Marvel Comics is getting ready to roll out its new episodic mobile game, Avengers Initiative. The game is a high-production value action adventure designed to appeal to core Marvel fans and will also see the first steps towards connecting all Marvel games with the live service Marvel XP.
Starting where Avengers Alliance leaves off
Avengers Initiative is set in the same universe as Disney Playdom’s Facebook game, Marvel: Avengers Alliance. The game is planned to be episodic, with the first episode taking place after “The Pulse” (a kind of super EMP blast) sweeps the nation and knocks out power everywhere. Nick Fury, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. calls in every super hero available and starts sending them out to keep the situation from spiraling out of control.
Gameplay is similar to that of Chair Entertainment’s Infinity Blade, providing a third-person perspective and gesture-based combat. The Hulk’s progression is determined by tapping on various waypoints, allowing him to take a somewhat open-ended journey through the game. There are a number of minions to fight in between various boss battles starring classic Hulk villains like Wendigo, Zzzax and the Abomination. Winning battles earns experience points, and when the Hulk levels up players can increase his attributes. Likewise, there are also a number of purchasable costumes — providing different types of combat bonuses — that are based on some of the more famous alternate versions of the Hulk, including Maestro and the recent makeover the character received during the Fear Itself storyline.
The game’s developed by Disney-owned Wideload Games, which created the critically-hailed Guilty Party for the Nintendo Wii. According to Patrick Moran, director of production from Wideload Games, the game’s been in development for 14 months and has had 36 concurrent developers working on it.
Moran acknowledges the influence of Infinity Blade on Avengers Initiative, saying the play mechanics allowed Wideload Games to create a fun game based on the Hulk, something that has only been done once or twice in the character’s 28-year history in the video game industry. “When that game came out, it opened up this whole genre and there are all these different ways you can expand into it. We wanted to do it in a way that spoke to the Marvel characters.”
Players can acquire ISO-8, the in-game currency, through battles and picking it up as they wander through the game. Both IS0-8 and experience levels can be bought as in-app purchases, but the game was specifically designed so it can be beaten without spending any money on it outside of the $6.99 price tag.
The Triangle of Success
According to Marvel’s Vice President of Game Production TQ Jefferson, Marvel is re-devoting itself to creating quality games across all platforms, including consoles, mobile devices, social networks and the open web. Each of these games has to adhere to three core principles, nicknamed the “triangle for success”: deliver fun/engaging gameplay, a compelling story and true-to-character experiences.
Marvel is in the process of linking its various games together with Marvel XP, the live service currently in place with Avengers Alliance. Avengers Initiative will also allow users to access Marvel XP from within the game. According to Jefferson and Moran, if a player is active in both Avengers Alliance and Avengers Initiative and has connected to Marvel XP, the service will track that player’s progress and unlock special rewards in connected titles. When asked for specifics about what type of rewards could be expected, we’re told that this hasn’t been finalized but each developer will determine the reward content within their own games.
The implementation of Marvel XP doesn’t end here, either. When we were at the Penny Arcade Expo over the weekend, we chatted with developers working on the upcoming massively-multiplayer online role-playing game Marvel Heroes and ngmoco’s Marvel: War of Heroes. We heard from both of these groups that they were in discussions with Marvel about how to use the service and what kind of rewards players will be able to expect from logging into it. The people we spoke to couldn’t go into specifics, but it definitely sounds like Marvel XP will be implemented in many more titles in order to create a single gaming universe based on the comic company’s intellectual property.
Avengers Initiative will be available for iOS and select Android devices on Google Play on Thursday, September 6.