I am still trying to work out exactly what Microsoft is thinking with some of their decisions regarding the Xbox One and its lackluster reveal. And it is probably best if I just waited until E3 for them to clear some of this up and… you know… show some games. But I think I may still jump to some conclusions later this week. Whether my impressions of the Xbox One will be better or worse than the way I reacted to the conference yesterday will likely be determined by how many more Microsoft execs put their foot in their mouth before then.
First though, I thought I’d take a look at the one thing that did catch my eye from the presser yesterday: Quantum Break. PlayStation consoles have been my main systems in recent years. Its part exclusives, part comfort, part what my friends play on. Regardless of the reasoning, other systems I buy typically for exclusives. For the 360, one of those games was Alan Wake. I liked the way it used TV style presentation from the “Previously seen on…” segments that each episode opened with to the cliffhangers that they ended with, it was a well-done style of structuring and presenting the game. And as someone who loves scripted television, it hit me stronger than most I imagine. One of the things I was looking forward to about the next Xbox was a sequel to this from Remedy. So I was a bit surprised when they revealed their next game to be a new IP instead. But hey that is good too and it could be just as exciting. Except I’m not sure I love the idea of Quantum Break.
The short trailer shown (check it out here if you haven’t) was a mix of live action and actual footage of the game. It was hard to make a lot from it. There was a little girl… and a boat crashing into a bridge… and a guy surveying a scene… and some time manipulation. What it will actually be about we’ll find out later I suppose. The big takeaway seems to be that it is taking that combination of “Game meets TV” that Alan Wake toyed with to a whole other level. There will be a live action TV show that ties into the gameplay. And this is totally my own speculation, but I assume these will both be on the disc. So different than say what Defiance is doing. Apparently playing the game will affect the TV show. And basically depending on your actions in the game, you get sort of a director’s cut of the TV show tailored to you and those actions. And it was said, the show will sort of inform on how to play the game. So I’m sure the way you want to play might be affected by what you watch in the show.
It is hard to say what all this actually means. Is this just marking the return of the FMV? Will these TV episodes be glorified cutscenes? What will be the division between playing and watching? It is the last that worries me. In the past year or so, I’ve been one of those gamers whining and moaning about how games aren’t game-y enough anymore. Some might say I’m being hypocritical because I love the Uncharted series which helped spearhead this move towards more cinematic gaming experiences. But I also love Uncharted’s combat. And that gives the gameplay enough substance for me to enjoy the story and characters, but still feel engaged. Like I was still playing a game. Heck, even with that series, I complained when I felt Uncharted 3 took too much control away from me. Take The Walking Dead game as another example. It has a really engrossing story. It captures the feel of the comic books extremely well in a way the TV series rarely ever does. And yet you do so little in that game from a gameplay standpoint, I just find myself bored. I’ve been told to treat it like an interactive TV show which makes a lot of sense, but I am just looking for a different kind of experience when I sit down to play a game than when I watch a show.
Alan Wake was just on the borderline of this sort of line I have. Its gameplay wasn’t fantastic, but its blend of exploration and shooting was just enough to make me feel engaged and entertained so I could enjoy the narrative and presentation elements. So I wonder if Quantum Break will be crossing that line now. Maybe the two elements will be so split apart that I can literally treat them like the two separate hobbies of mine. When I want to play the game, I play a game part. And then when the TV part rolls around, I wait until I’m ready to indulge in that hobby. Or maybe Remedy, being the talented developer they are, will just sell me on whatever this crazy mashup is.
So at the moment (and I’m working on some really scant details here), I don’t love the concept of this game. But I hope Remedy can convince me to. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more on Quantum Break hopefully at next month’s E3 and I’m going forward with an open mind about it.
What did you think of the Quantum Break trailer? How do you think they might manage these two elements? Am I turning into a total curmudgeon when it comes to gaming? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!