Microsoft’s Quantum Break is certainly a hot topic as of late, but one editor talks about how it became one of his most anticipated games of 2016 after some hands-on time with it.
To be honest, Quantum Break wasn’t a game I was overly excited about. Don’t get me wrong, it looked like it offered a unique premise, setting, and style of play, but it had backed itself into the shadows of much larger pieces of software in the wake of a four year development cycle. I’ve been waiting so long to see something come of Remedy’s long in development title, that it just didn’t really interest me anymore. At least, that was the case until just recently.
Last week I was afforded an opportunity to go hands-on with the game at a recent Xbox Spring Showcase event in San Francisco. Prior to this moment, I’d been following the controversy stemming from news that Quantum Break would be arriving simultaneously on both Xbox One and Windows PC – much to the chagrin of console owners. This didn’t impact my initial interest in the game whatsoever, but it was certainly a talking point for many journalists present at the event. As the game booted up, however, I was quickly introduced to the riveting narrative that awaits gamers this April.
Time is relative, it’s never absolute. These are methods of thought and scientific belief that players need to keep in mind while playing, because the entirety of the game’s narrative is based around time travel and manipulation. The main protagonist Jack Joyce, played by Shawn Ashmore, gets caught in a time travel experiment gone wrong, and chaos ensues in the fallout. Suffice it to say, Joyce finds himself on the opposite end of a great many automatic weapons, and he’s forced to kill to find his way out. I won’t spoil the events that unfold, but tragedy strikes and players will find themselves reeling in the aftermath.
While the narrative is interesting, it’s the visuals of Quantum Break that really roped me in right from the get-go – specifically, the facial capture. Every emotion, eye roll, and dimple has been brought over into this game’s world with such precision that I could do little but stand there with my controller in-hand and my jaw flapping wildly in the breeze. I’ve seen some great looking games during my tenure as an editor at Game Rant, but this was the first console experience I’ve witnessed that looked like the next-generation level of gaming that Microsoft has been billing the Xbox One as since its launch in 2013.
Of course, looks aren’t everything, as many gamers can attest. Fortunately, Remedy has ensured that the gameplay feels wholly unique by implementing obvious, yet very satisfying, time-based abilities. Third-person shooters, or shooters in general, feel like they occupy an immense amount of space on the market, drawing comparisons to cookie-cutter products and proclamations that certain publishers fail to innovate. That’s just not the case here, as my character received new ability after new ability in an affective bid to turn the third-person shooter formula on its head.
Freezing people in place with a time bubble, zipping around a room like The Flash for brief moments, and generating a shield to avoid swallowing lead, all of these abilities make the game stand out as something outside of the norm. Couple these abilities with the way the raw visual appeal and general smoothness of the experience tie into one another, and anyone looking for something different and engaging in a genre that’s been bogged down by all too familiar motivations and mechanics will find just that.
There’s also a live-action show that accompanies gaps in gameplay, and it appears to be done in a rather decent fashion. The actions and paths that players choose in the game will immediately change the events of the show, so there are a number of variations and changes that can be made to each broadcast. An episode takes up roughly 20 minutes though, which may strike some as unnecessary – provided they just want to hop in and play a video game. For those uninterested in the overall story arc and the side characters featured within it, it is possible to skip these television-esque segments. Still, it remains to be seen if an approach like this will appeal to everyone.
Quantum Break seems like an incredibly nice change of pace, and it has firmly secured a spot as one of my most anticipated games of 2016 for a number of reasons. The story, the visuals, the gameplay, the live-action television show, these all feel like invigorating and fresh qualities for the genre and the industry as a whole. Remedy seems to have knocked it out of the park with the game at this point in time. Of course, whether or not it will hold up in its final release remains to be seen, but I’m chomping at the bit to find out.
Quantum Break will arrive for the Xbox One and Windows PC on April 5, 2016.