The digital avatars of actors are surprisingly close to the real thing.
Two big third person shooters from powerhouse developers are coming out this Spring.
Hitting the shelves on March 8, 2016 is Ubisoft’s multi-platform online post-disaster shooter The Division.
Quantum Break, Remedy’s Xbox One and PC exclusive time bending sci-fi melding of game and television series, will be released on April 5, 2016.
DESIblitz finds out how they differ and which is the better game.
Core Gameplay Loop
Instantly, the similarities between these two games are apparent. Both take the form of a third person adventure, using cover shooting as their base mechanic.
Both also give the player abilities to tackle challenging fights. Where The Division playing host to Bond-style gadgets, Quantum Break gives the player a number of time-breaking abilities.
The Division is as much a game about exploring a world as it is a shooter, with smaller numbers of enemies and a more distinct, tactical play style.
While Quantum Break does have quieter moments where the player is required to solve puzzles in a time-absent environment, it plays out for the most part as a faster, more reactive game.
Cover in Quantum Break is unbelievably fragile, forcing the player to utilise their entire arsenal, including split-second manoeuvrability, to avoid dying in a gun fight.
The Division’s cover, while equally destructible, has a bit of resilience to it, allowing for a slower pace and a combat that eventually becomes a war of attrition.
Shooting itself is slower and slightly clunkier in The Division compared to Quantum Break’s fluidity, as the game’s RPG element calculates damage in a more numeric fashion.
But the game design takes this clunkiness into account, and the game never feels like its hindering you.
Beyond the Loop
What will you be doing outside of this core gameplay loop in these games?
The Division is an open world game, which will come as no surprise to those familiar with Ubisoft’s catalogue. But it’s an open world that operates in a very different way.
Ubisoft, a company infamous for expansive worlds with an emphasis on size over depth, have quite faithfully created the dense urban metropolis that is a fictional post-disaster New York.
Players won’t be exploring the whole city at the game’s launch, with the focus being on the single quarantined region of Manhattan.
Areas are separated and blocked off to the player in a believably organic way, with quarantines, abandoned military check points and the dedicated player-versus-player ‘Dark Zones’.
But even within the smaller areas, there is a wealth of discovery awaiting you, and this smaller, more intimate world is packed with flavour text that ultimately evolves the game’s narrative beyond a simple multiplayer shooter.
For a game with such an enormous budget, having a more curated touch is a welcome change from the norm of safe design-by-committee open world games.
Quantum Break, inversely, is a game that eschews the popularity of open world design to focus on a number of much smaller, highly detailed environments.
Akin to Remedy’s other games, like Alan Wake and Max Payne 3, the player with navigate cramped quarters and open areas alike as they explore the game world and tackle foes.
A more linear world and a contained campaign await those gunning for Quantum Break’s cinematic experience, but one that is equally detailed.
Cinematic Influence vs Environmental Storytelling
When it comes to the story, The Division and Quantum Break couldn’t be more different.
Quantum Break, as said before, is a cinematic style of game – a style that Remedy have been extremely successful at emulating.
The game takes this one step further, with a digital campaign that follows Jack Joyce (played by X-Men’s Shawn Ashmore), the hapless protagonist with newly found powers on the run from villainous corporation Monarch Solutions after a time travel experiment goes horribly wrong.
Other parts are played by famous actors such as Lord of the Ring’s Dominic Monaghan as Jack’s brother William and Game of Thrones‘ Aidan Gillen as antagonist Paul Serene.
Motion capture technology has allowed Remedy to direct more subtle performances from its cast, telling a story as much through gestures and facial expressions as it does through its script.
Where the bulk of the story is told from the perspective of Jack, the game will also explore the movements of its villain in a live action mini-series that unlocks as you progress through the game.
What this also shows is that the visual fidelity of Quantum Break has given it an impressive level of realism, as the digital avatars of actors are surprisingly close to the real thing.
The Division is not a cinematic story, although it does have some cinematic flourishes.
You play as one of a number of sleeper agents activated during the viral outbreak that has obliterated New York.
You are not the singular hero. You are simply one person tasked with bringing the city back from its own deeply seated darkness.
Story is equally important to the design ethos of The Division, but it is told way more through its environments.
With the viral outbreak happening on Black Friday, there is a great sense of the immediacy of abandonment in the city.
Where the campaign story is told through cut scenes and radio conversations, there is another layer of what has been left behind after the evacuation, and who was left behind.
Which game should you buy?
If you are a fan of exploration, a slower form of tactical gameplay, and have enjoyed previous Ubisoft titles, The Division will suit your gaming needs perfectly.
With a dramatic campaign and expansive multiplayer mode, The Division has all the components for what could be a significant communal phenomenon.
However, if you are a fan of games like Max Payne and the Uncharted series, and want a big, bombastic, beautiful action game that takes you by the hand and drags you across a number of finely tuned set pieces, and you own an Xbox One or Windows 10 PC, then Quantum Break will suit your needs well.