TiX were kindly invited to a special private showcase in London for hands on time with the Xbox One and its Launch line up and have a close up look at the titles Xbox fans will get to experience in just a few weeks on November 22nd. What follows is my first impressions with some of the titles I was able to get time with at the event.
Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag has been well received since it’s release on October 29th and was Number 1 in the UK chart ahead of Battlefield 4 last week. Currently playing it on Xbox 360, I was keen to see what differences I could see between that and the Xbox One Version. The main difference that was immediate, was the visuals. Much sharper, crisp and colourful on screen, ACIV on Xbox One is a gorgeous game to look at. The demo allowed me to visit a port town and the level of detail on Edward’s player model on his clothing in contrast to the level of detail on the town’s buildings really stood out. The game is beautiful on Xbox 360, but on next gen Xbox One
One of the aspects to ACIV I really wanted to see on Xbox One, was when you took the action to the open seas, and for me, this is where the Xbox One version really stands out. The water effects of the sea are astounding in their detail of the waves and the colours. There were more ships on screen and after engaging 3 ships in a battle, the sound of the cannons and ships being damaged was as rewarding as it is on the 360. But then, one of the cooler moments of being at sea, which is a memorable moment, was the impending approach of a storm. At sea, storms can occur randomly but once they begin you are in for a rocky time. I could see the dark clouds and the lightening from the distance as I attempted to navigate towards the storm to experience its full fury on the Xbox One and I was not disappointed. What was new about the next gen version was the way the rain splashes on screen, for an added effect letting you know you are in the middle of a dangerous situation. Fighting with the storm winds to keep the ship on course is a breathtaking experience on either generation of Xbox but with the enhanced visuals and sound of Xbox One, it is going to be a real gaming moment for those who have been patiently waiting to play ACIV Black Flag on Xbox One, and its a wait that is going to be worth it for this game.
Next up was Ryse: Son of Rome, the first true next gen title for the Xbox One. Sitting down to play the demo it was clear to see just why Ryse was selected as a launch title for the Xbox One. Visually, I have never seen such detail on player models and a game world like in Ryse. The level of visual detail on the Roman armour alone is staggering, you can see in the animation each plate of the armour move with the player movement. The animation is a mix of mo-cap movements for the combat and laser scans of the actors faces and combined you get one of the most life like onscreen player models you will find in any game.
Moving to the action, and its a familiar take on combat with a feel much like the fighting in the Batman Arkham series. A combination of three buttons, A for defensive blocking, X for stricking and Y to push your opponent away all work together to form a very fluid and intelligent fight system which can lead to large combo’s against multiple attackers. You can’t lock on to an enemy, but the AI will work out the closest enemy who is about to attack you so when you press A to block, you will turn to face the closest enemy who is leading in to attack. The Enemy AI will also reflect the types of enemy around you, with standard types supporting a heavier combat type in the same battle so learning to assess and pick out which enemy to take out first will be crucial to surviving the encounter as well as building up high number combo chains.
Do enough damage to an enemy and you will trigger the chance to carry out an execution. Executions are a quick time event where the enemy will glow a a shade of colour to correspond to which button the player must press to complete the execution, blue for X and yellow for Y. Complete the necessary button presses and the execution is even more brutal but failing to time the button presses and you will still execute the enemy in a satisfying way but trigger the execution correctly and its a compelling side to the combat that will both encourage and reward your growing skill with the combat system.
First impressions of Ryse: Son of Rome is that it is a solid example of the power of Xbox One and next generation gaming. Visually I have not seen a game like it. The fluidity of the action sequences to cutscenes and back to the action is impressive to say the least. The combat is smooth and easy to pick up and after a few enemy encounters you will feel like a true Roman soldier defending the Empire in a true cinematic experience that is a blend of the Spartacus TV series and the film Gladiator, with the action very Spartacus and the story telling and tone very much like Gladiator. This is a perfect game to showcase gameplay on the Xbox One.
