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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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    The Forest’s latest patch added substantial improvements to the game. The Forest version 0.16 is now live on Steam with plenty of new additions. The game has been ported over to Unity engine version 5. The plant and skin shaders have been replaced or rewritten. Many other visual tweaks have been made, such as model […]

  • Star Wars: Battlefront banner leaks from Star Wars Convention

    EA has been setting up the Battlefront booth at Star Wars Celebration, and one leaked picture shows what could be the game’s main art. Someone on Reddit posted a picture of the game banner at EA’s booth. Here it is: Lots of things happening here. There’s a Star Destroyer in the distance, TIE Fighters and […]

  • Get GTA 5 working with Oculus Rift using this tool

    There’s a way you can play GTA 5 in VR if you own an Oculus Rift Dev Kit and have a bit of cash to spare. VorpX, the go-to program for adding VR support to games has received an update recently to support GTA 5. This is far from perfect, as it only translates the […]

  • FIFA Ultimate Team: week of April 15 team revealed

    This week’s Team of the Week is now available for anyone to challenge in FIFA Ultimate Team. The team members get selected each week based on their performance during the weekend matches. You can fire up FIFA Ultimate Team on any platform and challenge this squad. You’ll also find some Team of the Week items […]

  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will let you stealth all encounters, including bosses

    Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will bring back one of the original game’s major features. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is considered by many to be a great game and worthy of bearing the franchise name. One of its grating issues though was its boss fights. You only had one way to fight them: be confrontational. The […]

  • Project Cars PC specs and supported wheels announced

    The release date of Project Cars is inching ever closer and more details have been revealed to answer all your burning questions. Project Cars developer Slightly Mad Studios has revealed the full list of supported steering wheels on all platforms, as well as the minimum and recommended PC specs. Minimum specs CPU – 2.66 GHz […]

  • GTA 5 gets custom FOV mod on PC

    Those not satisfied with GTA 5′s built-in field of view slider can use a new mod to push the number even further. The PC versions of GTA 5 – just like its PS4 and Xbox One counterparts – lets you switch between third and first-person view in shooting and driving. The game has an FOV […]

  • Win! GTA 5 on PC!

    Want to win a Steam key for Grand Theft Auto 5 on PC? Just enter here. GTA 5 released on PC this week and is going down a storm. We like it a lot, which is why we’re giving away a Steam code for Rockstar’s latest. All you need to do is enter your email […]

  • GTA 5 topples Skyrim’s record for highest concurrent players on Steam

    Not factoring in Valve games, GTA 5 is the new king of concurrent player numbers on Steam. GTA 5 is very popular on PC, even more popular than games like Skyrim in its heyday. The number of concurrent players for GTA 5 has peaked today at 301,246. This makes it the only non-Valve game to […]

  • Mortal Kombat X: what does a modern fighting game look like?

    Mortal Kombat continues to evolve as NetherRealm adds RPG systems and daily challenges to a solid fighting game, says Sherif Saed. “Mortal Kombat X takes many cues from games like Destiny, Call of Duty, and GTA Online with hourly, daily and weekly events.” For as many of its familiar facets, Mortal Kombat X has enough […]

  • J-Stars Victory VS+ coming west in June – new trailer

    J-Stars Victory VS+ will make the jump (see what I did there) to the west after all. J-Stars Victory VS+ is the western title for the fighting game which stars characters from a variety of Shonen Jump-published manga. Bandai Namco has announced the fighter will release in Europe on June 26 and in the Americas […]

  • Codemasters F1 license good through 2016

    Codemasters has at least one more F1 game in it. F1 2015 isn’t out yet, so Codemasters is naturally not talking about what it might get up to in the future. We do know what it can get up to, though; Codemasters’ Steven Embling told Videogamer has the option to continue the series. “We have […]

  • Project Cars has pretty deep graphics options on consoles

    Project Cars offers players a wide variety of ways to customise their graphic settings on PS4 and Xbox One. Project Cars is a graphics showcase and all early indications suggest it’s going to be one of the best-looking games out there. Slightly Mad’s commitment to graphics seems to go deeper than making things pretty, though: […]

  • Super Smash Bros. patch nerfs Diddy Kong – report

    Super Smash Bros. 3DS and Wii U is great but Diddy Kong is a beast and must be stopped. The latest Super Smash Bros. 3Ds and Wii U patch seems to have nerfed Diddy Kong, a character so over-powered that serious tournament players generate controversy by choosing to use him. Nintendo doesn’t publish patch notes, […]

  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel developer shuttered

    Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel developer 2K Australia has been closed down. Kotaku broke the news, and also had word from an anonymous source, who said that all staff have been let go. 2K responded to our request for comment with the following statement: We can confirm we have taken steps to begin the studio closure process […]

  • Samorost 3 trailer shows Amanita still in fine form

    Samorost 3 looks as delicately beautiful as its siblings. Samarost 3 developer Amanita Design has a reputation for gorgeous, slightly surreal world building. This new trailer for its latest adventure looks just as if not more lovely than the previous Samarost games and Botanicula. Samarost 3 is coming to Mac and PC later this year, […]

  • Amnesia dev’s new project SOMA now in beta

    SOMA is nearly here and I am torn between excitement and horrified dread. SOMA is the latest horror project from Frictional, the team behind Amnesia: The Dark Descent. We’re pretty excited to see what Frictional comes up with next, and we won’t have too long to wait, apparently; the developer has announced that SOMA is […]

  • Steam Guard mobile authenticator now in beta testing

    Steam is now testing its latest security measure. Steam helps you protect your account by offering two-factor authentication, a solution so beautifully elegant and effective that it’s astounding every gaming network doesn’t do the same (looking at you, Sony). Valve’s version is called Steam Guard, and it works via email. This isn’t always super convenient, […]

