Xbox One will usher in a new generation of games, and at Comic-Con International: San Diego, developers from some of the most celebrated gaming studios in the world gathered to show fans how they’re doing just that. Featuring talent from Rare, Ltd., Turn 10 Studios, Microsoft Studios and Capcom Vancouver, the panel focused on how teams are leveraging the unique abilities of the console to create experiences that enhance and evolve the way games are played.
Advanced Graphical Fidelity
A new generation console means new generation graphics fueled by faster, more powerful hardware.
Josh Bridge, Executive Producer on “Dead Rising 3,” used their vision of a nightmarish zombie apocalypse to demonstrate the level of visual fidelity that the Xbox One allows them to achieve. Zombies can be dismembered with anatomically gruesome realism. Each shard of broken glass is governed by its own set of physics and will react differently depending on how you smash through a window. The vast sandbox world of Los Perdidos is larger than “Dead Rising” and “Dead Rising 2” combined, and is populated with detailed buildings that can be fully explored.
And of course, “Dead Rising 3” is capable of supporting hordes of zombies on screen at a single time – a far cry from the handful that pushed the Xbox 360 to its limits last generation.
“One of the big things we wanted to do with the Xbox One’s increased horsepower was to push the reality of the world and make it more believable and tense,” said Bridge. “Zombies are the enemy this time, so why not make it look good?”
A More Powerful Kinect
According to Nick Burton, New Technology Development Lead at Rare, Ltd. working on “Kinect Sports Rivals,” Xbox One’s Kinect sensor has ten times the power of its predecessor. It can register a fingertip from three meters away, a feat that was impossible last generation, and its wider field of tracking means it can register more players and at closer distances.
“Kinect Sports Rivals” is using Kinect’s advanced technology to provide a new layer of precision and depth of mastery. No longer will vague gestures be enough to secure victory – every subtle movement is registered in-game and impacts performance. How hard you twist your wrist while revving the throttle of a jet ski affects its acceleration and your exact hand placement can mean the difference between success and failure in rock climbing.
Rare is also developing brand-new gameplay features, like “Kinect Sports Rivals’” Champions. If you stand or sit in front of the new Kinect sensor, it can capture your facial structure, hair, skin color, body composition and even expression, and build a remarkably accurate virtual athlete – your Champion – in seconds.
The new Kinect can also make basic gaming tasks more convenient. For instance, Ken Lobb, Creative Director at Microsoft Studios and one of the founders of the original “Killer Instinct,” explained how Kinect’s ability to identify players makes switching profiles and preferences on Xbox One seamless.
In fighting games, players like to map their buttons all over the controller, Lobb explained. So when playing “Killer Instinct,” once you make a profile and set your preferred button configuration, Kinect will instantly recognize when you’re holding the controller and map the buttons accordingly, even if it’s in the middle of a match.
“It seems kind of simple,” said Lobb, “but its super awesome once you see it in play.”
Gameplay Enhanced by the Cloud
The future of online gaming on Xbox One will be better than ever. As Xbox’s Major Nelson previously shared, matchmaking will be faster and smarter, factoring in numerous variables, such as player reputation, spoken language and skill, to ensure you’re consistently paired with players who fit your preferred style of play. If you’re tearing up the competition in “Killer Instinct,” you’ll be pitted against only the best. If you enjoy racing against aggressive players in “Forza Motorsport 5,” future matches will be tailored accordingly.
However, being connected to the Internet on Xbox One is not just about playing with other gamers anymore. In “Forza Motorsport 5” Turn 10 Studios will use the Internet to aggregate race data from players all around the world to breed a new type of opponent that consistently learns and evolves – Drivatar.
“It [Drivatar] watches the way you play and the cloud [Xbox Live] takes all this data and data from the entire community and builds an opponent with no set or finite number of variables,” said Dan Greenawalt, Creative Director on “Forza Motorsport 5.” “It creates variables based on what it saw the community do and trains your Drivatar to drive just the way you do.”
Sharing your favorite gaming moments with friends is an experience that Xbox One is bringing to life with Game DVR and Upload Studio. Whether you’re online or off, your Xbox One can record your most epic gameplay moments, so when you nail that game-winning headshot you’ll automatically have that footage available to edit into a highlight reel.
At EVO 2013, one fan went undefeated for hours in “Killer Instinct” until at long last the best player on the “Killer Instinct” development team was able to defeat them. Using Game DVR, they were able to record the best parts of the highly competitive set of three matches. With Upload Studio, they were able to quickly turn it into a stylized video clip that could be shown off locally, like during a panel at Comic-Con, or broadcast through Xbox Live for the world to see.
If you want to share gameplay footage immediately without editing it, Xbox One also supports that. Simply say “Xbox record” at any time and the console will record what happens next for you to send to your friends or upload to the Internet.
The Possibilities with an Enhanced Second Screen
In “Dead Rising 3,” the Xbox SmartGlass Companion is integrated in both the gameplay and fiction. Nick Ramos, the game’s lead character, will discover a transmitter that will allow an in-game character to actually call you on your real-life mobile device with information, advice and even unique missions. Alternately, you can also use SmartGlass to set waypoints, view maps and call in military aid, like weapon drops and deadly airstrikes.
“You don’t have to use it, but it adds a lot,” said Josh Bridge. For example, the team found that Xbox SmartGlass opens up the possibility of two-screen couch co-op. While playing “Dead Rising 3” in the Capcom Vancouver office, Bridge’s colleagues would often pick up his mobile device and assist him with navigating through the city or finding new weapons.
“Ryse: Son of Rome” showcased a different way to use Xbox SmartGlass. Microsoft Studios and Crytek are creating an Xbox SmartGlass Companion that mirrors the game’s user interface and lets players manage every aspect of their “Ryse: Son of Rome” experience on their mobile device. Whether it’s comparing stats or watching Achievement guides, customizing your multiplayer character, or reading the latest community updates, everything is accessible through your mobile device by tapping into Xbox SmartGlass.
Justin Robey, Producer on “Ryse: Son of Rome,” also revealed that multiplayer games in “Ryse: Son of Rome” can be set up using Xbox SmartGlass, even while playing a different title. If you’re playing “Dead Rising 3,” you can use Xbox SmartGlass to begin matchmaking in “Ryse: Son of Rome,” so your multiplayer session will be ready and waiting without ever having to take a break from the action.
From powerful hardware that can bring worlds to life, to the gameplay enhancing possibilities of Xbox SmartGlass, the features discussed at Comic-Con and more are available to all developers working on Xbox One titles. They are fundamental parts of the Xbox One tool box, and as games like “Ryse: Son of Rome,” “Forza Motorsport 5,” “Dead Rising 3,” “Killer Instinct” and others have shown, developers are already taking advantage of these opportunities to create gaming experiences unlike anything seen before.
Xbox One launches this November. A release date, said Major Nelson, will be revealed later this summer.