Ratchet and Clank PS5 rifts could “easily” work on PS3 says veteran dev

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The reveal of Sony's PlayStation 5 didn't scream next-generation until the reveal of Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart. Developed by Insomniac Games, the third-person action-platformer burst into the next-gen scene with Pixar-level visuals.

One of Rift Apart's greatest features was its fast-loading rifts. Using the power of the PS5 SSD, the game could instantly switch between worlds at the drop of a hat. However, a veteran developer claims that the much-touted Ratchet and Clank loading doesn't need the PS5 SSD. Apparently, it can be done on a PS3.

Traveller’s Tales Founder on Ratchet and Clank rifts

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Reported by VGC, Traveller’s Tales founder Jon Burton claims that the PS5 exclusive’s flagship feature doesn't need an SSD. Insomniac claims the feature “would not have been possible without the Solid State Drive of PlayStation 5”. Burton claims it could “easily” be accomplished on hardware as old as PlayStation 3.

Burton believes that Insomniac was “misleading” in the games advertising. For example, Burton explains that Rift activities like Pocket Dimensions could be easily accomplished on PS4 or PS3. He explained:

“Because it’s just one Rift and it always goes to the same area this can easily be achieved on older hardware... Pocket Dimensions are really graphically basic, and in fact just seem to use a lot of the same generic objects like crates that would already be available in generic memory. It’s pretty much a sky dome, a few small platforms, generic objects and nice lighting, so on older hardware it wouldn’t take much memory, especially as it also uses the generic objects, all of which make it quick to load.”

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How it would work on older platforms

Burton says Ratchet and Clank rifts would only be possible on older systems through clever use of buffers. However, it wouldn't be impossible. As set pieces such as Ratchet’s Speeder Bike sequence are on-rails, Insomniac could store data ahead of time. This is the standard method of game design for most action set pieces.

He says:

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“The important thing to note here is that none of this is optional, it’s forced,” Burton explains. “This is important because it means you can pre-load the grind rail section while you are playing the speeder section. In fact, every section of this sequence is both forced and small. You only move across a very small part of the world and have very little ability to even move during this section – this means the game has the whole time you’re playing the section to load in the next section.”

The developer explains that the game could load and unload sequences into different memory buffers and call them when needed. This type of culling is very standard. As Burton states, these “pretty simple techniques can be used to achieve exactly the same thing on older hardware”.

Obviously, Ratchet and Clank wouldn't look anywhere near as beautiful on older platforms. However, it's worth noting that devs have been using simple techniques to “eliminate loading” for decades now.

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