Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy - First Impressions
We took a very first look at the much talked new video game from Marvel's world, this time dedicated to the legendary Guardians of the Galaxy.
The most famous crazy gang in the galaxy is finally back with a new extraordinary adventure! Although rumours of its existence have been running wild for some time, Eidos-Montréal has finally lifted the veil on Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, a new gaming experience all about the five most beloved misfits in the comic universe. And unlike Marvel's Avengers, which released last summer by Crystal Dynamics in collaboration with Eidos-Montréal, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy seems to have very different, even more ambitious, intentions: in a world where more and more multiplayer games are in force, the Canadian team has decided to go against the trend and opt for a third-person, story-driven, single player action/adventure game, in which gamers will play only Peter Quill (aka Star Lord). A rather curious choice, especially because both in the comics and in the movies, The Guardians have always been perceived by fans as an extravagant family and the idea of not having the opportunity to play as the various characters, a bit like it was in Marvel's Avengers, has surprised us.
For that reason, during a round-table interview with Eidos-Montréal's senior narrative director Mary DeMarle, we asked why they decided to focus exclusively on Star Lord. She added: "Star Lord is the beating heart of the team. He is the human component of the team, with whom it's easier to identify. Also, he's their "so-called leader", he will inevitably find himself at the center of all interactions between characters, of all battles and in general of the story". StarLord, therefore, acts as a real alter-ego of the players - he's the human factor in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy - but also the best way, as Eidos-Montréal's senior producer, Jean-François Dugas pointed out - to allow to empathise with other Guardians, establish relationships and evolve the plot through a mechanic of choices that guides the game.
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But even before we dig into the main features in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, let's start with an important aspect: what is it about? The new Eidos-Montréal game is set many years after a gigantic galactic war, the consequences of which are still visible throughout the universe. Meanwhile, our hero, Peter Quill, assembles a team of mercenary heroes ready for anything, with the aim of exploring the new universe, but above all to make a lot of money in a short time. After an unsuccessful bet, a situation forms, giving rise to a chain reaction of catastrophic events that end up threatening the entire universe. It's thus the task of Star Lord, Gamora, Rocket Racoon, Groot and Drax to restore order... and maybe even profit a little from it.
Much like the great franchise that inspired it, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy oozes comedy and hilarious jokes from every pore. The dialogues between the characters, which allow you to learn more about their unique personalities - even for those who are not long-time fans of the timeless quintet - give life to truly interesting moments; and while it's true that we only saw a glimpse of the game during the reveal event, Eidos-Montréal's new Marvel game remains very faithful to its roots. This is also because the Canadian studio has worked closely with the comic book giant to create a game that fully respected the spirit of the original material, but at the same time it had a touch of its own. The collaboration with Bill Rosemann, vice president of the creative department in Marvel Games, and with his team, has been very useful in allowing Eidos-Montréal to get in tune with the characters, understand their personalities, so as to also be able to take some creative freedoms compared to the comic and the movie series. But before this, there was a mad and desperate study of previous works to ensure that the deep nature of the Guardians was not compromised. And the guys from Eidos-Montréal, of course, feared negative reactions from Marvel: and instead, despite their expectations, they received a great, important, fundamental yes!
Being an action/adventure game, the action represents the core of the experience, as we said. As Star Lord, players take on the role of the Guardians' leader and it will be through his character who will interact with the other crew members, guiding them and sometimes even acting as a mediator between the four hotheads of the Galaxy. In the gameplay snippet we previewed, we got a concrete example of what it means to be a leader of the Guardians, starting with its dialogue choice mechanics. In the sequence we saw in advance, the Guardians are on a mission in which they must use Groot or Rocket as bait; like any self-respecting Democratic leader, Peter puts it to a vote, and Rocket Racoon is chosen by majority vote.
