At a press event today, Disney Interactive revealed the next iteration of Disney Infinity and explained how the game will be bringing over Marvel Entertainment's colorful lineup of superheroes. The original Disney Infinity was built on the foundation that Activision's Skylanders built, combining action figures and games into a single family-friendly experience. Backed by recognizable Disney franchises like The Incredibles, Frozen, and Wreck-It-Ralph, it looks like Disney has surpassed the pioneer.
"Building a successful franchise is an incredibly challenging endeavor," said Disney Interactive president Jimmy Pitaro. "In terms of our performance to date, despite the fact that we've been operating in a fiercely competitive toys-to-life category, I'm happy to announce that according to the NPD Group, Disney Infinity has outperformed our competition in terms of total sales revenue."
The Walt Disney Company is absolutely massive and acts as a parent company to other successful brands. Disney has owned Marvel Entertainment since 2009, and it acquired Star Wars and Indiana Jones owner Lucasfilm in 2012. So when Disney Infinity released as the new digital connective tissue for everything Disney Interactive had access to, people wondered when Marvel and Star Wars characters were coming to the party.
With Disney Infinity 2.0, Marvel joins the party. In fact the full title of the new version is Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes, which should give you an idea of where the focus lies this year. Despite some rumors of an August 2014 launch date, Pitaro said that the title will be launching this Fall.
It looks like the first heroes available will be Marvel's movie Avengers: Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Thor, Hulk, and Hawkeye. Each of the characters has been re-designed in the Disney Infinity style, so they'll fit in right next to your existing figures. These were the only characters with figures at the presentation, but the teaser trailer showed off Spider-Man, Nick Fury, Loki, MODOK, the Green Goblin, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot. Groot y'all! That means we can probably expect more Guardians of the Galaxy figures in the first few release months. Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis will be helping to write the story modules for Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes and Disney teased more announcements at E3 2014.
Now, there is bad news. While all of your old Disney Infinity characters, Power Discs, and Toy Boxes will be compatible with Disney Infinity Marvel, it doesn't sound like the same will be true in reverse. Like Skylanders, if you want to use the new characters, you need the newest game. And if you're more of a Disney fan than a Marvel fan, fret not, because Avalanche Software general manager John Blackburn says more Disney characters and playsets will be coming this year.
You'll be able to play Disney Infinity Marvel on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, iOS, PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Sorry, Wii and 3DS owners, there's no Disney Infinity fun for you this year. The game will have a new Starter Pack will come with three Avengers - Iron Man, Thor, and Black Widow - the Avengers playset, and two new Toy Box Games pieces. The Toy Box Games pieces provide new structured game experiences within Disney Infinity. Instead of the third-person action game found in the base title, you can play other genres like tower defense or dungeon crawler.
In addition to the characters, you've got 80 new Power discs coming this year. Team-Up power discs bring helper characters in to fight with you, like Iron Patriot or Winter Soldier. Costume power discs change the look of your favorite Marvel and Disney characters. You can also pick up new vehicles like Cap's motorcycle, a mini-Helicarrier, and the Lola hovercar from Agents of SHIELD.
Disney Infinity Marvel has an improved engine, so the environments are bigger this time around, with Marvel Manhattan being four times larger than the previous king, The Incredibles' Metroville. There are also improvements to character movement, combat, and the addition of a new skill tree for each character.
In the motion category, Iron Man flies, Thor can hover and fly, Captain America has a super jump, and Hulk can super jump and scale buildings with his own version of Spider-Man's wall-crawl ability. Seeing Iron Man fly around in Marvel Manhattan actually reminded me of another recent Marvel game, Lego Marvel Super Heroes. Soaring over a shortened New York skyline felt remarkably similar and combat even reminded me a bit of an upgraded Lego Marvel.
Characters fit into different categories, including Brawler and Ranged. The level cap has been raised to 20 for every character and every time you gain a level, you'll get a point you can use to buy new skills. That means your Black Widow will be different from your friend's Black Widow, if Black Widow is your thing.
Toy Box has been beefed up with a better engine and more options for building new levels. The Brush system lets players easily create objects and areas around certain themes; click a button and the game procedurally-generates things like cities, racetracks, and castles. You can also drop in Builders, who will run around your levels doing the same thing without your direct input. Anything created by Builders or the Brush system can be edited, so you don't have to worry if it's not perfect.
"The best part about this is that it makes your world alive and vibrant," said Blackburn. "It gives you something to do and watch while you're in there playing with the world."
There's also a new Interior system. By placing special doors on objects, you can build interior rooms inside them, just like building out in the world. One door will lead players to the Home space, which lets them build bases and homes for their favorite characters; all the bits you unlock while playing the game can be stored in your Home space. There are even doors for creating dungeons and caves. There's also Templates, which can be placed in the world and connected to let players create their own gameplay modes.
There's no word on Star Wars characters joining the party yet, but Star Wars: Episode VII is scheduled to release in 2015, so it's reasonable to expect Disney Infinity 3.0 to focus that universe. We'll let you know more about Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes when we hear about additional characters or even a release date.
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