Lost Review #107: ‘Quantum Break’ Represented the end of Xbox’s Productive Era

Developer: Remedy          Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios          Release date: April 5th, 2016

Bias: First Xbox One game I’ve ever played. Loved the previous developer’s game, Alan Wake.

Verdict: -2,           -1,           0,           +1         +2 / B

A moment in time for Xbox One.

Looking back on the games that got me to join the 8th Generation of Gaming it feels like this was the moment right before Xbox stopped trying. They hired a critically acclaimed developer they should have bought (look no further than the critically and commercially successful new IP Control) to produce a fascinating new IP that successfully pushed the limits of Xbox’s transmedia agenda and it was fun. I remember buying the bundle in anticipation of playing the game along with Insomniac’s Sunset Overdrive, Halo 5, Forza Horizon 3, and Ryse. By today’s standards that’s an incredible buy-in since the 9th Gen Xbox Series launched with nothing and the 8th Gen at least had Ryse and Dead Rising 3. I am thankful that Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite were cross-gen and that seems to align with the company’s current strategy, but that also seems to mean that under the current leadership, Xbox Series has zero exclusive AAA games despite owning more studios and being a part of a 10 x’s richer company than the competition almost 3 years into the new generation.

Remedy here was able to produce a game of such high visual fidelity that also contained a TV series within itself on limited hardware compared to the competition. With great and popular actors like Lance Reddick, Aiden Gillen (both Wire alums), Dominic Monaghan, and Shawn Ashmore. The less available RAM for this title due to Xbox’s commitment to TV would’ve been fine if they committed to the strategy. But they still should’ve cut DRM requirements and have an unbundled Kinect option from the jump. Despite selling over 50 million units of Xbox One, Microsoft rested on its laurels this generation and they continue to face the fallout of it to this day. Deservedly get raked over the coals for their questionable corporate strategies and Xbox head Don Mattrick (who I like) got canned shortly before the release of this game. In Matrick’s firing, Xbox was left without a vision for itself as a console. Now they’ve solidified themselves as part of a service of devices for Games on Demand, Cloud Gaming, and Game Pass, collecting money from services (last quarter Xbox made a billion in revenue just from collecting service cheques) but such strategies leave hardcore gamers out in the cold, with Microsoft dependent on acquisitions of third parties to turn to for exclusivity, we miss out on fun single player titles like this that define a console.

The game looks incredible and plays differently than just about any other game today except maybe Control. Using time dilation can be tricky, and a lot of the concepts would be rendered a lot clearer in Remedy’s next game, but looking back at this moment in time 7 years ago Quantum Break plays like a fun schlocky television Blockbuster event. After each chapter of progress, the TV episodes kick in and you watch a parallel story that is easy to invest in because you’ve already been playing the lore. It’s not that bad either. Junction points where you play as the villain and make story decisions also make for an interesting diversion. It’s fast, well-paced, and unique as a third-person non-cover shooter, and worth picking up for $10 as a part of the Xbox legacy.


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