The strongest character in Disney Infinity 3.0's latest play set might surprise gamers. No, it's not Captain America: The First Avenger, the new toy-to-life character that was released with the Marvel Battlegrounds play set on Tuesday. It's not even the other new characters like Ant-Man, Black Panther, Vision or the black-suit Spider-Man. According to Ryan Rothenberger, Disney Infinity's senior producer, it's the female character Gamora (from Guardians of the Galaxy) that is actually one of the best to use in Battlegrounds.
"Once people understand how to use her moves correctly, she becomes a devastating character to use," Rothenberger told Tech Times.
While this might be refreshing for female fans to hear, the fact of the matter is that women continue to be underrepresented when it comes to the Marvel characters, with the game featuring a male-to-female ratio of 26-to-2.
"Unfortunately, there are only two females in the Marvel Universe: Gamora and Black Widow. And this also shows where they [Marvel] are at in films, too," he said. "There haven't been a lot of prominent female characters featured in the films, so I think we've done a great job at giving female players what we can. It's certainly something that's important for us to make sure that our female fan base is incredibly satisfied with what we are putting out, and making sure that they have someone that is iconic and representative to them."
And of course with the upcoming release of Captain America: Civil War, it makes sense that this would be the Avenger that would be front and center in the new play set.
Rothenberger revealed that the Disney Infinity team had long discussions with Marvel to pick which characters to include, discussions which were influenced by which characters will be prominently featured in future theatrical films. And even though there aren't any new female characters joining the Marvel lineup in the video game, both new and older Marvel 2.0 characters have gotten a sort of upgrade for Battlegrounds.
Since this is a brawler-style game that allows players to duke it out with other characters, it was important that the team at Disney Infinity balance the playing field — especially since there are 28 characters that work in this play set. So to make it fair, the team looked at each character's level 20 move set in the toy box, and chose the best moves they have to create a brand-new character move set for Battlegrounds specifically.
And the best part of it all is that Marvel Battlegrounds is a first-of-its-kind because it features the new four-player co-op mode. Infinity 3.0 is known for being a third-person, action-adventure game, but the team really wants to expand into different genres. It started to do this with the Inside Out play set, which was a bit more of a puzzle platformer, complete with whole sections of 2D levels. Disney Infinity wanted to continue to push the envelope with Battlegrounds, listening to feedback that gamers wanted to be able to play with four players in themed worlds and not just in the toy box.
"In Battlegrounds you have the story campaign, which is one or two players like our traditional play sets where you are pulled through the story, but all the fighting is done in the exact same arena-style combat that Battlegrounds roots itself in," Rothenberger said. "But then the versus mode — which is really, in my opinion, the real meat and potatoes of any fighting game and definitely in Battleground — that's where the four-player combat comes in. It's four people all on the same couch, laughing, joking, pushing each other, ganging up on people — it's proven to be a tremendous amount of fun."
But how do these characters enter the game, when there was traditionally the ability to only play with two?
"With Battlegrounds, because it's four-player, your figure isn't actually on the base because there's only two slots," Rothenberger said. "What you do instead is load your character into the character-selection screen when in versus mode. The characters can be taken off the base, and the player can put on another character and load in as many as they want."
Characters can still gain experience, which can unlock new movies in the toy box.
But a new four-player co-op means there must be new levels for all the action. These include eight arenas made specifically for the Marvel Battlegrounds play set, which are unlocked as the gamer plays through the story campaign.
"Like most fighting games, the story campaign is relatively short, and it's made to be played through with each of the characters," Rothenberger said.
The arenas include a train yard in Brooklyn before battling it out in the back of a mine car in Wakanda. The arenas will also introduce stage transitions, where there are actually two different main areas in each stage. For example, when players cause enough damage in Wakanda, they burst through a wall and tunnel out of the floor of the jungle on the outskirts of a panther temple.
There are a total of 28 different challenges in Battlegrounds, including three more arenas that can be unlocked, with one featuring a Spider-Man-like sewer area in New York.
Disney Infinity 3.0: Marvel Battlegrounds is available for PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U and Windows. To extend the lives of each starter pack, Disney will continue to release more play sets in 2016, including Zootopia, The Jungle Book and Star Wars, instead of rushing the release of 4.0.