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Top 5 Tuesdays – Top 5 Upcoming Single Player Xbox One Exclusives

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It’s been 4 months since the Xbox One hit stores and as readers know, I’ve been loving every minute of it. The Xbox One had a pretty strong starting lineup of great games, ranging from Forza 5, to Ryse: Son of Rome and Dead Rising 3 as well as lots of other awesome games, and there’s more to come. So without further ado, here’s the top 5 upcoming single player exclusives.

Halo (working title)

So I figured I’d get Microsoft’s powerhouse exclusives out of the way first, starting with the unnamed Halo project. Last time we saw this bad boy was at E3 2013 and at that point we were expecting Halo 5. Since then, however, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer has come forward and stated that the next entry isn’t Halo 5 but instead will be a “legitimate entry” into the series and not a spinoff. He also stated the the Reclaimer trilogy was being expanded into a larger series of games so that the Reclaimer story wasn’t limited to a trilogy. It was also confirmed that the next Halo would be only on the Xbox One and run at 60 frames per second.

There’s not much to go on aside from that I’m afraid, but whatever it is we can definitely expect to see more of the “30 seconds of fun” formula that has worked so well in the past for the franchise. Fingers crossed that we get back into our Mjölnir armor as soon as possible.

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Below

Let me just get this out of the way…. Yay Canada! Toronto based indie studio, Capybara Games is working on a top down adventure game where players will take the role of a “tiny warrior exploring the depths of a remote island.” Microsoft’s Phil Spencer described Below by saying “the game is about exploration, though that goal is contingent upon the character’s survival.” Below is also described as being difficult with brutal combat and permanent death. There’s no release date as of yet but hopefully there will be updates soon on when we can get our hands on Below.

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Quantum Break

Here’s a cool one that I’m personally very excited for. Quantum Break is the game from Remedy, the creators of Max Payne and Alan Wake. Quantum Break is proving to be an ambitious project, releasing both as a game on the Xbox One and as a TV show that will affect how you play the game while at the same time being affected by how others play the game.

Quantum Break itself is a third person shooter with time manipulation powers. These powers will be a key feature to the success or failure of Quantum Break as the story will feature branching timelines that will affect player choices and determine the outcome of the TV sequences that turn up after each choice. Quantum Break even allows you to play as the main villain of the game during these breaks in time. Remedy has hit the ball out of the park with every new game that I’ve played from them so I can’t wait until release day…. which hasn’t been announced.

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D4 (Dark Dreams Don’t Die)

If you enjoy episodic adventure games like The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us then you are going to love this next entry. Hidetaka Suehiro, writer and director of Deadly Premonition on the Xbox 360, is working with Access Games to develop D4 for the Xbox One.

In D4, players take the role of a Private Investigator whose wife has been murdered and as a result of the trauma, he is unable to remember it. During the story, the character develops the ability to travel through time to try and undo the murder. It’s not an ability that can be activated at will however, instead being activated by interacting with objects that trigger his memory. The game will feature cell shaded animations and uses Kinect voice and motion controls to navigate the investigation.

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Gears of War (Working title)

As of the 27th of January, Microsoft has acquired the rights to Gears of War from Epic games and announced that a new game would be developed by Black Tusk Studios for the Xbox One. As of yet there’s been nothing announced about story, setting or characters so we really have nothing to go on aside from Gears of Wars track record. Phil Spencer and Microsoft seem to be very confident in Black Tusk’s ability work on the franchise, especially considering they’ve reacquired one of the granddaddy’s of the franchise, Rod Fergusson.

Black Tusk was previously working on a new original IP utilizing Unreal Engine 4, but since the acquisition has shifted the entirety of their focus to creating the next Gears of War. Work has literally just begun on the project, so it may be a while before we see anything tangible from the game. Either way, we’re excited to add a new Gears of War to our next-gen libraries.

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I know this list is all of games that have no release date announced and some that have next to no details, but with this console generation just starting and E3 just a few months away we should expect to hear some new details very soon. Also, as the year goes by, we can expect to hear about more exclusive announcements as well. The Xbox One has shown to be a force to be reckoned with in this generation and its future is looking very bright.

Be sure to follow OnlySP on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest single player gaming news.

Simon Squire lives in Nova Scotia Canada and is a member of the Canadian Army. He is a lifelong gamer, and proud owner of an Xbox One, a PS3 and a decent laptop for computer gaming.
Feel free to check out his Blog where he occasionally touches on life as a parent of a child with Autism and where he highlights stories of other special kids at http://g-monkey.livejournal.com/
You can also follow him on twitter @efcfrost or zap him a message on PSN or Xbox Live where his handles for both systems is FallenRAVEN47

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“The Perfect Canvas To Build a Game World On”: Talking Hand-Drawn Horror in the Hills of Mundaun

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Mundaun

The Swiss Alps are best known as a holiday destination. Snow and skiing dominate the public imagining of the region, but horror lies in all hills. The folkloric horror game Mundaun promises to subvert the usual perception of the area.

The horrific twist on an idyllic locale is accompanied by an eye-catching art style like no other in gaming.

With Mundaun being such an intriguing prospect, OnlySP reached out to the game’s director Michel Ziegler to find out more.

OnlySP: Could you please begin by providing a brief description of Mundaun for any of our readers who may not be familiar with the game?

