X-Men Origins: Wolverine is approaching, set to launch alongside the movie of the same name in early May. After playing the game ourselves , we got to sit with Dan Vondrakk, the Project Lead of the game for Raven Software, and find out more about the ins and outs of Wolverine’s visceral adventure.
The first mini-boss in the game. Yup, this one is MINIThe game is being developed with Wolverine at the center of every gameplay, graphical, sound, and character development decision. The “claws, regeneration and that bad-ass attitude” were three early focal points for the team as they began a game featuring the old canuckle head. The game they started making was just going to be an independent Wolverine game. They didn’t initially have the movie license. This actually worked out well, however, as their focus was never how to fit the game into the confines of the movie.
The game’s story is told partially via flashbacks. As Wolverine progresses through his current missions, he’ll remember moments like the opening level’s Jungles all the way up to his incarceration and adamantium-lacing. You may use some other weapons other than his bone claws during a few of those flashbacks, but their “focus was on how Wolverine would fight with his claws, all the way.” He’ll fight in a less-polished, more “feral beast” style in the flashbacks, as this is “before his training in Japan, or time with the X-Men.” Vondrakk and the other members of the team made it clear with similar statements that they were definitely true fans of the character and everything that has made him into the franchise player that he is today.
No other characters are planned as unlockable in the game. “We didn’t want to be cheap about it” and just re-skin Wolvie to make Sabretooth or Deadpool. “We knew we didn’t have the time to do another character right” and thus decided to stick to solely Wolverine, though there are quite a few unlockable costumes, and two level-up systems.
The first is standard leveling up. Throughout the game, as you get kills, you’ll gain experience, and that will open new moves, faster healing, and stronger damage to Wolverine. The second is a system called mutagens, “items you find through the game placed in three slots that give a boost while they’re equipped.” There are about a dozen mutagens that they’ve developed so far to allow further customization, and they can be swapped in and out. Most players playing through the game right now are getting to around level 30 upon completion, and for the grinders out there, they can get up to level 40 to max out the feral fighter. If you play a harder difficulty, however, you can’t take your built-up character with you. “If it’s truly hard mode, we want to see what you can do from a level 1 character,” offering a much deeper challenge.
Most of the voices in the game are voiced by those who played the characters in the movie. Liev Schreiber, Will.I.Am., and Hugh Jackman were all specifically mentioned as voicing Sabretooth, John Wraith, and of course Wolverine, respectively.
The healing factor in the game works any time Wolverine is not actively taking damage. You can either guide him away "I SAID CHEESEBURGER, NOT HAMBURGER!!"from the combat area to regenerate, or just dive right in, going on a berserker “offensive tear” to prevent your enemies from getting the chance to hurt you further. As you do this, you’ll know you’re healing because muscle and skin re-grows directly on Wolverine right before your eyes.
How much of the game’s current violence will make it into the final product? “We’re not going for any particular rating” was the only response, implying that a firm M for Mature is not something Raven, Activision, Sony Pictures, or Marvel are shying away from this time.
Having worked on the X-Men Legends series and Marvel Ultimate Alliance, the team did find they could apply some lessons learned from those games to this single-character project. The most praise they got for those games were for moments where they “focused on the character, and had characters doing something only they could do.” Thus, in this game, the focus on who Wolverine is and how he should look in motion came first. “Easy button combinations for special moves, unlockable costumes, and building your character” were all focuses on Raven’s earlier Marvel games that made their way into this one, as well.
“It’s just been awesome” focusing solely on Wolverine and being able to build levels directly around a single character, rather than on 20-30 different ones. This also allowed Raven to give Wolverine quite a few more moves and customizations. Instead of the 20 or so moves, animations, and special moves per character in Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Wolverine “has literally hundreds” in this game.
The game, as previously reported, has about 95% of the scenes from the movies, plus an additional “30% of story” that you won’t find elsewhere. These other missions are “classic moments pulled from the comics” with a little extra story wrapped around them, including the big one-on-one battle between Wolverine and a Sentinel.
A one-on-one fight “toe-to-toe” with Sabretooth is definitely part of the equation, and Vondrakk promises “you’ll feel that battle. You’ll walk out of that wondering if you even actually won it, thanks to all the destruction you’ll cause, smashing each other through this environment.”
Marvel provided a group that helps make sure Wolverine is Wolverine, but for the new story points, writer Marc Guggenheim, who has written the titular character, jumped in to help. As a “mass market” guy, he knew how to tune the story and dialogue specifically for a game rather than static images on a comic. Guggenheim wrote the dialogue and structured a full “Civil War” bit, showing a relatively young Logan in 19th Century battle. He also worked as a consultant to “make sure [they] were getting Wolverine right.”
Wolverine slashes his way through a Weapon X FacilityWhen asked what Vondrakk’s “one thing” he had to have in this game from the very beginning was, he was quick to answer “the regeneration.” Having Wolverine being able to be hurt all the way down to skeleton was not easy. They have “three models walking around in the game at all times: the skin layer, the muscle layer, and the skeleton layer.” When you wear an alternate, unlocked costume, they decided to make it a “replacement for the skin layer.” It will get destroyed, but as the skin grows back in one of those, the costume will come back, as well. “If you’re going to choose to wear this other costume, we want to let you actually see the costume beyond the first couple of minutes.”
As for costumes, we asked Vondrakk point blank if we’ll see the brown and tan costume (only the classic blue-and-gold was shown). Vondrakk smiled, looked around the room, and said “Well, I can’t confirm anything, but like I said, we are all Wolverine fans here. If there’s a costume you as a Wolverine fan would expect to see, it’s a good bet that you’ll see it in this game.”