The biggest update yet for Marvel Realm of Champions is at last at our shores, with the highly anticipated Thor joining the melee in Battleworld! On this thunderous occasion, we had the opportunity to interview Creative and Art Director, Gabriel Frizzera and Executive Producer, Bryan Brandt. Look forward to our impressions of the new Showdown mode, as well as Thor gameplay! Without further ado, it’s time to jump in.
Thor’s pretty much an integral part to the Marvel universe, you could say surging even further into popularity thanks to the movies. In that case, I had to ask their thoughts on what they would say to those who would argue Thor should have been in the starting lineup. Simply put, while they do have more characters lined up, it’s because Thor’s important that they wanted him to be the best he could be. There’s also the fact that they wanted a champion who could complement the meta, and Thor fits the bill.
Brandt explains Thor will play as the melee bruiser class, so excelling more in one on one combat, getting up close and personal. However, they’ve also included other aspects of Thor, namely giving him long-ranged moves as well, because, well, he’s Thor. Brandt expects Thor to be a good complement to the tankier / crowd-control focused characters.
Frizzera points out the hybrid nature is why Thor took longer to develop: Marvel characters don’t fit neatly into a single category, and Thor is no exception. He’s a bruiser, yes, slamming in enemies with his hammer, but he can also fly, and shoot lightning. They want that balance of power and lore, while making him fit well with the other characters in the game.
Thanks to the equipment system within the game, there will be a certain amount of overlap, but this also means people can choose to play a champion the way they like. Pick Thor, and decide if you’d stick to being the short-range melee bruiser with the Stormbreaker taser, or opt for a different aspect with the Mjolnir and buff Thor himself. The doors are open for you, the player, to discover a style the developers didn’t find during their testing phase, so there’s one thing the team can look forward to themselves.
Now then, Thor aside, Showdowns is the latest game mode in Realm of Champions. Frizzera gushes about how he loves the mode, adding that Realms is thought of as a platform – something Brandt agrees with – a part of the Marvel universe where many different types of gameplay can be possible. Showdowns is the next logical step, where you’ll get to face off with Baron Skaar. Look forward to seeing the love and care they’ve put into the gameplay, camera, and environment, and let them what you know about it! As a game, a platform, Brandt talks about how they wanted to have these different modes of gameplay to suit player styles and how they’ve customized their champions, and hints there’ll be more on that front to come.
Showdowns will have multiple difficulty levels, and you will want to figure out a strategy, especially at higher difficulties, to fight the Baron. Good luck!
Now, the lore enthusiasts will surely have noticed the choices made for the various House leaders in Battleworld. Queen War Thor is one of them, instead of the “regular” male Thor. Frizzera reveals the plans for this universe began 3 1/2 years ago, and as they gradually branched out the story, they had to decide who lead which faction. House of Iron had to be a version of Tony Stark, but in Realms‘ Battleworld, he’s an AI version, and with it, the challenges he faces. As an AI, people don’t trust him, as he’s not a Real person.
In Asgard’s case, when the Maestro dominated their world, the ensuing war saw Odin lead his people. However, in the wake of Bifrost’s destruction and the subsequent unmelting frost that consumed the Nine Realms, the land fell into disarray. Thus, they had to figure out what kind of person could pull together this myriad of lands, and what reason could they rally behind? Revenge is a powerful uniting factor, rallying around a certain nameless, but no less hungry, warrior queen, bearing twin hammers of Muspelheim’s fire, and the ice of Jotunheim.
They wanted to put in these little twists into the story, and it goes for every House. These characters will be earning their place in the story, and it will make narrative sense, while they work to include diversity in the game. Naturally, they will all be badass.
Speaking of story, that’s what you’ll be getting in Summoner’s Journey. There’s no set update schedule for now, starting out with the initial five chapters first. Chapter 0 will be an introduction, with the following four focusing on their respective Houses. I’m assured there’s no shortage of chapters written, accompanied with the cutscenes from the first eight Houses. It will take a while as they’ve commissioned different Marvel artists to provide diversity even in style, allowing the artists to interpret the lands in their own way, and in turn, giving the players the sense that they’re travelling to the different Lands depending on how the different logic and way of being are presented.
They’re testing the waters for now, and they will definitely want to update as often as they can because of the love for story. The story will also let you get rewards alongside the pieces of the story. As of now, it’s not linear, akin to a mystery story, so you can put it together yourself to figure it out. Summoner’s Journey is just one of the places you’ll find these deeper interactions as more avenues of story telling later. Progression wise, it’s linear in which you unlock the new characters and stories, with different modes to contain more dialogue and story moments. Everything should tell a story, be it Skaar talking to you in Showdowns, the bits here and there from the world and the environment, or even the map potentially expanding into something more as they gradually open up the Lands after finishing the initial Houses.
Since I didn’t have access to the story at the point of the interview, I tried to ask if they could give me some general spoiler-ish stuff as a taster, but alas, it was not to be. There’s juicy stuff to be had in Summoner’s Journey, so that’ll be something to keep in mind. There’s the Realm of the March too, which not only gives you a preview of upcoming content, but is itself a self-contained story. It’s likened to a Youtube show in Battleworld, as you follow Anati in her investigations, and stuff that’s yet to come to Realms in-game proper.
There’ll be an episode discussing organized crime in Battleworld, as the various organizations tussle for power under the noses of the Barons. See how these organizations work to wrest power, before it’s put into the game. Realm of the March is intended to be the companion piece to the game, so you’ll want to watch it for the full picture.
ABOUT CONTENT CREATION
Capping off this interview, I had to ask about the content creation process. I’m sure many of you out there would love them to push out updates faster, include this, balance that… so here’s that bit of insight. Frizzera is also on the Marvel Contest of Champions team, also developed by Kabam. He gives it 10 weeks to make a champion for Contest, which will have the team brainstorm, design, model – dubbed “PS3 and a half quality” due to having a similar poly count – then finished off with animation and effects.
In contrast, Realms is a multiplayer game, where characters have to be balanced against the others across the modes. Brandt elaborates about the roles that these champions will have to fill, followed by play testing, with all the interactions and combinations they have to consider. He mentions the team having a group of high level players who plug away in the tests, and still the players can find something that the dev team hadn’t come across, and then there’ll be another round of rebalancing.
In the art department, the models are broken into pieces. With Thor coming in, there’s the base model, then the concepting of the gear sets, then they mix and match the parts to see how they look. No matter how good a single set may look on its own, the other pieces do have to at least look decent together, as well as appearing to belong to the same House. They’ve taken stuff from the comics and the movies, with the difference in mediums meaning different colours and complexity to say the least, and they all have to look interesting to the players too. It’s estimated each character takes about five times longer than Contest‘s process after taking all that into consideration. That’s not even mentioning the animation and the effects: do they read well enough? Do the effects obscure another player’s vision? Such are the deliberations in play, especially for a PVP game.
That’s about all the time we had for this interview session! Hopefully that’s given a bunch of insight into the development and thought process behind not just Thor, but also the characters and the stories moving forward in Marvel Realm of Champions. It’s time for you to find out what potentially wacky things you’ll be able to combine then, isn’t it?
As mentioned, we’ll be giving the update and Thor a shot, so give us a bit to test that out!