It feels like Remedy Entertainment is finally starting to show their hand when it comes to Quantum Break, but if what they showed at Microsoft's X-15 event is any indication, they're still not ready to lay everything out on the table.
Members of the media were brought into a dark room for the Quantum Break showing on Wednesday in Toronto. No one from Remedy was on hand, leaving the presentation to Microsoft producer Torin Rettig.
Rettig started things off by showing the Gamescom gameplay trailer that was unveiled earlier this month. The trailer focuses on the game's main protagonist, Jack Joyce, as he faces off against grunts from Monarch Solutions, the organization run by the game's antagonist, Paul Serene.
I won't dwell too much on this trailer since it wasn't new footage. However, it breaks down the games main combat functions. The trailer shows the many different abilities at Joyce's fingertips, all rightly named "time [insert action]".
In total, four time manipulation abilities were shown. Time shield is like the bubble shield from Halo, which prevents enemy gunfire from entering Joyce's chrono-distorted sphere. Time stop freezes an enemy in place, while time blast exerts concentrated time energy at objects or minions. The final ability is time dash, which is pretty self explanatory.
Rettig wouldn't elaborate, but did say there were other powers that would be unlocked as you progress through Quantum Break. These fight scenes reminded me a bit of the combat from the Infamous franchise, mixed with Alan Wake.
After Joyce deals with the goons from Monarch, Rettig introduces a new scene, where Joyce has to deal with an "epic stutter". This is essentially a location in the game's world where time is broken and going haywire.
This new gameplay trailer shows Joyce making his way through a harbour area, where everything is in a stutter. In one of the instances, Joyce has to make it across some cargo containers, while a large shipping boat crashes down in front of him. This is where the time dash ability is shown out of combat.
The mechanic reminds me of being stuck in a lag jump. The boat juts forward into a crash, but reverses out. This continues in a loop until the player makes it through. It's the puzzle side of Quantum Break, and I get the feeling every ability will have a benefit outside of combat.
Of course the biggest innovation Quantum Break has to offer is the merging of a live-action television show with it's gameplay.
"You play an act of the game and then you get to what is called a 'junction moment', where you make a decision about what the future path is going to be and then you see an episode of the show based on that decision," says Rettig. "There are different versions of the show that you'll see based on those decisions and then you play a different act of the game."
Rettig later explained that the show will be the opposite of the game's narrative; telling the story through the eyes of the villains.
"In each one of the junction moments you become Paul Serene because he can basically see two alternate futures and then you make a choice as Paul Serene as to which future you want to see."
To help make that decision, players will be able to see glimpses of each future before making a choice.
Remedy is banking on this dual experience to be the next big thing in gaming. That's why they enlisted the likes of Shawn Ashmore (X-Men, The Following), Aidan Gillan (Game of Thrones, The Wire), and Dominic Monaghan (Lord of the Rings, Lost).
Rettig showed off two snippets from the show, both stemming from the same junction moment. The first was called the "hardline" approach. The scene depicts an interrogation between Martin Hatch (played by Fringe's Lance Reddick) and a captured Amy Ferraro (Amelia Rose Blaire).
In the scene, Hatch gives Ferraro the option of cooperating with (I'm guessing) Monarch. In the hardline path, Ferraro refuses. The camera pans up to one of the men in the room as a gunshot is heard.
Members of the media were then shown a second version of the exact same event, this time called the "PR" approach. Hatch makes his plea for cooperation, this time telling Ferraro that one of his men was parked outside a house. You could see the fear in Ferraro's eyes, as she complies with Hatch's terms. A few men are then seen bringing in a green screen and placing it behind Ferraro.
Again these were just a few minutes long, but the quality was prime time calibre. Rettig also revealed that each episode will be about 22 minutes in length.
I left the briefing feeling optimistic about Quantum Break. It's taking huge strides when it comes to cutscenes and storytelling as a whole. Though I'll be interested to see just how well the two mingle between each other.
Quantum Break launches exclusively on Xbox One on April 5.