Perfect Dark FAQ: Xbox Game Pass, story, gameplay, and everything you need to know

Perfect Dark 2024 Joanna Dark
(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Joanna Dark is finally going back into action. 

When Microsoft formed a new Xbox studio called The Initiative in 2018, the team took a couple of years before revealing its first project. Said project? A new Perfect Dark game, a spy shooter with a CGI teaser that promised environmental devastation, secret agents, and cool gadgets, but few concrete details. 

Befitting the game's name, official news was dark for years and reports painted a strained picture of development before more details finally began to emerge in the wake of the Xbox Games Showcase 2024. Now, there's still a lot to learn about Perfect Dark, but I've gathered the answers to a fair few questions that have at long last been revealed. Here's everything you need to know about Perfect Dark. 

What is Perfect Dark?

What is Perfect Dark?

Perfect Dark is a first-person spy shooter reboot of the franchise of the same name. It's being co-developed by The Initiative and Crystal Dynamics, and it's published by Xbox Game Studios.

Perfect Dark - Gameplay Reveal - Xbox Games Showcase 2024 - YouTube Perfect Dark - Gameplay Reveal - Xbox Games Showcase 2024 - YouTube
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Perfect Dark is a first-person, spy-themed shooter being co-developed by The Initiative and Crystal Dynamics (which are collectively referred to as Team Perfect Dark by Xbox), while being published by Xbox Game Studios. Despite its simple name, Perfect Dark will be the third game developed in the franchise. 

The first Perfect Dark game was developed by Rare (another Xbox game studio, but not at the time) for the Nintendo 64 as a spiritual successor to the wildly popular GoldenEye 007. Released in 2000, Perfect Dark saw critical acclaim and general commercial success. The game was later remastered and ported to the Xbox 360, and it's still playable for those that buy an Xbox Series X|S or Xbox One console, thanks to being included in the game library via backward compatibility. 

Having been purchased by Microsoft in 2002, Rare then developed Perfect Dark Zero as a launch title for the Xbox 360 in 2005. While generally liked and selling over a million copies, Perfect Dark Zero fell short of its predecessor's success.

After The Initiative was founded in 2018, studio head Darrell Gallagher — who previously led Crystal Dynamics and oversaw the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot — decided the team's first project would be, with the blessing of Rare, a reboot of Perfect Dark. It was then later announced that the game would be co-developed with Crystal Dynamics, and later that the game was being built using Unreal Engine 5

I'm also of the understanding that Team Perfect Dark (like many other studios working on Xbox games) has been consulting with The Coalition, as the famed Gears of War developer is using its experience with Unreal Engine 5 to aid all first-party studios working in the same tech pipeline by providing advice and technical support. 

Is Perfect Dark a remake?

Is Perfect Dark is a remake?

No, Perfect Dark is not a remake, but is a complete reboot. The developers are taking inspiration from the prior games developed by Rare, but players don't have to have played those titles in order to enjoy Perfect Dark.

Perfect Dark lets players explore a futuristic Cairo. (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Perfect Dark is a reboot, not a remake. While Team Perfect Dark is taking some ideas from the original Perfect Dark and Perfect Dark Zero, the studios wanted to create a new game, not something that was just a graphically-enhanced version of a game that's already been released. 

While longtime fans who have played the prior games will notice themes, characters, ideas, and more that have showed up before, it's not required, and anyone will be able to check out Perfect Dark, newcomers and veterans alike.

What are Perfect Dark's story and characters?

What are Perfect Dark's story and characters?

Perfect Dark is set in a near-future world where the environment is collapsing and mega-corporations are trying to stem the tide, but these companies have secrets. Players step into the shoes of agent Joanna Dark, a skilled operative trying to learn the truth of what's going on.

Core Mantis has restored Cairo, but is the company hiding something? (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Perfect Dark is set in a "near-future" world, per an in-depth article on Xbox Wire. In this world, chunks of Earth are experiencing complete ecological collapse referred to as "The Cascade," with massive environmental disasters unfolding all over. A mega-corporation called Core Mantis creates a system called The GEN Network, and deploys it in Cairo, Egypt, restoring the region's ecosystem and making it livable again. Following this success, other big companies begin to get involved, but there's more going on than is first obvious. This futuristic take on a real city is the main setting for the game. 

