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Xbox One – the glory of being first past the post

Tuesday, 19 November 2013 15:55 GMT By Stace Harman

Ahead of the worldwide release of Xbox One this week, Stace Harman speaks to the developers of an array of the console’s exclusive titles to find out what it means to be there from the very start of the next-gen party.

Xbox One Exclusives

Ryse: Son of Rome has been in development since 2009 and undergone extensive prototyping and a series of platform and name changes before arriving as an Xbox One launch title. Chart its history here.

A plethora of amusing videos have been released for Dead Rising 3 since its announcement as a Xbox One exclusive back in June, including this one, which features protagonist Nick kitted out in a Mega Man X costume.

Its unusual business model may have divided opinion, but Killer Instinct has been scoring some decent review marks of late.

Forza Motorsport 5 looks to have the smarts to match its beauty, which goes some way to explaining why it requires a hefty 31GB install. For other Xbox One game install sizes, jump through here.

For a round-up of the Xbox One exclusives, look to Brenna – she’s got you covered.

Xbox One arrives on Friday and with it comes a number of exclusive titles that vary in scope, impact, approach and design. Irrespective of how they’re received, each one will automatically earn a place in video game history as an Xbox One launch title, to be celebrated or derided throughout this generation and those that follow.

Evidently, it’s an honour that’s worth fighting for, which is why a number of developers have waded through hell and high-water to be there when the klaxon sounds to herald the start of Microsoft’s next-gen campaign. It’s not been an easy ride, by all accounts, but for this handful of developers it’s been an important one.

Now, as they stand on the cusp of release, they can take a measure of satisfaction from the fact that they’ve made it. Here, a handful of developers reflect on why it’s important to be first and ponder the highs that the Xbox One thoroughbred has allowed them to reach that the 360 workhorse just didn’t have the legs for.

There’s perhaps no better place to start than with Ryse: Son of Rome developer, Crytek. Ryse has come a long way since the days in which it was to be a first-person, gesture-controlled 360 Kinect title and it now stands at the vanguard of the Xbox One charge. Certainly, it’s been much maligned and seems unlikely to win too many plaudits from the critics but as I’ve previously contested, I think it will still win over a certain breed of early adopter who’s looking for loud, flashy action at which to point to as an example of next-gen high-spectacle, regardless of how it scores upon review.

Speaking with Ryse design director, PJ Esteves, it’s apparent that aesthetic considerations have certainly been a stronger focus for the team since Ryse became an Xbox One launch title.
“It has to be sexy, right? Because you want to sit around with your mates, drink beer and say ‘Hey, check this out on my big flat screen TV with surround sound,’” says Esteves.

“A lot of people say that graphics don’t make game play and obviously that’s true but that component has so much more ability to get you immersed in the game. When you see a high level of performance capture, you can actually see the actor’s performance level coming through. Brass tacks, for us next-gen has always been about performance; facial performance, facial capture, getting more emotion out of the game.”

“Just to be clear, this is the line in the sand and you’re either looking next-gen or you’re not. I think Ryse is definitely the benchmark for that.”

While Ryse may be intent on gouging out your eyes by way of sword or shiny visuals, another of Xbox One’s high-profile exclusives is taking a different approach to pushing polygons. Capcom’s Dead Rising 3 doesn’t match Ryse in terms of visual fidelity but it does have numbers on its side: it features a ludicrous number of zombies on screen to be mutilated with customised weapons while wearing silly costumes.

“A lot of people say that graphics don’t make game play and obviously that’s true but that component has so much more ability to get you immersed in the game.” – Ryse design director, PJ Esteves

Sure, if you stop and look closely at the character models you’re going to be able to find more than one current-gen title that can match or even exceed it visually. However, by cramming the streets full of undead, Capcom has ensured that Xbox One’s extra power has been pressed into service to benefit game play in a manner that’s appropriate and relevant to its series as a whole.

“Originally, we were going to do [Dead Rising 3] for 360 and there’s just no way we could have done this,” exclaims animator turned designer, Austin Kwan, as he gestures to the screen and a long street packed with shuffling corpses.

For Kwan, though, it’s the additional features offered by SmartGlass and Kinect that have him most excited and, noticing my sceptical expression, he elaborates.

“Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of those two [devices], but on doing a demo in conjunction with the SmartGlass it’s actually been useful. We noticed for something like the boss battles where you can use it to locate certain weapons on the map or where you’re flipping the controller when you get grappled; you’re using Kinect in that instance. It’s been great to integrate those peripherals in a meaningful way, right from the outset of Xbox One.”

In truth, “meaningful integration” of Xbox One’s peripherals won’t really have been achieved until we’re using them without thinking anything of it. However, it’s apparent that Capcom feels that the very beginning of a new generation is a good place to try to start to make that happen.

Day one or bust

For some, the very act of being present from day one has shaped both game design and the business model that’s been laid atop it. While Rare’s Kinect Sports Rivals has spawned its Pre-season platform, ahead of the full game launching next year, it’s one of Rare’s former IPs that has been most heavily influenced by its day one target. Cue Killer Instinct, by California-based Double Helix Games, which has raised eyebrows with its rotating roster of one-character-for-free and the developer’s insistence that it’s not free to play but is instead “the world’s most generous demo”.

Killer Instinct’s solid 60fps should avail eagle-eyed fighting fans with ample opportunity to build extensive 80+ hit combos by capitalising on fluid frame transitions, before they decide whether to invest any money to expand the character roster. Killer Instinct could also win a place in the hearts of casual fighting fans on account of it producing a pleasing degree of spectacle for even the most haphazard of button-mashing. This, in conjunction with being something for nothing, is part of the plan to draw in seasoned pros and the mildly curious alike.

“Xbox One has enabled us to implement a whole new physics system that separates out the variables and gives us a greater degree of control.” – Dan Greenawalt, Turn 10 Studios

“It’s really important to get as many players into the game as possible and so having something that you can just download on day one and jump into and online play is important,” insists Microsoft Studios’ Dan Fornace.

“Getting it to be a launch title has been a tonne of work, as you can imagine, it also kind of impacts the way the game’s releasing, with 6 characters initially and 2 more to follow. We hope to grow the game from there with more modes and by expanding the roster and we’ll be able to do that if the community is engaged.

“This is why being a launch title is important to us because it gives us the opportunity to grow the Killer Instinct platform.”

So, as well offering a resurrection of a potential new contender on the fighting scene, Killer Instinct will also serve as an interesting experiment in game design and could inform fighting game roster sizes going forward.

This notion of bigger not necessarily being better also sums up the mentality of Turn 10 with its approach to Forza Motorsport 5’s reduced complement of cars and tracks compared to its current-gen predecessor. Forza creative director Dan Greenawalt has previously stated that Turn 10’s focus is on delivering “next-generation quality”, rather than squeezing in as much content as possible. While detractors of Forza 5’s $50 season pass will feel aggrieved, Greenawalt reiterates that being a day one launch title has not led to a compromise in the team’s design vision.

“Xbox One has enabled us to implement a whole new physics system that separates out the variables and gives us a greater degree of control,” explains the creative director. “That required a new modelling system, extensive discussion with Calspan and processing power that we just haven’t had access to previously.”

The developers here represent just a handful of the total number of Xbox One exclusive titles but they offer insight to an interesting variety of approaches and priorities at the start of the next generation.

Nobody knows how long this generation might last and as time marches on we will look back and marvel at the wisdom of some and the folly of others. Nonetheless, each and every one will be able to proudly proclaim that they were there when it all began and know that, to some small degree, they helped set the expectation for the eighth console generation and played a part in influencing the shape of what came next.

Xbox One launches worldwide from November 22

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9 Comments

  1. Legion

    Being a parent… I m guessing that “Zoo Tycoon!” will be high on the list of game purchases. Going out on a limb and saying 300,000+ copies. (Yes… I know a lot… but we will see if my thoughts on how the advertisement played out for MS are correct?)

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Djoenz

    Seriously PJ you crying about graphics blabla. I cant believe this shit. . .
    Killer Instinct the most generous demo. . . . Most demos have more than just one character. .

    Im done reading, these developers man unbelievable. . I must have missed it when their statements were officially stated. . .

    #2 1 year ago
  3. tenthousandgothsonacid

    Xbone 720 lol

    #3 1 year ago
  4. OlderGamer

    I am far more excited about PS4 then I am about X1. Neither system is screaming “Buy Me” to me, but I am thinking of picking up a PS4 this year and waiting a couple years on X1. I am worried MS will microtransaction everything to death. And I am still unsure about Kinect 2. Or the multimedia focus.

