And maybe the best game I have played this generation. I got it months ago and only played the first act, to be honest I was kind of put off at first by the heavy emphasis on the narrative, especially the collectibles, but also the combat doesn't really get good until you unlock the entirety of your powers and start facing the tougher enemies. But it's part of my Scorpio backlog so I fired it up again last week and ended up putting every other game on hold so that I could complete it entirely. It's only the third Xbone game I have gotten all achievements for IIRC, behind Wolfenstein and Titanfall.
I am a sucker for deep story lines that make you think in a game and QB really shines in that regard. It's also chock full of collectibles that really expand the story in ways I've never seen in a video game. It almost feels degrading to call them collectibles, because those are typically optional and just filler. QB has those kind of collectibles too, Chronon Sources. These are the ones hidden around in goofy places you have to explore to find. The narrative collectibles are typically out in the open, you're supposed to find them.
Microsoft caught a lot of slack for the TV TV TV stuff during the Xbone reveal and I guess Quantum Break is really the only game we ever got that actually incorporated any of it? Basically you play as the hero for a few levels, and then you play as the main villain for a short sequence and you make choices. The choices dictate what episode of the QB live action show you see, but it runs deeper than that. The choices you make as the villain changes the narrative collectibles you find in the game, changes the arc of the story for both sides, and changes the NPC's around you. For example, spoilers, the main villain is the head of a multinational corporation. One of your first choices is, after a firefight with the hero goes wrong, you can choose to take a hard stance cover up response where you order your men to kill all the witnesses and destroy any links to Monarch (your company), or you can play the PR role and intimidate the witnesses into turning the hero into a terrorist in the eyes of the public. The main difference is one of the NPC's who accompanies you through a portion of the game is there if you choose one path, and dead if you choose another. So with the different NPC, everything changes. Different dialogue, different narrative content. It also changes the enemy, killing the innocent witnesses has a profound impact on one of the bad guys, that narrative changes if you choose the other path. It's not as if QB is the first game with a branching story line path, but it is very interesting to make these choices and then watch them play out in very well acted sequences that feel like episodes of Fringe or something.
What really grabs you is the narrative. But the gameplay is very strong as well. And the time element is amazing. What the game lacks compared to other third person shooters like Uncharted and Tomb Raider are epic set pieces. But it makes up for it with the time element. For example in one area you're in a pretty boring looking office lobby, but then a derailed train crashes through. It freezes in time in midair though and gets stuck in a loop, crashing into the lobby, rewinding back into the air, then crashing back, over and over. It's not only incredible to look at, but you can use it to your advantage by luring enemies around there and watching them get obliterated by debris. The time element also elevates the combat above its competition. Your generic low level enemies are not much fun to face because they have no defenses against your time powers. You can stop time around them, shoot a few bullets at them, and then your time bubble collapses and they get hit with all those bullets and die. But after a few levels you start facing enemies who can move through your time stutters. And then enemies who can not only move through them but can also teleport around and move super fast like you can. Plus guys who are immune to your time stutters and have huge armor. Or guys in essentially mech suits who have all the powers you have. There's only one real boss fight in the game, the final encounter. But where in most of these shooters I get bored of mowing down baddies, in QB I actually felt as if the game didn't throw enough at me. The combat is so good, they don't give you enough areas to use it.
The closest comparison I could probably make this gen to something similar to Quantum Break would probably be The Order, which is one of the worst games I have ever played. In fact, they share some of the same flaws. They're both very short. I platinumed 1886 in five and a half hours. I doubt it took me more than 15 hours to accomplish everything in Quantum Break. They both have pretty generic enemies. Assault rifle guy. Shotgun guy. Sniper guy. Armored guy. Where QB sets itself apart is the power of time. And bad ass weaponry that doesn't disappear shortly after you get it, never to be seen again. But what makes QB infinitely better is not only is the gameplay good, but the narrative Remedy focused on and built the game around, is really amazing. RedLetterMedia has a gaming review side called Previously Recorded, and when reviewing 1886 they said it best, something along the lines of "if your game is crap, that's fine, just tell me a good story". QB tells an amazing story, and has good gameplay. They share two more flaws. In 1886 your actual main enemy turns out to be (spoilers) Dracula, who is also Jack the Ripper (seriously). And you never actually end up fighting him in the game. In QB you spend a lot of time reading about these beings called "shifters", and a vital character in the story actually turns out to be one, but you never face one, and the story arc with that character is never resolved. They also both end leaving themselves wide open for sequels, and in QB's case even teases story lines for a sequel. The difference is with QB, I'm highly interested in a sequel.
I was honestly shocked to see it "only" scored a 77 on MC, reviewers have lost their damn minds. I really hope we get a sequel, though highly unlikely. If Remedy owns the IP, maybe it could be a multiplatform release. Obviously they'd probably tone the television side way down, if not scrap it entirely. But what an amazing experience. Just gets me wet anticipating whatever it is Remedy is going to show off at E3 this year.