Chris Wilson, Producer, and Michael Graham, Design Producer for Skylanders SWAP Force, took us behind closed doors to show us a sneak peek of the new features and levels we can expect to see in the upcoming addition of the Skylanders’ franchise.
The visuals’ team overhauled the graphics utilizing the new engine. The environment is said to be richer in a way that we’ve never seen before, and seeing the behind-closed-doors demo, you can completely see a difference in the visuals with colors that literally pop out at the player. A new level of the game was shown called Cloud Break Islands which includes an erupting volcano and enhanced aesthetics from previous Skylanders’ games’ stages.
Chaos is back in Skylanders SWAP Force and the team has now added a new way to defeat him. SWAP Force will allow the player swap abilities where you can now take the toys apart and mix and match them to make your own character that will work in special areas of each level of the game. If there is an area that needs an air Skylander, you can either swap the top or the bottom of the figure to contain a part from an air figure to pass that area. It doesn’t matter which piece it is, as long as it has a portion that matches.
There will be some areas that will require two different elemental Skylanders figures in which you will need to swap a character to where it has both elements. This was shown during the demo when they needed fire and air elements. Using figures, Star Strike and Blast Zone, they demoed the ease of unsnapping each figure to mix and match them to get past this area.
A change to the gameplay that will definitely be good news to fans of the franchise is that Skylanders will now be able to jump in SWAP Force. There will also be a level cap raise to 20. You will have the ability to upgrade both the top and bottom parts of the special SWAP Force characters. The player will also still be able to purchase abilities, as well.
There was another new feature that was demoed with new SWAP Force zones, which was a ladder that needed a SWAP Force character with the climbing ability. Certain zones like this will need the bottom half of that character to work, such as climbing or bouncing. To better define this, the top portion of the figure reflects how they fight and the bottom is how they move. So, while the element zones do not matter with portion matches the element required, the other zones are themed around the gameplay of the way they move. They shared that rocket zones will be among those available where the top portion needs to match up. The flexibility of swapping aids you throughout the game by using the different moves to get past various enemies, as well as swapping the bottom portions for various means of travel.
The great thing about the new game, just like in Skylanders Giants, the previous characters can be used in SWAP Force, since it is backwards compatible with both games. There will be 16 different SWAP Force characters released that will offer 250 different swapping combinations. Since I am all about collecting all of them, those of you who do the same, will be pleased to hear that there will also be 16 new core and 8 new light core characters coming out, as well.
Some of the new characters demoed for us were Free Ranger, a new air character who shoots electricity from his eyes and rides around in a tornado and Freeze Blade, a new water character who skates around on ice and throws a type of ice boomerang at his enemies. Night Shift is a fun looking vampire boxer who throws uppercuts and can also teleport. A new life force character was shown, who is a ninja skunk that can use his musk to go invisible to hide from enemies. I’m not sure how they wouldn’t smell him, but they will not be able to see him, since he traveled in a puff of greenish musk. He also throws ninja stars at his enemies.
The game not only looks gorgeous and offers up some new characters, but will also offer some added bonuses that will reward you with hats and other treasures. There will be 20 bonus missions and new survival arenas. Added activities will be pirates vs cowboys and even snowball fights. Yes, snowball fights.
I did have a few questions about Skylanders SWAP Force that I’m sure are on the minds of the fans, as well. I asked if the game will offer online capabilities, more specifically, online co-op. While the online co-op will not be offered, the game will have leaderboards where you can view friends’ selections and see where you stand against them.
As we know with Skylanders Giants, we needed a new portal to read the new chips in the new characters. This will also be the case with Skylanders SWAP Force. There will also be a new starter pack that will include the portal, as we have seen with the previous titles.
We can look forward to having Skylanders SWAP Force in our hands this fall and it will be out for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS. For the PS Vita fans, we did ask and there will be no PS Vita release.