It’s been nearly a year since Marvel and Telltale Games announced a partnership that would result in a game release by 2017. And in that time, we’ve received virtually zero details regarding what kind of game the two entertainment giants are working on. We don’t know how big it will be, which characters or films it will focus on, or what style of gameplay it will involve. But what might we glean from looking at the the expansive collection of Marvel games that already exists across various mediums?
For starters, we can almost certainly expect some element of team building. The idea of Avengers “assembling” is at the core of comics, films, and games alike, and Marvel seems to delight in offering gamers the chance to unlock, collect, and combine different heroes. The most recent example is LEGO’s Marvel Avengers, with Gamespot’s review of the brand-new title revealing that more than 100 characters are in play, and that it will take players “dozens of hours” to access them all. Indeed, half the fun in a lot of Marvel’s best games to date has been exploring the different playable characters and designing fun teams to play with, whether in an RPG mode, in brawler campaigns, etc.
And with so many characters likely to be in play, we probably should expect all of the focus to be on the primary Avengers. Yes, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and the Hulk will likely play key roles in this project, but looking more broadly at Marvel’s success in gaming, a lot of prominent non-Avenger characters have actually been featured regularly. In particular, Marvel’s vast presence in online casino entertainment has been built largely on the backs of what some would consider fringe characters. This is made particularly clear at Gala Casino’s platform, where the main Avengers are given pretty much equal attention to the likes of Blade, Ghost Rider, Elektra, Daredevil, and the Fantastic Four. Marvel’s well aware that these are less significant characters in the context of its cinematic universe, but they still have their own major fan bases. So don’t be surprised if some characters like these have significant roles in any major forthcoming console game.
For a more specific guess regarding character involvement, we may want to expect a significant role for Deadpool. If it turns out that this Marvel/Telltale title is specifically about the Avengers’ saga as it relates to the Marvel films, we can throw out some of these extra character ideas. But if it’s a larger game, Deadpool may be the best non-Avenger bet to secure a big role. This is in part because this spring’s Deadpool film will have been the most recent non-Avenger Marvel film (even though it’s being distributed by 20th Century Fox). But it’s also because the Deadpool game is the only Marvel title for Xbox One aside from LEGO Marvel’s Avengers. Reviews at Metacritic show mixed responses to this game, but it’s at least made a modern, playable Deadpool familiar to Xbox gamers, and that’s something to build on.
Finally, we can be certain that whatever this game winds up looking like, and whichever characters it includes, it will concentrate heavily on narrative purpose. This is Telltale’s calling card, and indeed when the partnership with Marvel was announced, the folks at Marvel cited both companies’ focus on plot as a key element of the deal. Telltale is actually best known for an episodic format, which could frustrate Marvel fans who are anticipating a huge, thoroughly realised universe to play in. No matter how it looks, it feels like a pretty good bet that this will be the most sophisticated Marvel video game to date.
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