Every year, gamers momentarily take their eyes off their TVs, computer screens, and tablets to turn them to Los Angeles, where the game industry holds E3, the annual trade show where game companies announce and show off tons of upcoming games.
Not surprisingly, many of those games are inspired by the other things gamers use their TVs for: watching movies and serialized programming. This year’s E3 takes place June 13-15 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. While we stalk the halls, here’s an round-up (so far) of games that were announced or updated in and around that have film and TV ties.
Developer: EA DICE (Battlefield 1)/ Criterion Games (Battlefield: Hardline)/Motive Studios
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: November 17, 2017
As impressive as the rebooted Star Wars Battlefront may have been, the 2015 sci-fi first-person shooter was definitely missing something: a story. Y’know, the thing that drives every Star Wars movie, cartoon, book, and comic. Thankfully, this sequel will not only have all the great multiplayer of its predecessor, but a story-driven campaign as well.
“It begins at the end of The Return of the Jedi, when the Rebels destroy the second Death Star,” explains Motive’s Mark Thompson, the campaign’s Game Director. “This moment doesn’t end the Empire, but they are tested as they roll out a series of orders called Operation Cinder that Palpatine prepared in case of his death. The story follows Iden Versio, the leader of the Imperial special forces unit Inferno Squad, who become part of this operation to get revenge on the Rebels, and from there players will experience a story that spans several decades, all the way up to The Force Awakens. Our story also exists in the same era as [Greg Rucka’s] Shattered Empire graphic novel, as well as [Chuck Wendig’s] Aftermath novels, so fans of those will see and hear familiar names and events as well.”
Developer: Monolith Productions (Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor)
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: October 10, 2017
In the movies, sequels often have smaller budgets than their predecessors, and thus end up being less spectacular. But that’s not the case with video games. Take this third person, open world, action adventure game, which is a sequel to 2014’s Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.
“Because of the success of that game,” confesses Monolith’s VP of Creative Michael de Plater, “and our experience making it, we’ve been able to be far more ambitious with the scale of Shadow of War. It has a vast and dangerous world to explore that’s many times bigger than Mordor, memorable characters and a compelling story — one that takes place between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and has you challenging the Dark Lord Sauron for control of Mordor — powerful and iconic villains that you face in a titanic climax, and epic battles and fortresses that capture the excitement of moments like the Battle of Helms Deep and the Siege of Minas Ithil in the movies. We’ve also expanded out Nemesis system by having procedurally generated enemies that remember and grow unique personal characteristics.”
Developer: Grumpyface Studios (Adventure Time: Game Wizard)
Publisher: Cartoon Network
Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: Fall 2017
Inspired by the cool ’toon, Save the Light is not only the first console game inspired by Steven Universe, but it’s also unique in being a sequel to a mobile game, Attack the Light.
“In Attack the Light,” Director Chris Graham explains, “Steven accidentally unleashed an army of light creatures from an ancient Gem prism, but Steven and the Gems worked together to gather and pull these scattered lights back into the prism. In Save the Light, a new evil has arrived in Beach City to reclaim this desired prism weapon and use its destructive powers as they wish. Steven and the group need to protect the prism, and fend off this new enemy that seeks to reclaim its power.”
But while Graham says that Save the Light is a role-playing game that, “shares similarities to the Paper Mario series,” he also notes that it has, “some exciting new twists to the format, including a fully customizable battle party, and a new relationship system that rewards players for making their characters work together and help each other.”
Developer: Spil Games (Uphill Rush)
Publisher: Spil Games
Systems: iOS, Android
Release Date: July 2017
While some games based on movies try to recreate the flick in interactive form, this strategic builder simulation actually serves as a prequel to Luc Besson’s upcoming sci-fi epic, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
“It’s set far in the future,” explains Spil CEO Tung Nguyen-Khac, “but long before the movie takes place. Players get to explore the universe while they create their own version of Space Station Alpha from the movie. They complete thrilling missions, connect with alien species, and come up with strategies to create the very best space station. As players explore, they come across alien species, habitats, and planets that all come out of the backstory created by Besson when he was developing the movie. In fact, the game was not only commissioned by Besson’s production company, EuropaCorp, but we also worked with the movie’s producer, Virginie Besson-Silla. EuropaCorp was looking for something that would really enhance Luc Besson’s ideas in the movie. They wanted something more than just a movie add-on.”
One of the hallmarks of the Marvel movies is that one always leads to another. It’s a tradition being carried over by this cartoony, arcadey action game.
