Skylanders Swap Force Official Trailer (2/5/2013 Debut)
Skylanders Swap Force Gameplay from 2013 Toy Fair
Official Press Release
About the Game
TBA, Most Likely mid-October 2013
*Update June 7th, 2013...Release Date Confirmed: Sunday, October 13th, 2013
Platforms and Developers
Nintendo Wii U: Vicarious Visions (Previously Developed Spyro's Adventure 3DS)
Nintendo Wii: Beenox
Nintendo 3DS: n-Space (Previously developed Giants 3DS)
Microsoft XBOX: Vicarious Visions
Sony Playstation 3: Vicarious Visions
*Odd note that Toys for Bob was not tasked with developing the console versions any longer...That said, I have read they are still very closely involved...whatever that may mean.
*Update 5/2013: Toys for Bob is developing a NEW Skylanders game...Apparently Activison wants to keep them on the developmental lead, while tasking other studios with creating the spin-offs etc. They will apparently alternate, giving each entry 2 years to develop.
It looks like everyone will have to go with a Stater Pack this time around since Swap Force will require a brand new Portal of Power. That said, I've always felt the Starter Packs provided a better value. Hopefully the portals (console anyway) will be wired...I have really enjoyed not expending the extra batteries on the portal.
The better news is that each Starter Pack will contain: the new Portal of Power, a "returning" Skylander, and 2 New Swap Force Skylanders. As of now we expect this to be Wash Buckler, Blast Zone, and S3 Stealth Elf (complete with her even stealthier ninja attire!). [Thanks to Nigel for the mention].
*Update 6/7/2013. Speculation was correct!
Console Starter Packs: Wash Buckler, Blast Zone, and Ninja Stealth Elf
3DS Starter Pack: Unknown SF, Unknown SF, Volcanic Eruptor
Starter Packs: $74.99
Swap Force Skylander: $14.99
Core Skylander: $9.99
Every 100 years a magical volcano in Cloudbreak Islands erupts and replenishes the magic in Skylands. The Swap Force Skylanders were caught in an eruption and acquired their magical, swapping abilities. As expected, Kaos comes into play and plans to use the volcano to spread Darkness over all of Skylands.
Before we go into too much detail on the "new," let's talk about the old. Before you start sweating bullets and cussing how much you spent to acquire all those orange based Giants figures, fear not...EVERYTHING you currently own will work in Swap Force!
So Giants (Thumpback), LightCore Skylanders (LC Jet-Vac), Newlanders (Fright Rider), Series 2 Reposes (Terrafin), and even your trusty, old Series 1 Slam Bam will all work! Furthermore, Swap Force will support Sidekicks, all the Magic Items, and the 4 original Adventure Packs to boot.
However, your brand new characters WILL NOT work in Giants or Spyro's Adventure.
Swap Force Chracters
This is where things get interesting...
We will see 16 NEW Swap Force Skylanders, 16 NEW Core Characters (ie brand new, but not Swap Force), 16 Series 3 Skylanders (previously released), and 8 NEW LightCore Characters. The "Series 3" Skylanders are said to have yet another new power...just like the Wow-Pow they offered up in Giants.
Oddly enough, there was no mention of new Giants...They have either abandoned the concept, or will include them among the 16 NEW Core Characters that will likely be elaborated on later.
So, to do the math that means you are looking at at least 56 Skylanders to "complete" your Swap Force collection. I am sure there will be Legendaries, spin-offs (Punch Pop Fizz etc), and your chase variants as well.
What is Swap Force?
Glad you asked. Swap Force Skylanders are taking things to a new level. Unlike the super-sized, super-powered Giants, Swap Force Skylanders are regular sized, but consist of two halves (don't worry, you get both with the purchase). You basically have a waist up piece coupled with a waist down piece.
Weird, right? Yes, until you realize that the game will recognize Figure A's Legs with Figure B's top half. What this basically means is you can create your own character. If you love the speed and lower half of one character, and the eye lasers from another...just combine them!
I'd say the options are limitless, but basic math tells us there will be a potential 256 different combinations once you have collected all 16 Swap Force Skylanders :o Let's just hope we only have to do Heroic Challenges for the main character!
Supposedly the halves are held together by magnets, which means we won't have an awkward or cumbersome joints etc to contend with and break.
The top half will dictate the power (ie punch, gun, magic wand etc), while the bottom half will dictate movement (ie speed, swimming, climbing, burrowing, etc).
This all adds up to some very diverse game play options.
The Base Color for Swap Force characters seems to be a sky blue color.
As you might expect with such a drastic departure from Toys for Bob at the helm, Swap Force is going to add a new element by way of jumping. For those of you 3DS Portal Masters out there you probably remember Vicarious Visions' SSA allowed you to jump...well, we will now be seeing that incorporated into Skylanders Swap Force.
Similarly, it has been said that we will have the ability to climb, burrow, fly and teleport etc. I believe this might come to play by the bottom half of the Swap Force Skylander, but it could be more widespread. The game will feature special Swap Force Zones similar to "elemental gates" but with more diversity.
The other big, and non-controversial move, is the fact this game is being built from the ground up with HD graphics. It is said that everything pops and even old Eruptor looks pretty good.
It looks like we have what should be another solid game on hand. The HD graphics and new engine will be a plus and the introduction of 32 NEW Characters is exciting. I will pick up the 3DS version and most likely the Wii U version...however, if there is any big deviation in the story line etc I might spring for the Wii version. At this point in time we just have to wait and see how it pans out.
Jumping vs Battle Mode?!
This may upset some people, but I feel like I have a right to say this...particularly since I have been there since Day 1 (literally, I was at TRU on the launch day of Skylanders Spyro's Adventure to get my Starter Pack and free Darklight Crypt)...
