When Disney bought Marvel in 2009, one of the big things in fans minds was potential interaction with characters across it's properties -- and with the new Disney Infinity 3.0, that promise is fulfilled more than ever.
In this new installment coming out August 30 in North America, Lucasfilm's Star Wars franchise comes to the Disney Infinity franchise with more than a dozen characters and multiple game storylines with its playsets.
And in November, Marvel returns to the game with two new characters: Hulkbuster Iron Man and Ultron. And in an interview with Newsarama, Disney Infinity's Vice President of Production John Vignocchi says the door is wide open for more Marvel characters in the future.
Vignocchi spoke with Newsarama at length about what fans can expect from the new console game, how it works with the characters bought for the previous games, and also the additions Disney has planned through 2015 and even out into 2016.
Newsarama: Disney Infinity 3.0 comes out this weekend, and for Newsarama readers the interest is at most around the Marvel Battlegrounds playsetand the new Ultron and Iron Man Hulkbuster figures. John, can you talk about what people can expect from this part of the game?
John Vignocchi: Hulkbuster Iron Man and Ultron will both be available in November. One of the big reasons to include those two characters was because how popular Avengers: Age of Ultron was earlier this year.
And the figures themselves are some of the most detailed ones ever for Disney Infinity. We hope the discerning eye of Marvel collectors will see all the time and craftsmanship put into these as truly collectible, in addition to being playable in Disney Infinity 3.0.
Inside the game, Hulkbuster has a variety of moves and special abilities beyond the Iron Man character. He can fly, but he also has special abilities such as a rocket launcher attack that emerges from his back that he can use to hit his opponents with massive damage.
With respect to Ultron, he’s intimidating. His special ability is one of the most exciting ones ever for Disney Infinity; he calls Ultron bots to fight alongside him. That’s especially useful in PVP Battle mode, which is where one player can fight another player. So Ultron can spawn additional bots that look just like him, but the opposing player never knows which version is the real one until all are defeated. Players in PVP mode can use it in special ways to divert and defend against opponents.
And at D23, we announced a new Marvel playset called Marvel Battlegrounds. It’ll be available in the spring of 2016, and it’ll be a new genre of gameplay than we’ve ever done before inside Disney Infinity. We’ve traditionally done open world action/adventure with exploring a robust 3 dimensional world. I can’t say what it is yet, but people will have a blast playing.
We’ll be talking more about this, the Hulkbuster Iron Man, Ultron, and other new things with Disney Infinity 3.0 at New York Comic-Con in October.
Nrama: In Disney Infinity 2.0, there were multiple Marvel playsets but not all Marvel figures could work in all playsets. Will the Marvel figures from Disney Infinity 2.0 all be playable in this Marvel Battlegrounds playset?
Vignocchi: Yes, all of the Marvel 2.0 figures will work in the playset coming in the spring.
Nrama: Excellent. Next question, at D23 Disney also revealed some 3.0 figures will light up, particularly those wielding lightsabers. Will any of the new Marvel figures light up when placed on the base?
Vignocchi: There’s nothing I can comment on for that at the moment. But all of your Newsarama readers are encouraged to tell us on social media who they want to see in Disney Infinity 3.0. We’re still in development, and everything we do is for the fans.
Nrama: Well, there is a Doctor Strange movie coming out in 2016...
Vignocchi: Noted! [laughs]
Marvel fans were a bit spoiled with Disney Infinity 2.0 being focused on those superheroes, with Disney Infinity 3.0 focusing on Star Wars. But could there be more on the Marvel side, be it playsets or playable characters, down the road for 3.0?
Vignocchi: Absolutely. There will be more that’ll be playable inside the toybox and the upcoming playset. If you take a look at our announcements at D23 and before that at Comic-Con International: San Diego, you can see we’ve been teasing future announcements so fans might be able to guess what we are announcing next.
Nrama: Today is Force Friday, so let’s talk Star Wars in Disney Infinity 3.0. At D23 you announced that Rey and Finn from Star Wars: The Force Awakens are being added to the already expansive line-up. But in incorporating things from the upcoming movie, how much did you get to learn about Star Wars: The Force Awakens to add them to this game that outsiders like us would not?
Vignocchi: I would say that myself and about six others were given access to the final version of the script about a year ago. I read the entire script, and it’s an incredible burden to have done.
Vignocchi: [laughs] I think the film is going to be absolutely amazing. J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy and their entire team have done an amazing job. Really.
Nrama: Can you say what story elements or settings from the upcoming movie will be in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens playset?
Vignocchi: At this time, no. But I can say that Disney Infinity 3.0 will be the only console game based on Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Nrama: Will there be more playable characters from the Star Wars universe announced down the road?
Vignocchi: I think we’ve got more characters from the Star Wars Saga coming over time. The key thing is that Disney Infinity is the platform for all things Disney, so expect new content from Marvel, Lucasfilm, Disney features, Pixar and more.
Nrama: I notice you didn’t say just Star Wars but Lucasfilm. I know Star Wars is at the front of everyone’s minds at the moment, but Lucasfilm also includes Indiana Jones as well as cult favorites like Labyrinth. Any chance we could see more coming on that front?
Vignocchi: I can’t comment on that at this time, either. But I can say we have a very good relationship with Lucasfilm.
Nrama: Ok. One thing I’m pretty sure you can talk about is the game itself. I’m told there is an enhanced combat system over and above what was in Disney Infinity 2.0. Can you explain that?
Vignocchi: One of the big improvements in Disney Infinity 3.0 is, thanks to the great work by Ninja Theory, is our lightsaber combat system. It’s a new system in the game that works for lightsaber combat, but also expands to any hand-based weaponry – for example Jack Sparrow, who wields a cutlass, benefits from the new lightsaber combat system. It was done by Ninja Theory and Avalanche.
There’s also the ability to launch characters up in the air and continue to fight while they’re flying. We also have force powers for some of those in the Star Wars group, and it can be unlocked not only by Jedi and Sith, but also those characters who are force-sensitive where it would make sense. It allows you to push, pull and blast.
For those reading our interview, I’d say the new combat system in Disney Infinity 3.0 is an evolution that allows players to be more expressive in how they play. We had standard combos in Disney Infinity 2.0, but now we’ve pushed it further. For example, the way you control Anakin Skywalker might be different if you’re a child versus a adult. Whomever you are, you can still slam on buttons to get things done, but for a more advanced player you’ll be able to get even deeper into the combat system.