  • Godzilla battles Mothra in new trailer

    Godzilla lets you stomp around cities and battle classic kaiju. I’m in. Godzilla is coming to PlayStation 3 and PS4 in early July, but we haven’t seen a great deal of it since its December reveal. The new trailer below gives you an idea of just what Natsume has done with one of the biggest […]

  • Tales of Zestiria to launch this year – new trailer

    Tales of Zestiria continues Bandai Namco’s delightful new habit of bringing the popular JRPG series to the west before the shine wears off. Tales of Zestiria is coming west in northern autumn, the publisher has announced. That’s not a bad turnaround, given it first hit Japan in January, and localisation of text-heavy titles is expensive […]

  • Project Cars release date locked down, new trailer released

    Project Cars finally has a release date. Project Cars will release on May 8, Bandai Namco UK has announced. We haven’t yet had an update from Namco Bandai’s other regional offices, but its probably safe to bet the racer will release around the same time in the Americas, Europe and ANZ region. We can now […]

  • Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains trailer shows combat, online multiplayer

    Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains has plenty to offer fans of the anime. Previously known as Attack on Titan: The Last Wings of Mankind, the Spike Chunsoft action game is coming west thanks to Atlus. Gematsu reports it’s due in both Europe and North America in May, via the 3DS eShop. The trailer below […]

  • Bloodborne stamina recovery rate affected by equip weight

    Bloodborne players have unearthed an important gameplay detail not mentioned in the game’s menus or manual. In Bloodborne, players need to manage their stamina carefully for best results. A far more aggressively-tuned affair than past Souls games, Bloodborne does away with equip weight limits, and items have no listed weight details. As far as players […]

  • Street Fighter’s Ryu, Fire Emblem’s Roy spotted in Super Smash Bros. patch – rumour

    Street Fighter’s Ryu is rumoured for future Super Smash bros DLC following datamining of the latest patch. Super Smash Bros. 3DS and Wii U were updated recently, and hacker shinyquagsire23 claims to have found some interesting files while poking around in the 3DS patch data. As detailed on Reddit, the audio files included a new […]

  • Suikoden 3 PEGI rating suggests PS2 Classic re-release

    Suikoden. Suikoden 2. And now: Suikoden 3. Suikoden 3 has been rated by PEGI for PlayStation 3, presumably ahead of an upcoming re-release. Gematsu turned up the rating, and although we have no further information at this time, it’s not much a leap to assume the RPG will turn up as a PS2 Classic on […]

  • Star Wars Battlefront gameplay reveal to be streamed live, new Instagram tease

    The Star Wars Battlefront gameplay reveal will be live-streamed during a panel hosted by EA as part of the Star Wars Celebration festivities this Friday. This is according to an announcement from Verizon and Disney courtesy of MP1ST. The main stream for the event kicks off at 10am PDT/1pm EDT on Thursday, April 16. It […]

  • GameStop to launch retro game and console trade-in experiment

    GameStop wants to get into the retro game and console business, providing it’s a worthwhile endeavor. To test the possibility, it will soon allow customers in Birmingham, Alabama and New York City to trade-in classic consoles and games in-store. Speaking with IGN, a spokesperson for the company said the initiative will kick off on April […]

  • Battlefield Hardline’s first patch addresses five priority issues requested by the community

    Battlefield Hardline’s first patch is in the works, and today, Visceral Games has added Punkbuster and Nvidia DirectX driver fixes to the list of issues to be addressed. Miscellaneous fixes for “the most frequent crashes” will be included in the patch, as well as the following “top five priority” issues voiced by the community. Punkbuster […]

  • GTA 5 user videos: Franklin’s exploits, a traffic jam tickle our funny bone

    Since GTA 5 was released on PC this week, the amount of videos being created with the new editing tools are releasing at a quick rate. Below, are three in particular I found amusing. The first one is from James McVinnie, originally posted on Reddit, showing what occurs after he happens upon vehicles in a […]

  • Invisible Inc. is coming to PS4 and has left Steam Early Access

    Invisible Inc., from Don’t Starve developers Klei Entertainment, has been announced for PlayStation 4 and the game has also a release date on PC. The game has now left Steam Early Access and will arrive on PC May 12. Per a post from studio founder Jamie Cheng on the PS Blog, the game will contain […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Ascendance DLC dated for PC and PlayStation

    The Ascendance DLC pack for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare now has a release date for PC, PlayStation 3 and PS4. It contains four new maps, the OHM 2-in-1 directed energy light machine gun, the OHM Werewolf custom variant, and the new Exo Grapple ability and playlist. The Infection episode of the exo Zombies saga […]

  • Killing Floor 2 PC specs and Digital Deluxe Edition contents announced by Tripwire

    A Digital Deluxe Edition for Killing Floor 2 along with PC specs for the title have been announced, along with the new of a Steam Early Access launch later this month. According to Tripwire Interactive, the Digital Deluxe Edition will run you $39.99/£26.99/€36.99 starting on April 21 on Steam. This edition contains the following additions […]

  • Content in Wolfenstein: The Old Blood tips its hat to Return to Castle Wolfenstein

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, the standalone prequel to last year’s Wolfenstein: The New Order, will contain a few nods to the franchise classic Return to Castle Wolfenstein, according to the developers. According to developer MachineGames, the setting works “well with the pulp B-movie thing we’re going for,” and created a prequel instead of DLC for […]

  • Bloodborne is the latest to receive the Honest Game Trailers treatment

    Smosh Games has released another entry in its Honest Game Trailers series, and this time, it’s poking Bloodborne. According to the trailer, the game is “more disturbing” than the scene in South Park: The Stick of Truth where you are “crushed by your own Dad’s balls.” It also has more “stupid top hats than a […]