ReCore gets Xbox Play Anywhere program off to a shaky start

ReCore, a combined effort from Armature Studio and Comcept, is the first title in Microsoft's new Xbox Play Anywhere initiative. While that program, which allows gamers to buy a title once and play it on both the Xbox One and the PC, is a welcome development, ReCore itself is apparently a bit of a misstep. Going by the opinions of several reviewers, it seems the game simply isn't that good. We haven't played the game ourselves, but we've read the reviews and picked out some of the juiciest tidbits for you.

Images from PCMasterRace Latino America.

In case you missed it, Microsoft's Xbox Play Anywhere is (in principle) an olive branch to Windows gamers who may have felt jilted in the shadow of the company's Xbox game consoles. Put simply, users can purchase a game once and play it on Windows or Xbox. The Windows versions of the games will require Windows 10 and a Windows store login, of course.

ReCore, then, is a new open-world game from Armature Studio with help from Comcept. If those names are unfamiliar to you, it may be useful to know that Armature Studio is helmed by three top dogs formerly of Nintendo subsidiary Retro Studios. That studio created the legendary Metroid Prime series, among other titles. Comcept, meanwhile, is led by Keiji Inafune, the game designer responsible for Lost Planet, Dead Rising, and of course, Mega Man.

With a pedigree like that, the title's lukewarm response across the web comes as a bit of a surprise. Reviewers agree that the title makes a strong first impression. In fact, that seems to be one of the major problems with the game. Hayden Dingman at PC World writes that "The biggest disappointment reviewing ReCore is how strong it starts." Arthur Gies at Polygon seems to agree. He says "On paper, it all seems like a great idea, and at first, the formula yields results."

Unfortunately, it seems the game's solid early bits give way to a highly padded experience. Most of the reviewers agreed that the actual game's content was too thin and stretched-out. Ars Technica's Sam Machkovech praised the way ReCore lets you go anywhere you can see, but says the rewards for exploration are "decidedly paltry." Matt Whittaker at HardcoreGamer says "A shocking amount of time is spent gathering Prismatic Cores in order to progress the story, and it always feels like a way to artificially extend game length."

Acquiring "Prismatic Cores" is a key element of the game. These mysterious objects are hidden around the game world, and finding them is a key part of making progress in the ReCore universe. While progression tied to collectables isn't a new idea, ReCore's implementation of the concept seems almost antagonistic. Many reviewers complained of not only the excessive number of Cores required for progression, but also the laughably short distance between the Core-gated areas. Cores can also be acquired by completing secondary objectives, but unfortunately, Gamespot's Tamoor Hussain writes that "completing them feels like doing chores for pocket money."

To make matters worse, it seems the game is fraught with technical issues, too. On the Xbox, Sam Prell at GamesRadar was the most vocal about the problems. He writes that he encountered load times upwards of two minutes simply upon entering or exiting dungeons. He also says he fell through the game world three times, and that he had sudden unexplained framerate dips, among other issues. The other Sam back at Ars Technica says the PC version is the one to get, as while it has the same problems, its potentially-higher framerate is helpful for the game's precision platforming. If gamers were expecting blow-for-blow parity between PCs and consoles with this new program, ReCore isn't that magic bridge.

The story isn't all bad, though. Reviewers universally praised the game's movement and exploration mechanics. Samuel Guglielmo at TechRaptor wrote that the platforming reminds him of a higher-precision Ratchet and Clank, and that one section left him "surprised that [he] managed it and exhilarated that [he] did." Matt at HardcoreGamer likewise says ReCore's biggest draw is its fluid movement mechanics. Given the game's focus on exploration, that's definitely a good thing. Multiple reviewers used the word "charming" to refer to the game's robotic companions, and even GamesRadar's Sam Prell—who scored the game a 2 of 5—said "[protagonist] Joule and her companions are instantly likable."

The specific complaints that reviewers mentioned leave us wondering if Microsoft might not have urged Armature and Comcept to push their love child out the door a bit early. If that's the case, it's a shame, because ReCore is under more scrutiny than usual as the first Play Anywhere game. If you're interested in trying it out for yourself, ReCore is available now on the Windows Store for $39.99.

Comments closed
    • NTMBK
    • 4 years ago

    A shame. I was really hoping for a modern day Metroid Prime reincarnation. I had a lot of fun in that game, and actually 100%’d it back in the day. Searching for all those missile tanks took a long time, but it wasn’t compulsory to complete the game.

      • sweatshopking
      • 4 years ago

      Setup my daughter this morning for her to play through the Wii version trilogy on, um, dolphin.

    • ebomb808
    • 4 years ago

    Came looking for how Microsoft’s Play Anywhere program was off to a shaky start, for example, maybe if you bought on Xbox it was difficult to get working on PC or vice versa. Instead, this article reads other people’s reviews that were disappointed with the game. Whether a game is good or bad doesn’t affect whether the Play Anywhere program itself is off to a shaky start. Poor article title.

      • EzioAs
      • 4 years ago

      Yeah, I have to agree with you here. Title was a bit misleading imo.