Perfect Dark's main character is agent Joanna Dark, a special operative with megacorp dataDyne and the playable protagonist. Joanna is given performance capture from actress Alix Wilton Regan (who also voiced Aya and Tasi in Assassin's Creed Origins and Amnesia: Rebirth, respectively), while Joanna's facial likeness is designed after model Elissa Bibaud.

Skilled with firearms, advanced gadgets, stealth, and close-quarters combat, Joanna is tasked with investigating and apprehending a man named Daniel Carrington, the world's most wanted criminal, who has taken refuge somewhere in the walled-off, restored city of Cairo while in possession of a radioactive device. Despite her skills, Joanna explicitly isn't perfect, and part of the narrative is her having to learn from her mistakes, as the developers say the name of the game is aspirational for her.

What is Perfect Dark's gameplay like?

What is Perfect Dark's gameplay like?

Perfect Dark is a first-person shooter, with heavy inspiration taken from titles like immersive sims and stealth games. Players can shoot and fight enemies, but they can also sneak past foes while using high-tech gadgets for distraction and infiltration. Movement includes parkour systems, allowing Joanna to clamber down pipes and run along walls.

Analyzing enemy voices allows for some nifty tricks. (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Team Perfect Dark provided a first look at the game's cinematics and gameplay during the Xbox Games Showcase 2024, showing how Joanna navigates the streets of futuristic Cairo to pursue her targets.

Perfect Dark is at its core a first-person shooter, but there's a lot more going on. The developers indicate Perfect Dark is pulling from a number of genres, particularly immersive sims and stealth games like Deus Ex and Dishonored. Players use guns and close-quarters melee moves to kill or incapacitate enemies, with Joanna sliding and running through combat with ease. Environmental destruction can be used against foes, such as shooting a fire extinguisher to create a brief cloud of cover.

It's not all guns blazing, however, as stealth plays a huge part in the experience. Players can sneak past enemies, or use high-tech gadgets to trick their opponents. Joanna's HUD can see enemies through walls and scan enemies to see their details, while her voice analysis tool can read and "deepfake" an enemy's voice in order to open a voice-activated lock or distract foes with a false call. 

Perfect Dark is not an open-world game, but instead follows a series of missions. As part of the inspiration from immersive sims, players are meant to explore carefully in the world of Perfect Dark, and there are different possible routes for completing each mission. Joanna can engage in parkour and wall running, leaping up the sides of buildings and sliding along scaffolding to reach otherwise-inaccessible locations.

What platforms is Perfect Dark coming to?

What platforms is Perfect Dark coming to?

As an Xbox first-party game, Perfect Dark can safely be assumed to be launching across Xbox Series X|S and Windows PC (across the Xbox App and Steam).

Slide, dodge, and shoot. (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

As Perfect Dark is being built for this generation of hardware, we can very safely infer that it's going to be available on Xbox Series X|S and Windows PC, the latter of which includes the Xbox PC app and Steam. The Steam page is also up, meaning you can add the game to your wishlist right now.

Is Perfect Dark coming to Xbox Game Pass?

Is Perfect Dark coming to Xbox Game Pass?

As an Xbox first-party game, Perfect Dark will be available to play day one through Xbox Game Pass.

There are secrets everywhere. (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Ever since 2018 with Sea of Thieves, all Xbox first-party games have launched day one into Xbox Game Pass, with the service expanding over time to offer options through PC Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

When is Perfect Dark's release date?

When is Perfect Dark's release date?

Perfect Dark does not currently have a release date or expected release year.

Agent Joanna Dark is just getting started. (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Perfect Dark doesn't have a release date or release year right now. The game has been in development for some time, having first been announced at the Game Awards 2020. 

For years after this announcement, the team went quiet, only sharing a couple of tiny updates like the news that The Initiative would be co-developing the experience with Crystal Dynamics. Reports indicated that Team Perfect Dark faced a number of challenges in 2021 and 2022, with several members leaving and reports that the project had been facing mismanagement. In 2023, the teams reportedly started to make more progress and figure out their working relationship, lining up with gameplay footage being shown for the first time in 2024. 

Personally, I would not expect Perfect Dark to launch in 2025, but I do think a 2026 release date is reasonable and possible.

Samuel Tolbert
Freelance Writer

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.