7 Things You Need to Know About ‘Quantum Break’

Microsoft has been teasing out information about Quantum Break since way back in 2013, when the company first unveiled the Xbox One. The game is finally barreling toward completion, with a release date scheduled for April 5, 2016. What is Quantum Break, and why has it drummed up so much attention? Here’s a look at what we know so far.

1. It’s from a great team

Quantum Break is being made by Remedy Entertainment, the makers of Alan Wake and Max Payne, two unique and excellent games. All signs point to Quantum Break being unique, so what remains to be seen is whether it’s excellent. For the record, most people who have played the initial portion of the game have indicated that it’s shaping up quite nicely.

2. It’s part game, part live-action show

Quantum Break is a third-person shooter that’s being made alongside what the developers call an “in-game live-action show.” That sounds suspiciously like “full-motion video cutscenes,” but that’s not quite what they are. It’s unclear how many are in the game, but they’re each about 22 minutes long, or the length of your average half-hour TV show without the commercials.

As it was described at earlier press conferences, you’ll play a section of the game, then watch an episode of the show, then lather, rinse, and repeat. Some of the scenes presented to you in the live-action part will vary depending on the choices you make in the game.

Don’t expect innumerable branching pathways, though, because that would mean they’d have to film an ever-expanding set of alternate scenes — which they probably won’t do. But if this multimedia experience coalesces into something that’s greater than the sum of its parts, it could turn out to be a very interesting project.

3. It’s about time travel

Both the story and the gameplay revolve around manipulating time and the complications that ensue. Plot-wise, the trouble kicks off when a time travel experiment goes horribly awry, shredding the fabric of time itself.

As a result of the experiment, Jack Joyce, the main character, gains the power to manipulate time. Unfortunately, so does Paul Serene, a villain who orchestrates an endless supply of armed enemies through a corporation called Monarch Solutions.

The game developers worked with scientists from CERN to make sure the time travel was depicted in a way that’s as scientifically sound as possible. So the next time someone says you’re wasting your time playing video games, you can tell them you’re learning about quantum physics.

4. You can manipulate time during shootouts

The trailer (above) shows Joyce in a shootout with Monarch thugs. He pauses time to get a leg up on them, rushes in to disarm a frozen enemy, and then presses play as he blows up a car to take out four more bad guys. Based on that segment, time manipulation looks like a powerful tool that lets you skate through complex environments while wiping the floor with dozens of enemies.

Since a shooter without challenge isn’t very fun, it isn’t long before the super soldiers arrive. These guys are clad in high-tech white suits that let them keep moving when time is frozen. They can even teleport short distances in order to get a jump on you. Thankfully, you can dash around too, and if you shoot their backpacks, they explode spectacularly.

5. It has a talented cast

Judging by the cast they’ve assembled for the project, you can bet both the game and the live-action scenes will be well acted. Jack Joyce is played by Shawn Ashmore, who you may know as Iceman from the X-Men movies. Paul Serene is played by Aidan Gillen, who plays Littlefinger on Game of Thrones. Jack’s brother Will, who helped create the faulty time machine, is played by Dominic Monaghan, who also played Merry in The Lord of the Rings and Charlie on Lost. Even Lance Reddick, from Lost and The Wire, is on the cast.

6. The live-action parts are streamed

This is only a problem if you have a limited or slow Internet connection, but you should know that the live-action video parts don’t come on the disc or in the digital download of Quantum Break. Instead, they’re streamed to your Xbox One Netflix-style. So don’t bother with the game if you play with your Xbox One offline.

7. They’re confident it’s good

I’m making an assumption here, but Remedy began sending out review copies of Quantum Break more than two weeks prior to the game’s launch. That only tends to happen when a development team is confident reviewers will like a game. Contrast that with something like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5, which the developer sent to reviewers the day of the game’s release, knowing full well that the reviews wouldn’t be kind.

Reviews for Quantum Break will go up on April 1. The game launches on April 5, so you’ll have plenty of time to comb through the reviews and make your purchasing decision. In the meantime, the only way to play the game without waiting is to create a time machine of your own. Good luck.

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