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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 Havoc DLC for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is now available for PlayStation 3 and PS4. Havoc contains the four multiplayer maps Core, Drift, Sideshow, and Urban along with the AE4 directed energy assault rifle, its custom variant, and the Exo Zombies cooperative mode. You can purchase the DLC separately or pick up the […]

  • Here’s a teaser for Resident Evil Revelations 2: Episode 2

    A teaser video for the second episode of Resident Evil Revelations 2 is available, so if you’ve yet to play the first episode, you may want to skip this. Resident Evil Revelations 2′s first episode is out now. Thanks, GamesHQMedia.

  • North American eShop update is full of Donkey Kong games

    Nintendo has updated the North American end of the eShop with Titan Attacks, Donkey Kong Land, Donkey Kong Country and more. eShop on 3DS Ironfall Invasion Titan Attacks! Donkey Kong Land – Virtual Console Donkey Kong Land 2 – Virtual Console Donkey Kong Land 3 – Virtual Console Luv Me Buddies Wonderland Around the World […]

  • Venture into the Valley of the Yetis next week in Far Cry 4

    The next batch of Far Cry 4 DLC, Valley of the Yetis, releases in March and Ajay Ghale will be tasked with surviving violent cultists and the mythical Yeti. Apparently the cult is looking for a secret hidden in the valley, and Ajay has discovered their motives. The DLC features co-op with a friend taking […]

  • The Butcher’s AK/CAR Mod Pack out for Payday 2, has dino masks

    The 19th DLC pack for Payday 2 title The Butcher’s AK/CAR Mod Pack is available on Steam from today. The pack will run you $4.99/€4.99 and features: 11 new weapon modifications for the AK rifles in the game 11 new weapon modifications for the CAR rifles in the game Four new masks together with their […]

  • Battle Chasers slated for PC, consoles; comic picks up where 2001 storyline left off

    Darksiders creator Joe Madureira and Vigil co-founder Ryan Stefanelli have confirmed a Battle Chasers game and a new comic are in the works at their new studio Airship Syndicate. Speaking to Polygon, Madureira and Stefanelli wouldn’t provide details on the the game, but did divulge it will be an adventure RPG with player-controlled Battle Chasers […]

  • Shovel Knight, Hotline Miami 2 discounted for Sony’s annual Spring Fever Sale

    Sony is hosting its annual Spring Fever Sale which runs for eight weeks and features a new title each week. The sale starts next week on March 3 with the launch of Helldivers. Here’s just a few items included in the sale: HELLDIVERS (PS4/PS3/PS Vita) March 3 Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number (PS4/PS3/PS Vita) March […]

  • The gold Super Mario amiibo is a Walmart exclusive

    The Super Mario Gold amiibo which surfaced via a CPSIA certificate earlier this month will be a Walmart-exclusive, Nintendo has announced. The gold-colored Mario amiibo will be released the same day as the Mario Party 10 game for Wii U and will run you $12,96 at 3,000 participating Walmart stores in the US. Along with […]

  • Here’s an overview trailer for Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

    As new gameplay overview trailer for Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, culled from the Active Time Report, stream has been sent over by Square Enix. The video provides a look at the history and environments of the Kingdom of Orience; the 14 memebers of Class Zero; the battle system with customizable magic spells; and the ability […]

  • Final Fantasy 15 video gives you a look at the game’s wildlife

    A new video shown by Final Fantasy 15 director Hajime Tabata during the latest Active Time Report, contains a look at the game’s wildlife and ecology. You can watch the full stream two hour stream through here, or a smaller clip courtesy of GamesHQMedia below.

