Crackdown 3 Shows What The Xbox One Can Really Do

Crackdown 3 Shows What The Xbox One Can Really Do

Much was made of the Xbox One's "cloud capabilities" around the time of its announcement, but until now, the only prominent use of that technology was Forza's "Driveatar" functionality, which essentially created a simulacrum of a player's driving personality that lived on a server somewhere. Crackdown 3, however, has a much more interesting use for it: the creation of a city that is entirely, 100% destructible, where you can do anything from shooting a hole in a wall to collapsing an entire building, watching it crush another as it falls down. This right here is the next level of blowing things up.

(This post originally appeared on Kotaku UK.)

In Crackdown 3's single-player, destructibility is limited in the same way that it would be in any other game. It's in multiplayer that the Xbox's cloud capabilities come into play. Whenever the physics calculations get too much for the Xbox One to handle, it offloads the calculation to a server - or two servers, or three, or six if things start getting really heavy. Everything then plays out in real-time on your screen, and on the screens of the other people who might be in your multiplayer session.

The result of this is one of the most impressive demonstrations of game technology that I've seen in years. Using this network, Crackdown 3 transcends what is ordinarily possible on a console, or indeed even on a super-powered PC. It can have a fully-destructible city where you can shoot a hole in any wall, collapse any building, and then throw the resultant chunks of debris at a car to make it explode.

I tested this out myself with three other players in the session. The weapons had been powered-up for expediency, but it was easy to see that nothing was being faked. First, the bullets strip away the exterior of a building to reveal the superstructure below; if you want to collapse the superstructure, you need something like a rocket launcher and a bit of time, but eventually it will buckle and fall over, and probably take a few surrounding buildings with it. In about fifteen minutes my comrades and I managed to flatten a small section of the city.

Crackdown 3 Shows What The Xbox One Can Really Do

In this build, there was a little graphic in the top right of the screen that showed when the physics calculations were being sent to servers. At one point it took seven servers to calculate the amount of carnage going on. It is awesome, in the literal sense of the word. I had immense fun standing on top of a tower and firing RPGs off at distant structures, watching them blow up in the distance. I'd assumed that you'd need a hefty Internet connection to make this work, but I was told that 2-4mbps is all that people will require.

Crackdown 3 is otherwise in quite an early state. It plays like a tech demo - there's no agility in there yet, no jumping or climbing, vehicles aren't working, and the textures are early - so creator Reagent Games has a lot of work ahead of it. So far a lot of time has been spent on creating the city's buildings, which have had to be designed much like real buildings in order for the destructibility to work; they all have rooms inside, and are held up by great spires of metal. But this is still the most exciting Xbox One demo I've played yet, because it shows what this particular console can do that nothing else can.

Crackdown 3 Shows What The Xbox One Can Really Do

This post originally appeared on Kotaku UK, bringing you original reporting, game culture and humour with a U from the British isles.


    MMO's have been using this concept since the 90s.

    Any game developer if they wanted to can rent servers for this kind of thing if they wanted to make a game mode that required always online.

    Also Id like to add that this would be better titled, Crackdown 3 shows what the Xbox One cant do because the Xbox one is offloading it to something better.

    Last edited 12/08/15 2:05 pm

      I agree with most of what you're saying, but you're making it sound like it's a simple trick. I could make this happen... if I had the same cloud based systems that the XBOX One has access to or the insane resources required to set them up myself. I mean Battlefield has tried this before with significantly lesser results and Battlefield isn't exactly being developed on a razor thin budget. Yet here we have Crackdown 3 upstaging pretty much everything else on the market.
      Microsoft set things up in a way that something that's normally inaccessible to anyone but the biggest of big names is in the hands of Crackdown. The sort of anticipated next entry in the widely considered pretty cool Crackdown series. A series that sold itself on being free with the Halo 3 multiplayer beta key has this technology at it's disposal. That's the real thing to take away from this article.

      Everything else aside, you're not going to see this on the Wii U and you're probably not going to see it used this way by anything but the highest tier of PS4 and PC games.

        Yeah EA is not the best example when we are speaking about Servers. Since when does any EA games with multiplayer works for the first 6 months?

        And one more thing, PS4 and PC doesn't need to do it. It can already do it by itself without the cloud.

        Last edited 12/08/15 2:47 pm

          I think you're kidding yourself if you think your PS4 can do this on it's own. It's more powerful than an XBOX One but the gap isn't this big. If the PS4 can do this without any external support while maintaining regular gameplay then their exclusives must be seriously holding back.

            What makes you think the difference gap is not big? It is quite simple to see to be honest. Here is just a simple example.

            Let's put some realistic scenario here.

            900p 60fps on X1 vs 1080p 60fps on PS4

            1440000 pixels vs 2073600 pixels

            That is roughly ~44% better performance

            Taking into consideration of some frame rate hiccups on PS4, that would translate to roughly at least ~35% better performance

            If that is a small gap, I don't know what is huge anymore for a console of the same generation that was released together.

