The XBOX One has been a confusing and somewhat turbulent console. The initial announcements about “always online”, the price point, and a lack of backwards compatibility were met with a lot of criticism and irritation. To some degree they have been playing catch up since the mishandled announcement. The Kinect has been somewhat invalidated to create a more competitive price point, “always online” is no longer a requirement, and cloud processing has been slightly dormant and unheard of, doing minor things in Titanfall and Forza. However, I think Microsoft’s aims for the console are starting to become more apparent, with “always online” and cloud processing waking like a sleeping beast with what was recently revealed in Crackdown 3. If you haven’t seen the footage, Crackdown 3 multiplayer offers the first 100% destructible environment and it looks very, very impressive.
Strongest Console Ever Made?
It’s hard to look back on the XBOX One announcement and understand why so many people sneered and jeered at needing to be “always online”. After almost two years of next-gen consoles, many in the gaming community seem less critical of the idea of needing to be online. This could give room for more games like Crackdown 3 to leverage the power of cloud processing. I could even see cloud processing convincing many nay-sayers or skeptics who think needing to be online doesn’t come with enough benefits given how great some single player games can be. Cloud processing can be a pretty convincing feature given what is shown in the Crackdown 3 demo. It could even be something that gets added to single player games if the community response is positive enough. Even if it is only used for online multiplayer modes, it plays very well into the identity that Microsoft established at E3 this year.
It was clear after E3 2015 that Microsoft and Sony were focusing on different things. The timed exclusives and console specific loot is annoying, but in general the two companies focused on very different types of games. As a gamer who enjoys playing multiplayer games I was happy to see the emphasis of every first party exclusive for the XBOX One being firmly planted in some form of multiplayer. Imagine a co-op campaign that harnesses the power shown off in Crackdown 3. Given that Sony is focusing on paying for exclusive content in cross platform titles or securing graphically dominant single player games, they don’t seem remotely interested in building the infrastructure necessary to compete with what the XBOX One’s cloud processing. And Microsoft may soon start leveraging cloud processing as something that makes their online games far and away more powerful than anything the PS4 can do. This of course leads to the question… What about future cross-platform titles?
The first game I thought of when I saw the Crackdown 3 footage was Titanfall. The sequel is on the way, but it will be cross-platform. I have previously celebrated the game switching to cross-platform, and I still think it will be good for the size and scope of the game with a larger budget and target audience. But big AAA cross-platform games may avoid even considering cloud processing because it would end up with content and mechanics that would only work on the XBOX One. This is somewhat disappointing as a game that would really benefit from cloud processing is one that could be as big and expansive as Titanfall 2. The good news is that Crackdown 3 may influence developers to create more amazing and huge first party exclusives for the XBOX One, and we will all benefit from a more competitive landscape of consoles. It’s one thing to make a game for the PS4 because it has more consoles in circulation, but it’s a completely different thing to develop games that push the boundaries of what was previously thought impossible in this current generation of consoles. The silver-lining of all the “pushing graphics further” marketing that I typically rail against is that it might draw more developers to the XBOX One and cloud processing because of how much more they will be able to do. Let’s just hope Crackdown 3 delivers a knockout experience because it will certainly be seen as the testing grounds.
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