Next-generation is here!
Join us as we break down, year by year, the big comic book video game news and releases on what is now “last gen.”
Marvel made big moves to reassert themselves in the console space in 2016, announcing a collaboration with Sony and Insomniac Games for a new Spider-Man title and resurrecting the Marvel vs. Capcom franchise. Early in 2017 came the news that Marvel was entering into yet another new partnership, this time with publisher Square Enix, Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal on a new Avengers game dubbed “The Avengers Project.” The official name for this of course would be Marvel’s Avengers when it would be shown off for the first time in E3 2019.
April would see the debut of Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series around the release of the team’s second cinematic adventure. It wouldn’t reach the highs of the studios Batman works and largely played up the team dynamic from the films, but it did find time to detour into territory from the comics, especially in the powerful second episode that delved into the origins of Rocket.
That same month came the news that the free-to-play MMO Marvel Heroes, from developer Gazillion Entertainment, was coming to both the PS4 and Xbox One rebranded as Marvel Heroes Omega. Beta access would roll out in the spring for an official launch on both platforms in the summer, however in the fall, Disney ended its relationship with Gazillion, forcing the cancellation of the game on consoles as well as PC and the closure of Gazillion. This came after a controversial decision in the summer of where all content related to the Fantastic Four was pulled from the game.
Marvel Heroes wasn’t the only game to suffer a poor fate in 2017. During E3, a demo for Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite was made available to the public only to be met with a frosty reception. This had to do with the nature of the content, which had you doing little more than fighting robots and drones, but mostly because of the visuals. The faces of the characters in particular for characters like Dante and Chun-Li from the Capcom side looked off to put it nicely, and overall its style didn’t pop the way Marvel vs. Capcom 3 did.
When it launched in the fall, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite was a moderate success and a terrific fighting game overall, but also a little bare bones in the features department. Speaking with several people responsible for its development, Liam Robertson unearthed the information that the budget for Infinite was a but a fraction of that used for the downloadable content for Street Fighter V and that two characters, Monster Hunter and Black Panther, were pulled from the base roster at the last minute to be sold extra.
Marvel’s other big game that year, the highly anticipated sequel LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 which was announced in May for a fall release, was a respectable follow-up, but it came nowhere close to matching the quality of the first game. Though there were plenty of Marvel heroes and villains to unlock, including many that would come later in yet another Season Pass, it was missing characters from the Fantastic Four and X-Men that the first game had.
Because of a voice actors strike, the vocal performances had to be done by non-union actors and thus the humor, a very important element in a LEGO game, didn’t land as well as it should have. This would be the first comic book LEGO game not to come to PS3 and Xbox 360 and the first to come to Nintendo’s Switch which released in the first quarter of the year.
On the DC Comics side, The LEGO Batman Movie would come to LEGO Dimensions in the form of a Story Pack. A new addition to the toys-to-life game in its second year, Story Packs were larger builds with new bases for the game’s portal. They also brought download multi-hour expansions, and in the case of The LEGO Batman Movie, it offered a truncated version of the film. It came with two figures, Robin and Batgirl, plus a new Batwing vehicle. Sold separately was a new Excalibur Batman featuring the Caped Crusader in armor with a sword and a horse.
Later in the year, characters Beast Boy, Raven and Starfire from Teen Titans GO! would be added to the final series of LEGO Dimensions sets. Within the world, Robin as well as Cyborg could take on their appearance from the show if the player had them in their collection. Ultimately LEGO Dimensions would suffer the same fate as Disney Infinity in 2017 when it officially cancelled in the fall of the year.
May would see the launch of Injustice 2, an easy contender for one of the best comic book games of the generation. Mixing easy to pick up mechanics, an expertly told story and enough content for those afraid to dip their toe into the online scene, Injustice 2 catered to both single and multiplayer camps without having to make sacrifices for either. Throughout the year and into 2018, even more characters would be added to the roster, including surprises like Hellboy and all four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
In the summer, Telltale would hold an event where they revealed their upcoming slate, including dates for the finale of The Walking Dead and the second season of The Wolf Among Us. Batman would also got a sophomore season, The Enemy Within, missing the PS3 and Xbox 360 this time around. Building upon the terrific Batman: The Telltale Series, The Enemy Within explored different versions of The Joker and Harley Quinn characters, subverting their traditional relationship in some compelling ways.
Moving away from “The Big 2,” news came in February that the cult-favorite shooter, Rogue Trooper, was set to get a remaster in the fall dubbed Rogue Trooper: Redux. While feeling somewhat quant by modern standards, it still managed to be a highly enjoyable action game and a great introduction to the world of the comic for those unfamiliar with it. Battle Chasers: Nightwar would also see a release later in the year, even getting a physical print run courtesy of publisher THQ Nordic.
In 2018, players get finally take a swing around town in Marvel’s Spider-Man, DC’s villains steal the spotlight in the newest LEGO game and the world bids a sad farewell to Telltale Games.