Ziegler: A [while] ago, I came up with the description: a lovingly hand-pencilled horror tale. I like the word tale, because it emphasizes the type of narrative the game is going for. It’s a first-person adventure game inspired by the dark folklore of the alps. The aesthetic is really unique, since I combine hand-pencilled textures with 3D. It’s kind of hard to be brief about what makes the game unique. I think it’s the combination of all the things in there, some pretty well hidden. Mundaun should be a mystery, an enigma.

OnlySP: Curiously, Mundaun is a real place. How accurate a recreation of the landscape is that found in the
game?

Ziegler: The levels are a condensed interpretation of the real thing. It’s more about how that place feels than accurate topology. The steepness of it, the objects and architecture you encounter that is very specific to that place. It wouldn’t be possible to meaningfully populate a large sample of the real mountain range. I want the give the player the feeling that in every corner there could be some small and unique thing to discover.

OnlySP: Do you have any personal connection to the real place? Why did you settle on it as the setting for the game?

Ziegler: My family has had a small holiday flat there since before I was born. I spent many summers and winters up there and so it became like a second home. Especially for a child, the nature feels huge and full of wonders. I would spend my days finding well-hidden spots and imagining adventures. I chose this setting, because it is dear to me and it is full of buildings that are many centuries old. It always felt like a timeless and mysterious place. The perfect canvas to build a game world on. Four years in, it still inspires too many ideas to ever fit into one game.

OnlySP: I’ve seen the game described as ‘folk horror’—following the likes of The Wicker Man and Children of the Corn. Would you consider that to be an accurate assessment of Mundaun?

Ziegler: I think so, even if my game isn’t inspired by those particular works. But I think there is a certain ambiguity to the scenario that makes people immediately think of fiction that has a similar feel in their cultural circle. Even if I draw much inspiration from things that are specific to where I live, I find that the world and tone of Mundaun resonates with people from all around the globe and from different cultural backgrounds. That said, the haymen that haunt you in Mundaun make the comparison to The Wicker Man an obvious one.

OnlySP: If so, what sort of local legends are you drawing on for the source of the horror?

Ziegler: Not really any specific ones. If I had to name one story that influenced the plot of Mundaun, it would  be Jeremias Gotthelf’s The Black Spider. The oppressive mood it conveys has always fascinated me. Also, I loved collections of small folk tales as a child and I think, I’m remixing elements from those, creating my own folk tale. I’m not restricting myself to only local influences at all though. I take everything that I think is interesting and fits the world and universe of Mundaun.

OnlySP: How does the monochromatic art style contribute to the player’s sense of tension?

Ziegler: For one, it invokes the aesthetic of old movies and photographs. For me personally, those often have a sinister quality, hiding something in the dark shadows. In addition to that, the hand-drawn textures give the game the quality of a darkly illustrated picture book.

OnlySP: Speaking of the art style, it certainly is one of the most intriguing elements of Mundaun. How did you come to settle on it, and what is the process by which you bring these hand-drawn artworks to life in the game? When you began, did you have an idea of how much work would be involved?

Ziegler: I just love drawing on paper. I’ve never gotten into drawing digitally much. For a small game prototype (The Colony) I made before Mundaun, I also applied a hand-made approach. I love the combination of hand-made textures with 3D, it’s a strange thing. Pencils just seemed a perfect match for a more dark aesthetic.

The process is similar to the usual 3D process, but with a small detour. After unwrapping the finished 3D model, I print out the UV maps. I trace the outlines to a new drawing paper and then I fill in the actual drawing with pencils. After scanning them back in, I apply them to the models. I probably didn’t properly anticipate, how many drawings I would end up making, because I underestimated, how much Mundaun would grow.

OnlySP: The puzzles that appear in the trailers seem to draw from an older tradition in games wherein they don’t necessarily feel realistic (although that interpretation is, admittedly, based on brief snippets taken out of context). Nevertheless, do you have any concerns that that approach might turn away some players?

Ziegler: Yeah, it’s a concern. I try to make the puzzles quite logical. Playtesting seems to be the key here. I’m not trying to break the flow of the game, the puzzles are just a great way to add detail and flavour to the world. I try to integrate them into the world and make them feel organic and unique to this place.

OnlySP: Aside from the puzzles, what else will players be doing in Mundaun?

Ziegler: Encountering, avoiding, or fighting off different types of enemies. Finding and talking to some of the eccentric native folk. Making coffee, smoking a pipe, carrying around the head of a goat. Driving a chair lift, a hay loader vehicle and a sleigh. There’s a whole lot of different things to discover. I think, the mix of high-stakes death threatening situations with more mundane activities is one of the most interesting qualities of Mundaun.

OnlySP: Explore” seems to be one of the keywords of the game. Does it feature an open-world design, or is it more of a level-to-level affair with expansive levels? And, in total, about how big is the game world

Ziegler: It features three discrete levels, each with their own flavour. You start in an area with meadows and trees and then make your way up to a more sparse, stony area. Then there’s the snow-covered summit region. The levels are quite sizeable and the player is given freedom to explore them, but it is not an open-world design per se. Each part, activity, and task is unique and lovingly hand-crafted.

OnlySP: How long do you expect the average playthrough to last? Or is it still too early to be able to say?

Ziegler: It is a bit early, but I think it’ll be 4-5 hours.

OnlySP: Speaking of, we first came across Mundaun about a year and a half ago. How long has it been in
development?

Ziegler: It has been in development for 4.5 years now.


Ziegler and his team at Hidden Fields are currently targeting a Q1 2020 launch for Mundaun on Mac, PC, and Xbox One.

If your interest is piqued, let us know either in the comments below or on our community Discord server.

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