Marvel is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in all of entertainment, and its roster of superheroes lend themselves very well to video games. Ever since technology could afford to render these characters in a recognizable fashion, there has been no shortage of games based on the source material. Of course, there have been great ones and there’s also no shortage of not so great ones. However, in recent times – the balance has been skewed more towards the latter which can largely be attributed to the release of Marvel’s Avengers from Crystal Dynamics last year.
Of course, there’s Marvel’s Spider-man and its standalone expansion Miles Morales from Insomniac, which has fans excited for the future of that franchise – but the general consensus towards Marvel games seem to be skeptical at best. This is evident by the conversation surrounding the recently announced Marvel’s Midnight Suns – which has fans equal parts skeptical as well as hyped for the game – even through details remain scant on the gameplay front.
This paints a very dull picture for the upcoming Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, even more so considering that Marvel’s Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy are both being published by Square Enix. However, this picture doesn’t do Guardians of the Galaxy justice since its shaping up to be its own different entity. There’s a very decent chance that the game could turn out to be great fun and by extension, one of biggest the year has to offer.
As fans and critics have pointed out countless times since the release of Marvel’s Avengers, the biggest problem with it is the disconnect between what Marvel’s Avengers wanted to be and what the developers made of it. Its tacked-on loot and RPG mechanics originating from its live-service format does it more harm than good. After a handful of expansions that can roughly be termed more of the same, it seems that the game will remain that way and the day doesn’t seem far away when support for it drops out eventually.
However, Guardians of the Galaxy is a different beast in this respect. Developer Eidos Montreal has confirmed on several occasions that the game is a single-player experience, and places a lot of its focus on delivering a great narrative. Of course, it remains to be seen how the story pans out – but it seems that the game seems to have a firm understanding of what makes MCU narratives so endearing.
Even in times of extreme peril, MCU superheroes always have their wits about them which makes sympathizing with them pretty easy while providing some much needed levity to the situation. Eidos Montreal seems to carry this influence on its sleeve, which is most evident from the gameplay trailer which shows leader of the band Star-Lord playing some classic 80’s tunes for his ultimate move that gives damage buffs to all party members. At the same time, Guradians of the Galaxy isn’t a retelling of the narratives found in the movies and comics – but is Eidos Montreal’s own version of this universe. Of course, it remains to be seen how positive of an impact this has over the proceedings of the narrative and characters – but is an interesting point to get hyped for and speculate on nevertheless.
There’s also role playing game styled dialogues within Guardians of the Galaxy, which is also touted to be an integral part of the experience. The gameplay reveal trailer showcases that feature a handful of times, and there’s also a Fallout-esque indicator which informs you of your relationship status with a companion. Choice and consequence has been hurled around a lot in interviews and press releases, which if true – could definitely make Guardians of the Galaxy worthy of replaying several times over.
Of course, narrative is only half the picture – and the gameplay for Guardians of the Galaxy is also looking to be shaping quite well at the same time. It’s markedly different from Marvel’s Avengers – which features flashy combat with a ton of different moves, but ultimately falls flat with spam attacks being the best strategy in most situations due to damage sponge enemies.
Guardians of the Galaxy on the other hand, is a strictly single-player game where Star-Lord is the only playable character in the game. As seen in the gameplay reveal, as Star-Lord – players will be controlling their party of characters by issuing number of commands and moves for each Guardians. Star-Lord’s move set doesn’t seem extremely interesting from the trailer with most of his time being spent shooting down enemies from a distance while the party members do most of the heavy lifting for him.
It’s a radical change from what fans expect out of a Marvel action-focused game, but this shift seems to be a part in the larger push towards what the developers call it “solo team-play.” As players will progress through the game, the enemies and the party will start to unlock new move sets. There’s also commands that players can issue to motivate party members to fight harder, which is also looking to be an interesting addition to the mix. All in all, Guardians of the Galaxy seems to be distancing itself from purely action territory towards a hybrid of both action and tactics. If the developer remains committed to its vision for Guardians of the Galaxy, it could definitely help the game stand out amongst a horde of different experiences releasing later this year.
Of course, delivering on the promises ultimately falls on Eidos Montreal’s shoulders, which is a promising studio behind the highly acclaimed title Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which strangely enough shares some similarity with the studio’s current project. There’s a similar focus of choice and consequence, plus there’s also an enormous toolkit of move sets and commands to issue much like the numerous possibilities found with Adam Jensen’s kit. Considering the studio’s previous work, it shouldn’t be uncharted territory to bring those mechanics and learnings into a new realm for Guardians of the Galaxy.
2021 is looking to be an interesting time for Marvel, with its cinematic universe kickstarting its Phase 4 with mostly great releases. WandaVision and Marvel’s What If…? have been received with great critical and commercial acclaim, and Guardians of the Galaxy has the potential to carry on this trend with its release in October. Furthermore, it could also serve as a tale of redemption for publisher Square Enix which has garnered a lot of negative press following the release of Marvel’s Avengers. There’s a lot riding on Guardians of the Galaxy, and Eidos Montreal certainly has the potential to make it stand out with its unique ideas – and hopefully, it manages to do that and then some more.
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