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It's official - Eidos Montreal are making a Guardians Of The Galaxy game. But this isn't Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista and pals, nor is it the comic book version of Star-Lord and his team. Instead, it is a standalone version of the heroes, imagined entirely by the devs at Eidos Montréal and Marvel.
Those familiar with publishers Square Enix's recent exploits into Marvel territory would very much be forgiven for having pause for thought. Crystal Dynamics' Marvel's Avengers limped out of the gate at release, and promptly fell flat on its face shortly afterward. In fact, the ongoing multiplayer segment of the game has reportedly registered days with zero online players. On the plus side, the game's single-player mode was considered to be pretty okay, which should be heartening for Guardians fans.
Check out the brand new announcement trailer for Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy right here:
You see, Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy will be a single-player-only game, with no online portion, and a story that stays entirely within its own lane. We recently spoke to Eidos Montréal's Jean-Francois Dugas and Patrick Fortier - the game's Senior Creative Director and Senior Gameplay Director, respectively - who were keen to stress that this time around, the development team are acutely aware of how the game will be received by fans.
It's hard not to imagine the solo-play only choice as a knee-jerk response to Marvel's Avengers' lacklustre multiplayer performance, but it is also an opportunity to get a beloved franchise so incredibly right. The heart of any Guardians outing lies within the bonds and comradery shared by its cast, and having the player be at the heart of that team will be crucial.
It's a sentiment that Dugas was happy to double-down on. "If we make you, as a player, one of the Guardians being surrounded by [a] very eclectic crew, it can be really awesome. And it can lend to a lot of interesting scenarios in the adventure."
In Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy, players will take control of the so-called leader of the Guardians, Peter Quill - aka Star-Lord. It's a third person, action-adventure affair, and from the gameplay shown it certainly feels like it's lifting from a number of other games to create its own niche. Decision-based dialogue strongly recalls Telltale Games (remember their take on the Guardians Of The Galaxy?), while the minute-to-minute gameplay feels a lot more like that of Respawn Entertainment's Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. A comparison not entirely lost on Dugas. "Actually, Jedi: Fallen Order, when it came out, our game was so advanced that it was too late [for it to be an] influence. But it was interesting."
Fortier adds: "Just recently, Returnal came out, they have this quick reload mechanic, and I'm like 'Oh, man, [we've] had that for years.'" Gameplay will also involve getting ability points to upgrade Quill in various ways, to give players something of their own choices in combat; but the RPG elements have been toned way down to focus on the core mechanics.
The game's actual influences, it turns out, come from a lot closer to home. Specifically, with Eidos Montréal's own Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Mankind Divided. Guardians leans on the player, as Peter Quill, making a lot of decisions that impact the team around him. Sometimes decisions might be for fun and flavour, and other times they might have big ramifications further down the line. But the real focus has been in making them weave fluidly into the gameplay and story.
On the subject of the story, it is obviously still mostly under wraps, but Dugas and Fortier were able to tell us a little bit about what's going on. As fans would expect, it will feature a lot of humour, in-jokes between the characters, and plenty more besides.
"Guardians of the Galaxy is a new team, they've been together for about a year," Dugas explained. "And they're recovering from a big Galactic War that happened a decade ago. It's the land of opportunity right now, because the police forces of the galaxies are rebuilding themselves, and the Guardians of the Galaxy come together as a marketing ploy. Like, these guys have business cards to prove it. They are heroes for hire; a little bit of good, a little bit of bad."
Sounds very much like the Guardians we know and love - cocky, confident and absolutely in over their heads. The Guardians in this game are also all-new interpretations of the characters, which is something that Marvel apparently pushed for. "[They let us] really explore things," said Fortier. "So that very initial meeting, we went pretty far out in our exploration of the characters. Like, okay, well, could Rocket be as tall as the other Guardians? Does Drax need to be as muscular as he is gonna be?"
In the end, it looks like the team settled on designs that were close to the ones most people will be familiar with from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but are also unique to the game. Unique, too, will be the performances of the actors and voice-over artists portraying the characters. While not specifically named just yet, they are all native to the Montréal and Toronto areas, apparently to help speed along production processes. It was also incredibly important that they have chemistry that would come across in the final product. As such, most of the dialogue scenes were shot with the full ensemble cast present.
That organic feeling of chemistry was echoed in the recording sessions, where the scripts were often re-written to accommodate the ad-libs the actors were coming up with among themselves. Chemistry aside, one of the fundamental things that really makes or breaks a Guardians experience is the soundtrack. Mercifully, it seems Eidos Montréal agree, and have gone above and beyond in sourcing some huge hits from the 1980s for the game.
"You can expect Wham!, you can expect Rick Astley, you can expect Iron Maiden; so it really covers a broad range," exudes Dugas. But the music is married to the gameplay in a much more interesting way, as Fortier elaborates. "There's a moment that we're calling a huddle. Everything's going well, and you're building up a huddle meter. Basically, Quill calls in the whole team and it goes to first person and now they're huddling around him." From here, the player can judge what the overall mood of the Guardians is, and either calm them down or give them a pep talk. At the end of the speech, Peter will hit play on his Walkman and a song will play over the ensuing battle, giving the players a boost to their stats and abilities.
The real takeaway of having seen the gameplay trailer, and having spoken to both Jean-Francois and Patrick, is that Eidos Montréal are enthusiastic for Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy to be fun, and something that fans are going to fully embrace. Assuredly, this will not be a straightforward path, but it's one that is nevertheless hopeful of being accepted into that nucleus family of really great Marvel games. After all, isn't family the whole point of the Guardians? Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy will release on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC on October 26th.
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