Phantom Dust is an action strategy game that was developed and published by Microsoft and that released in 2004 for the Xbox in Japan, and then in 2005 in the West. A bonafide cult-hit that critically did well, but didn’t light the world on fire, Phantom Dust has a hardcore following, but not much more. That being said, I never thought I would see Phantom Dust again. But I was wrong: I would.
Fast-forward through an announcement to reboot the game, silence, and a bunch of confusion: Microsoft announced at E3 2016 that it was going to re-release the original game on Xbox One and PC sometime this year. However, this was then followed — again — by a great deal of silence, and not a lot media of the game being released.
Fast-forward again, to today, and Microsoft has revealed a substantial slab of details about the game, as well as provided some first gameplay footage (via Polygon).
According to Adam Isgreen, creative director for Microsoft Studios, the biggest thing for the remaster is moving the game from 16:9 and to native resolution. What this gibberish means, is that if you’re playing on Xbox One, the game will run at 1080p, like your other Xbox One games. If you play the game on PC with a 4K resolution, the game will render its assets at 4K. It might not look that pretty, but alas, native resolution. Isgreen continues:
“So basically, if you put it in a window, the resolution will be the window size. So we’ve been able to actually take full advantage of whatever you’re playing on and render Phantom Dust correctly at that resolution.”
Isgreen continues by stating that the reason last year’s announcement was so light on details, is because the team simply didn’t know what it could and couldn’t pull off. The creative director specifically says:
“The biggest challenge that we faced in bringing Phantom Dust back was when we recovered the archives from Japan for the original project, there was no final source code. So everything that we’ve been able to do in this version of Phantom Dust has been through reverse-engineering the binaries, and actually hacking and cracking the code back open again in order to make the improvements and changes that we have. This is one of the reasons why, when we started talking about Phantom Dust and people were like ‘What’s the resolution of the game? Is it 16:9? Is it 4:3?’ the reason was … we didn’t actually know what we were gonna be able to do because we didn’t have the source.”
Isgreen also reveals that the team has made changes to Phantom Dust’s single-player story progression, specifically the first few hours of the game — which previously stopped players from directly getting involved with the game’s core and unique deck-building mechanic — have been altered.
According to Isgreen, if you fail three times on any mission while playing the campaign, you can skip it. If you skip, you can still get the rewards, however, you will miss out on some achievements. What this basically does, is allow people to experience the story of Phantom Dust without fretting over the gameplay.
The remaster will also be ushering in DLC, both free and paid. According to Isgreen, there’s a free DLC download you can do right when you start the game that gives you a slab of skills and an arsenal case so you can jump right into multiplayer. Speaking of multiplayer — this is where the paid DLC comes into play — there are also a slab of “accelerants” you can purchase in the multiplayer that allow you to get skills immediately at the price of a “couple bucks.” Isgreen notably points out that the game’s original progression has not been altered in order to push players toward paid DLC.
The creative director adds:
“We haven’t changed anything about the way that the original game worked; we’ve just added this as a convenience thing. So if people want to grind and they want to play exactly like they did when the original game came out, that is all in place. Everything about how the game works and functions is there. We really wanted to allow people to jump into multiplayer and play immediately.”
A release date wasn’t divulged. But hey at least we get 19 minutes of new gameplay footage, which you can check out below (via Polygon):