Introducing, in a different format... the Gardeners of the Galaxy? No, Nova Corps. That's the Guardians of the Galaxy, as unveiled in a brand-new video game from the developers at Eidos-Montreal.
Marvel Games and Square Enix finally confirmed the rumors that have been swirling for some time: they will release Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, a narrative-driven single-player action-adventure based on the cosmic band of misfits from Marvel Comics. The festivities at this year's E3 virtual conference brought some first-look goodies, including the worldwide announcement trailer, while EW sat down virtually with some of the creators to get more details about what's in store.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is currently set to release on Oct. 26 for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC. Pre-orders are available now.
What's it about?
Players will step into the jet boots of Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord, as he attempts to lead a team consisting of Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot.
"The story takes place several years after a massive galactic war where the universe is still dealing with the repercussions of that," Marry DeMarle, the executive narrative director at Eidos-Montreal, says during a previously recorded Q&A. "Enter Peter Quill and his money-making scheme of gathering together a group - they've been active a little while now - of would-be heroes for hire. They're hoping to make a quick buck as they adventure and rediscover the joy of life in this new universe. During one of their escapades, because of a silly bet between two of them, they may or may not cause a very small accident to happen that eventually takes on a life of its own and gets bigger and bigger and sets off a chain of cataclysmic events that will threaten the universe if the Guardians don't take responsibility and stand up to it."
"Eventually," she adds, "the Guardians will have to become the last line of defense against a mysterious order that is out to annihilate anyone who refuses to bow to their convictions."
A non-playable demo made available to press reveals one mission involving the Guardians in need of some dough. So, they hatch a scheme to sell either Groot or Rocket (depending on which one the player chooses) to monster collector Lady Hellbender, known better in the comics as Marguerite Hellbender, who dwells on the planet Seknarf Nine. They hope to later infiltrate her fortress and bust out their bud, but the plan goes awry, leading to a fight against Hellbender's pet, the gargantuan cephalopod known as Dweller, which seems to be inspired by the comics character Dweller in Darkness.
"We really built an adventure that speaks to the Guardians' DNA," senior creative director Jean-François Dugas tells EW in an interview. "They want to do a little bit of good, a little bit of bad - and everything blows out of proportion."
Senior gameplay director Patrick Fortier says the process began by watching the Guardians live-action movies again and reading "a lot of comic books." It was about getting "immersed in everything that is Guardians of the Galaxy for us to get our own personal understanding."
In this version of the super-group, Star-Lord is very much trapped in and informed by the '80s, while Gamora is a "concealed character," Dugas mentions. "She has her secrets, she has her own personal life, and she doesn't necessarily trust in everything, but she found in the Guardians something refreshing."
Drax, as he is in the films, is very literal but can be "very deep" at times, Fortier says. Then there's Rocket, who can be tough but "it's just a facade to protect himself," Dugas adds. And, finally, Groot of "I am Groot" fame is like the "spiritual guide of the group."
Choice is a big factor in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy that affects everything from fighting to character interactions to story outcomes. However, the creators note it's not on such a level that decisions players make will result in different endings.
"The main story is going to be the same for everyone," Dugas affirms. "We have this crazy, wild ride that will lead to this epic finale, but how that story is being experienced and told will be tailored to the choices you go through in the game. So, there will be a variety of consequences, sometimes they will be on a small scale, sometimes more on the medium scale, and some will be on the much bigger scale."
The demo offers a peek into what Dugas means by this. In one cut sequence, the team is on the Milano ship trying to figure out how to make money. As Star-Lord, the player is listening and can choose which Guardian to adhere to. When the group travels to the storming planet of Seknarf Nine to meet Lady Hellbender, we get a sense of the medium kind of consequence: the Guardians run into a crevasse they must cross, so Drax decides to hurl Rocket to the other side to trigger the bridge. Rocket is not too happy about that.
"Maybe later you'll encounter a similar scenario, and if you threw him the first time around, maybe the second time he won't get surprised by that risky move," Dugas points out. "Maybe as a player you will be forced to find another solution to the problem you're facing."
He also notes that the Guardians "will make decisions on their own" that will force the player to adapt in the moment.
On the more passive side of this, Dugas mentions there is "a value to this game by dropping the controller on the table" and "going to make some lunch." When players linger for a while without moving Star-Lord, the Guardians will start talking with each other.
"The journey is greater than the destination in a way," Fortier remarks. "It really celebrates players that take their time, look around. Just by doing that, you can really initiate conversations that other players might pass by. The more you give to the game, the more it's going to give back to you."
As director James Gunn emphasized to great effect in the Guardians movies, the soundtrack is just as important as the film itself. The same goes for the new game.
Star-Lord will always have his trusty tape-recorder on hand to play music, and players can access tracks aboard the Milano. But there's a musical element included when fighting enemies.
Fortier says their team at Eidos-Montreal were looking for that "ace in the hole mechanic" to make the game feel extra special, and they found it when Dugas threw "a grenade" of an idea at him one day during early development. "Wouldn't it be cool in the game if they had this huddle moment together like a football team?" he wondered. "Peter's trying to motivate them."
What they came up with is a momentum meter. Fortier explains, "As you do combat, you're raising a momentum meter. The more you diversify and use the Guardians and do well, you raise the meter.... You can call it at any time. If everyone's [feeling] down and you're losing the combat, then you call this and they all come in [to huddle]."
From there, the player will be presented with more choices. The right words can either motivate your fellow Guardians to keep fighting or drive them deeper into negative thinking. So, you have to craft the right pep talk. "Based on your decision, you're going to get a boost," Fortier says. "If you want the full team boost, then you have to pick the right response."
Do that and Star-Lord will hit play on his tape recorder as the characters throw themselves back into the fight. "Whatever song corresponds to the speech he gave in the background [will be] playing while you're shooting enemies and bombs are flying and all that," Fortier adds.
While players will only be able to play as Star-Lord, who wields his elemental blasters and jet boots (complete with double-jump capabilities), they will also be able to access the special powers of other characters in the group that can be evolved as the game progress. During battle, time will slow down, giving Star-Lord a moment to pick which attacks his teammates will use on enemies.
Then there are the bigger guns. Footage from the game shows a peek at Rocket's special "mega" attack when he whips out a blaster that's about three times his own size.
"You unlock some of [this gear] at key moments in the narrative when the characters are going through these really strong moments where they are discovering their true selves. That gets manifested into these mega abilities," Fortier says. "In the case of Rocket, it's that gun. It's a collage of so many weapons that were developed over the years at Eidos and modified and stylized to be Rocket's own thing."
Is this part of Marvel's Avengers?
Square Enix/Eidos-Montreal Lady Hellbender in 'Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy' game.
Square Enix previous published Marvel's Avengers, which featured a main story campaign centered on Kamala Khan and expanded to include multiple narratives involving different Marvel characters. But Dugas and Fortier confirm Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is a "standalone" game.
"There isn't going to be any DLC for this game. There isn't going to be any micro transactions," DeMarle says. "And that's because, for us, it's very important that on Day 1, when players get this game, they can have access to everything there is. So, right off the bat, they can get all of the costumes that are available, they can find all the abilities as they progress through the game. It's all there."
When asked if characters from this game could pop in to Marvel's Avengers in some form, Dugas just shrugs. "It's a very good question. I cannot answer that," he says.
What's with the llama?
Square Enix/Eidos-Montreal Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy.
Your eyes do not deceive you. That is a blue llama Groot is holding in one of the ending shots of the announcement trailer.
"The llama's fine. It fits in the game," Dugas promises. "Play it. You will see everything is under control."