Marvel is riding high on a revival, and everyone is cashing in on the action. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, TT Games, and Lego will be the next to do that with the unveiling of Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2, which debuts on November 14 on the PC and consoles.
In a recent preview event, Warner Bros. showed off the gameplay in Chronopolis, a city where all of the Marvel realities converge. A villain named Kang wants to rule everything, and in pulling everything together in one city, he threatens the whole Marvel Universe. That story becomes the reason why you can play hundreds of Marvel characters in the game in an effort to stop Kang.
It’s going to be a huge game, far bigger than the original from 2013, where you could play 180 Marvel characters. The preview showed a small slice of it.
But I actually didn’t like this demo so much because it wasn’t easy enough to figure out what to do next. Lego games are targeted at all sorts of players, young and old. So they have to be accessible, without being too easy for the older players. Even at the outset, aboard Milano, the spaceship of the Guardians of the Galaxy, I couldn’t figure out how to get off the craft without help.
In this game, you start out as the Guardians of the Galaxy, switching among characters such as Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, and Baby Groot. They showed up at the end of the last game because they were focused on “something else.” That turned out to be the plot of the sequel.
The new Marvel game is coming on November 14, 2017, for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
“The open world is much bigger than Lego Marvel Super Heroes,” said game director Arthur Parsons in an interview with GamesBeat. “The story is bigger. I know that sounds weird, but we always add up story in terms of minutes of narrative, and the story is a lot bigger in that sense. There are more level sections, more hidden missions, more open world gameplay. A lot more diversity in what we’re trying to achieve with everything in there. And there’s a heck of a lot more voice work.”
The Guardians play a role in the beginning of the new game, but at least 30 other superheroes come into the campaign story later. The story enables TT Games to use different superheroes and villains from different eras in the same game.
The original branching story comes in part from comic book veteran Kurt Busiek. It transports players into a cosmic battle across a myriad of Marvel locations thrown into the open hub world of Chronopolis. Gamers will go head-to-head with the time-traveling Kang the Conqueror through Ancient Egypt, The Old West, Sakaar, New York City in 2099 and other Marvel settings.
Parsons added, “We picked the Guardians group because, at the end of the first game, the Guardians turn up after you save the world. It was natural to lead off with Guardians, because that gives the overlap for anyone who’s played the first one. For anyone who’s not played the first game and comes fresh to this, Guardians is going to be something they’re likely familiar with, especially the younger audience that might be very new to Marvel and these characters. You want them to have a touch point. The film’s out. The Blu-ray will be out later in the year. For the younger players, it’s recognizable. They can get into it before we introduce all the other characters.”
In the scene that I played, I had to switch among the Guardians and figure out how to build a manual override to open a hatch so that we could exit the spaceship. Then on the ground, we had to deal with a gigantic robot monster, dubbed a Celestial. The Celestial comes down into the city and plants himself on the shoreline. The Guardians attack, but it’s very hard to tell if they’re doing any damage to the big robot.
Meanwhile, the Celestial slams down his fist on the pavement every now and then, and you have to make sure that you’re not in his target zone. At the same time, there are a bunch of smaller bad guys fighting all of the Guardians on the ground. You have to time your attacks so that you can damage the Celestial.
Of course, there are no instructions that tell you what you’re supposed to do. You have to figure it out that you can damage the Celestial’s hand, climb up to its shoulder, mess with a crystal in a box, jump off, and then do some damage to the Celestial’s tummy. After that, the Celestial goes away. I know that the game is designed for kids who can’t read yet, but I would have liked a little bit of instruction about what to do next. The result is very impressive, but with so much happening on the screen, I found it quite puzzling.
Parsons said the team is likely to tweak the level, after more testing.
“That first level, we wanted to keep it pretty straightforward,” Parsons said. “Very soon after that level, in the flow of the game, we release people into this Chronopolis open world and give them choices. It’s always difficult with a first level, because you want high-impact action, but you also need to understand that this could be someone’s first game. It has to be easily understandable and playable. You’re teaching people to play on the go. Not everyone has played a load of Lego games like you and I have. We have to find that balance. Again, this level will be run through numerous groups of children before it gets out into the wide world.”
After the first level, you get to go into the open world of Chronopolis and choose your missions. Hopefully, they aren’t going to be as confusing as the first one.