Long a force whose influence in video games didn't match its role in pop culture in general, Marvel has been pushing forward into playable storytelling in a major way of late. And Thursday in Hall H at Comic-Con International in San Diego, the Marvel Games team set out to prove that it had the goods.
Headlined by September's major studio release with Insomniac Games Marvel's Spider-Man, the Marvel Games panel also promised news on the in-development Oculus title Marvel Powers United VR and incoming mobile card battle game Marvel Battle Lines as well as updates on current mobile hits Marvel: Contest of Champions and Marvel Strike Force.
Podcaster Greg Miller led the discussion featuring Marvel Games' VP and executive producer Mike Jones and executive creative director Bill Rosemann alongside Insomniac Games creative director/Marvel's Spider-Man lead Bryan Intihar. Also at the panel was Heeyoung Lee and Pine Sohn of Marvel Battle Lines, the creative director for Strike Force Jason Bender and Mat Kraemer, creative director for Sanzaru Games who are working on Powers United VR.
Kraemer kicked things off with a lengthy trailer for the incoming VR game that highlighted both the conceptual hook of becoming a member of the Marvel Universe and the gameplay. More importantly for fans, new characters were finally revealed beyond the initial Hulk announcement like Spider-Man, Wolverine, Gamora, Captain America, Hawkeye, Thor and more. The title is a four-player co-op game in VR via the Oculus Rift which features locales including Wakanda and Jotunheim.
18 playable characters will be available next week when the game launches on July 26, and Kraemer revealed that the final two will be Storm and Iceman – bringing the X-Men back into the wider Marvel Universe of video games.
Shifting to Battle Lines, Lee spoke via translator Sohn saying that the Korean-based design team were big Marvel fans. The illustrations of the virtual cards in the game are meant to look like pages pulled from Marvel Comics, but the play style of the game will be different from similar battle-based releases. There are hundreds of characters that are part of the virtual collection, and the game will feature an original comic story as part of the strategy play. Comic writer Alex Irvine has penned the story for that piece of the package, which features the Red Skull and the Cosmic Cube being shattered. They then showed off a new trailer for the game.
Jason Bender then caught fans up on the currently available Strike Force mobile title. Recently, the title featured a takeover by Deadpool, and more new elements and stories are incoming. With that idea teased, the panel showed a video of the lead character introducing Ms. Marvel to the fray. The popular teen character will work in gameplay to combo with other characters who are in trouble, and with her bending powers, she has additional defensive capabilities as well as the ability to heal other characters and herself heal faster than anyone.
A prequel comic for Strike Force was created by Rosemann's team and is on sale at the FoxNext Games booth during the show. Fans playing the game at the show can level up and earn a powerful version of Vision or a new Black Widow for their own accounts.
Rosemann then spoke about Marvel Future Fight, the game that has been ongoing for three years. More mutants are coming to the title in addition to the recently added Cable. A trailer was shown where the future cyborg mutant showed off against his X-Force teammate Domino only to be interrupted by Deadpool. The after effects of the latter character's popular films are obviously having an influence. The panel also noted that a soundtrack for Future Fight will be available on iTunes starting tomorrow.
Similarly in the realm of "veteran" games for the division, the panel revealed a video for the Contest of Champions game which has been plugging along for four years. The next release tied to the game will be an Art of Contest of Champions book from Titan Books. The volume will showcase the expansive character and world designs used over the years in the game dating back to when Avengers: Age of Ultron was in theaters. The book is available December 10 with preorders starting next week.
The main event then kicked off with Insomniac Games' Bryan Intihar arriving to debut new details from the incoming Spider-Man. He was joined by Studio Art Director Jacinda Chew as well as writer Jon Paquette and voice actor Yuri Lowenthal.
Intihar said he's been working on this game for years. "It's super exciting and scary as well that we're finally giving this to everybody," he said of the September-arriving game. The panel reviewed the gameplay footage shown at E3, and Chew explained that they designers took care to make New York more in depth in this game. As this Spidey is a veteran of superheroing, you'll be able to interact with many New Yorkers with opinions on Spider-Man – some good, some bad. Lowenthal called the role his dream job.
Aside from the early demo on the show floor, the panelist from Insomniac showed off the opening cinematic for the game. Peter Parker's apartment is a mix of Chinese food containers and electrical parts to amp up his Spidey suit, which is more the classic model here rather than the one with silver highlights teased in game promos. The hero is called to an emergency at Fisk Tower when you swing Spider-Man into gameplay.
Rosemann said that the story of the game will evoke the classic Spider-Man ideal of his villains crashing into his personal life and complicating both halves of his secret identity. The new suit with its white spider symbol comes out of the story of the game, and Intihar promised that that more suits will be seen than the three that have been shown.
These suits include Spider-Punk, Iron Spider and – in a reveal for the panel – the Velocity Suit. This is highlighted with TRON-like electrical highlights designed by Marvel artist Adi Granov, who then joined the panel on stage.
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The game team came to Granov for the design and once he had done a detailed 2D mockup of what Chew called the "glowy bits," the Insomniac team worked to create a fully fleshed-out 3D version.
Chew then announced a limited edition art book for the game which comes in a slipcover, showing off the development of the title alongside commentary on its creation. The book from Titan Books will include a lithograph, and Titan is also preparing a prequel novel by David Liss.
Additionally, Marvel Games has a soundtrack album for the game being released by Mondo. This vinyl features the full score by composer John Paesano who also worked on Marvel's Netflix dramas. Also in the offing are Hot Toys releases based on the Advanced Suit and the Spider-Punk look.
Finally, the panel showed a new trailer for the game that revealed Silver Sable will be a major part of the games story tied to Norman Osborn.