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Once on the planet, the group moves in exploration towards the goal, however unattainable in terms of dividing the heroes from the goal there's a deep crevasse. This is how Drax proposes to throw the irascible raccoon so that he can activate a bridge and let all the heroes pass. And this is where the mechanics of choices come in: encourage Drax to throw Rocket Racoon or tell him to let it go? In the sequence, of course, Peter tells the mutant hero to throw him and this action has repercussions on the raccoon's mood, who doesn't take it very well. Even those that seem to be the most insignificant and trivial choices influence the course of the story and it's therefore up to the player to carefully consider how to move, also to avoid disagreements within the group. Star Lord, therefore, acts as a moral compass within the game, he is the one who decides the progress of the group, influences the mood of his teammates, makes the most difficult decisions. After all, with great power there must also come great responsibility... Oops, I got the wrong Peter and comic book!
In addition to choice mechanic, the real heart in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy lies in combat. Again, we got a taste of it during the preview sequence and it looks incredibly lively and adrenaline-pumping. As Star Lord, the player can harness his powerful guns, move using his propulsion boots to flit agilely between enemies and many other abilities. More importantly, Peter can choose to get help from his companions at any time by selecting one of his four friends directly from a handy wheel menu. Once you have chosen the character, you can select the most suitable attack or skill to face the opponents.
When an attack is made, the selected character enters cooldown and you have to wait a few seconds before you can use it again - for this reason, it's worth thinking quickly, but also strategically, on the battlefield to be able to take home victory. Each character, specifically, takes on a role within the party: as explained by senior producer Olivier Proulx, Groot, for example, is a healer, Rocket Racoon is a character with equipment such as bombs and gadgets that can wreak havoc in battle, Drax is more of a Tank class, while Gamora is a classic rogue, who moves nimbly in combat and can take characters by surprise.
In the gameplay sequence we have seen, a sort of ultimate was also shown that Peter can activate after having strung together several successful shots: this, in addition to unleashing the protagonist with more powerful attacks, allows you to use the other Guardians without limits for a limited time. The session has not been explored in detail, so we reserve the right to talk about it as soon as we have the opportunity to try the game with our hands. At the end of each fight, Star-Lord also gains experience points, which we assume will allow you to unlock new abilities for the character as the story progresses.
On a purely graphic level, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is a riot of bright and fluid colours. Fully embedded in a 80's logic - after all, Peter himself is an '80s kid! - Eidos-Montreal's new game is really captivating and even the character design, while being original compared to comics and movies, is incredibly fascinating. Each character, in fact, was characterised in a unique way and Eidos team did a truly incredible job of making them authentic, but at the same time not identical to their comic or cinematic counterparts. And speaking of the 80s, since music has always been a very important element within the Guardians of the Galaxy, Eidos has decided to keep this aspect intact, making it an integral part of the gaming experience, in many ways.
Music, in fact, plays a fundamental role in the game, first of all because Peter himself has a deep relationship with it since he was a child, thanks to his inseparable Walkman that he always carries with him, wherever he goes. From Kiss to Iron Maiden, passing through Wham!, New Kids on the Block, Blondie and Pat Benatar, great fans of 80s hits will be filled with enthusiasm. But the soundtrack is not used as a simple filler for narrative moments, as a background element to the most intense or dramatic situations, but acts as a real motivator for Guardians themselves: Peter puts on the music to encourage them in combat and, as Senior Prod Olivier Proulx promised us during our chat, there will also be an epic moment with Final Countdown in the background. Furthermore, since it's a very linear narrative game, Proulx explained to Gamereactor that, between one chapter and another and one mission and another, the characters return aboard the Milano (the legendary spaceship of the Guardians) before leaving. Some dialogue and interactions between characters take place there, but you can also select your favourite licensed songs from the jukebox, right from the game's music playlist.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is a very ambitious project and the guys from Eidos-Montreal believe in it a lot, it's clear. Working on Marvel IPs is always a gamble: it can go very well, as happened to Insomniac Games with the two Spider-Man games, or have a less positive outcome, as happened with Marvel's Avengers. It all lies in the skills (and even a modicum of luck!) of those who hold the reins of a given project. The Canadian studio seems to have quite clear ideas regarding the goals they intend to achieve with this game and the fact that they have decided not to opt for micro-transactions or post-launch DLCs for this new game makes us breathe a sigh of relief. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy feels refreshing, bringing with it all that humorous and light-hearted mood the franchise is known for, but with Eidos' (hopefully!) magical touch. We can't wait to play it, but in the meantime, remember to mark its release date on your calendar: Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy will be available on October 26, 2021 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.