    Lest I know with PS4, I am getting a game system.

    Time will tell about the new Xbox.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. polygem

    @4:

    :)

    (nice)

    #5 1 year ago
  6. FeaturePreacher

    How in the world is 13 countries considered worldwide? Do countries like Sweden, Norway, and the whole region of Asia not count?

    #6 1 year ago
  7. Djoenz

    Netherlands neither and Belgium. . . we dont matter.

    #7 1 year ago
  8. Maguire82

    @4 Yeah look at Sony with GT6 they have already confirmed micro transactions. Its inevitable and will come to every platform.

    #8 1 year ago
  9. Pitts

    I think I’ll be alright sticking with PC this gen. I believe I’ve moved on to PC-only at this point.

    #9 1 year ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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  • Majora’s Mask light available now on Club Nintendo for 6000 stars

    Club Nintendo shuts up shop on September 30 and members are being encouraged to spend accumulated stars before then. And what better to spend them on, than this adorable Majora’s Mask light? If you’re a member based in Europe you can nab it for 6000 stars. If you’re in Australia or New Zealand, it’ll only […]

  • Unity support announced for HoloLens, will work with Windows universal apps

    Microsoft is partnering with game engine developers Unity in order to make HoloLens compatible with apps and games which use the cross-platform engine. The partnership was announced yesterday during its Build Developer Conference. Universal apps for Windows 10 systems will also be available on Xbox One later this year, suggesting possible HoloLens functionality with the […]

  • Splatoon Nintendo Direct airs Thursday, May 7

    A Nintendo Direct focused on Splatoon, the Wii U multiplayer title, on May 7. It will kick off at 7am PDT/10am EDT/3pm UK and it can be watched via the Nintendo Direct website. You can also have a look at the game through Nintendo’s Twitch channel. The last game-specific presentation took place last week and […]

  • GTA 5 PC: clean up the streets as a member of the San Andreas PD with this new mod

    Remember the awesome mods for GTA 4 and San Andreas that let you run amok online as a member of the po-po? Well, dust off your taser and load up your gun, because it’s coming to GTA 5. The new mod for GTA 5 is currently in alpha and can be downloaded at palmbeachgames.com. You […]

  • Indie shoot ‘em up Project Root comes to Xbox One, PS4 and PSVita

    Project Root is a self-proclaimed rejig of the shoot ‘em up genre that was released on PC last year, and it’s finally coming to consoles. Combining free-roaming elements with the usual business of shooting things, Project Root was released this week for Xbox One, PS4 and the PSVita.

  • You can now bet on eSports online, starting with League of Legends

    If you’re getting bored with sticking a pony on the races, you can expand your gambling horizons at Unikrn where you can watch esports streams and get a little action on the side. The new platform was set up by Rahul Sood – previously the general manager of Microsoft Ventures. At the moment, customers are […]

  • Has Watch Dogs 2 been leaked?

    Ubisoft employee, Julien Risse, may have inadvertently confirmed Watch Dogs 2, thanks to his online CV over at LinkedIn. Videogamer.com spotted the slip up, in which Risse lists Watch Dogs, the DLC Bad Blood, and Watch Dogs 2 on his profile. Creative Director Jonathan Morin has already talked about his ideas for improvements for the […]

  • GTA 5′s Trevor makes his Jackass debut, complete with leopard-print knickers

    YouTuber Abstract Mode has shared his vision of what Trevor Philips’ life might have been like, had he not been completely batshit crazy. Watch Trevor get mauled, run over, and hit by a train, before taking a majestic swan-dive into someone else’s pool at the climax. Thanks, Kotaku.

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 season pass will cost you £35

    Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 isn’t released until November 6, but you can already hand over your cash for the Season Pass. The Season Pass is available for pre-purchase on Steam for £34.99, and will cover four DLC packs – although the details we have on the content are limited to ‘exciting’ at this […]

  • GTA Online’s cheating assholes are no match for this player’s vengeance

    Think you’re smart for using invisibility and infinite ammo glitches? You need to be taught a lesson, sucker. You can have all the hacks you want but if your GTA Online game is weak, you’ll still get your ass handed to you. As this fool discovered when attempting to hassle another player. There’s a fair […]

