Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: Your dream superhero video game
GameCentral readers imagine their perfect superhero and comic book games based on everything from Daredevil to Ant-Man.
The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was inspired by the recent DC Comics announcements and asked readers to describe their ideal comic book game in terms of the characters and the type of game it would be.
There was a fairly even mix of iconic and obscure characters – from Marvel, DC, and others – although many pinpointed Ant-Man as having the most potential, while others were disappointed with the recent Suicide Squad reveal.
The next squad
After the disappointing Suicide Squad reveal (imagine being upstaged by your own movie tie-in!) I’m hoping that the Guardians Of The Galaxy game Square Enix are supposed to be making can turn out well. I mean, I didn’t dream that they’re doing that, did I? I know they said they were going to but as far as I know they haven’t shown anything off.
Anyway, a team game where you get to pick the characters, each with very different powers, sounds great. Especially as there’s a lot more characters in the comics they could choose from, like Quasar, Major Victory, Jack Flag, Cosmo, and Moondragon.
Although I guess the danger there is that it just becomes a palette swapped version of their Avengers game, complete with nasty games as a service vibe and everything. In my mind it be more of a space trader/exploration game with some cool third person combat on top. None of the characters are that powerful so it should work fine. Curious to see what Square Enix will do with it all.
GC: They do have the licence, but they’ve never formally announced anything.
The obvious to this, for me, is Batman. Because now that they’ve announced Gotham Knights I’ve realised where going to have to go another five years without any chance of a definitive Batman game. We’ve had four games now that were all great but none of them were set in an open world Gotham that was just having a normal day.
First it was turned into a prison camp, then it was… snowing or something (Arkham Origins’ excuse was super weak), and then everyone had been evacuated. I wanted to be Batman on patrol, putting the fear of Jeebus into muggers and small time crooks just as much as I wanted to be punching Two-Face’s lights up.
None of the games have given us this and Arkham Knight was so whacky with the story you could’ve easily changed the graphics and it would seem nothing like a Batman game at all. If WB Games Montréal aren’t making that game though I don’t see any hint that anyone else is, which seems crazy. One of the only characters to get a decent game and there’s still so much they haven’t done!
My dream superhero video game would probably be a Daredevil game. After loving the Netflix series it would be heavily inspired by this and would feature a gritty New York and Hell’s Kitchen.
I’d want the combat to be as accessible as the Arkham combat system but with a bit more technique to it, so maybe similar to the combat from Sleeping Dogs, and also involving use of his billy clubs instead of gadgets.
Daredevil’s echolocation hearing would actually allow the detective system to make sense in this game but I’d rather the stealth was kept to a minimum. I think it could be an interesting premise to go through the whole game ‘seeing’ the world as Daredevil would but can imagine this probably wouldn’t work in implementation.
I don’t know if only running around New York rooftops could work as a traversal mechanic in an open world game so it would probably be a more linear game and would feel more old school because of this.
In general, I’d like to see more superhero games because the genre is so well-suited to video games: lots of action, creative powers and mechanics, and a whole load of villains to defeat.
Having said that, I’m concerned that the new superhero games being released are indicative of the direction publishers want this genre to move: Marvel’s Avengers, Gotham Knights, and Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League all have a multiplayer focus and seem to be games as a service titles.
I personally prefer single-player games like the Arkham series and Marvel’s Spider-Man, so am looking forward to finding out more on Spider-Man: Miles Morales, but have little interest in the Avengers game or new DC titles. I’m not convinced by what I’ve seen from Gotham Knights (particularly the numbers popping up on screen when you hit enemies and the talk around level-scaling) or Suicide Squad so far, but it’s early days so there’s plenty of time to learn more about them and be convinced otherwise.
GC: Supposedly Gotham Knights is not a games as a service title, despite what it may have looked like.
I’d love an open world Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game. I’m thinking in the style of the Arkham games and going for the ‘80s cartoon or the ‘90s films in vibe. (I can’t stand what they did to the turtles in the new films!).
Apart from popping up in Injustice 2’s DLC (where they were based on the ‘90s films in looks) the awesome foursome haven’t had much luck in games recently, with a load of awful cheapy games based on the newer cartoons. And the Platinum game didn’t come off for me either.
I wish Rocksteady had decided to do this instead of the rather underwhelming looking Suicide Squad game!
GC: That Rocksteady rumour never made any sense. They’re owned by Warner, who in turn own DC. There’s almost as much chance of them working on a Marvel game.
