Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy - Square Enix Gets Another Marvel Go-Around with Eidos-Montréal
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 01:08pm 15/06/21 | Comments
Eidos-Montréal, the studio behind the recent Deus Ex duo and Shadow of the Tomb Raider, is adding a new track to its mix-tape with Guardians of the Galaxy. Give it to that special someone in your life...
We can (Peter )Park(er) opinion on Crystal Dynamics’ Marvel Avengers at the galactic door when we take a brief look at the forthcoming Guardians of the Galaxy from Eidos-Montréal. And for a number of reasons, too. Not least of which is that this is actually another studio at the helm of an entirely different Marvel superhero team.
Watch 11-odd minutes of work-in-progress gameplay embedded above
And on that note what we’ve got here is a fundamental difference -- across setup, approach and overall presentation. Even though this is another high-profile action-RPG with a look that is similar to the MCU but different (see: Triple-A cinematic), Guardians is not an online co-op affair. Or a game experience born from the style of looting and shooting found in Bungie’s Destiny, or Blizzard’s Diablo series. It’s also not a live-service game, or a drop-in and drop-out co-op narrative jam -- it is single-player only. And yet it’s still a game with action-RPG mechanics, albeit one filtered through the galaxy-hopping mixtape fun of Marvel’s Guardians. You are, in effect, Star-Lord.
And we should press play on the Walkman there, because what we’ve seen so far in Guardians -- at its most basic core -- is a game that celebrates the humour and overall tone of the IP. This is off-the-wall heroing, with ragtag Kirby-inspired characters and galactic bads and spaces that really don’t have a ceiling on how whacky or insane they can, and should, be. But this also creates a worry point for the game. As in, how far did the studio go to deliberately get off the chain, versus pulling back on it for a more tangible, relatable experience? And if it was the latter, was this Marvel mandated, or Eidos-Montréal just not realising the full potential of a game and setting like this?
"While the jury is still out on whether or not the studio has carved out a new videogame niche betwixt print and screen for GotG, with its own spin, what we’ve seen so far is as on-point...”
“We started collaborating with Marvel a few years ago,” Mary Demarle, senior narrative director at Eidos-Montréal reveals in a video Q&A for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. “And at the time it was really interesting to see how much creative expression they were going to give us. We knew right away that what we wanted to create in this game was something that had our own unique creative vision. But at the same time, was really true to the spirit of Guardians of the Galaxy.”
The Eidos-Montréal devs worked closely with a dedicated team from Marvel’s ranks, including Bill Rosemann who is the creative VP over there, to not only make sure they were treading the Guardians path, but doing so from its rich history in comic book form over the more recent MCUsuccesses. And while the jury is still out on whether or not the studio has carved out a new videogame niche betwixt print and screen for GotG, with its own spin, what we’ve seen so far is as on-point as you can hope when your brief includes a wise-cracking, gun-toting bipedal mutant racoon you need to bring to life.
And even if the depiction of Rocket Racoon here is similar to the cinematic debut of the character, that comparison alone is worth celebrating. Even in the MCU the look, feel, and success of the Guardians adaptation is one that stands out and feels like its own jam -- as is the way of the source material.
"There are so many interpretations of them within all of those sources that it really helped us hone in on and find the true essence of the characters...”
“At the start of this project, the first thing we did was to really immerse ourselves in everything “Guardians”. Mary recalls. “We re-watched the movies, we watched the animated cartoons, we read so many comic books, buckets and buckets of comic books, because the heart of Guardians of the Galaxy stems from that, the comic books. And there are so many interpretations of them within all of those sources that it really helped us hone in on and find the true essence of the characters that we could then use to create our own unique spin on it.”
“Once we had that, we were able to start bringing in our own personal sources of inspiration and our own personal stories that could fuel this experience and create something that is really uniquely our own.”
It shouldn’t be hard to nail that down because of the sheer absurdity of it all, either, but we’ve been at this caper long enough to have seen plenty of good comic book ideas just fail in the videogame space for one reason or another. And again, putting the other superhero team litmus in Marvel’s The Avengers aside, there really isn’t a lot out there of this ilk to draw from. Though, in terms of care and attention placed on the source, we’re definitely getting InsomniacMarvel’s Spider-Man vibes over the recent Avengers adaptation.