            Not to mention, this pre alpha build is most likely running on PC as well, which is what Microsoft has been doing for the past few titles showing pre alpha / beta / trailer.

            Trust me what you see is not what you get with X1.

            Last edited 12/08/15 3:18 pm

              Letrico just throwing numbers around for the sake of it...

              Xbox one has plenty of full hd 1080p 60fps games, it had Forza 5 at launch ...

              Meanwhile Ps4... Killzone wasn't even full HD on multiplayer, do your research

              I get what you're saying, but this destruction is CPU-based calculations. Sure the PS4 can use GPGPU to an extent, but we really have no comparison to Crackdown 3 destruction on PS4 that I can think of.

              It's incredible to me that MS apparently has all these cloud servers sitting there with capacity to do calculations for games. If that's the case, maybe MS is subsidising the cost of the servers by using servers that were put in place for other non-gaming purposes. In that case, there's nothing stopping Sony from doing the same thing except that there's no way in hell that it would be commercial for them to do so. Because MS has Windows, Office and all the Azure servers in place for non-gaming purposes, the added cost to it of using those resources for CPU calculations on a game is likely to be negligible.

                They're effectively partnered with their own giant company that just happens to make a ton of money with very handy hardware. It's also why XBOX Live has it so easy. They could make an XBOX Live service on par with the PSN using stuff they found around the office.
                I know I sound like a fanboy when I get super into this topic, but it's really one of the more interesting things to happen in console hardware in a long time. You don't often see a console with such a huge but hard to utilise resource advantage like this in their pocket.
                When you think about it it becomes clear why Microsoft were so into pushing the cloud when they were pitching the XBOX One. They knew back then that if they could find a way to stay a generation ahead using cloud technology they'd be unbeatable. Luckily cloud technology has just the right limitations to make it impractical for every day use.

              I'm sorry are you trying to tell me that the PS4 is so powerful it can somehow manage the computations of both the Xbox one and SEVEN Xbox live servers all locally and in real time?
              F*ck outta here troll.

                I'm telling you computations of physics destruction is already in PS4 but may not be so heavily computed as requiring 7 servers.

                And also this pre alpha is most likely to run on PC anyway in the most ideal condition with ultra fast stable direct connection the the servers with god spec PC.

                You won't get this when it is released so, "power of the cloud" they said.

              Assuming it's a DragonballZ power level style 35%, where it's just 35% more powerful at everything, that's still not enough to do this. If you're looking at this as strictly a frame rate, object count and resolution thing the PS4 can do this, but this isn't just rendering a bunch of pre-animated 'building collapsing' models. The PS4 can smash a building to bits. It can even smash a building to bits and let you interact with those bits. Games have been doing that for years. What makes this special is how many more buildings and bits it's able to smash over a very large space because the XBOX One isn't tied up figuring out where everything should move or ensuring that everybody is in sync. The console only has to worry about the easy part.
              Where Crackdown 3 just has to move the things around the screen like basic multiplayer the PS4 has to calculate where the building cracked, which parts shattered, how they shattered, how they fell, if they bumped into anything else on their way down, etc. It's like a dumb kid cheating vs a genius figuring it out as they go.

              Not to mention, this pre alpha build is most likely running on PC as well, which is what Microsoft has been doing for the past few titles showing pre alpha / beta / trailer.

              That's sort of the point. It uses several severs to do what a single XBOX One, PS4 or PC can not. I'm not saying the technology is flawless or that it will be exactly like what's shown, just that in this case cloud computing has surpassed some of the limits of the original hardware. The same way Final Fantasy XV surpassed what a single PS4 can do, only instead of being a very large world it's now a very dense city*.

              *Like I said, I agree with what @piratepete said about this being an old trick, I just think the way it's been done is impressive.

                I just try to be overly sceptical of anything that uses the word cloud until I have seen it for myself. If history has taught me anything its that most of the time what they show in a preview turns out to be bollocks.

                Also I reworded the original post a few times because it was too harsh :p

                Last edited 13/08/15 12:17 am

      Yes the concept has been around since dumb terminals. But this sounds like the first gaming use case to make effective use of server-side processing without the local processing constraints of an mmo or mobile game.

      It is quite a significant achievement IF they have made this work. Not just technically, but cost effectively, and resulting in a better user experience after exception handling for slow connections & drop-outs.

    Early build... kinda like an alpha or beta?

    We've ALL seen what happens to games with great ideas in alphas/betas that then eventually get released

    Grain, Salt, Ready.

    That is just awesome! Was looking forward to the game already, now I can't wait! Had no idea they were putting in this level of destruction

    'Herp, we've got a console that can do a fully destructible city, let's launch it with Killer Instinct instead of Blast Corps'.

      Have you tried Shadows? KI is the only fighting game ever to achieve AI that isn't bullshit, and I guess you could claim it's cloud-driven. Currently the single most impressive tech to emerge from the current generation, for my money.

