Heder Lays Out "X-Men: Destiny"

Marvel Comics' X-Men have been appearing in video games for some time now, dating back to a morbid NES game and eventually starring in bigger and better efforts, including a six-player arcade game (recently released on Xbox 360 and PS3) and the Wolverine-focused "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," a bloody romp that's still one of our favorites. This year, Activision teams up with the merry mutants yet again for "X-Men: Destiny," cruising into stores this September for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii.

But this is not your average X-Men adventure. "Too Human" developer Silicon Knights is working on a new storyline written by "X-Men Legacy" writer Mike Carey that introduces three new mutants into the fold. To get a better idea what to expect, CBR News sat down with the game's producer, Doug Heder, who told us what to expect from the action RPG.

CBR News: Many game developers who work on the X-Men franchise like to stick with familiar characters. Were you guys looking to go with something new, maybe to shine light on a different side of their world?

Doug Heder: Well, we want to do something new, of course. We want to do a new experience to the player with every game we [at Silicon Knights] do. We're really excited about the characters we feature in the game, but we've also got a lot of familiar faces... the guys you'd expect, right? The usual suspects. Wolverine, Colossus, Gambit. But we do have some new faces that have probably never been in video games before, and we're real excited to bring them in.

The story and characters we selected to feature in the game really takes inspiration from the work we did with author Mike Carey. Mike is the current head writer for the "X-Men Legacy" series and he just brings a whole wealth of knowledge from that series into the game and a unique perspective. He really knows the back stories of these characters well and kind of brings a new, modern feel to these characters for first-time audiences, which we're excited about.

Can you tell us more about these new characters and what they bring to the table?

In the game you can actually choose from three different playable characters. They all come in different shapes and sizes. One is Aimi, who is a young teenage girl from Japan. Then there's Adrian, who's a teenage boy from San Francisco; he's the son of an anti-mutant Purifier. Then there's Grant, who's sort of the all-American kid from Georgia who just wants to play football and meet girls, he doesn't know much about mutants but that's about to change when all three of these characters discover they are mutants, which they didn't know at the outset of the game.

Upon hearing that Silicon Knights was developing the game, people were wondering if it would be more RPG-style combat like your previous effort, "Too Human." From playing the hands-on demo, there seems to be a lot of action involved, like putting together combos and such. Are there also actual elements that can be used to enhance your combat?

"X-Men: Destiny" is an action role-playing game, so there is a balance to both sides. It's moment-to-moment a very combat-driven game. You are fighting against waves and waves of enemies coming against you, and it's up to you to effectively use your mutant powers to stop them. But those powers are directly influenced and affected by the choices you make in the RPG system.

Just like any good RPG game, there's experience points (XP) to earn, and you use and spend these XP points to upgrade your powers, your skills and your abilities, as well as find collectibles throughout the world so you can directly customize and alter the fundamental essence of your power.

The best way you can accomplish that is by finding X-Genes in the world. X-Genes are the essence of every mutant, it's what makes Wolverine Wolverine, it's what makes Quicksilver Quicksilver. When you find, say, Wolverine's X-Gene, you can directly splice this into your DNA and actually add his mutant ability into your own. This is a unique feature, and this is why we're excited about bringing three new mutants into the game because this is the only way we can do something like that, where you can create a set of powers that are completely your own. It's completely unique and not pre-determined by a history or back story that we've seen for years in the comic books.

When you use a certain mutant's ability along with their outfit, you can actually activate what's called an X-Mode. Can you elaborate on that.

In addition to the X-Genes scattered throughout the world, there are also hidden fan suits. These are inspired by the suits of your favorite characters like Wolverine, Quicksilver, Colossus. You can put these on and customize the look of your character with them. Now when I equip, say, Quicksilver's fan suit along with his three X-Genes, which come in offensive, defensive and utility classes, I unlock a special mode called X-Mode. It's yet another upgrade that I can add to my power, to make my attacks all the more powerful and damaging.

Along with the physical aspect of the game, there's also the mental choices you have to make throughout. There are points in the game where you'll run into characters that aren't with the X-Men, like Gambit, and you have to choose one side or the other. What else can you tell us about the choice system?

Throughout the game, you're going to meet characters that represent both the X-Men and the separate Brotherhood. You have opportunities to interact with these characters all throughout the game. Not only do these characters fight alongside you at different points and in different encounters, but they're also going to stop and pause for a moment and allow you to talk and interact with them. Maybe they'll hand you a secondary objective or pick up a side quest or a challenge along the way. Completing these challenges or not may determine who you interact with in later parts of the game and other missions you may or may not find available to you, depending on who you tend to side with.

Maybe someone like Quicksilver from the Brotherhood will present an objective that's going to further the goals of his faction. If I were to follow this quest and take it on, then I'm going to be gaining Brotherhood faction points. Maybe that's going to close off one of the X-Men characters from giving me an opportunity to work alongside them later in the game. It's really sort of a shifting thing and we do try to present a lot of moral and philosophical choices throughout where it's not really a black and white choice, but a grey one. There is a consequence to that choice that's going to affect how you play the game.

Sounds like that makes for almost unlimited replay value. Players can go back and try another character, try different X-Genes and X-Modes, and choose different paths, right?

Absolutely. We have included a lot of different ways to choose and influence the way the game plays out. Not only can you choose the character you play as, but also your own power set -- there's three core power sets here. Then there's the big number of X-Genes you can find and collect throughout the game, and the infinite combination of those X-Genes will influence the way you play, and the way they change up your core power set. Then there's also the story moments in the game, where you can make choices between side A and side B, and those are going to directly influence the way the game ends, as well as how your character comes out of all of it.

Sounds very cool. When is the game coming out, and which platforms can we find it on?

Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii in September.

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