There’s no doubt that at this stage in the current generation of consoles that Microsoft and Xbox One have the upper hand when it comes to released and announced exclusives (shots fired).
While the PS4’s holiday line-up glaringly lacks big AAA exclusives, the Xbox One has two big hitters: Halo 5 (releasing on October 27th) and Rise of the Tomb Raider. The latter franchise called PlayStation home for many years but will release exclusively on Xbox One on November 10th (also globally recognised as Fallout 4 day). Although it’s only a timed exclusive it’s unclear as to when it will grace Sony’s console. We’ve also seen a new Crackdown announced, which to be honest even after the Gamescom presentation I still have no real idea what it is about. There’s also PlatinumGames’ new IP, Scalebound, which does look cool, but reminds me somewhat of Capcom’s Devil May Cry reboot. Not to mention Gears of War 4, ReCore and Rare’s newest IP, Sea of Thieves.
But wait, there’s more. Microsoft had planned to launch another exclusive, Quantum Break this holiday season but decided to push its release back into 2016. This allowed developers Remedy Entertainment to give the game and its live-action tie-in extra polish, plus with the holiday release schedule already chockers full of big names it eliminates the possibility of it being buried by the release of other more established franchises.
For those that aren’t aware, Quantum Break is a game where you play as Jack Joyce, who has acquired the power to alter time thanks to a time travel experiment gone wrong. Paul Serene, the game’s main antagonist, also acquires time control abilities in the accident but is also transformed into a bit of a megalomaniacal arsehole by the experience. Serene founds the corporation Monarch Solutions, which is now on the hunt for Joyce, who seeks revenge on Serene after he murdered his brother, Will.
During the recent EB Expo, we were treated to a twenty minute presentation regarding Quantum Break. It was here we learnt more about the game’s story and how the whole package will be delivered. The host informed us that the game would span five acts and be separated by four, twenty minute live-action episodes. The live-action TV episodes, much like the game, play out according to your choices. During the presentation we witnessed the outcomes of different choices over a couple of different scenarios, and how these scenarios play out in the game. One integral box that Remedy has ticked is that all the actors used for the game are the same actors that portray their characters in the TV show. This allows there to be no disconnection from the characters when jumping from gameplay to the silver screen.
The gameplay segment we were treated to was from roughly around the middle of the game, and it was the same as the stage demo from Gamescom in August this year. The time manipulation effects look awesome and the game itself is graphically impressive. The key area of the whole thing, the gameplay, looks fun and seems like it offers a lot of variation and time-bending skills to play around with, and I can’t wait to use the time manipulation powers to take down Monarch Solutions.
So why is Quantum Break my most anticipated exclusive? Primarily, I love the premise of the story. Time travel is a concept that intrigues me and I don’t think there have been enough quality time travel games released. Secondly, the live-action TV show tie in to the game’s campaign, where your choices matter to the extent that different TV episodes play is utterly unique. To my knowledge it has never been done before and I admire developers who take a risk and release something novel like this. Besides, Remedy has a pretty reliable pedigree so you know that even the basic gameplay elements (such as shooting) will be solid. Lastly, it is a brand new IP. It’s not Halo, it’s not CoD or any other established franchise. It’s new, fresh and untried. Rather than being sold another experience in the same game world, we’re being sold a whole new experience, with new characters to form opinions of and a game world which has yet to be explored. It’s the power of the unknown. I believe we need to get around developers that go out on a limb with new IPs; the market is already saturated with sequels and remasters. We don’t want publishers to favour rehashes over new ideas; new ideas are what keeps the industry improving, searching for that next big hit IP.
There are a couple slight concerns that I do have. I am curious to know how much gameplay will be involved across the five acts. Will the game feel longer because of the TV show, or will the acts have a decent amount of gameplay before cutting to the live-action episodes?
Secondly, Shawn Ashmore doesn’t quite do it for me as Jack Joyce. In my opinion he lacks the gritty edginess that the original Joyce had. While I understand Remedy’s reasoning for heading down the Hollywood path, Ashmore doesn’t look like the type of person that could potentially take down a whole corporation with badass weaponry and fighting skills.
These are only minor concerns and from what we have been shown thus far, whether you agree or not that it is the most exciting upcoming IP, it does look interesting and worthy of a hands-on at some point. But what is known is that Xbox One does have an exciting line-up of games coming in the future, and that’s why we’re here, for the games.