A few weeks prior to E3 the rumor mill was churning that Square Enix would be announcing their second major Marvel video game, Guardians of the Galaxy. It wouldn’t be the first video game starring the cosmic misfits, as Telltale Games had put out an OK episodic story in 2017. The big concern was that it would just be a space-faring version of the mediocre but widely loathed Marvel’s Avengers game which was released last year.
Ladies, gentlemen, and everyone else, I’m here to tell you that it’s OK (probably) to be hyped about this new Guardians of the Galaxy video game. I know you’re not quick to trust after the turd blossom of an Avenger’s game we got from Crystal Dynamics, but give me a chance to convince you to be at least cautiously optimistic.
It’s NOT Marvel’s Avengers
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat, because it’s the reason most of us are going to be scared or wary of a new Marvel game coming out of Square Enix. The first thing to note is that Square Enix isn’t the developer of the game, they’re just publishing it. Crystal Dynamics made Marvel’s Avengers, they’re the team behind the most recent Tomb Raider games. But another company under the Square Enix umbrella is behind the Guardians of the Galaxy game, Eidos-Montréal.
Eidos-Montréal also did one of the recent Tomb Raider games, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, they’re also known for the Deus Ex games Human Revolution and Mankind Divided. That’s probably not enough to sway your fear, since all of the Tomb Raider games were well received, where did Marvel’s Avengers go wrong and how do we know Guardians of the Galaxy won’t fall into the same trap?
Single Player, Narrative Driven
While Marvel’s Avengers had a decent character-driven story, it was too short and the game had a more focused approach to the repeatable, multiplayer content that grew stale very quickly. In order to accommodate the addition of more heroes over time, the game needed a more sterilized, generic approach to gameplay.
Luckily, Guardians of the Galaxy is the complete opposite of that design philosophy. In Guardians of the Galaxy, you get to play as Star-Lord, leader of the Guardians. The game will be a single-player, narrative-driven game with a focus on third-person action-adventure with some role-playing game elements tossed in. Instead of legions of the exact same enemies and a few repeat bosses, you’ll face off against threats like Lady Hellbender. Since it’s an entirely original story, we might even get an appearance by other characters from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1 & 2 like Ronan the Accuser.
By focusing entirely on Star-Lord with the Guardians as your back-up, the combat and gameplay can be keyed in to what makes the team special. It’s the reason games like Arkham Asylum and Spider-Man turned out so well. Developers don’t have to worry about putting multiple mechanics in to accommodate different power sets. I don’t think Guardian’s will hit as high of a watermark as those two games, but it should be leagues better than Marvel’s Avengers.
These are THE Guardians of the Galaxy
As with any game based on an IP from another medium, the thing you need to get right for it all to work is the soul of the characters. You need the same kind of heart that fans get from watching the movies or reading the comics and the trailer alone should set your mind at ease that they’ve nailed the Guardians vibe.
From Drax taking everything said literally, to Rocket Raccoon’s rage and anger issues and Peter’s proclivity for Alien hanky-panky, these Guardians sound like they were ripped right from the scripts of a James Gunn movie. Some people may complain that they don’t look like the Marvel Studios Cinematic Universe actors, but the various Guardians all have around 30-40 years of Marvel comic history and have sported various looks throughout it. The heart and soul of these Marvel characters remain intact and fans all over who spend any amount of time with them will fall in love.
During Square Enix’s E3 presentation we saw various behind-the-scenes footage of the voice actors doing motion capture and voice lines together in the same room. This is going to go so far in making the interactions in the game really stand out and feel real and genuine.
But Be Cautious
It’s clear from the trailer, the gameplay footage, and other behind-the-scenes that Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t Marvel’s Avengers. If you felt like that game burned you, I don’t blame you for being wary of another Marvel title from Square Enix but it’s clear these are not the same game.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still be wary, games can fail to live up to expectations in a variety of ways. From being too short to feeling overly scripted or bogging down combat with needless lines of witty retort from a tiny, fury rage machine with a space assault rifle.
But I plan on being optimistic, the Guardians are one of my favorite groups of characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Square Enix and Eidos-Montreal give me a chance to live among them and become part of that misfit family.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy video game is being developed by Eidos-Montréal and published by Square Enix. It’s set to be released on October 26th, 2021 to all major platforms and consoles including the Nintendo Switch.
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Feature Image Screencap from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Reveal Trailer by Square Enix Presents E3 2021.