  • PS4 sales help Sony’s games division swing to profit

    Sony’s PlayStation business has made an operating profit of 48.1 billion yen ($404m / £261.5m) in the past 12 months. That’s thanks to stellar sales of the PlayStation 4 and PS Plus, even as sales of the PS3 have stalled and the company wrote off costs for the PSTV and PS Vita. The profit puts […]

  • New patch for Dirt Rally gives co-driver’s attitude a tune-up

    Dirt Rally gets a new patch three days after release on Steam. On Monday, we reported that the newest Dirt game has popped up on Steam’s Early Access and is available to pick up for £24.99, as well as giving you an eyeful of tasty screenshots. The patch – released yesterday – fixes some issues […]

  • New The Witcher 3 screenshots show combat, exploration and general carousing

    New screenshots released on the official facebook page for The Witcher 3 show Geralt annihilating a winged beast, out and about in the world exploring, and living the life of Reily amidst a bustling feast. We were already treated to some glorious screenshots a few days ago, but these new ones are in-game and give […]

  • Destiny: 14 things you might have missed during House of Wolves intel drops

    Destiny: House of Wolves does a great deal more than just slap some new content on the existing game structure. House of Wolves changes Destiny in a lot of interesting and very welcome ways. Bungie showed off many of these changes in its livestream, and let both me and Arekkz come and have a look […]

  • Scratch that cyberpunk itch with Technobabylon on May 21 – new trailer

    Technobabylon more like Wrecked-yo-babbling with my smooth flow about how good Wadjet Eye games are. I don’t know y’all, it’s clock off time and everything feels like a reach. Wadjet Eye makes pretty good adventure games – award winning, in fact. The latest project to spring forth from the benevolent, sheltering hand of the label […]

  • Skullgirls 2nd Encore brings exclusive new features to PS4, Vita in northern summer

    Skullgirls, the little indie fighter that could, is getting another crack at it. Skullgirls 2nd Encore is the second re-release of the one-time troubled 2D versus fighter from lab Zero Games. Having survived the shut down of its developer and collapse of its publishing contrast, Skullgirls re-emerged as Skullgirls: Encore, adding in a ton of […]

  • Danganronpa series generates “impressive” sales for Vita exclusive

    Danganronpa is selling quite nicely, thank you, says NIS America. Danganronpa is a series of murder mystery visual novel puzzlers in a similar vein to games like 999. Two of these have been released for Vita in the west – Trigger Happy Havoc and Goodbye Despair. Speaking to MCV, NIS America CEO and president Takuro […]

  • I have no idea what is going on in J-Stars Victory VS+ but I kind of like it

    In this J-Stars Victory VS+ trailer, we see – uhh. Well. We certainly see some things. Look y’all, I was a massive weaboo in high school, but that was back in the dark ages when we had to take out Manga Entertainment VHS tapes from dingy little specialist rental joints that were literally underground, and […]

  • Please just watch this terrific trailer for Toren

    Toren is the kind of game I dream about when I drift off to sleep at night. This indie puzzle adventure strikes a spark in my little soul in the same way as Ico and Tequila Works’ Rime do. Mysterious, almost ethereal fantasy setting – check. Chance to actually walk around in that setting – […]

  • Play classic MS-DOS games on your own tweets

    In today’s episode of “what will they think of next”, someone’s figured out how to post playable versions of classic games in tweets. For some time now, Twitter has allowed you to embed various forms of media in tweets, most noticeably YouTube videos, simply by pasting a URL into the compose field. Turns out this […]

  • VR: Unreal Engine to add HTC Vive support

    The biggest digital PC game distributor and the most popular game development engine have both backed VR. It’s going to happen. An upcoming Unreal Engine 4 update will expand the development suite’s support to the HTC Vive, Valve’s VR headset. In this glorious new future where work on one of the most important engines in […]

  • WWE 2K15 PC supports modding

    WWE 2K15 may be the series’ PC debut, but it’s already getting into the spirit of the platform. WWE 2K15 does indeed support mods on PC, 2K’s Marcus Stephenson has confirmed. @ElementGamesTV you can. Now buy. — Marcus Stephenson (@stephensonmc) April 28, 2015 As Destructoid points out, this opens the door to all sorts of […]

  • Overkill’s The Walking Dead coming to PC, PS4 and Xbox One in 2016

    Overkill’s The Walking Dead is one step closer to your grasping little paws. Overkill’s The Walking Dead will be published by 505 Games, Overkill parent Starbreeze has announced. 505 also published Payday 2, Overkill’s previous title, so the two companies have established a working relationship. In a press release, the publisher said the co-op title […]