      I would own an Xbone if they made a new Blast Corps.

    Meh, PS4 does all this (heavy physics calculations) without the help of any cloud processing

      Where? Proof or it didn't happen knob jockey

      I don't think you have a good grasp of the different computational requirements between simple and complex physical simulations. Benchmarks have shown there's only around a 15% difference in CPU power between the two consoles.

      What games do you think show this level of physics simulation on the PS4?

    I was told that 2-4mbps is all that people will require.That's all? :P

      2-4 megabits is 0.25 - 0.5 megabytes, so well within the average Internet speed in Australia of 15 Mb/s (possibly 7Mb/s depending on who to believe), or around 1-2 MB/s.

      Last edited 12/08/15 3:51 pm

        That seems like an awfully high average.

          But the inventor of the internet and, for all intents and purposes, electricity, Malcolm Turnbull said it was something like that. Plus why do you need stuff like that anyway when you can just go wireless?

            Why do you need faster internet speed since majority of the people are only using internet for Skype? - Malcolm Turnbull.

              Odd, I can't find that quote anywhere.

                :P It's not exact words but he did use Skype to justify his decision of Australia not needing a high speed fibre connection.

                  The only thing I could find where Turnbull mentioned Skype was when he was giving an example of how the metadata retention would work. Do you have a link to his other quote? I ask because Turnbull is pretty much the only Liberal who appreciates the long-term value of the NBN but is stuck toeing the party line. He usually tries to choose his words carefully.

          Hmm. This is where I got the 15Mb/s from:

          But has it at 7Mb/s:

          Either way, most people should be able to use this no problem, especially considering our speeds are pretty crappy compared to the rest of the world. At the very least the speeds required are definitely not as unfeasible as people were saying they would be.

            Akamai's report (the one referenced from Business Insider) is for all connections including mobile, from memory. Particularly in Australia, mobile drags the average down quite a bit.

            I think it depends a lot on if you need that kind of bandwidth both ways because our upload is capped at 1mbps for most of the country.

    I'll believe this is anything but a bullshot 'verticle slice' when the final product is released.

    Yeap Microsoft is going all the way to push the idea of Power of the Cloud to fanboys again. I can't wait to see people quoting Crackdown 3 pre alpha video and interview saying it is made possible only with the power of the cloud.

    You really think that... Which game has used his type of destruction where ps4 over took xbox...
    And in cpu performance, xbox has been leading ps4 by a little margin so if xbox cannot do this, ps4 also cannot.. ps4 is only superior in gpu performance..

    Impressive stuff, but it all depends on whether the game is there or not. Atm it's a physics demo that can be played in real time. Games relying on a gimmick usually aren't the best, but happy to be proven wrong

    A couple of questions:

    1. Why is it limited to MP? Surely SP could utilise The Power Of The Cloud(TM) if you had a internet connection.
    2. How can this possibly work when we still have lag on normal multiplayer games, let alone transferring masses of physics data?

      For the second point -and this is all wild speculation on my part, based partially on the comment "At one point it took seven servers to calculate the amount of carnage going on"- is that small localised damage will be done locally, but when you hit the superstructure of the building it will do some basic calculation on your end -direction the building will shift in, what parts will obviously move and so forth- which will look like a "shudder" or something similar, then as the collapse data is calculated it will send it to sync with the users, hopefully staying ahead of what's actually happening.

      The bit where this all falls apart is if say, you start the destruction of a building, and then someone smashes off another part of it, because then it would have to try both at once, and it would get messy. But that's just my wild ramblings, take it with a heap of salt.

      By the looks of it, the multiplayer gameplay is based around destruction. If they wanted to do the same for SP then they'd have to make it an always-online game, which everybody just loves. /s

      Don't know the answer to your second question. Microsoft has put a lot of money and made a lot of talk about their whole Azure cloud computing service so the answer's probably to do with that.

        ^this.. I think Halo 5's online features will be the true testament to Xbox's cloud server setup

        Proof positive that it works and benefits players, honestly people poopie on Microsoft for this stuff but at least they are trying wtf are Sony or Nintendo doing?

        Oh yeah Sony charges you to rent PS3 games to play on PS4, ones that you likely already own...

      I imagine they'll need some of the buildings for the story, and missions, etc.
      I'm guessing there will be some level of destruction, just not complete destruction of an entire map lol

      Yeah, the MP-only part utterly killed any interest I might've had.

    Interesting. Shall have to keep an eye on if/what anybody else can do with MS's servers.

    Multiplayer games are going to be races to see who can level the city first... not that that wont be its own kind of fun.
    Also, the idea that these buildings are all modeled with interiors means that blowing a hole in the side of one to set up a sniper nest is going to be possible... as is the idea of dropping a building on top of a sniper.


    Interesting to see how this works for networks with latency issues. Would you just get physics bugs galore, if only a portion of the calculations are completed and received? or would you get a mixture of onboard physics and suddenly one building breaks into a thousand pieces realistically...

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