‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Console Game Debuts, Prompts ‘Avengers’ Comparisons

Square Enix and Eidos Montreal showed off the first clips from a new Guardians of the Galaxy game for PS5/PS4/Xbox Series XJS/PC at their E3 showcase on Sunday. The preview included the reveal trailer, an extended Alpha-build gameplay clip, and information about the AAA superhero game’s launch date.

The Guardians of the Galaxy game looks to be a single-player science-fiction adventure campaign featuring the roster established in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, Groot, and Mantis. (Nebula will be a boss fight, perhaps?) The gameplay showed Star-Lord as the main playable character, strongly suggesting that he’s the only playable character.

About these previews: The voice cast ably evokes the MCU actors’ banter, including a trademark GotG potty-humorous exchange about impregnating a fortress. Gamora’s redesign leans into the JRPG-ish aspects of her video game costume, appropriately. Delightfully, there seems to be some kind of pop music buff/power-up enabling the Guardians to pew-pew while soundtracked by Joan Jett’s immortal “Bad Reputation.” The first enemy type the Guardians encounter is literally a gelatinous cube, presumably an easter egg for longtime Dungeons & Dragons players, answering that essential question, “what would it look like if you had to fight a giant monster Jell-o shot?”

But it’s concerning if Star-Lord is the only playable Guardian. Not solely because video games still default too often to an assumption that players will be content playing the white hipster-bro through the entire campaign (looking at you, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order); what if we want to play as someone green, or woody, or furry? Gamora looks great, and you kinda wanna be her. But more importantly, the diverse team gameplay mechanics were also noticeably lacking from last year’s Square Enix game about that other major Marvel superteam, the Avengers.

To that point, the E3 showcase also featured a new trailer for Marvel’s Avengers’ next expansion DLC, War For Wakanda.

The Marvel’s Avengers game, a welcome premiere in the peak pandemic months of 2020, garnered mixed reception from many fans, including myself. The developers have promised that they will continue introducing new playable characters and maps. But while playing as Black Panther or Spider-Man will surely have its thrills, it’s unclear how the DLC can or will compensate for the sameness of the villains, the repetitive gameplay, and the lack of a sense of teamwork, which ought to be a core feature of an Avengers game. Does Black Widow really need another bullet upgrade? By contrast, the Marvel Ultimate Alliance series (still the standard for superhero team games, in my opinion) effectively let the player inhabit their custom superhero squad simply by allowing them to switch between characters at any point in the gameplay, as well as with clever fusion attacks. In Marvel’s Avengers, you play through each mission as one character, and even when that character is as beautifully-realized as Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel, there’s still the sense that your Avengers teammates just hover around rather than meaningfully assemble.

The Guardians of the Galaxy game is set to launch on October 26, 2021, a sooner-than-expected release date which comes as a pleasant surprise for the Marvel gamers who thought perhaps there’d be no new major superhero game this year. I am Groot.