Next on the showcase for me was Capcom’s Dead Rising 3. As a fan of the series I was really interested to see how the series would make the leap to next generation on Xbox One. Set ten years after the events of Dead Rising 2, the newest main character, Nick Ramos is struggling to survive the Zombie masses in the city of Los Perdidos. Right from the start of the demo it was clear just what Xbox One has brought to the series. The sheer vast number of Zombies on screen was amazing and is quite an awe inspiring sight to see on screen for the first time. The combat system remains the same and I was soon picking up traditional planks of good and a trusty handbag as I threw myself into the first crowd of Zombies.
What is new about Dead Rising 3 is the updated customisable weapon system the series is known for. In Dead Rising 2, players had to find a work bench to craft the weapons depending on which design plans had been unlocked or discovered. For Dead Rising 3, due to the main character Nick being a mechanic all weapon building can now be done on the move as long as you have the components required to build or combine the weapons, you can make it, even in the middle of a fight. Such a change to the system really opens up the combat side to the game where finding components no longer means you have to carry them around until you can find a workbench to craft that weapon.
Nick’s skills are not limited to just making WMDs to use in combat, oh no. His mechanic skills also come into play when it comes to vehicles. Dead Rising 3 allows you to combine different vehicles, like weapons as long as you have unlocked the right design, to build new deadly vehicles to use to travel around or just to go Zombie Stomping. I was able combine a Harley Davidson with a steam roller, to create something rather similar to the Brute Cycle in HALO 3. Ploughing into the nearest crowd of Zombies my screen was full of the PP Scores I was accumulating from crushing the Zombies too slow to move out of the way, and then with a quick press of X, I was blasting flames of fire as well as crushing the Zombies to a most satisfying gentle drive down the road.
It was also in the use of vehicles that Xbox One’s Kinect system came into play. Zombies will instinctively climb on your vehicle to try and pull you out to feast on you. Dead Rising has an ingenious way for the player to defend against this by the use of gesture recognition with Kinect. Simply pushing the controller forward will enable you to push any Zombie away from you and its a very satisfying feeling to see the Zombie falling off your vehicle as you continue to crush your way through the Zombies.
As I drove down the streets I saw the icon on my mini map directing me towards a safe house, which will be dotted around the city to give the player a rest bite from all the Zombie slaying. Inside you will find a weapon locker which will contain all the weapons you have unlocked according to the plans you have unlocked as well as a clothing wardrobe which will hold any items you have discovered during gameplay. The demo showcased again with all options unlocked and the sheer volume of options to customise Nick’s appearance is staggering. From full outfits to selectable items for head, top and lower half and for feet. For me, I went for a pink cowboy boot, kilt, cowgirl top and a Blanka from Streetfighter head mask, and yes, it was quite disturbing to resume Zombie slaying in such an outfit!
Before I left the Safehouse, I did visit the weapon locker and pick up what is known as a super combo weapon. Made by combining other custom made weapons, these “suits” are very extravagant visually and so powerful as a weapon. My Choice was a Dragon style suits weapon with mask and flame thrower arm gauntlets with bladed fists. Jumping straight into battle, I was able to rain down fire on all in front of me and when in close, able to grapple enemies and go all stabby with my blades. So impressive and with so many options, it will take multiple play throughs to discover all the weapon and appearance options the game will have for the player.
Much like Ryse: Son of Rome, Dead Rising 3 is a great launch title to show off the capabilities of the Xbox One, the amount of on screen content in the game world is stunning to experience and fans of Dead Rising will be in for a real treat when this launches along side the Xbox One on November 22nd.
With just a few weeks till the Xbox One finally launches in the UK, this showcase was a brilliant chance for an up close look at the launch line up and it is strong. Each title shows off the strengths of Xbox One and will give an instant Next Generation gaming experience and compliment the console. I was very impressed with Ryse: Son of Rome and could easily of spent hours lost in the game. This was my first real hands on time with the Xbox One. The new controller felt good and responsive, the launch titles above are all very strong to kick start the next generation of Xbox. The next three weeks will no doubt be torture for those with pre-orders for Xbox One and its games but the wait will be worth it.
Want to say huge thanks to to the Xbox One team for inviting TiX along and was also a huge honour and priviledge to finally meet the great Graeme Boyd (@Aceybongos) and the Batgirl to his Batman Terrie Chilvers (@Cowfishdreams) doing a stella job representing the best and the brightest of the UK Xbox Community.