By Matt Peckham
August 4, 2015

The annual Gamescom 2015 conference in Cologne feels like the other shoe dropping after the barrage of E3 revelations in June. Microsoft led off Europe’s five-day video gaming trade fair (the show officially launches Wednesday and runs through Sunday) with a 90-minute Xbox-centric presser that included world premiere first looks at Quantum Break, Crackdown 3 and Scalebound, three keystone Xbox One exclusives due next year.

Here’s a recap of the press conference’s top revelations.

Quantum Break

The whole “best looking game you’ve ever seen!” thing may be one of gaming’s most tiresome cliches, but our first look at Remedy Entertainment’s temporally unhinged third-person tactical shooter Quantum Break suggests it’s a visual powerhouse. It stars Shawn Ashmore (from Marvel’s X-Men movies) both voicing and lending his exquisitely captured digital likeness to protagonist Jack Joyce, a guy who’s come unstuck in time. Think Max Payne (also by Remedy), only with a grander arsenal of tactical maneuvers when time slows or freezes, sort of like the “Time in a Bottle” sequence from X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Creative lead Sam Lake describes Quantum Break as “a game as well as in-game live action show, fused to form an entertainment experience that’s more than the sum of its parts.” Yeah, I know, we’ve heard that sort of claim endlessly, so wait and see. What’s most important is how it plays. I still have no sense for that, watching the trailer’s confusing, time-slowing special effects as they render the game’s battlefields both beautifully but at the same time chaotically malleable. Look for Quantum Break on April 5, 2016.

Crackdown 3

Next up, we caught our first glimpse of the Crackdown superhero sandbox franchise’s third installment, which confirmed it’ll be another sprawling bash-a-thon staged in another futuristic metropolis overrun by another destructive army of thugs. Microsoft’s trailer described the city as a “dynamic ecosystem with multiple moving pieces, a criminal hierarchy to be dismantled any way you choose,” which sounds as promising as such claims always do on paper.

The surprise takeaway involved the game’s revamped multiplayer mode: if you play Crackdown 3 online, the environments become “100% destructible,” rendered with “20 times the power” of a single Xbox One—a feat Microsoft’s apparently managing by channeling the cloud. And we’ll be able to test-drive those multiplayer claims starting next summer, says Microsoft.

Scalebound

I suppose someone telling a dragon to “use its words” in a fantasy comedy was inevitable. Looking past Scalebound‘s awkward narrative hipsterism, the demo confirmed that the game will indeed be a buddy-play hack-and-slash in which you control a human (with bow, magic abilities and dragon-like body armor) while issuing tactical orders to your dragon pal.

You’ll be able to “free explore a vast and mysterious world” on foot or from the back of your dragon (which we already knew), as well as play cooperatively with up to four others (which we didn’t). Look for Scalebound “holiday 2016,” says Microsoft.

Full DVR functionality on Xbox One

Finally! Microsoft’s adding full DVR functionality to the Xbox One, letting you record live shows on the fly. Better yet, the Xbox app on Windows 10 will let you stream DVR’d shows to any Windows 10 device as well as download said content to mobile devices for viewing on the go. You’ll even be able to schedule recordings (via the app) away from the Xbox One. Best of all, Microsoft says all of this will comprise a subscription-free service when it launches sometime next year.

Windows 10 on Xbox One

We knew it was coming this year, just not when, and while we’re still waiting for a firm date, at least we now have the month: Microsoft confirmed what it’s calling the “New Xbox One Experience,” powered by Windows 10, finally arrives this November.

Write to Matt Peckham at matt.peckham@time.com.

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