E3 2014 Preview: Sunset Overdrive

June 24, 2014

I will be honest with you.  The initial trailers for Sunset Overdrive did not impress me.  Sure enough, it’s nice to see a game with such nice colours and vibrance, and one that looks so fast paced.  However, the big questions on my mind were ‘what is the context of this game and why am I playing through it?’.  In a presentation from a few of the Insomniac Games developers  at this year’s E3, there thankfully have been some answers now, and Sunset Overdrive is looking more and more like an exclusive that Xbox One owners can get excited about.

While it has been known that the game will be about a mutant outbreak caused by the proliferation of a contaminated energy drink, this premise did not seem too far removed from the flood of zombie titles on the market.  Following an explanation from the devs, their context is far more palpable now.  Coming of the Resistance trilogy, the team said they were tired of creating morbid and dark environments and tired of the miserable outlook on the ‘end-of-days’, they wanted to take a brighter look at the future.


Insomniac proposed that the end-of-days won’t come from the usually posited science-fiction explanations, but from a stuff up or from human error.  Also, it is likely that this error will be related to the grievous misconduct of some sort of multinational corporation.  So if a major company DID turn everyone in your town into mutants by fast-tracking a new type of energy drink – what would you do? According to Insomniac, why not forget about your dead-end job and turn over a new leaf and do whatever the heck you like!  A bit like The Omega Man.

The character shown off in trailers so far has just been an avatar – players will create their own when they start the game.  Another aspect that Insomniac was keen to talk about was the speed and kinetic nature of the gameplay.  Slightly reminiscent of inFamous, there was a lot of potential for parkour, very fast-paced climbing, sliding across the top of power lines and rail tracks and trampoline-esque bounces off the tops of cars, umbrellas and more.  The result is a type of game that encourages you to never stand still.


It wouldn’t be an Insomniac game without the inventory of crazy weaponry – and there was some impressive fire power on show.  In particular, a gun that fired off fireworks was both pretty and effective.  The game will have you allying with several other factions of survivors, including adult scouts who have taken up bushido after hiding in a Japanese history museum, and some overly zealous cosplayers who think the mutant outbreak was the result of their simulation.  There have been four types of mutants revealed so far but there are apparently many more, and there are also a number of human factions that you should defeat as well.  The finally cherry from the demo was the news that you can play drop-in drop-out co-op with up to eight players; what power this new generation has!

So, Sunset Overdrive does have a lot more to it than it initially appeared to have.  While it still has a little more to show as to whether it can fit the billing, it will probably fill the gap of that Xbox One exclusive title that shows just what the system can really do.  And unlike a lot of the titles shown or announced at this year’s E3, it will actually be available in 2014.