Whether or not Insomniac Games’ new open-world shooter Sunset Overdrive will actually be a decent game remains to be seen, but if nothing else it will be remembered for its excellent marketing campaign. Sunset Overdrive slammed into E3 2014 with a pitch-perfect trailer that at first presented itself as another grey-brown, cover-based military shooter, then had its hero burst cartoonishly through the door and shoot everything in sight before introducing the colorful world of Sunset City.
Not content with mocking upcoming games like Homefront: The Revolution and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Insomniac has also taken the opportunity to tap into one of the more talked-about controversies of E3 2014: Ubisoft’s lack of playable female characters in the cooperative campaigns for both Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Far Cry 4, and the subsequent excuse that female Assassins had been cut due to a lack of resources.
In order to demonstrate that animating female characters isn’t the terrifyingly mammoth task that Ubisoft was seemingly making it out to be, the latest Sunset TV gameplay video responds to an e-mail query about whether or not it’s possible to play female characters by showing a female character model wearing an oddly familiar-looking white robe. Presenter Brandon Winfrey’s reply is pretty on-the-nose.
“Of course. Self-expression is super important to us. You can be female. You can be male. You can be different skin tones. You can be different body types. And all of the clothing is gender neutral. So if you want to be a dude in a skirt, you can be a dude in a skirt. Just be who you want to be.”
Whoever is handling the marketing for Insomniac Games seems to have been taking notes from Sony’s strategy during last year’s console war, in which the company poked fun at some of the more controversial features of the Xbox One with digs like an “instructional video” on how to share PS4 games. With the PS4 currently outselling the Xbox One, this tactic of presenting a product as a radical alternative to its direct competitors seems to have paid off.
Regardless of whether you think Ubisoft or Insomniac’s games are better, there’s no denying that Insomniac is better at constructing a friendly public image. Where Ubisoft has been pushing pre-order packages and season passes, Insomniac is responding directly to the growing demand for more character customization and interesting character models that break from the AAA game industry’s tradition of grumpy brown-haired white guys.
Oh, and here’s a funny coincidence. Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Sunset Overdrive just so happen to be set for release on the same day.
The gameplay video also shows off the traps that can be used to defend the player’s fort at night – a system that sounds pretty similar to Epic Games’ upcoming title Fortnite. The traps can be used to kill mutants, or just to flip them around a bit for the player’s amusement. Sunset Overdrive has zero respect for mutant rights.
Sunset Overdrive will be available exclusively on Xbox One from October 28, 2014.