GamesBeat: How much bigger is the world?
Parsons: This is definitely bigger than Lego Marvel Super Heroes. That was our first time on next-gen. We’ve had a couple of years with the platforms. The programmers have found ways to get more out of PS4 and Xbox One and WiiU. They’re always trying to get more and more, which is how we can have eight open world hubs instead of just one city. There are more particles. The lighting’s more vibrant. It’s an ongoing process, with any machine. The longer we have it, the more we can push it.
GamesBeat: Destructibility is one way you guys seem to constantly push the engine.
Parsons: We try to put as much as we can in there. If you distilled a Lego game down into its component parts, we probably do more than most triple-A games because of the amount of interaction with the environment. Every Lego object you see is interactive. Every character is fully skinned, boned, animated. They have a huge number of animations. They can do team-up moves. And when you get to free play we’re allowing you switch in and out of more than 200 characters at any time. We like to think the engine is pretty capable.
GamesBeat: It’s a nice formula. You get parents and kids playing together. There’s enough humor that the parents can get.
Parsons: I have an 11-year-old daughter. I know how few games there are out there that you can play together. We pride ourselves on making family-friendly games that people know and love. There’s an expectation of a Lego game, that it’ll provide so many hours of gameplay that are fun and exciting. And faithful. Authenticity is key, especially when it comes to super hero games.
GamesBeat: How did you figure out the right pacing for each game and how often they should come out? There are a lot of Lego games now, but there doesn’t seem to be a limit to the appetite.
Parsons: That’s the weird thing. Back in the U.K. we’ve actually got three teams. Jurassic World, our first this year, was the Winslow team. Dimensions was one of the Knutsford teams, and Marvel is my team, also in Knutsford. There’s a huge appetite for Lego games, but the cool thing is, not everyone is going to buy every Lego game. Some people do, but at the same time, some people will just say, “I like Jurassic World” or “I like Harry Potter” and get the game they want.
The same thing applies, though. People know the game they’ll get is a faithful re-creation of that world. But there are some people who just want to buy every Lego game. They’re fun. Moms and dads play them with their kids, but also husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends. People like playing fun games together. You don’t need to take yourself seriously. It’s supposed to be humorous. I think that’s why the games are as popular as they are.
GamesBeat: What would you say people will get out of this game, altogether?
Parsons: With Marvel, people love super heroes and super villains. People want an experience that’ll let them play with their favorite characters in their favorite places. Lego Marvel Avengers will allow them to do that in many ways they couldn’t in Lego Marvel Super Heroes. We’re retelling many of the events in Avengers and Age of Ultron and Iron Man III and the other phase-two movies, but we’re also allowing people to play classic comic-book stories retold through Lego.
If anybody likes anything to do with Avengers, this is a celebration of all things Avengers. Even just seeing people playing it here, they love it. They love just playing Iron Man on his own, the ability to pick from 18 different Iron Man suits, or bounding around as Hulk. The team-up moves, too. The Avengers are all about teaming up.
GamesBeat: It seems like you have a lot of room to explore lesser-known characters.
Parsons: I really like that. I grew up reading comics. It wasn’t as cool to read comics when I was in school, but it’s cool to read comics now. My takeaway from these games—You’ll find that a kid will want to play the game because he watches a cartoon that features the Hulk. Then he’ll come and play the game and unlock a character like Korvac or Squirrel Girl. That drives him to find out who this character is, what comics they’re in. They get to keep that love of everything Marvel comics. You can keep discovering new characters and new comic runs that you’ve never seen before. My hope is that kids will play this and love it, but then want to go and find out about Egghead or whoever.
GamesBeat: It’s a new point of entry for the comics.
Parsons: Right. And obviously older gamers who know their stuff—they contact us on social media with requests for all kinds of characters. Some of the characters in the game have come about because people have said, “Hey, we really want to see Superior Iron Man. We really want to see the Iron Monger.” We like to make sure people are happy.
GamesBeat: How many hours of gameplay do you think you have altogether?
Parsons: I know that our testers—to do a whole 100 percent playthrough, it’s taken them 40-plus hours. For someone who doesn’t know the game, it’s going to be more than that. I don’t want to put an exact figure on it, but it’s a huge game. It’s definitely bigger than the first one. We have 15 core levels in the story, which you can then replay, and outside of that in the hub worlds there are more than 250 missions, quests, and other interactions. We also added random crimes. In the city there’s always carjackings or bag-snatchings going on. As heroes your job is to make sure those get stopped as well. We’ve got more than 200 characters and vehicles to unlock, so there’s a huge amount of stuff to play.
GamesBeat: Have you got Jessica Jones yet in the game?
Parsons: Jessica Jones is in the game, yeah. She’s the classic comic-book version. The Netflix version isn’t exactly suitable for our audience. But Jessica’s in there. Luke Cage is in there. Iron Fist, Daredevil. Any character who’s had any affiliation with the Avengers over the years is going to feature in some shape or form.