For the past four-plus years, Skylanders titles have revolved around one thing—bringing Spyro and his pals (and sometimes even rivals) into the game with action figures equipped with special NFC chips.
Skylanders: SuperChargers brings a big change to that formula, with the debut of vehicles that will add several new dimensions to exploring the game. This is done with vehicle figures, which are real, working toys (the cars feature moving wheels, for example), not simply statues that will look cool in someone’s collection.
“Innovation is core to what we do,” senior VP of marketing John Coyne told EGM. “Just like the character toys, what we think is important is to imbue them with magic and wonder. That’s what we want to bring to the vehicle toy category—that sense of magic and wonder. It’s the first time players will be able to bring a different type of toy to life in the digital world.”
In a hands-off Skylanders: SuperChargers demo, associate producer Lou Studdert explained how the different types of vehicles would perform in-game, pointing out that while the new SuperChargers characters each have a specific vehicle they’re matched with, any Skylander (even those from previous games) can pilot any vehicle at any time.
“We have these three different archetypes of land, sea, and sky, but we’re not just going with race cars, submarines, and jets,” Studdert said. “Even within those archetypes are all the different types of vehicles that you could hope for. For land, we’ve got race cars, we’ve got motorcycle, we’ve got dragsters, we’ve got dump trucks. We’ve even got a tank. For sea, we’ve got submarines, boats, speedboats, as well as hovercrafts. And for the sky, we’ve got jets, planes, biplanes, and helicopters. There’s a ton of variety in there, and they all play completely differently, which is really exciting.”
Demonstrating one of the land vehicles, Studdert showed off the basics of what it would bring to the Skylanders experience: “You can speed down a highway, boosting, drifting, hitting ramps to jump over the obstacles along the way.” That’s pretty self-explanatory and expected, but Studdert also revealed that if players happen upon a vehicle-modification item, they’ll be able to put it to use immediately. “You’re able to customize your vehicle to your liking in real time, in the middle of a level,” he revealed.
Switching to the sea-based vehicles, Studdert demonstrated a submarine. “I don’t know about you, but if I were piloting a submarine, I’d want to submerge,” he said. “So, we’re building out two tracks—one surface level, and one below the waves so that you can explore and find hidden secrets.”
Finally, it was time to take a look at the sky-oriented vehicles. Here, Studdert took control of a jet with Stealth Elf (seen in the screen at the top of this story), a returning Skylanders character with a whole new look and skillset in SuperChargers. In fact, Studdert said Stealth Elf is one of many fan favorites “reimagined as SuperChargers with new weapons, new attacks, and a completely new set of upgrades to be, effectively, new and unique characters.”
Once in the jet, Studdert demonstrated how he could move in any direction and even barrel-roll to evade enemy attacks—and unleash a multi-lock missile to inflict damage of his own.
While levels in Skylanders: SuperChargers will have areas accessible by the land-, sea-, and air-based vehicles, they’ll also include special paths accessible for players who don’t have the specific toys necessary to traverse with the vehicles.
Skylanders: SuperChargers is being developed by Vicarious Visions, which also handled 2013’s Skylanders: Swap Force. The game is currently scheduled for a September 20th release in North America on Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, 3DS, and iPad. The core game will appear on the Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3, and iPad, while the Wii and 3DS versions will have a “different, complementary experience.”