Xbox One Tour - First Impressions
Having friends in PR places is great, but having friends with lightning fast responses to select consumer event invites is sometimes better, and so it was that we found ourselves as the plus one for a trip to the London leg of the Xbox One Tour. We travelled deep into hipster country (Shoreditch, land of the purple trousers) to see what all the fuss was about – we even shot some shaky video too! For a bit of an idea about the location, set up and cool cats involved check out the top video, and below are our thoughts on the games we played – remember, we only had a few hours split between all of them, so hold tight for our official words on them at a later date.
This was really the big title of the night, and as an already known quantity the real test was always going to be seeing how Battlefield held up against the current generation play. Unsurprisingly we aren’t able to give any definitive answers about resolution, but we can say the game looked very, very pretty.
Over the night we played through a few games on the Zavod 311 map, Dominion mode. A fun map with plenty to do, the combat mainly revolved around people running and gunning with the assault class and checking out the scenery rather than any hardcore flag capturing. Probably the biggest revelation of the night was the appearance of multiple instances of slowdown while playing the game. Most noticeable when sprinting, or running along cover, these short periods really felt as though we were running through treacle and had a quite sobering effect on our enjoyment of the game.
Now, we can’t definitely say whether the slowdown we experienced was frame rate or lag-based. It felt like a fairly regular occurrence throughout all of our games, and if we had to lean one way or another we would probably go more towards it being a frame rate-related issue. We’ve based that on some really quite unscientific tests – firstly, we took to wild head swinging around when we experienced it, and it didn’t seem as if any of the surrounding players had the same issue at the same time. Secondly, we didn’t experience any of those comical lag moments where you shoot directly at an opponent only to find they were stabbing you in the back instead of dying. We managed to shoot the above video, and towards the end you can see us running sometimes and experiencing the issue – it’s not the best footage in the world, and we apologise for playing through some of the worst instances instead of being vaguely professional and deploying a tripod to capture everything, but thems the kicks when you rock along to a consumer event.
Remember though – this was a demo event on a created network intended for a quite fanboy audience. Just cross your fingers it doesn’t pop up in the final retail build, or that it was the fault of some dodgy cable connections somewhere.
Ah, a fighting game. Never a genre that does well when two noobs play a few random vs matches together without knowing the moveset of any of the fighters, but we played it so you can have our thoughts. The first impression was that Killer Instinct looked very much like a current gen title, with nothing at all about the graphics blowing us away. More importantly for the fighting fan we saw no frame rate issues or lag in the local sessions we did play, so a big plus for you there. We did manage to knock off some of the auto-combo moves, although that was probably more luck than skill. It may well be that the combo-breaking intent of the release will reveal a nuanced game, but on first impressions it did seem a little spammy with not enough punishment for not making use of blocking - just like every fighter ever with amateurs playing, we guess!
We were fairly eager to get our hands on Ryse; disregarding some of the far too early indifference it has suffered at the hands of the gaming ultra-hardcore it has been shaping up to look like one of those launch titles that have the punters flocking to the shelves. The gameplay available to us was what looked like a co-op arena, albeit available only in single-player. It all looked fairly next gen, although there was a hint of edge blurring to smooth things out.
With only low level enemies and no big bosses around, the gameplay got stale fairly easy. Facing these foes there was no indication of any crazy skill requirements that might pop up later in the game, with spamming quick attack working the majority of the time. Parrying was insultingly easy, requiring just a button press regardless of where the attack was coming from and what you were doing at the time. A few shield-bearing enemies did appear later in the match, and they required a shield bash followed by attacks, but mind-taxing this wasn’t. The various special and focus attacks look fun, but don’t seem to offer anything more than QTEs in terms of either tactics or skill. Also, forgive the above video for not making use of the cool death animations on all the enemies with a little skull above their heads – rest assured, they certainly look cool, but hardly help the product scream ‘must have’.
Dead Rising 3
Same old, same old. Running around in this demo with a ton of weaponry and enough sandbox zombies to eat a Clementine you had all the cool attacks, weird items and PP gain spam that you could have wanted. The graphics felt a little bit more polished, but it’s essentially the same game you’ve already played two or three times – more if you count the XBLA releases as standalones.
There is always a certain fun to the insane action of a Dead Rising title, and that was certainly evident here. We’ve seen discussions online that suggest a locked 30fps is the promised frame rate for the title, and the action held up rather well apart from the odd stutter when doing something insania when surrounded by a ton of zombies. It looks like death Jim, exactly as we know it.
Kinect Sports Rivals
Now, in a surprise twist, Kinect Sports Rivals comes out as one of the runaway hits of the night. Allowed to play through a single player jet ski race, we found the race organiser to appear camptastic, the input lag to be negligible and the tracking rather excellent. It was, all in all, a step above the Kinect V1 experience, and for people with massive living rooms Microsoft may well be able to soon deliver on their initial motion-controlled promises.
Well, those were our major impressions. We also snatched time on Forza 5 (which is looking ace) and FIFA14 (which also looked ace), and walked several times past a solitary unoccupied Zoo Tycoon terminal – sorry animal-loving chaps, but it looked fun and I’m sure we’ll get on it when we can.
As a final sign off we did see a few OS issues. In both Forza and Kinect Sports Rivals we had a crash back to an OS screen, with the Forza crash having a helper scurry over immediately to set us back up before we could poke around and the Sports Rivals one just having us all replay our last conversation to see if anyone had said anything about the Xbox One turning off. Some of it was rough, some of it was ready, all of it was next gen and pretty. It’ll be with you soon – hope that those last edges get rounded off and that day one patch delivers and get ready to enjoy the ride.