Square Enix has offered up the first look at their new Guardians Of The Galaxy game and it’s out this year on current and last gen consoles.
A four-player co-op game based on the Avengers must’ve seemed like such a dead cert when Square Enix first conceived it, a game as a service title inspired by the likes of Destiny that would go on forever, slowly adding new heroes and villains.
The reality was a highly repetitive action role-player that had clearly been repurposed from something more microtransaction focused and then suddenly redesigned following the furore over Star Wars: Battlefront 2. The end result was underwhelming sales, underwhelming updates, and a quickly dwindling player-base.
There’ll be no such problems with Guardians Of The Galaxy though, for the simple reason that it’s single-player and Square Enix has promised there’ll be no DLC and no microtransactions. The game is being made by Eidos-Montréal, best known for the two modern Deus Ex games and Shadow Of The Tomb Raider, and from what we’ve seen so far it seems to be the game that Avengers should have been.
Earlier in the week we were shown a 10 minute slice of gameplay, as well as developer commentary, starting with the Guardians debating how to deal with their greatest nemesis: a lack of money.
Groot makes the peculiar suggestion of selling himself to Lady Hellbender, who apparently collects rare monsters. There’s some discussion though as to whether her interest is in those that look monstrous or who are monstrous on the inside, with Gamora suggesting that it’s the latter and so Rocket Racoon fits the bill better.
Although there seems to be some wriggle room in their comments, Eidos-Montréal claim that you only ever play as Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord. Not just in terms of the action but some Telltale Games style moral decisions (there actually was a Telltale game based on Guardians Of The Galaxy, but it came and went with barely anyone noticing).
As such, Star-Lord has the deciding vote on who to sell to Lady Hellbender, although in either case the plan is to break them back out once they’ve got the money. The similarities to a Telltale game go surprisingly deep, with similar decisions needing to be made throughout the game, such as when Drax wants to throw Rocket across a chasm to activate a bridge.
As Star-Lord you have the option to stop him but if you don’t a little message pops up equivalent to ‘Rocket will remember that’. It’s a welcome attempt to emphasise the fractious nature of the relationships within the group, with the implication being that certain team-members will be more or less eager to help you during battle, depending on how you’ve treated them.
It is odd though that you have such a large team, and yet you can control one of them. Even a Japanese role-player wouldn’t have a party that big if it wasn’t forced upon it by the nature of the licence and while you can command teammates and organise team-up moves (including one that’s triggered by one of Star-Lord’s 80s pop songs) it does all seem a bit lopsided for an action game.
There are five party members in the footage we saw: Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot but characters like Mantis and Cosmo the spacedog were also shown in a brief montage and are perhaps also possible team-members. Each character has their own skill tree and could be seen to be levelling up after the end of a battle.
The production values for Guardians Of The Galaxy are pretty stellar as not only are the graphics good but Square Enix has gone all in on the licensing rights for the music. We heard Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out For A Hero, Every 1’s a Winner by Hot Chocolate, and Bad Reputation by Joan Jett, in just the 30 minute preview, with the director mentioning bands ranging from Kiss and Iron Maiden to Blondie, Wham, and Pat Benatar.
There is one problem that’s the same as Avengers though and that’s that everyone just looks like an off-brand version of their movie incarnations. A lot of the characters have looked very different in the comics but while there is some pre-order DLC (despite the promise that there is no paid-for DLC) that features more retro outfits everyone except Gamora just looks like their movie version, except not quite right.
We’re not sure what’s more distracting: Rocket’s ugly little goatee or Star-Lord’s weird eyebrows but as with Avengers we would’ve advised going for a look that was more uniquely the game’s own. It’ll be interesting to see how they’re characterised too, as we know that Drax, and in particular Mantis, are completely different from their comic counterparts – but there’s not enough information yet to say which version the game is going with.
The dialogue is also a big question as there is seemingly a lot of talking (well, mostly bickering) in the game and while the script is competent, we can’t pretend we actually laughed at anything.
If Avengers had been a straight single-player story campaign it would’ve been a much better game, and while we secretly suspect Guardians Of The Galaxy also started off as a multiplayer game as a service title, it’s the very opposite of that now.
As with most games being previewed during the pandemic, we haven’t had a chance to play Guardians Of The Galaxy yet but while there are clearly some potholes that need to be avoided, the first impressions are encouraging. Whether it’ll be as successful as Sony’s Spider-Man games remains to be seen but it should at least avoid being another Avengers.
Guardians Of The Galaxy will be released on October 26 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5 and PC.
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