Revealed during Square Enix's not-E3 stream back in June, Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy will be the next blockbuster Marvel game to grace our screens. It's taking a different direction from Marvel's Avengers, focusing on a single-player story where you play as Peter "Star-Lord" Quill, rather than some huge multiplayer experience (and hopefully will do better for it). It's being developed by Eidos Montreal, the folks who made Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and I had a chance to chat with them about what it's like working with Marvel, and how it felt moving from their own games to this huge superhero franchise.
"When you work with Marvel, you have this huge sandbox to play with to express your creativity, and it allowed us to bring our own Eidos Montreal take on the Guardians," senior producer Olivier Proulx tells me. "The limits of playing in that sandbox often promote creativity. When you work on your own IP, it's difficult to get an idea of where it starts and where it ends, and the collaboration with Marvel was a good driver for the team."
Senior creative director Jean-Francois Dugas adds that they had to go through a big "brain shift" coming from a series like Deus Ex, with more serious themes and choices, to working on something as flamboyant and colourful as Guardians Of The Galaxy.
"It's much more like a big celebration, like a Hollywood blockbuster, so to speak," he says. "We had to really shift gears and look at what we were doing with a totally different eye. But we brought a lot of the things we love from Deus Ex, like the choices."
Alas, the hardened Adam Jensen won't be making an appearance in this one (as far as I'm aware). Instead, you'll see all the Guardians you know from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, bantering away with Star-Lord as you lead them through the game. And to be clear: there's going to be a lot of banter.
"It allows us to really explore the relationships between the characters, with you in the middle deciding what sort of Peter you want to be."
"You control Peter, and for us that was the best way to experience the Guardians as a group and as a team, to deal with all their strong personalities," Proulx says. "They constantly banter, and you get to pitch in."
That's not all the game has to it, mind you (even if it does sound that way from the gameplay trailers). You'll be travelling across alien worlds, using the skills of each character (Rocket, Groot, Gamora, Drax and Star-Lord) to get by, solving puzzles, making tough choices, and all that good stuff. You only get to play as Star-Lord, which I'm curious about seeing as the other Guardians are objectively much cooler. From the sounds of things, they devs wanted to explore the character's personalities without the player projecting themselves onto each of them.
"It allows us to really explore the relationships between the characters, have them be really in their roles and be themselves, with you in the middle deciding what sort of Peter you want to be," Dugas tells me. "Are you trying to be a good leader or are you trusting your teammates to do the right thing?"
"Because this is a singleplayer narrative-driven game, those are such strong characters that we had a lot of fun exploring each as an individual, as well as how they progress as a team," Proulx adds. "When you start the game, they've been together for about a year, and they were mercenaries, but as you move through the story you get to see them grow as a family as events unfold."
These might be the most recognisable Guardians right now, but over the years loads of different Marvel characters have joined this group of space weirdos in the comics (including Iron Man at one point). Seeing the trailer for the game for the first time, I was a little disappointed they didn't go for one of the more obscure characters - it would be nice to see more Marvel stories embrace some of their older stuff. Dugas tells me they did a hell of a lot of research and reading though, so my hopes for seeing different characters other than the famous five might not be lost just yet.
"One of the things we agreed with Marvel, and they were pushing for it, was we wanted a fresh take on the Guardians, yet keep them familiar to some degree. So we looked at all the history of the comic books, but we also looked at the MCU counterparts and got inspired by that to find our own unique recipe," Dugas says.
"We knew we wanted to have a mix of players encountering characters they already know but also characters that have been there for a long time that they haven't seen."
Proulx brings up Lady Hellbender, who we see in the trailer above. This is the first time anyone will have seen her in motion, because up until now she's only existed in comics. Proulx tells me that the addition of this character was actually Marvel's idea, and the company were really accommodating when it came to collaborating with Eidos.
"They truly wanted us to embrace the uniqueness and fresh take on the Guardians that we were exploring," Dugas explains. "They were never saying no, they were always asking how they could help us achieve our ideas. I felt we were all on board to do exactly the same thing."
"We know the expectations coming with a Marvel IP are sky high, people are looking at it with a lot of attention to detail."
While it's good to hear the superhero megacorp plays nicely with game devs, I wondered if the Eidos team felt any pressure given the poor reception of Marvel's Avengers. Dugas explains that Guardians was already in full production when Avengers came out, so they weren't really informed by how that game was received. Proulx adds that, if anything, Avengers' post-launch content with lesser-known character Kamala Khan was encouraging.
"It was a good sign that we could explore and do new things with the franchise," he tells me. "We know the expectations coming with a Marvel IP are sky high, people are looking at it with a lot of attention to detail. It didn't put any more pressure on the team, we already wanted to make the best possible game from the get go."
Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy is set to release on October 26th on Steam and the Epic Games Store, as well as the PlayStations and Xboxes. Don't confuse it with Murval's Gordon Galaxy, which exists solely in the complex mind of Nate Crowley.