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E3 – Sunset Overdrive Multiplayer Hands-On Preview

One of E3’s most anticipated titles this year has been Insomniac Games’ Sunset Overdrive. Ever since the trailer was shown during the Microsoft conference on Monday, people all over the showfloor have been talking about how insane it looks. I jumped at the chance to get my hands on it, and it definitely lives up to the hype.

The Insomniac booth was set up with 24 stations for three teams of eight to play a round of the multiplayer, dubbed Chaos Mode. The way multiplayer works is that during your single player playthrough, you stop flinging yourself around the world and head towards a photo booth which initiates Chaos Mode with up to eight other players. You vote between two stages to play on then complete the objectives and vote on two other maps again. All the stages you pick from are located in different parts of town with sometimes completely different objectives. Once this second stage is complete, if finished successfully, your single player avatar is awarded with loot that you take back into your game.


For the showfloor demo, the stage was pre-selected and the avatars already customized. Our stage objective was to survive three waves of attacks from enemies while protecting our Overcharge container. I think this may be one of the first games where everything that is shown in the trailer is actually doable in-game. It takes a second or two to get used to the traversal controls, but once you have them down you’ll be flipping, grinding, leaping, and parkouring with ease. This may be due to the fact that one button does everything from initiating grinds, to hanging off your crowbar, changing directions, and climbing walls. The best way to survive for long periods of time is to keep moving, using whatever you can to get up high and grind on anything possible or flipping from bouncy surface to bouncy surface.

The weapons are as insane as you’d expect from an Insomniac game. It helped that they were all unlocked from the start so I could experiment to see which weapons worked well together. The harpoon gun that spurts out the Overcharge energy drink combined with the fireworks gun worked great. The freeze bomb gun combined with the fireball shotgun was another favorite of mine. Add in the ability to do a ground pound and set all different kinds of traps and you have a game as colorful as it is hectic. The traps ranged from spinning saw blades, to fire burst mines, to rocket turrets, to the oldest trick in the book: the springboard that flings enemies away a la Looney Tunes.

The harpoon gun, or the Captain Ahab in the game’s vernacular

Every weapon, explosion, enemy, and environment looks like a rainbow exploded on it – in a good way. In an industry where seemingly every game has to be dark and gritty, it’s refreshing to see a title like this that knows it’s a game and just goes absolutely nuts trying to show that to the players as well. As more and more enemies flooded the stage, the only way to see what was going on was to be above the fray, on top of a building or sign; ground level was a neon fireworks display of, green, red, blue, yellow, and orange. Surprisingly, this symphony of colors never got distracting or annoying since they looked so damn good. You feel compelled to add to the chaos, since not doing so meant you were just walking around and not taking advantage of the game’s mechanics.

The people in my group were having so much fun playing that at the end all eight of us echoed variations of the same thought: “It’s over already???” It’s hard for me to explain how much I had while playing Chaos Mode without babbling like an idiot (though that may be because I just drank a full can of Overdrive). It’s great to see such a fun and colorful game look so good, when more often than not they take a backseat to the darker Battlefields and Call of Dutys of the industry.

I want so much more of this

Sunset Overdrive will be available on Xbox One on October 28th and I know I’ll definitely be back in Sunset City blowing up all the things.

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