2 years ago the team at Avalanche Software And Disney set out to make a brand new video game experience. The result was Disney Infinity. A toys to life game based on the Disney franchises beloved around the world. From The Incredibles to Mickey to Pirates of the Caribbean, this was truly a magical experience. Fast forward just 2 years later and Disney Infinity is jumping to a Galaxy Far Far Away with Disney Infinity 3.0.
The 2015 Electronics Entertainment Expo was held June 9th through June 14. If you are unfamiliar with E3, it’s a trade show for video game publishers and developers. This year, there were a ton of new games shown for fall 2015 and beyond. Over the new few weeks I’m going to highlight a few of my favorite games shown at the show.
Disney infinity is a game that I have enjoyed since its release in 2013. Last year, it saw a huge update with Disney Infinity 2.0 which added characters from the Marvel Universe. This year, the teams over at Disney are raising the bar once again by adding Star Wars into the fold.
Before we skip over the sheer brilliance of this game world, let me remind you. In the Toy Box you can play with characters ranging from Darth Vader to Captain America to Tonto. From Ahsoka Tano to Merida to Stitch. Mickey Mouse to Spider-Man to Perry the Platypus. The combinations are only limited by the characters you own, but this is a digital world where all of Disney comes to play. As a lifetime Disney fan, and the father of several Disney addicts, it doesn’t get much cooler than that.
So, let’s talk about what sets 3.0 apart from the previous two games. The most predominant difference, as already stated, is the inclusion of the Star Wars franchise. But that’s not just a throw away bullet point. Not only are you getting to play as classic characters like Darth Vader and Han Solo, but you are playing through story based content from the Star Wars Universe. When the game ships this fall, it will launch with a bundle that includes Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano. This also comes with a playset piece called “Twilight of the Republic”. This playset takes you to Geonosis and the battle from the clone wars. Also available on launch day, but sold separately, is Rise Against the Empire which is story content set during the original trilogy. Finally, they have already announced there will be an Episode VII playset released at the time of the film in December that will feature a story set in that movie’s content. They have also announced figures from the Rebels animated series: Kanan, Ezra, Sabine, and Zeb. By the way, this is only the Star Wars content mentioned. You will also be getting a playset from Pixar’s new file, InsideOut, in which you will going on a 3D/2D platforming adventure through Riley’s brain. They have also shown pictures of Ultron and Hulkbuster Armor Iron Man so I’m sure story content can’t be far behind. And, Disney hasn’t left out their classics, we will see a new Mickey figure along with Minnie, Olaf, Sam and Quorra (from TRON) and Mulan.
The next big new feature they have announced is Toy Box Game Discs. The Game Discs will be sold at $9.99 MSRP. So far they have announced 3 games. First is Villain Takeover, which is a sidekick based level clearing challenge with Syndrome at the heart. Next is Toy Box Takeover, which is basically just fighting multiple waves of enemies across various themed worlds. And finally, Toybox Speedway, which is basically Mario Kart. That some good content out of the gate, and as with every iteration of the game, there is always very cool stuff released through the community along the way. And, when you realize you can play as anyone in Toy Box it makes it very entertaining. Who wouldn’t want to see Yoda riding in the Incredicar going face to face with Stitch on a hover board. Only in the Toy Box do amazing moments like this come to life. One last note with Discs, they did announce that all discs will not ship in windows so you can see what you are buying, no more blind bags.
Another big improvement is the inclusion of full character crossover with the Star Wars stuff. This has been a much needed progression for the series. In 1.0 there was not crossing playsets. If you were playing as Sully, he could only play in Monster’s Inc. and the Toy Box. If you wanted to see Sully drive a train in The Lone Ranger you were out of luck. Then, in 2.0, we saw a little light at the end of the tunnel. There were character unlocks between playsets. Example, if you were playing Guardians of the Galaxy you could only use the Guardians (Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Groot, or Drax). However, there were “Iron Man Tokens” hidden in the Guardians playset. If you were able to find them all you could unlock Iron Man to play in the Guardians playset. Finally, with 3.0, they have announced this is possible with all of the Star Wars figures. So, if you want to play as Boba Fett in the Clone Wars, you are good to go or if you want to see Darth Vader resurrected in The Force Awakens, so be it. We haven’t been given any information for if and how this might work with other 3.0 sets, but we know for sure that it works across all of the Star Wars figures and playsets.
I still have a little hesitation with the Disney Infinity Series. Mostly, I want to see it become a full platform. currently, if you want to play with 1.0 sets you have to load up the 1.0 disc. Rinse and repeat for 2.0 and presumably 3.0. At this point, with all of the money that I’ve invested, I would like to be able to load up Disney Infinity as a platform and be allowed to load any play set or any toy box or any character from a hub. This might seem like a small gripe, but it would go a long way to driving sales for the older merchandise. Another big issue that I’ve had with the game is it remains just 2 players. And look, I understand, the portal only has 2 slots, but as a father of 3 kids, it doesn’t help. This could work, just load up one profile and let them pick from digital characters that the profile has unlocked and then you could have 3 and 4 player games. Heck, while we are on the topic, as an Adult, I would prefer to NOT have to switch the characters at all. The kids love it, taking them on and off during gameplay. But when I settle in to play, I would prefer just to have the figures unlocked for my profile (by scanning them initially) and then being able to go into a character menu and choose whoever I want to play with. Nothing worse than wanting to play as Star-Lord and trying to convince a 2 year old that he would rather play with Lightning McQueen. Finally, they have failed to update any previous characters with the new systems in place. For example, Buzz Lightyear still can’t fly since flying was introduced in 2.0. Sure, it’s hard to move forward and keep everything before it, but it lessens the value of the older characters. My kid wants to pay with Buzz Lightyear, but when you are playing in the toy box against Iron Man who can fly and destroy everything, you are at an extreme disadvantage. I’m sure we will eventually get a new Buzz (*cough*toystory4*cough*) which will have upgraded systems, but it still hurts to have your early figures always be a lesser option.
Let me finish by saying, those small complaints are really just attempts to be objective to a game that I truly love. I fell in love with 1.0 and super speeding around Metroville with Dash. 2.0 really raised the bar with Flight and Skill Trees. Now we are about to jump to my favorite Galaxy, far far away. The game is scheduled to launch in the Fall, with no firm date. If you are a family gamer, I would highly recommend keeping this one on your radar.