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 pre-orders net Advanced Warfare DLC

    Buy Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 for later, enjoy bonus Advanced Warfare content now. Blacks Ops 3 is being supported by a rather cunning pre-order incentive even more likely to get you to lay your cash down sooner than you might otherwise. Gamespot reports a Black Ops 3 pre-order will receive a couple of […]

  • Steam Game Ban system lets developers determine who to block

    Steam users can now be blocked from individual games by their developers. Steam has always supported multiplayer bans for disruptive users, but a newly-implemented system allows developers to ban users from individual games using their own anti-cheat systems. Game Bans are enforced by Valve, but are enacted at the developer’s request and discretion. This change […]

  • Far Cry 4 devs matching Red Cross donations up to $100K to aid Nepal earthquake victims

    Far Cry 4 developer Ubisoft Montreal will match any pledges made to The Red Cross up to $100,000 to aid Nepal after the 7.8 earthquake struck the area in and around Kathmandu in Nepal. According to Ubisoft: “Having spent the last few years working on Far Cry 4, a game heavily inspired by Nepal and […]

  • Tales of Zestiria retail listing notes September release date, PS4 version

    Tales of Zestiria is coming west in northern autumn, and while it’s confirmed as a PlayStation 3 release, a Dutch retailer has it listed as coming to PS4 as well. Of course, listing it for PS4 could also be a typo, not that I would personally know about that sort of thing, really. However, according […]

  • Official mod tools for Total War: Attila are now available

    Official mod tools for Total War: Attila are now available and you can grab the new Assembly Kit as a beta through the tools menu via your Steam library. The Creative Assembly said the tools will be “immediately familiar” to modders of Rome 2 and Shogun 2, but the new version is the most “extensive” […]

  • How to get level 34 Ascended Raid gear in Destiny: House of Wolves

    Watch: two videos showing you how to get level 34 raid gear and a shopping list of what you need. One of the big changes that House of Wolves is bringing to Destiny is the chance to upgrade your weapons and gear to level 34. In these videos Arekkz Gaming shows you how to use […]

  • Destiny: House of Wolves puts PvP back in the spotlight

    Destiny PvP players, your time has come to shine. New Crucible maps. New Crucible rewards. And the glorious wonder of Elimination mode. Destiny: House of Wolves puts PvP front and centre. When Destiny was first detailed, one of the things Bungie stressed was that there’d be something for everyone. If you wanted to play solo […]

  • Destiny: Trials of Osiris – everything you need to know in one video

    The Destiny: House of Wolves embargo has lifted, and with so much information floating around pertaining to Trials of Osiris, it can be overwhelming. Thankfully, Arekkz Gaming tells you everything you need to know in one video. In the video above you will be informed of how the 3v3 Team Deathmatch event works, how you […]

  • Destiny: House of Wolves – watch a Trials of Osiris match from start to finish

    With the release of Destiny: House of Wolves looming, players will soon be able to participate in the new 3v3 Team Deathmatch event in The Crucible, Trials of Osiris. Below is a video featuring an uncut, complete match from start to finish. In the video, Arekkz Gaming gives you a breakdown of the mode and […]

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood – here’s what your PC needs in order to run it

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is out next week, and Bethesda has today released the PC specs for the standalone title. MachineGames has made some tweaks to the system requirements and have included both minimum and recommended specifications. Minimum OS: 64-bit Windows 7/Windows 8 Processor: Intel Core i5-2500 @ 3.3 GHz / AMD FX-8320 @ 3.5 […]

  • Destiny: Trials of Osiris – watch the livestream reveal right here

    Bungie will be showing off Destiny’s new 3v3 Team Deatmatch Trials of Osiris today, and you can watch the Twitch stream right here if you like. It kicks off at 11am PDT/2pm EDT and will feature community manager Deej and design leads Lars Bakken and Derek Carroll. More will be revealed on House of Wolves […]

  • May Xbox Games with Gold: Mafia 2, CastleStorm: Definitive Edition, F1 2013

    Microsoft has announced the free games Gold members will be able to pick up through Xbox Live. On Xbox One, Gold users can download CastleStorm: Definitive Edition for the month,and Pool Nation FX is being offered for an additional month. Starting May 1, Xbox 360 Gold members can download Mafia 2 through May 15, and […]