Dead in the clouds
How Crackdown 3’s online co-op turns Xbox One into the most powerful console ever made
What’s the story?
Imagine taking apart an entire city with physics-based destruction with not a crumb of concrete vanishing from the world. Where machine guns dig doors through crumbling masonry and entire skyscrapers can be toppled, and leveraged as weapons as they topple. Now imagine four Agents co-operatively performing these tricks at once and Xbox One somehow handling it without melting. This is Reagent Games and Cloudgines’ bold vision for Crackdown 3’ s cloud-computed physics; a vision our hands-on demo proves to be reality.
Why should I care?
Because it surpasses anything the Xbox One could do alone. The co-op city – distinct to the single-player campaign’s – is divided into sectors, each policed by a different server. Fire a gun in an area and the calculations are beamed to its server and the crumbly results sent back to the Xbox One. If one area’s material falls into another, the server hands responsibility to its neighbour to share the load. When Crackdown’s creator detonates bombs planted around the city, we see up to 14 servers whir to life to render the apocalypse.
What happens next?
Dave Jones – returning to the series he created (his assured touch was missed in Crackdown 2) – and his team have to prove the game works outside of its test environment. He tells us that online play is being optimised for a 2-4mbps connection which is far less than we’d expected based on the scale of information being shared. If it can work consistently in the wild it’s a genuine gamechanger for Xbox, rendering some of its specs irrelevant and inviting developers to set their own boundaries. The sky’s the limit. Or, at the very least, the cloud is.