Who said we wanted to be able to jump? Every press release and repost on the new game cited jumping as the "#1 FAN REQUEST." Really? I beg to differ.
While initially you think it is odd you can't "jump" in the game, the bounce pads suffice just fine.
Similarly, if you really want to talk about "#1 FAN REQUEST" it would be for ONLINE BATTLES.
I think having cranked out around 200 videos dedicated to Skylanders gameplay and fielding comments on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Google + the last 2 years I have a good feel for what people would like to see.
Sadly, I have read that Activision views this as a "living room game" for "younger kids" and uses that as their justification for no online battle mode.
I would very much like to see the online battle mode, but what I would much rather see...and this is something I have said since the beginning and distinctly remember typing roughly one year ago, is that we need to have SINGLE PLAYER BATTLE MODE.
They just said themselves that this is not going to be online because it is more of an at home game...so where is the single player option for battle mode. Do you realize how many kids out there don't have friends that can play with them, don't have parents who will play with them, and just have to go at game time alone? In order to complete the Quests in Giants and get the Gold Top Hat I will have to turn on my 2nd Wiimote and decimate a Skylander 10 times in a row...and then repeat for another 50+ characters. Where the heck is the fun in that? Just add in a single player option for battle mode...the computer player can be weak, insanely strong, or have adjustable difficulty levels but it needs to be included!!
Too Many Characters
Let me say, the 256 Combos offered by the 16 Swap Force Skyanders is cool. But isn't that a bit extreme? Will we really have the time to try out every combination? I think the Swap Force is a great concept, and one that is more of a long term achiever than the overpowered Giants, but perhaps just 8 Swap Force Characters would have been a good starting point.
Similarly, where I really get burned out is on the 16 Series 3 Characters. I would be cool with a return of the 8 castaways from Giants (Dino-Rang, Camo, Warnado etc) to get them up to snuff with the Series 2 reposes, but now with 16 on tap we know that there will at least be 8 Skylanders with a Series 3 pose. I get that some people may have not gotten into the first two games, but since Swap Force is backwards compatible, why not just continue to produce the older figures?
56+ Characters at $9.99+ a pop is a bit extreme. I can only presume tha Swap Force Skylanders will cost more than that.
I really think a better approach would have been 24 or 32 in this break down:
24 New Characters: 8 Swap Force, 8 New Skylanders, 8 Series 2 Castaways with Wow-Pow
32 New Characters: 8 Swap Force, 8 New Skylanders, 8 Series 2 Castaways, and 8 LightCore
I also have to say it here...The LightCore is a nice concept, but they should be more powerful than the Series 2 and Series 3 releases. Have them light up, have the LightCore effect, AND be equipped with the Wow-Pows etc. Right now, in Giants, there really is no point in having the LightCore Characters unless you are a fan of the character when the regular version is more powerful and offers more options for gameplay.
More Core GamePlay
Another thing that I think would be way more requested than jumping is a longer story mode. I get that we have Soul Gems in each chapter, but I don't know anyone that would have complained about Giants having 6 more chapters without Soul Gems.
The Quests and Heroic Challenges add a lot of game play, but once you are taking your 4th or 5th Skylander thru all the Heroics (again) it kind of gets old and repetitive. I mean, just think how much time it would take to get all the orange based Skylanders thru each Heroic Challenge. Now we are going to have 56+ to do it again?
I would rather have 30 Chapters over 15 with the additional Quests/Heroics.
This one always resonates. Activision said they were going to do a better job meeting demand. The only time that has been the case was at launch. Even before Christmas, when Wave 2 dropped soon after launch it was a total pain to get the figures. I deal with the diehard fans most of the time and most are still trying to get Eye Brawl and Thumpback.
The other problem is the time frame...It has been 4 months since Giants and we still don't have the last Giant, or several of the S2 characters. The waves are nice, but not when they consist of a handful of figures that will get bought up by scalpers.
I said it last year, and I will say it again...The easiest way to circumvent this is to allow pre-orders. Activision really needs to consider this...I don't know of any retailer that wouldn't set it up...GameStop, Walmart, and Toys'R'Us would all love to take our money early. And the thing is, most of us would pay $9.99 a week in advance if we know we don't have to blow 3 weeks of free time and gas going to and from stores.
My Final Thoughts
I still think this game will be worth picking up and playing. There really needs to be a single player battle mode, AND they really need to consider the online option for older players...to ignore an entire market segment because you target "kids in the living room" as your target audience isn't the smartest thought to pop into someone's brain.
I know it is easy for Activision to want to release 100 figures per game and make all that money right now. But I really think they risk blowing a great thing. I don't see them implementing the pre-order system I just spoke of, or really doing their part to issue a new wave in such a great quantity that scalpers can't get more than retail on e-bay...
But why would you release 56 new figures NOW when you could scale back and divide that up over the span of 2 titles. Parents wouldn't take such a hit, it would be easier for everyone to obtain the figures as they would be easier to maintain production runs, and everyone else won't have as great of a chance on getting burned out by chasing regular figures for weeks, or dealing with stores holding back variants and people with no life clearing out shelves to hock on ebay.
I would much rather have 5 more years of great Skylanders games and slowly acquire another 100 figures than get 2 games, 120 new figures, and a lot of repetitive gaming.
I think Guitar Hero should serve as a lesson in this regard. Did it really pay off to shovel it down people's throat with rushed games and over saturation, or would it have been more profitable to continue to develop the games, improve them, and still have the franchise selling today?
I will always err towards Quality over Quantity...
Stay tuned for more information on the game and characters as it becomes available...