Quantum Break is coming out soon on Xbox One and Windows 10. Microsoft recently invited us to a media event in San Francisco to get our first hands on time with the game which spanned the first couple hours. I won’t be going into any story details in this hands-on preview though so you don’t have to worry about any spoilers. Quantum Break is a game about time and how you can manipulate it for your own purposes. As you advance in the game you will notice that there are certain enemies that possess this ability as well which can make the fights a lot of fun, at least for me.
The core gameplay of Quantum Break is a third person cover shooter. You have your standard guns that you can use like in most other shooters but your abilities are one of the things that help this game stand out. If you are hiding behind cover you can hit a button and the enemies around you will be highlighted in red. Once you move this goes away but it gives you a nice sense of where you are being attacked from. There are your standard enemies that you will deal with in the beginning of the game that really aren’t anything special but that changes fairly quickly once you encounter those enemies who can manipulate time themselves. These enemies are smart...they try to flank you if possible or if you aren’t careful they will be right up next to you before you know it and can eliminate you quickly. One of my favorite techniques to use was somewhat of a “time bubble.” Using this ability I can essentially put my enemy in temporary stasis so they couldn’t do anything which would allow me to take them out if I was quick enough. Another power I enjoyed using on some heavily armored enemies was being able to charge up another “time bubble” only this time it was an explosive one that would detonate near the enemy and damage them greatly. This wouldn’t completely wipe them out but it definitely helped me do that a little easier.
In addition to your combat prowess you can also manipulate different objects in the environment to help your cause. There are hanging platforms in certain areas that you can shoot which will cause the platform to fall and crush the enemies underneath it. There are explosive barrels strewn about that you can and shoot and cause to explode. As you are fighting enemies it is easy to know when you have taken care of the last enemy in the group as the game will give you a quick, cinematic moment of that last guy flying backward.
Outside of the combat in the game you will still need to use your time manipulation skills to solve obstacles that are put in your path. I remember one instance specifically where I entered a room and needed to get to the exit on the other side but my path was blocked. I looked up and saw a platform and then shot the hook that was holding it so the platform came crashing to the ground giving me a way to get past what was blocking me. Once I got past that I noticed that I needed to make my way up to an open window to get into the next room. As I was navigating the room and making my way up to the window I came to a part where there was a gap that I needed to cross. Remember that platform I had shot down just a few minutes ago? Well before I shot it down it had filled this gap which would have allowed me to cross. It took me a few seconds but I soon realized that I could manipulate time and the environment here and “rewind” so that the platform was hanging in its original position so I could cross. I soon came across another problem though which was the platform couldn’t hold any weight for more than a couple seconds which wasn’t long enough for me to get to the other side. So I fell to the ground and had to work my way back up. I rewinded time again to bring the platform back to its original position. Now that the platform was where I needed it to be I fired one of those “time bubbles” at it which caused it to be in stasis for a few moments, similar to what I had done to my enemies previously. With this being the case the platform was essentially “frozen” in time for a few extra seconds longer than normal which gave me the time to cross that gap and proceed. It was a cool puzzle that forces you to use some of your powers in creative ways. It should be noted though that you can’t just spam these powers. Once you use one there is a cool down period although it doesn’t take all that long for it to recharge.
Quantum Break is a nice mix of gameplay and story and Remedy has done something I haven’t seen before. Mixed in with the game are the live action shows. During my time with the game I was able to watch the first episode which lasted approximately twenty minutes, similar to a normal show on tv. This can change based on your decisions. While I saw a twenty minute episode you might see a twenty two minute episode because you chose a different path than I did. This show is full of real-life actors and their performances could easily pass for a primetime show on Fox or any other network. The events that transpire in the show though are up to you, at least somewhat. While you are playing the game it is from the perspective of our hero, Jack Joyce. You watch this show though through the eyes of the main villain and his associates. It was really interesting to me to be able to see things from both perspectives. During the show you learn about the motivations that drive our main villain as well as get to know some of his associates. In the beginning of the episode I was able to take control of the villain and I had a key decision to make. Once that decision is made then it switches over to the show and you get to see the consequences of the action you selected. The first episode ended on a bit of a cliffhanger and I wanted to know what happened but would have to wait until I get to the second episode later in the game. Unfortunately I couldn’t get that far into the game during this preview session but I really enjoy how the show and game intertwine thus far. It helps keep me interested and helps drive me through the game because I want to see what happens next, both in the game and on the show.
If you are playing the Windows 10 version of Quantum Break this live action show will stream from their servers, similar to how you watch a show on Netflix. The Windows 10 version will feature DirectX 12 support with 4K support as well. If you are playing the Xbox One version of Quantum Break you can also stream the show from their servers or you can download the shows to your hard drive to watch them that way. That is an Xbox One exclusive feature and will definitely help out some gamers that might not have the fastest internet available or have to be careful because of a data cap. This also helps to ensure that you can play Quantum Break even if Xbox Live goes down or has problems. Downloading this content to your hard drive is not a default option though. You will have to go into the menus and tell it to download it which was a smart move in my opinion as I’m sure there are people that don’t have a lot of space on their Xbox One hard drive and need to manage how many things are installed at any given time.
I came away from my brief time with Quantum Break very optimistic. For starters I tend to enjoy third person cover shooters but there is so much more to this game than that. It stands out from the pack of “me too” shooters with some interesting concepts that will most likely be used in future titles. These are the guys that introduced bullet time to everyone with the original Max Payne game(s) and I can see some of the powers in this game being borrowed by other studios and other teams for upcoming titles, similar to how bullet time became a prominent feature. Overall I enjoyed what I saw and I’m excited to try out the final product and hopefully the rest of the game holds up. I am very curious to see where the story goes next and how the relationship develops between all involved whether they be the hero or the villain. Please look for our full review of Quantum Break where we will talk a little bit about the story closer to the game’s release date.