Heading into Square Enix’s E3 showcase, most Marvel fans would have been expecting to see new additions to the Avengers roadmap, and not much else. We did get that, but Square Enix gave us so much more – we also got the reveal of a whole new game. Even better, a Marvel game not tied to Square’s growing (yet struggling) Avengers universe. Guardians of the Galaxy, a single-player story-driven game that will be here before the end of the year, and one that could mark the beginning of an exciting redo for Square Enix.
Square’s Guardians of the Galaxy is made up of the same cast of characters MCU fans will be familiar with. Since there are a few core characters, two of which – Groot and Rocket – can become a tandem and have done in previous games like Ultimate Alliance 3, the easiest route here would have been to make it a multiplayer with online elements – to allow players to each control one of the Guardians and complete the game together.
That will not be the case. You will assume the role of Star-Lord, whether you like it or not, and your fellow Guardians will be NPCs. Square has revealed since the announcement that the game started life as a co-op affair, but the decision was made to change that and instead have Guardians of the Galaxy be an in-depth single-player experience. Although not specifically stated, it’s hard to imagine that decision wasn’t inspired by Marvel’s Avengers.
Square’s other foray into the wide, wide world of Marvel takes the form of Marvel’s Avengers. To put it mildly, that massive undertaking has not been a huge success. The issues it ran into at release means its roadmap is way behind schedule and more and more players are leaving the game behind despite the months and possibly years of promised DLC. Black Panther’s War For Wakanda, which will be added before the end of the year, could be Square’s last chance to truly save the game.
Rather than create a similar game in which the Avengers are switched out for Guardians of the Galaxy, Square has gone in the exact opposite direction. Not only does that mean it has the potential to be everything Marvel fans wanted Avengers to be, but it could also be Square Enix’s answer to Spider-Man. Insomniac has released two Spider-Man games so far. Neither of them has any online elements, both are critically acclaimed, and they continue to build on what will hopefully be a pretty expansive universe.
Going single-player is a brave decision to make, but one that could pay off big time in the long term. Almost every developer is trying to find a hit in the live service and battle royale-filled arena right now. It might not make you much money in the grand scheme of things off the bat, but stepping away from that money-spinning world to create a story players can get lost in equals years of success if done right.
The Last Of Us is a terrific example of that, but for Square’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the best comparison to make is obviously Spider-Man. As touched upon multiple times, Insomniac sacrificed trying to come up with a different take on BR to bring Marvel fans an in-depth Spidey game. It wound up being one of the biggest and best games on PS4 and may well have triggered PlayStation’s very own Spider-Verse. If Square does the same with Guardians, it could be on the cusp of its very own video game MCU. While Guardians of the Galaxy won’t be getting any DLC like Spider-Man, that doesn’t mean it won’t be getting sequels and spin-offs should its first game prove to be a big enough success.
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