  • Lionhead ventures into the free-to-play space with Fable Legends

    Fable Legends will be free-to-play when it launches on PC and Xbox One. According to Lionhead, the one versus four cross-platform title borrows from MOBA games such as Dota 2 and League of Legends as it will contain free, rotating heroes which will be added to a roster for a two week period. Once the […]

  • Win! 5 pairs of tickets to the Call of Duty European Championships

    We have five pairs of tickets to giveaway for the Call of Duty European Championships, taking place in London this weekend. The event takes place this Saturday February 28 and Sunday March 1 at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Winners can watch teams will go head to head for a $10,000 prize pot […]

  • Republique Remastered has released on Mac and PC

    Republique Remastered, which was announced earlier this month, is now available for Mac and PC. The game is 20% off through Steam, GOG and the Humble Store for $19.99 until March 4. Thereafter, it will run you $24.99. The Remastered edition contains all five episodes of the game, with 1-3 available now and the remaining […]

  • LA Cops coming to Xbox One in March

    Isometric shooter LA Cops is coming to Xbox One on March 13. Already on Steam Early Access, the game looks like it’s been heavily inspired by Hotline Miami. Walk into a room, open fire, leave bloody puddles in your wake. It’s being published by Team 17. Check out the video below for some 70s cop […]

  • We have $500 of Steam Wallet funds to giveaway!

    We’re giving away 10 Steam Wallet prizes worth $50 each to VG247 readers, courtesy of Bundle Stars. All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning $50 Steam credit is to enter your details below. Join the Bundle Stars Steam group for entry in the sweepstake, and gain extra entries for […]

  • Lapsed Final Fantasy 14 players tempted back with 10 day freebie

    Square is offering lapsed FF 14: A Realm Reborn players a chance to come back to the game for 10 days worth of free adventuring. Provided you’ve already bought and registered an account you’ll be able to play free of charge from Feb 27 to March 9. Square wants you to sample the new content […]

  • Advanced Warfare: Sledgehammer looking at “opportunities” to recreate classic Call of Duty maps

    Sledgehammer Games has told VG247 it’s looking at opportunities to recreate classic Call of Duty maps in Advanced Warfare. According to co-founder Michael Condrey, players of the latest Havoc DLC are asking how Exo abilities and verticality can be added to classic franchise maps. “We’re taking a look at some opportunities to really highlight the […]

  • GTA Online reader playlist week 7: and the winner is…

    Stuff was shot. But only one player emerged victorious. GTA Online player e031271 won last night’s VG247 reader playlist, beating myself, Matt and regulars solidorwot and Revolting. Congratulations, Mr e031271. A deserved victory. We play a GTA Online playlist in an open session every Wednesday on PS4, because it’s both funny and fun. Anyone’s welcome […]

  • Leaked screens reveal The Reef as Destiny’s new “social space”

    A handful of leaked Destiny screens seem to confirm that The Reef location will be the new social space in Destiny. The new addition is likely to be revealed as part of the upcoming House of Wolves expansion. Reddit user Megamanexe4 dropped the screens on the site earlier this morning, along with grabs that reveal […]

  • Darksiders creator teases Battle Chasers game

    Joe Madureira, creator of Darksiders, has released art that strongly suggests a Battle Chasers game is in the works. Battle Chasers was a comic book from the late 1990s that suffered notorious production problems between issues and was never finished. Madureira formed Airship Syndicate after the collapse of THQ, where he co-created Darksiders. His latest […]

  • Infamous video nasty Axe recreated in GTA 5

    The trailer for notorious horror movie Axe has been recreated in GTA 5. The shot for shot remake is the work of gigerbrick who has previously recreated exploitation flicks like Machete and Hostel using Lego. The original Axe movie was banned in 1984 in the UK but passed with cuts in the late 1990s. Movie […]

  • Payday 2 for PS4 and Xbox One includes “a year’s worth of paid DLC” for free

    Payday 2: Crimewave Edition will include a year’s worth of paid DLC from the PC version of the game for free. The new-gen version of the game will be available June 2015, and includes almost all of the paid and free DLC released so far for Overkill’s popular first-person shooter. That DLC includes The Big […]

