Disney Infinity returns with its third installment at the end of August, facing stiff competition from the terrific-looking new Lego Dimensions and the juggernaut that is Skylanders, which this year is introducing vehicles for the first time.
The second edition of Disney Infinity brought Marvel characters into the mix, and while the developers nailed the figures and their abilities, as well as adding loads of fun stuff to the Toy Box, the three measly Play Sets were repetitive and disappointing.
You could say the odds are a little stacked against Disney Infinity 3.0. Thank goodness for two little words that change everything: Star Wars.
Lucasfilm's beloved galaxy far, far away joins the Infinity family, with approximately 20 Star Wars figures and multiple Play Sets. They're joined by Inside Out, more Marvel, and several new figures from Disney and Pixar.
Five Play Sets — that's Infinity's term for story campaigns, each sold separately — have been announced to-date.
• Twilight of the Republic: Set during The Clone Wars, this original story finds the Jedi defending the Republic against the return of Darth Maul. Comes with the Disney Infinity 3.0 Starter Pack. Created by developer Ninja Theory.
• Rise Against the Empire: Follows the storyline of the entire original trilogy, with all of the characters, locations, vehicles and weapons therein. This one was crafted by the very capable hands of Studio Gobo, who previously did the Pirates of the Caribbean and Guardians of the Galaxy Playsets — arguably the best Playsets from both prior games. Available on September 29. Comes with Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia figures.
• The Force Awakens: Disney Interative's keeping mum on this one to avoid spoiling anything from the movie, so we assume it will follow the film's story pretty closely. Likely to go on sale in December or January, for obvious reasons. Developer unknown.
• Inside Out: From Avalanche Software, creators of Disney Infinity and a studio with a strong track record on Pixar properties, comes a platformer Playset set in Imagination Land. It's a sort-of-sequel to the movie that finds Riley's mind in chaos after she stays up late to watch a scary movie. Available August 30, just like the Starter Pack. Comes with Joy and Anger figures.
• Marvel Battlegrounds: Nothing is known yet about this Playset, except that it will be the first to allow for 4-player co-op. It's believed to be developed by United Front Games, the studio behind diverse titles including ModNation Racers and Sleeping Dogs.
Already, more figures (34 total) have been announced for 3.0 than either of the previous games offered, and there's every chance there could be more to come. Every Star Wars figure will be fully playable in every Star Wars Play Set; this crossover ability is something Infinity has never done to this extent before, because of the complexity of so many figures with their own unique moves and abilities.
And of course, all of the Jedi characters will have access to Force powers and their fancy lightsaber moves.
The figures we know about so far are:
Star Wars: Twilight of the Republic
Star Wars: Rise Against the Empire
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Star Wars Rebels
A limited edition set of "Light FX" figurines will be available, but not at launch. These are Jedi figure variants that look and play just like their ordinary brethren, but their lightsabers glow when you put them on the Infinity Base.
These stackable discs can be placed under figures or Play Set pieces on the Disney Infinity base to unlock special weapons, defenses, vehicles, team-up characters, and Toy Box decor.
Power Discs were released in pairs inside "blind bags" in the first two games, with the intention of them being trade-worthy collectibles. But fans found trying to complete their collections frustrating. Disney Interactive has finally heard their cries, and will be releasing new Power Discs in packages that let you see what you're getting.
Even better, 3.0's Power Discs come in themed packs, so that you can buy all four discs that go with a specific franchise in a single purchase. Power Disc sets cost $10 for a pack of four, and here are the packs that have been announced so far.
• Star Wars: Twilight of the Republic: two Felucia decor discs, General Grievous' Wheel Bike, & Mace Windu Team-Up
• Star Wars: Rise Against the Empire: Slave I, Y-Wing Starfighter, Rebel Flight Suit, & Leia's Boushh Disguise
• Tomorrowland: two Tomorrowland decor discs, Time Bomb, & Retro Ray Gun
• The Good Dinosaur: expected to contain discs that give you access to four different dinosaurs from the movie, which your figures can ride as mounts. (This explains why Arlo is not a playable figure, while Spot is.) The dino discs are believed to be apatosaurus Arlo and T-Rex's Butch, Nash and Ramsey.
• Zootopia: the contents of this disc pack are unknown, but it's probably safe to assume a pair of decor discs will be included.
Disney Infinity 2.0 saw a beefed-up Toy Box that was far beyond the contents of the first game's Toy Box. Infinity 3.0 continues that trend with a vast array of updates, improvements, and of course loads of new items to use in your Toy Box worlds.
Most of the game's menus and options have been brought to virtual life inside the Toy Box, thanks to some clever new buildings. Walk inside Flynn's Arcade (from Tron: Legacy) and the arcade machines inside provide you with access to downloadable Toy Box games made by Disney Interactive and other players. The El Capitan theater similarly gives you easy access to Disney Infinity's YouTube channel.
Infinity 2.0 was the first to introduce Toy Box Games, aka premade or procedurally generated minigames that any figure can play in. The two game types in 2.0 were dungeon crawling and tower defense. Infinity 3.0 highlights two more Toy Box Game types: racing and story-driven platforming. In Toy Box Speedway, you'll get access to a set of races you have to work your way through, while Toy Box Takeover finds Syndrome getting his hands on Merlin's magic wand, prompting him to team up with other villains to take over the world. Both games promise gameplay that's less repetitive than last year's offerings, playing more like Play Sets, with higher-quality work going into making them.
The 3.0 Starter Pack has not the usual three figures, but just two: Anakin and Ahsoka. The reason Disney Interactive did this was to lower the price of the Starter Pack from the traditional $75 to $65. This should turn out to be a very savvy move, since the starter pack for Skylanders SuperChargers is priced at $75, and Lego Dimensions's starter kit is a whopping $100. Suddenly, Disney Infinity is the toys-to-life franchise with the least expensive entry point.
Unlike past years when gamers had to wait to buy every single character to find out what the Ultimate Unlock item would be — an extra-special item that appears only after every character is unlocked in the Hall of Heroes — Disney Interactive killed the suspense this year by announcing the Ultimate Unlock ahead of time, at August's D23 Expo. There, it was revealed that the 3.0 Ultimate Unlock is the Keyblade from Kingdom Hearts.
PlayStation owners have the option of nabbing a special edition "Saga Starter Pack," which adds the Rise Against the Empire Playset and the Boba Fett figure to the Starter Pack, the latter of which is a timed exclusive to this edition.
All of the Star Wars Rebels figures, along with Fear from Inside Out and Mulan, will be timed exclusives to major retailers. Kanan will be at Walmart, Ezra at Toys R Us, Sabine at Target, Zeb at GameStop, Fear at Amazon, and Mulan at Best Buy.
There's so much more to Disney Infinity 3.0, including major enhancements to characters' move sets, including combos, a new "Toy Dispenser" that simplifies the process of getting new Toy Box toys, a character wheel that lets you switch between characters you've already played as on-the-fly, without physically switching them on the Base (brilliant!), and loads more.
Disney Infinity 3.0 and many of its characters, Power Discs and Play Sets will be available Aug. 30. Additional products will come to market in waves lasting into the first or second quarter of 2016.