Hands on with Disney Infinity 2.0 Marvel Super Heroes
If notable Marvel comics’ overlord Galactus is the ‘Devourer of Worlds’, Disney is the ‘Devourer of Licenses’. Since the release of the first Disney Infinity, the parent company has acquired some of the biggest licenses on the planet. The scale of the follow up, Disney Infinity 2.0, indicates another successful step towards world domination; uniting video games, toys and licenses which erase the terrible film-to-game experiences of yesteryear.
Fortunately the acquisition of talented development studios was also part of the Disney master plan, and Avalanche Software return to again steer the development of an ambitious project.
New and central to Disney Infinity 2.0 are the Marvel characters, a natural progression following the acquisition of the license, and a great fit for open-world exploration in a videogame. To date, three Playsets have been revealed, tying neatly into cinema releases for Guardians of the Galaxy, Spiderman and the Avengers.
Playsets are the heart of Disney Infinity, immersing players into familiar locations as their favourite characters. Place your Spiderman figure on the base to transport him into your game. Unlike the original Disney Infinity, instead of offering three different Disney themed Playsets out of the box, the Disney Infinity 2.0 starter set opts for a deeper singular experience, built around Marvel characters. Action takes place in Playsets themed to specific comic books, with superhero activities (flying, punching and platforming) built on the foundations of the first Disney Infinity Incredibles Playset.
One of the biggest gripes with Disney Infinity was the incompatibility of characters across different Playsets; for example, Pirates of The Caribbean’s Jack Sparrow couldn’t be used in the Monsters University Playset. With the inclusion of Marvel characters, this has been relaxed a little, allowing specific characters to be used across different Playsets. Collect the right coins, and your Hulk figure can then be used in the Spiderman Playset.
My own cynicism towards a Marvel-specific Disney Infinity dissolved once I held the Venom figure in my palm. Seeing him come to life on the Infinity base, then collide with a skyscraper taking out half the windows scratched my Infinity itch.
While the characters could be leveled up in the original Disney Infinity, doing so had little impact on the way the character would play. One Jack Sparrow figure was the same as another. In Disney Infinity 2.0, all existing and new characters have had their level cap raised to 20, and now feature skill trees. Characters can be customized with different abilities, providing incentive to return to old favourites.
Power discs also return, unlocking content for Playsets and in Toy Box mode. These gorgeous near-future Pogs provide Avalanche Software with the opportunity to include the fan service we’ve come to expect from Disney Infinity. Power discs now also unlock new weapons and skins for characters; a no brainer for Marvel characters such as Spiderman, Ironman and Hulk.
Content unlocked in Playsets becomes available in Toy Box, one of the most impressive and daunting features in Disney Infinity. Players are handed a magic wand, access to a Toy Shop, and infinite possibility. Using the wand and a helpful interface, unique worlds can be built by players and shared online. All Disney Infinity figures and Powerdiscs can be used in Toy Box mode.
Toy Box was the most ambitious step forward by Disney Infinity, significant effort has been made to make the creation of environments more accessible, while also including more choice for would-be designers.
Disney Infinity 2.0 offers an immense amount of pregenerated content in Toy Box, made possible by randomly generated tools. Don’t want to build the race track yourself? Simply drop any number of ‘builders’ into your Toybox. These are chirpy townspeople themed from various Disney films, including Eve from Wall-E who builds your terrain. Builders create a randomly and procedurally generated world around you. The builders reminded me of Doozers from Fraggle Rock, then upon remembering Fraggle Rock is now owned by Disney, I’ll hope to see them included in the final game, possibly in Pog-form.
Content in Toy Box will now also be easier to find with the removal of the slot machine ‘toy spinner’. It appears spending in game credits to unlock content by chance wasn’t popular, so instead toys will be purchased in the Toy Store. All toys will be displayed from the outset, and all Disney Infinity 1 content is also featured for those looking to recreate experiences from their favourite Toy Boxes. Work is also being done to improve the usability of sharing functions, to sort and rate user generated content for the community.
In addition to expansive Toy Box worlds, there are now also Interior Toy Boxes. Essentially dollhouses, Interior Toy Boxes can also be populated with furniture, games, enemies and friendly characters to bring it to life. Interior Toy Boxes can be linked to external Toy Box environments with Monsters Inc style doors, making transition between worlds seamless with a distinct Disney flavour.
It is clear significant effort has been made to ensure Toy Box is more accessible; but Playsets continue to form the backbone of Disney Infinity. To date, announced Playsets focus solely on Marvel characters, with new Disney characters limited to Toy Box modes only. Hopefully this will be rectified with future releases, but out of the box Disney Infinity 2.0 includes a third of the Playset variety offered by its predecessor.
Disney Infinity 2.0 succeeds in triggering nostalgia at almost every turn. It is hard not to smile when your Toy Box skydome transforms into an African vista, scored to the opening bars from The Lion King. Healthy cynicism for the ‘Toys to Life’ category in video games will persist, but you can’t deny Disney Infinity 2.0 is a little magical.