  • Yes, Mortal Kombat X will require Xbox Live Gold or PS Plus

    Mortal Kombat X won’t bypass Microsoft and Sony’s premium online play requirements. Reports that Mortal Kombat X wouldn’t require PS Plus or Xbox Live Gold started circling earlier this week thanks to a communications error. Answering fan questions on Twitter, producer Shaun Himmerick accidentally gave the impression that premium console subs would not be required […]

  • This is what Destiny players most want next

    Destiny patch 1.1.1 has resolved or at least addressed a number of complaints voiced by the community, but there are plenty more. des Destiny community manage David “Deej” Dague has put out a call for Guardians to share their concerns – or rather, what they think the community is most concerned about. “Set aside your […]

  • Google AI can play games now, so we’re probably all going to die

    Google has brought us one step closer to our inevitable slaughter or enslavement by machine overlords. Google has developed an AI that can learn to play video games and devise brand new strategies. Let me just rephrase that: Google has created an AI that can teach itself new skills, including how to play video games. […]

  • First footage of Renowned Explorers: International Society surfaces

    Renowned Explorers: International Society is a turn-based strategy game from the team behind Reus, and it looks great. Renowned Explorers was announced almost a full year ago, but has been pretty quiet since then. Developer Abbey games has now announced that the game has hit alpha, and will be open to select testers soon. You […]

  • Cities: Skylines developer commits to mod support

    Cities: Skylines will fully support the modding community. Hailing from famously mod-friendly publisher Paradox, Cities: Skylines is a no-brainer for mod support – especially as a lack of mod support is one of the things SimCity was so heavily criticised for when it firts launched. In the developer diary below, Paradox’s Jakob Munthe is joined […]

  • Nosgoth update adds Vanguard, many fixes

    Nosgoth, the free-to-play multiplayer brawler set in the Legacy of Kain universe, has been given a significant makeover. The major feature of the latest Nosogth game update is a new playable human character called the Vanguard. “Equipped with mighty throwing axes and a shield, the Vanguard can take more punishment than any human class that […]

  • Xbox Live Gold 12 month sub $40 on Microsoft store

    Microsoft is offering $20 off 12 month Xbox Live Gold subscriptions at the moment. An Xbox Live Gold 12 month subscription will normally set you back $60, but a Microsoft Store promotion has it on offer for $40. The offer is restricted to the US store. Although you can opt to grab your sub as […]

  • Tomb Raider movie script to be penned by TMNT writer

    Tomb Raider will be Evan Daugherty’s second reboot of an established universe. The Tomb Raider movie reboot has signed on a writer and a distributor. Deadline reports Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Divergent, Snow White And The Huntsman and G.I. Joe 3 writer Daugherty will write the film. Additionally, Warner Bros. has signed on to distribute, […]

  • Shelter 2 pre-orders open, launch trailer debuts early

    Shelter 2 is a game in which you are a mother lynx and must protect a den of kittens. Yes, it’s delightful. Shelter 2 is coming to Mac and PC on March 9. Pre-orders are now available on Steam at 10% off or on GOG.com with a free skin and soundtrack, or 20% off if […]

  • That Batman: Arkham Knight trailer is full of codes

    Batman: Arkham Knight’s trailer is like a Transformer – there’s more than meets the eye. The new Batman: Arkham Knight trailer contains a number of codes. Eagle-eyed users have spotted four so far, and work on cracking their meaning is progressing. According to an /r/games thread rounding up results so far, the codes pertain to […]

  • Assassin’s Creed haystacks won’t save you from a fall

    Assassin’s Creed fans, don’t try this at home. Assassin’s Creed characters can survive falls of almost any distance as long as they aim for the haystacks scattered handily throughout the environment. As you probably deduced from your familiarity with common sense, this isn’t a real thing: falling from heights kills you, the same way a […]

  • Why are people buying PS4 and not Xbox One?

    PS4 is outselling Xbox One – but why? A new report may have the answer. Last month, the PS4 outsold the Xbox One in the US again, returning it to the top of the charts after just two months away. Why? What has caused this reversal in fortunes in Microsoft’s home territory? According to a […]