      • cygnus1
      • 4 years ago

      Yeah, this comes off as a very click bait type headline because there’s nothing relevant about the headline in the article. There is no discussion of how the program itself is having a shaky start. And from everything I’ve read, the implementation is solid, which means the headline is the exact opposite of what everyone else is reporting. The game plays on both platforms and cloud saves are nearly instantly synced between devices allowing you to swap back and forth. The Play Anywhere Program status has nothing to do with the first game coming out being kind of boring and having gameplay bugs that are completely unrelated to the Play Anywhere functionality.

      • RAGEPRO
      • 4 years ago

      In our defense, and as the writer of the piece, I have to say that “shaky start” is a quality of the game, not of the Xbox Play Anywhere program.

      The program itself is not a ‘program’ in the computer sense, of course. Simply, having a Play Anywhere game license on your MS account entitles you to play it on Xbox or on Windows. That’s all there is to it. As a result, I’m not super sure what you (or EzioAs, or cygnus1) could really have thought I meant besides describing the game.

      I’ll admit it wasn’t the best wording it could have been. Still, I don’t think it’s fair to call it “clickbaity”.

        • ebomb808
        • 4 years ago

        “ReCore gets Xbox Play Anywhere program off to a shaky start”

        Shaky start is directly attributed to the Xbox Play Anywhere program, and not the game itself. I am not trying to be a jerk, but part of good writing is properly conveying the ideas you are trying to express. If multiple readers are misinterpreting what you are trying to say, maybe you should think about how you could say it better rather than saying it’s a problem of people understanding your true meaning.

        • cygnus1
        • 4 years ago

        Sorry Zak, you’re headline implies the Play Anywhere “Program” (which no one thinks is a piece of software, I don’t understand where you got that idea) is off to a shaky start. Implying some part of the cross platform functionality that falls under the Play Anywhere umbrella isn’t working reliably or as expected. That would absolutely be news, but your headline is the opposite of reality and that is why it’s clickbait. If I have to read the article to understand the headline doesn’t mean what the words you wrote actually mean, it’s click bait.

        A more accurate headline would’ve been along the lines of “Xbox Play Anywhere works as advertised, doesn’t fix first boring game”.

        • Anovoca
        • 4 years ago

        “Xbox Play Anywhere program kicks off, Current titles underwhelm critics.”

        -You’re welcome.

        • Voldenuit
        • 4 years ago

        [quote<]In our defense, and as the writer of the piece, I have to say that "shaky start" is a quality of the game, not of the Xbox Play Anywhere program.[/quote<] That's not what the headline says (or even implies though). Something like 'Lacklustre ReCore Reviews Overshadow Play Anywhere Program' might be more accurate. Or something snarky like 'Play Anywhere, But Nothing Worth Playing'.

        • RAGEPRO
        • 4 years ago

        Well, thanks for the advice guys. I’ll try to write ’em better in the future. 🙂

          • sweatshopking
          • 4 years ago

          What a magnanimous way to take this criticism. Well done, sir!

      • sweatshopking
      • 4 years ago

      About to write the same thing.

      • Bomber
      • 4 years ago

      ReCore isn’t even the first game to use Play Anywhere. Quantum Break did it earlier this year. The convenience of playing between my One and my PC was pretty cool. Too bad the game is essentially broken on PC. Maybe that’s why they say ReCore is the first?

        • sweatshopking
        • 4 years ago

        Technically, you’re incorrect. Quantum break did have some of the features, and did get keys for both, but one key didn’t do both.The first official play anywhere game is in fact recore.

          • Pwnstar
          • 4 years ago

          Technically. Quantum Break is not considered a Play Anywhere title but it gets everything Play Anywhere has (except different keys, as you stated). Why doesn’t Microsoft include it?

            • sweatshopking
            • 4 years ago

            Not sure. My assumption would be because not all who purchased it on one system received keys for the other. For example, I had a key for it on xbox, but no windows key. It wasn’t play anywhere for me. Actually, I never played it at all. I sold it on eBay immediately.

        • LostCat
        • 4 years ago

        It’s been patched up nicely on PC and plays great on my box.

      • crabjokeman
      • 4 years ago

      I disagree completely. You’re the one jumping to the conclusion that the game couldn’t be played on one platform or another. Also, if your “program” initially has one game and it has notable issues, then your program is indeed off to a shaky start, regardless of whether the issues relate to the program’s main objective or not.

      Anyway, I can see I’m in the minority here, so downvote away..

        • ebomb808
        • 4 years ago

        Happy to downvote your ridiculous comment.

    • I.S.T.
    • 4 years ago

    Zak: look up Mighty no. 9 and see how Keiji Inafune’s reputation has been as of late. That was a game he was much more involved in, FWIW.

      • RAGEPRO
      • 4 years ago

      Oh, I’m well familiar with the saga of Mighty No. 9. 🙂 Still, one bad game does not necessarily tarnish a reputation — particularly not one as storied as Inafune-sensei’s. Lost Planet 2 ranks among my favorite games of all time and I’ve spent many hours being angry at Mega Man games. In any case, I believe Comcept was in more of an advisory role on this title, although I could be wrong.

        • Pwnstar
        • 4 years ago

        You aren’t wrong. I heard it repeatedly stated they did concept design and storyboard.

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