That said, we weren’t surprised to see the RPG side of things -- no stranger at all to the team or ‘party’ concept -- show its welcome face against the frenetic action and gunplay. Again, you are Star-Lord but the Guardians are a team. And while bright lasers and explosions are cool, one of the more standout things for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is its dialogue system; how that reflects in a seemingly dynamic and reactive team relationship makeup, and the fact that this is single-player-only and that you only play as Star-Lord. Which in the team and party dynamic is a bold direction.
"The disparate personalities that make up the GotG is its strength. In many ways it doesn’t matter if you’re fighting an inconceivable intergalactic being, and it’s less about that monster’s powers or its destructive intent. Rather, it’s how the Guardians respond to it...”
“As Peter Quill you get to [shape the Guardians] into this more ‘concrete’ family that really needs to become who they have to be in order to save the galaxy,” Mary says. “[And] the heart of this game is the narrative experience. We were able to create, I hope, a very compelling story that has a lot of humour, a lot of excitement, a lot of raw emotional moments all through the gameplay, the game experience and through the interactions that you’re having with the Guardians.”
The humour and emotional side of the game is definitely a key tenet to explore from the IP on the whole. The disparate personalities that make up the GotG is its strength. In many ways it doesn’t matter if you’re fighting an inconceivable intergalactic being, and it’s less about that monster’s powers or its destructive intent. Rather, it’s how the Guardians respond to it, in-fight about it, pause the in-fight to resolve it, then return to what is now a redundant in-fight because they’ve been successful.
Their relationship dynamic is more powerful than any threat; they’re their own threat -- watching them implode, or at least pull the pin on the emotional grenade that is the GotG ‘team dynamic’ is “grab some popcorn” levels of entertainment. And this setup transcends the IP’s platform, but is absolutely essential to nail regardless of the medium in which it’s presented.
"You’re able to direct the conversations going on within the team; you get to call on the different Guardians’ abilities during combat...”
“Playing as Star-Lord in our game puts you at the heart of all of the Guardians’ interactions whether it be through exploration or through combat,” Mary adds. “You’re able to direct the conversations going on within the team; you get to call on the different Guardians’ abilities during combat when you’re facing various enemies. You even get to, kind of as ‘leader’, use certain *boosts* to boost their morale in order to win things in a better way, by dealing with the characters themselves.
“You are going to be at the heart of every social interaction they have. You’re going to *kind of* manage this team in combat and figure out how you can use their abilities to help you against enemies. [And] you have to cheer them up through some of the mechanics that we have when things aren’t going so well ... all the crazy shenanigans these guys get you into -- you’re at the heart of it.”
And having all of that a part of the fast-paced elemental space gun and melee combat is wonderful, where blasting at enemies sits alongside boosting morale and calling on your fellow Guardians for special attacks. Like Drax using his strength to overpower a large alien beastie, or Rocket Racoon busting out a gun so big that it’s perfectly comic-al. You can even “huddle-up”, build up morale, put on some 80s music, and montage battle with all the finesse and style of a great mix-tape. On that front, Guardians of the Galaxy taps into the source material’s love of classic music and the soundtrack is stacked with jams from Kiss, Iron Maiden, Wham!, Blondie, and more.
All of this is enough to add some serious light-year distance between Guardians of the Galaxy and Marvel’s Avengers, and as Mary confirms -- a single-player microtransaction-free action-RPG based on one of the most cosmically vibrant properties in the Marvel technicolour pool.
"It’s very important that on day one, when players get into [Guardians], they have access to everything there is [in] this game...”
“There isn’t going to be any DLC for this game,” she concludes. “There isn’t going to be any microstransactions and that’s because, for us, it’s very important that on day one, when players get into [Guardians], they have access to everything there is [in] this game. So right off the bat they get all of the costumes or outfits that are available. They can find all of the abilities as they progress through the game. It’s all there.”
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is due for release this October 26. Be sure to check back with us as we draw closer to the game’s launch for more intergalactic content.