Marvel and Square-Enix Announce Project Avengers Marvel announced today a multi-year partnership with Square Enix to develop and publish original games utilizing the Marvel licenses; the first title is being created by Crystal Dynamics and Eidos-Montreal based upon Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, The Avengers (aptly titled, Project Avengers). More specific details will emerge in 2018. That is literally all we know…however this is The Internet and we never leave a short blurb alone, unless it’s about a complicated subject that actually matters or has scientific/political/economic repercussions, let’s jump into analysis, random speculation and hopes. Crystal Dynamics is taking lead on development and fans should be excited about this partnership. Its most recent and notable release was Rise of the Tomb Raider and previously it was the steward of the Legacy of Kain series dating back to 1999. These guys have a rich history with 3rd person gameplay, exploration and combat. They also released the twin-stick shooter versions of Lara Croft’s adventures and it is possible that the Project Avengers game will be reminiscent of Ultimate Alliance (which was basically a Diablo clone), but I hope Crystal Dynamics doubles down on what they showcased most recently. Marvel appears to be looking forward with their game announcements, not repeating the past – which all but proves to me that this won’t be Ultimate Alliance. Plus, Marvel Heroes 2016 is already that game, no reason to duplicate efforts. Further proving my hypothesis of the first game being a 3rd person action-adventure title is the inclusion of Eidos-Montreal on the development team. It recently released Deus Ex, Thief and assisted with the Tomb Raider; all established franchises, which it rebooted as excellent modern series (well…. two out of the three ain’t bad). The multi-year, multi-game deal doesn’t appear to offer Square-Enix exclusivity to Marvel either. Insomniac is hard at work on the PS4 exclusive Spider-Man, Telltale is going to release Guardians of the Galaxy this year and it is possible Marvel has another iron (man) in the fire. This is great for fans of Marvel franchises – Disney, the parent company of Marvel, is making smart decisions with creators and proving that no one knows merchandising better than The Mouse. I don’t think Project Avengers will be a PS4 exclusive. The Spider-Man release most likely had to do with the merchandising rights that Sony owns from the movies and I can’t see Marvel completely isolating all other consoles. However, I can see them continuing their perceived mandate to limit the exposure of characters who they don’t own movie rights to. Cyclops and the rest of the X-men most likely won’t be in Project Avengers or any game Marvel releases. The same will hold true for the Fantastic Four, Namor and potentially Spider-Man; despite the movie studios playing nice with Spider-Man rights…again the Sony factor complicates everything. Now that we’ve proven the game will be multi-console, 3rd person action-adventure let’s review who we will be playing as and fighting against… I think the narrator is Black Widow – it clearly a female and she says at the end “We just need to reassemble.” Which means she is someone on the team. I say Black Widow because the cast appears to be heavily inspired by the MCU Avengers line-up with the likes of Hulk, Thor, Iron Man and Captain America referenced through the imagery. Does that mean we will be playing as Black Widow? I don’t know…I would think multiple heroes given the strength of the license but that also makes the style of game I’m thinking I’ve proven it will be less likely. Balancing for Iron Man’s flying, Hulk’s strength or Cap’s fighting prowess seems difficult – unless they each have a set level which won’t be received well as the game will feel choppy and content gated. A single playable character does help with balancing and game design. The term reassemble could easily lean into one person who still believes in the cause and is gathering everyone together for a final showdown against a big bad…but we just don’t know enough yet. We will know more in 2018 but that doesn’t mean this game is coming out in 2018. This game could easily be a 2019+ title. That almost makes it insane that they released anything already, ideally this announcement should have been held off until the game was approximately 6 months out, just like Fallout 4. I’m glad they are keeping their mouths shut for a while and won’t eek information for the next few years, no need to burn people out and build unnecessary hype. Speaking of years, the deal did mention multi-years and multi-games. Square-Enix being the parent studio means they must be working on a JPRG style entry, right? That would be completely amazing – a perfect combination of one of my favorite genres and franchises – but some of the lackluster JPRG release from Square-Enix should make me (and you) hesitant about this prospect. Either way, it’s safe to mark this story as “To be continued…” What other games do you hope Square-Enix is working on? What do you think of the announcement? What analysis of the announcement do you have to share? Level Up, Friends!