Sunset Overdrive has a lot riding on its shoulders. The Xbox One, since its release, has been held under a microscope and seems always to fall short of its console competitor, the PlayStation 4. While the Xbox One has had more exclusive titles in the current cycle than its counterpart, only beating out Sony by one title(19 vs. 18), however 11 of Sony’s 18 are downloadable titles versus Microsoft only having 7 of theirs the same; it has still been an uphill battle for Microsoft since the end of the last generation life-cycle. This is why Sunset Overdrive has the weight of the world barring down on it.
While there have been games to come out for the Xbox One and do decently well, such as Forza 5, Dead Rising 3, and Ryse, the ability of the console to muster any traction with a particular game has been next to impossible. There has been new fresh ideas, which is rather promising for a console that struggled to put out anything unique on the Xbox 360 over the last 3 years; but they haven’t yielded higher system sales which is what Microsoft so desperately craves. There hasn’t been a Halo, or Gears of War yet, and while the new IP’s have done modestly well they haven’t been anything to write home about. Insomniac Games is hoping to change all of that.
Insomniac has been known for their releases on the PlayStation consoles, but the conversion of the studio by Microsoft from Sony is proving that it could be monumental. With a library of titles that includes the likes of Ratchet and Clank, Resistance, and Spyro the attachments to PlayStation is unquestionable. However, when the studio decided to go cross platform with their latest effort Fuse, the tide began to turn. The announcement of Sunset Overdrive had fans clamoring at last years Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), and the hype followed. One of the, now, most anticipated games of the fall has the success of a console in its hands.
There may be a Halo game announced, and a Master Chief Collection due out next month, but until then (and the latter will do well and sell some systems but it’s a remake) there is nothing else that is making people want an Xbox One. The pressure may be unfair in some regards, because lets face it, the reason that Xbox One is struggling is because of the way it came out of the gates. But, that’s the business we’re in. It doesn’t have to be fair; it just has to provide results. An experienced studio like Insomniac understands that and is doing everything it can to move consoles with the game. They have even resorted to a, once exclusive to Microsoft Employees, white console release with the game to entice people more.
The good thing for Sunset Overdrive is while it may be a third person action game that deals with a post-apocalyptic world which we have seen many times over, it is attempting to do something different. It’s over the top, witty, funny, and not only that but has a living world that adapts to its players which is something Microsoft is really pushing with its games (see Forza 5). Is that enough for Insomniac to flip the script and build holiday momentum for Microsoft? That’s what remain to be seen.
Sony has its established franchises and studios, and having two of its heavy hitters come out of the box in the first six months after the console release really helped. Infamous and Killzone, both huge Sony franchises, came out in the first half year of the consoles life and left Microsoft with a brand new game IP, Ryse, and Dead Rising 3 which had lost a large following with the muddled second title in the series. It’s like bringing a banana to a bazooka fight…It’s not going to end well. With nothing though on the horizon for Sony, and some strong titles like Forza Horizon 2, coupled with third party releases in Destiny, Shadows of Mordor, and The Evil Within, though all cross platform; Microsoft could be in for a real solid payday.
Will Sunset Overdrive be Microsoft’s saving grace? It’s hard to tell with the game still eight days out, but the chance of it doing well with all the hype it has had is probable. It may not be the title that cures all of the Xbox One’s problems, but at least it shows something new and fresh on a console-line that was craving something different. Microsoft is showing that they have what it takes again to build the steam needed to make this console showdown worth watching and a less lopsided affair. Ryse started it, and now the question is can Sunset Overdrive sustain it? If it can Microsoft’s Halloween trick could bring one of the best savory treats it’s had in a long time.