems… though I don't envy those who have to continue to make cross-gen games over the years to come.