Secretly the best gaming showcase of the year

You’d be excused if last weekend’s D23 Expo fell off your radar. The biannual Disney convention isn’t exactly known for big gaming news, and for being sandwiched between Gamescom, PAX West, a Nintendo Direct, and a Sony State of Play, all while airing at the same time while Ubisoft Forward didn’t help either. But if you haven’t seen the Disney and Marvel Games Showcase, you missed one of the most exciting reveal streams of the year. Disney may have retired from video game publishing more than six years ago, but now it’s making a big push by partnering with established studios and pairing each of them with movies and characters that match their strengths and style. Here’s a rundown of all the games unveiled at D23 Expo, along with links to our coverage of each.

THEGAMER VIDEO OF THE DAY

Tron: Identity

The showcase opened with the unveiling of Tron: Identity, a visual novel detective game in development at Bithell Games. The studio of Mike Bithell, best known for games like Subsurface Circular, Volume and Thomas Was Alone, is no stranger to contemplative, emotionally gripping stories about artificial intelligence and futuristic technology. In a post-reveal interview, Bithell says Tron: Identity is Subsurface Circular has been taken to the next level: “That kind of choice-based and character-led story stuff just felt like something I wanted to see a Tron game do.”

Tron: Identity is coming to PC and console next year. Watch our full interview with creative director Mike Bithell here.

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Disney Illusion Island

Disney Illusion Island is the next game from Dlala, the studio behind the Battletoads remake. It is a four-player co-op platformer starring Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald Duck, coming exclusively to Switch next year. Unlike comparable 2D platformers, such as New Super Mario Bros. and Rayman Legends, Illusion Island is not level based. Instead, it features one continuous map to explore, with collectable upgrades that allow access to new zones. Dlala was actually developing another Mickey Mouse game with Disney before closing its publishing arm in 2016, but towards the end of Battletoads development, the studio got another chance to work with the mouse. Dlala CEO AJ Grand-Scrutton says the development team is full of Mickey fans for life, and he even keeps his personal copy of Castle of Illusion on his desk.

Disney Illusion Island is exclusive to the Switch and only for couch co-op. Watch our full interview with Dlala CEO AJ Grand-Scrutton.

Marvel World Of Heroes

When Pokemon Go creator Niantic acquired Seismic Games, the studio behind Marvel Strike Force, the two teams began to combine their expertise and create a location-based Go-like set in the Marvel universe. In World of Heroes, you create your own superhero and patrol your real neighborhood alongside the Avengers. Executive producer Phil Hong tells me that World of Heroes will have a lot of parallels to Pokemon Go, but it will go much deeper into character customization and player personality. He also says that “location awareness” is a key feature for WoH, which means integrating real-life places with missions. One example he shares is stopping a bank robbery at a real bank.

Marvel World of Heroes doesn’t have a release date yet, but EP Phil Hong provided many insights from our D23 Expo interview.

Marvel’s Midnight Sun

After multiple delays, XCOM creators Firaxis finally revealed the release date for Marvel’s Midnight Suns at D23 Expo. The massive 60+ hour tactical RPG is coming to PC and console on December 2nd, just in time to gobble up everyone’s winter break in its entirety. Creative director Jake Solomon and producer Garth DeAngelis say a single playthrough of Midnight Suns won’t be enough to see all it has to offer. Despite having a roster of 13 Marvel heroes, including Blade, Ghost Rider, and Spider-Man, the creators say you can only get to level two or three of them by the time you complete the campaign. This is the greatest game Firaxis has ever made. Congratulations, fellow tactics nerds.

Here’s our full interview with Midnight Suns’ Jake Solomon and Garth DeAngelis.

Marvel Snap

The Marvel digital CCG has been in closed beta for the past four months, but the official release date was finally announced at D23 Expo. You can get your hands on Marvel Snap on PC and mobile on October 18, and it’s completely free to play. Marvel Snap does a lot of things differently than most other collector card games. Decks contain only 12 cards, matches last only two minutes and there are no packs to open. Studio head and former Hearthstone director Ben Brode says they wanted to create a game that was easy to learn and accessible, but had infinite depth for players to master. Brode also touched on the dust surrounding Nexus Events, a failed attempt to add loot boxes to the game earlier this year. Nexus events were quickly removed from the game entirely after significant player backlash, and Brode says everyone on the team agreed that the players were right and that the monetization model was not right for Snap. That kind of quick response is extremely rare, and the studio’s ability to respond quickly bodes well for the future of Marvel Snap.

Watch our full interview with Marvel Snap’s Ben Brode ahead of its global launch on October 18.

Disney Lorcana

While not featured in the Disney and Marvel Games Showcase, the upcoming trading card game Disney Lorcana made its debut at D23 Expo with the unveiling of the first seven cards that will be part of the debut set, The First Chapter, when it launches next fall. Disney Lorcana will feature classic and reimagined characters from every era of Disney animation, but will be limited to only movies and characters created by Walt Disney Animation Studios – so no Pixar, Marvel, or Star Wars for now. The publisher behind Lorcana, Ravensburger, sold just 900 Collector’s Sets at the convention, each card marked with an exclusive 1st edition and a D23 stamp.

To learn more about Disney Lorcana, check out our interview with brand manager and co-designer Ryan Miller, who has decades of experience working on trading card games.

The most mysterious reveal during the showcase was the untitled Captain America and Black Panther collaborative game, which is currently in development at the recently established Skydance New Media studio. Led by Amy Hennig of Uncharted, the game is set during World War II and features four playable characters, including Howling Commando Gabriel Jones and Wakandan Queen Nanli. The game is still in early development, but Hennig told attendees in an onstage interview that those who’ve played her previous games will have a good idea of ​​what kind of experience to expect.

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