Turns of Future Past
I was struggling with this one because the Ant-Man suggestion that continues to pop up remains one of the most compelling to me and the scope for loading giant, small, and medium sized worlds using the SSDs of the next gen machines possibly makes that more feasible (kudos to whoever it was that wrote in years ago with the suggestion).
Right now, though, I’m currently loving XCOM 2: War Of The Chosen on Switch (it feels soooo much longer than a standard XCOM 2 campaign) and I think it would be a really good fit for X-Men. Even as a shameless rip-off it would work so well.
You’d play as Xavier and build up your Academy by gradually kitting our your stately home, recruiting new mutants including youngsters who start as pupils and whose syllabus you’d determine yourself to develop them into specialists in whatever field best suits their random abilities.
You’d still have all your classic canon characters and there would be scope to equip them with upgrades and have them develop new skills and you can send whoever you like from your customised squad into the field. There they’d meet all the different types of enemy you can think of from the series for some turn-based tactical action directed by the Professor.
Just like War Of The Chosen, you’d have multiple arch nemeses that you’d be unlikely to vanquish the first time you encounter them, so they’d frequently return and try and mess up your missions and base building using their own unique abilities.
You’d even be able to send the Professor himself out in the field at times.
Thinking about it, XCOM is really just a more elaborate but accessible game of chess and having Magneto and Professor X face each other in such a game seems really apt, so I’d punctuate proceedings with little chess cut scenes involving these two in order to visually represent progress through the campaign and to underpin the themes of the story and gameplay.
I’m now slightly depressed that this doesn’t exist and probably never will.
Great British heroes
I think a game based around the Beano comic book strip The Numbskulls would be great. The strip is about a team of tiny human-like technicians who live inside the heads of various people, running and maintaining their bodies and minds.
It would be a multiplayer game where each person controls one of four different numbskulls as they guide the person who’s head they’re in through various different everyday obstacles. Something like Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime.
Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here
It is not really surprising that Batman and Spider-Man were the first superheroes to get good games. Batman is essentially a regular bloke with lots of gadgets, which is also what a lot of video game protagonists are. Then for the recent Spider-Man game they took the basics of the Arkham Batman and added a much more interesting traversal mechanic.
Heroes like Green Arrow and Black Widow should also be fairly easy to create good games around as they are also just very talented humans. They are not as iconic as Batman and Spider-Man though and therefore lack market appeal. A lot of other superheroes are either too overpowered or do not have much depth in terms of their range of superpowers. This leads to there being no agency in using them because they are never really in danger and/or they stop being interesting to use fairly quickly.
To get around this you could therefore create a game around a group of heroes like the Fantastic 4, Justice League or X-Men. That way you can keep the game interesting by having access to a broad range of abilities. The problem is that levels need to be designed so that any playable character can complete them. Too many developers achieve this by making all the character’s clones of each other. All the diversity is lost and you get left with a dull, repetitive hero that stops being interesting to use fairly quickly.
Why not make a game that focuses on the superpowers and skills? One that makes certain encounters easier for some characters and harder for others depending on their skill set? Design a game so that different characters have to approach situations differently and will need to take different routes through a level? So in an Avengers game Black Widow might sneak into a facility and gather information through spying but Hulk would just smash through the wall. The mission goal is the same but the method is different.
I think I wrote in years ago about a book series called the Reckoners where superpowers corrupt everyone with them and a group of humans hunt down and kill supervillains. This is essentially the same basic idea as the Suicide Squad game so I can see potential in that concept. However, the trailer seemed to miss the point of the characters they have chosen and I doubt the game will incorporate any of the planning I was hoping for. The characters also need to be unique and not just mercenaries with guns.
Deadshot should be the only character who primarily uses a gun, otherwise everyone else will just be inferior to Deadshot or they will need to remove his flagship skill which defeats the point of him. The roster seems to have been selected to provide different options though as King Shark could be a melee tank and Harley a trickster with traps. I guess Captain Boomerang could be the stealth option? So it might be an unrepresentative trailer as opposed to a game that has lost sight of its reason for existing.
Essentially, I just want a game that plays to the strengths of the protagonist(s) which looks like the exact opposite of how the Square Enix Avengers game turned out. Hopefully Insomniac design Miles Morales to be a decent departure from Peter Parker and by making two good but distinct variants of the same superhero they will demonstrate that the amalgamation of lots of different superheroes into one standardised hero/antihero is a bad idea. And maybe other developers will take note.
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