The first anniversary of the Xbox One’s release is upon us, and we can’t think of a better way to end Year One than by bringing on the Awesomepocalypse for our fans.
Starting this Saturday, November 22, at 12:01 a.m. ET, Xbox Live Gold members on Xbox One will get to play Sunset Overdrive for free for 24 hours. The whole game is here: you’ll be able to earn achievements and save whatever progress you make before 12:01 p.m. ET on Sunday, November 23. If you decide to purchase the game at a later point, you will be able to start again right where you left off. To get some pointers before you head into Sunset City, take a look at the tip- and trick-filled video above.
Sunset Overdrive is a game that’s very much built around speed. Interestingly, the game’s traversal system – which sits at the very core of the experience – wasn’t part of Sunset Overdrive’s initial design document. Grinding wasn’t a big part of it, and the pace was a bit more casual. But when one of the designers threw some telephone wires into one of the levels he was working on, and asked if he could enable the player to grind on them, a switch flipped.
“For a lot of things on this project, [we] were like, ‘That doesn’t sound right,’ but put it in and we’ll see,” says Lead Designer Cameron Christian. While it was never one of the studio’s defining texts, Sega’s classic, future-forward rollerblading game Jet Set Radio (and its sequel Jet Grind Radio) looks like it was an influence. Christian says that he loves the cult Sega hit, and brought aspects of it into Sunset Overdrive.
“Velocity was where it was at,” says Christian. “It was, ‘How do we make things really fast in this game?’” To achieve a sense of speed, the designers at Insomniac Games built the entirety of Sunset Overdrive‘s city setting around the game’s core mechanic. They’d already gotten partway through this building process – but after the switch to this kind of constantly, intensely forward-moving traversal, they needed to rebuild and rethink the city to play nicely with the concept.
They integrated more organic shapes, fewer hard right angles, and a level of interconnectedness between traversable objects, which would allow players to hop from one to the next without losing speed or momentum. Play the game, and you’ll see for yourself: You’re almost constantly grinding along rails and cables, blasting along walls, and bouncing off of everything from cars to canopies as you make your way through the Technicolor rainbow that is Sunset Overdrive’s Sunset City.
For the game to get here, many avenues were explored – but not all were triumphant. At one point, the game world was littered with oil slicks and discarded mattresses; these were employed to allow players to slide and bounce off of them, respectively. Somewhat unsurprisingly, a game world covered in oil slicks and mattresses looked weird, and the slipperiness made the game tougher to control. Ultimately, Insomniac landed somewhere between the traversal systems of the Tony Hawk and Prince of Persia series, being careful to avoid overly automating the experience for the player. Or, as Christian puts it, “We wanted the player to look at where they want to go, and then figure out how to get there on their own.”
If you want to see how the pros play Sunset Overdrive, the Insomniac Games All-Star team will throw down on Monday, Nov. 24 at 10 a.m. PT and livestream several new weapons that will be available soon. Tune into the Xbox Twitch channel to see all the action.
Enjoy the Awesomepocalypse this weekend, everyone!