Disney Infinity Marvel Battlegrounds Hands-on Preview

by on March 15, 2016

As someone whose primary beat is eSports, I don’t often get to play the games I would like to. Sure I carve out enough time for a lot of titles, and sometimes fail to get any work done when something like Stardew Valley gets its hooks into me, but I miss out on a lot of very good games, and one of those has been Disney Infinity. Of course I know what Disney Infinity is, and how it plays, mostly thanks to getting small snippets of gameplay across a few different events last year, which is why I was so surprised when I was introduced to Disney Infinity Battlegrounds.

The portion I got to play was a 3D fighting game, where up to four local players (online play isn’t a thing apparently due to a short development time) punch, kick and throw their opponents around ever-changing arenas to emerge victorious. Of course, it isn’t quite as simple as that as the characters you play as are your favourite Marvel heroes and villains and they each have a different fighting style.

In my first match, where I played against one other journalist, one developer and one PR, we had Thor (me) fighting up against Black Spider Man, Hulkbuster and Groot. Thor has the ability to fly (as do all other flying characters), Spider man can pull foes towards him with his web, Groot can mini stun opponents by making trees come out of the ground and Hulkbuster just smacks things real hard. Needless to say, it was chaos.

Captain America Spiderman

In the first mode we played it was elimination style, once you died you were out and the last man standing won. One person quickly bowed out after being ganged up on, then another bit the dust as the stage transitioned from one area to another (some stages transform based on how much damage they sustain), leaving just me and the developer. What followed were the most tense 3-4 minutes of my life. If I could beat the developer in my first ever match, I would be a hero, there would be songs written about my heroics, I would become a part of preview event folklore and all the bragging I had done earlier in the day about being really good at Call of Duty would have seemed much more realistic.

But alas, I just couldn’t beat him. We fought for a good long while, each dealing a lot of damage but always managing to claim the healing drops that appear semi regularly. In the end he managed to use his special ability to chunk me down low enough that I couldn’t really engage, and from there it was only a matter of time before I fell. As the game ended, and the dev breathed a sigh of relief, I felt I had failed, but when he turned and said “You had me worried for a while there” I knew I had done a good job.

What hurt me the most was his special ability. Each character has a unique ability that charges up over time and can be devastating. Some characters have abilities that are more of a buff while others will deal direct damage. A well-timed special can totally change any fight, much like a blue shell in Mario Kart, meaning no round is truly over until the scoreboard hits.

Actually the Mario Kart comparison is quite a good one; while they may not even be close in terms of how they play, they do share a lot of similarities. First off, the couch co-op is clearly the best way to experience both titles, and smack-talk, trying to put your opponents off and #TopBantz will undoubtedly feature in any play session – hell I even started to smack-talk a little with people I barely knew at the event. They are also both incredibly easy to pick up and play, but mastering them will take a while, meaning the whole family can get involved and have a lot of fun. Add in that both feature a slight element of randomness that can turn a fight (power discs in Infinity can randomly drop into the arena to give serious boosts), and they both feature an iconic roster of characters and they really do seem every similar, but that is, of course, a good thing.

Speaking of the roster, almost every Marvel character you have seen in the Cinematic Universe is here along with a few others, from the obvious choices such as Captain America (go Team Cap!), Iron Man, and Spider-Man, through to more niche choices such as Iron Fist, Yondu and Black Panther (who kicks ass, BTW). Toys from previous Infinities all work here and the new roster of toys are some of the coolest yet, especially the new Cap figure that I really, really want!

At its core the Marvel Battlegrounds playset is fairly basic (at least its multiplayer component is) as all you are doing is fighting against local players or AI in an arena. But while it may be relatively simple, it is incredibly good fun and is sure to provide a ton of laughs. Being local only multiplayer may hurt it somewhat but there is a very good chance that playing online wouldn’t be the same experience and would be much less exciting. This, along with the Star Wars playset from last year and the recently leaked Finding Dory set, means that there is a very good chance I will pick up Disney Infinity in the near future.