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Ubisoft: Xbox 720 specs "align" with those of PS4

"Connected and social components" will define next gen leap

This news update comes to you from the front car of a speeding train, flying through English countryside for Reasons of Mystery. What could I be going to see? While you ponder, read Ubisoft Montreal boss Yannis Mallat's thoughts on the next generation Xbox.

Speaking to Eurogamer at GDC last week, Mallat let slip the veils of secrecy just enough to reveal that the new Xbox is "aligned with what Sony announced [at the PS4 reveal]" in terms of its broad capabilities.

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That's to say, "It's going to be connected. It's going to be social. It's going to be immersive. It's going to be interactive." Awesome. Don't know about you, but I'm never happier than when I'm interacting with my immersion in a social and connected fashion.

Mallat was also prepared to speak in general terms about what next generation games would offer. "Let's state the obvious: the easy and immediate thing is going to be the graphics," he said. "There are some mind-blowing graphics right now on our next-gen technology, both on Watch Dogs and Assassin's Creed. That will be the entry door for anyone, even for the mainstream. It's really going to be amazing. Trust me on this one.

"That being said, the connected aspects and the social components will be what will define the difference between a next-gen experience and a current-gen experience. And we're eager to be able to talk about that and show that when we're ready."

Ubisoft is still a little sore about how long it's had to wait for next gen hardware - the company has been building games for new platforms based on calculated guesswork as to specifications. "We need to understand it's been a very long cycle with the 360 and the PS3," Mallat said, "much longer than we were anticipating and hoping. We are more used to a five year-ish cycle.

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So we had no other choice but to rely on our own vision of what next-gen could be, from our point of view. We didn't wait for first parties to describe their systems or deliver test kits. We already invested some time and effort on high-end PC, and we relied on our creatives to dream the dream and envision what the next-gen could be."

Watch Dogs is Ubisoft's flagship next gen release at present - it'll challenge GTA 5 with next gen connectivity, supposedly - but the safer bet may be Assassin's Creed 4, also equipped with fancy networking features.

Anybody surprised by any of this?

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