Even though the release of Quantum Break is likely almost a year away, Microsoft has positioned this exclusive title as one of its most important exclusives since announcing the Xbox One. First teased at the Xbox One reveal last year, the game has also been highlighted at E3 and Gamescon this summer.
At E3, developer Remedy Entertainment released a mostly cinematic trailer for the game which showcased the time manipulation mechanics. It featured the protagonist saving a doctor from an explosion that had been frozen in time. Remedy is most well known for their previous work on the first two Max Payne games, as well as the 2010s Alan Wake.
Time-manipulation mechanics are not necessarily new to video games (the Prince of Persia trilogy jumps to mind, as does the “bullet time” of Remedy’s own Max Payne games). However, the trailer released at Gamescon earlier this month has raised some doubt over whether this version of time-stopping gameplay will stand out in the genre.
At its core, Quantum Break is still a third-person, cover-based shooter more than anything else. The time manipulation powers seem to facilitate that experience instead of the other way around. It’s enough to wonder whether Quantum Break will provide enough of a challenge for players.
In the trailer, the game’s protagonist, Jack Joyce, uses his time-stopping powers to switch between cover without his enemies seeing him, allowing him to flank his opponents quite easily. A second time-manipulation power includes a “time-bomb” lobbed at one or two enemies. This temporarily freezes them while Jack aims his pistol free of danger. It could make for some fun moments, but it might also bring the difficulty down.
The most interesting part of the trailer, however, comes at the end when it becomes clear that someone else has stopped time. Jack then fights a heavily armored character who also seems to have time manipulation powers, which provides for some interesting strategic decisions, including unfreezing an airborne car so that it could fly into Jack’s opponent.
Quantum Break takes place at the fictional Riverport University where a time experiment gone wrong has given the three main characters special powers. As discussed, Jack has the ability to stop time, while Paul Serene, the game’s main antagonist, is able to look into the future in order to make the correct decisions in the present. It is as of yet unrevealed what powers the third main character, Beth Wilder, will have.
Microsoft will also be using Quantum Break as part of their strategy to fit into the television landscape. A television series for the franchise is already in production. The two won’t be completely separate entities either. As Remedy studios stated last year at the Xbox reveal, “How you play the game impacts the show, and the show informs how you play the game.” No further details on how this level of integration will be handled have yet been released.