“We finished the first LEGO Marvel Super Heroes with The Guardians of the Galaxy turning up on Earth after the final boss fight,” explains Arthur Parsons, the game’s Head of Design and Co-Game Director. “But when they were told they’re too late to help save the world, Star-Lord said ‘that’s not why we’re here…there’s something else.’ LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 is the something else. This new game has an all-new character customizer that gives the player more power when creating their own Super Heroes and Super Villains, as well as an all-new Chronopolis Open Hub World, a city created by bringing 18 incredible Marvel locations together into a huge expansive area for players to explore. We also invested a lot of effort in creating an even more authentic narrative, and worked closely with comic writer, Kurt Busiek [Avengers, Iron Man]. While we were inspired by some great classic comic runs, there are also nods and references to all things Marvel.”
Usually a cartoon has to gain a following before it’s honored with its own video game. But apparently Cartoon Network has so much confidence in the upcoming ’toon OK K.O. that they’ve already made a game that launches around the same time as the show.
As for what the game will be, Capy Games’ Dan Vader (no relation, we hope), who’s writing and designing Let’s Play Heroes, says his game is, “a story-driven mix of role-playing games and action-packed brawlers. The meat of the game is beat-’em up combat, but it’s surrounded in the trappings of adventure games, while also lovingly poking fun at them. We wanted to do something similar to how South Park: The Stick of Truth felt like the most South Park-y South Park game, and even sometimes feel more like a cartoon than a game. Minus the naughty bits, obviously. Though what also makes our game different is that — unlike most games that are based on TV show, movie, or comic — we were really encouraged to color outside the lines to really differentiate parts the game from the source. We were cheered-on to make ‘a Capy game’ using these ‘toys’ they lent us.”
Like previous installments, this fighting game has such Marvel Comics superheroes as Iron Man, Spider-Man, and The Hulk getting into fisticuffs with characters from such Capcom games as Street Fighter and Resident Evil. But this isn’t the same brawler six times over.
“We’ve made quite a few changes to the battle system,” says Associate Producer Peter Rosas. “First, we’ve made the game as accessible as it’s ever been through the inclusion of simple commands, which will allow players to perform big damage at the press of a few buttons. The team dynamic has also been changed back to two-on-two, as compared to three-on-three like in the last few entries. Teamwork is at the heart of the battle system, and we felt that was best shown off with two characters. Lastly, we’ve added the Infinity Stones from the Marvel universe to truly drive up team dynamics. For those unfamiliar with the Infinity Stones, these are six mystical stones that grant the possessor control over whatever facet of existence pertains to the stone: Time, Space, etc. When a stone is selected, the team can use that stone’s functionality throughout the fight and, if need be, call on the power of the stone to break a law of combat within the game.”
Developer: Avalanche Software (Disney Infinity 3.0)
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Systems: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Switch, WiiU
Release Date: June 13, 2017
While the other games on this list won’t be out for a while, this kart racing game inspired by the new Pixar movie will be available before E3 closes its doors. But while you might think this is just Mario Kart with Lightning McQueen, Executive Producer Vince Bracken says there’s a little more too it.
“Because the cars are alive in the films,” he explains, “they can do more than cars in other racing games. They can hop, drive on two wheels effortlessly, drive backwards, do tricks, side bash, and banter back and forth with other characters. Also, in our game, turbo is king, and the game is all about maximizing your speed and managing your turbo to maintain that speed. We turned these unique character abilities into opportunities to gain turbo. For example, if you’re driving your car on a track, you will encounter blue strips of different shapes. These strips provide turbo if you are driving backwards or driving on two wheels. We also have a mode where teams don’t have to be even, it can be 1 v 3, so Dad can demonstrate his prowess against all the kids in the house.”
Developer: South Park Studios (South Park Pinball), RedLynx (Trials Frontier)
Systems: iOS, Android
Release Date: 2017 (though it’s been soft launched in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland)
Besides the new trailer for the console game, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, which you can see here, Ubisoft’s E3 press conference also included the announcement that they’ll be publishing this South Park mobile game later this year. Details are scarce, but what we can tell you is that the game will be a free-to-play card collecting battle game along the lines of Hearthstone and The Elder Scrolls: Legends, and that it will have players assembling a team of their favorite South Park kids so they can take them into battle with other kids, all of whom are wearing various costumes that, of course, give them special abilities. Besides a single-player story mode, Phone Destroyer will also feature real-time multiplayer battles. Oh, and yes, Matt, Trey, and other members of the voice cast will be doing them in this game as well.
While the other games in this story are based on TV shows or films, this upcoming open world superhero game isn’t based on any of Spidey’s movies, cartoons, or even, oddly, comic books.
As Creative Director Bryan Intihar noted during a behind closed doors session where they showed up an early part of the game, “While we are working closely with Marvel, and have some comic book writers working on the story — though we’re not saying who just yet — this is a unique Spider-Man story in a Spider-Man universe that we created.”
Though having said that, Intihar did note that this game would have a lot in common with Spidey’s best adventures, comic and otherwise.
“The best Spider-Man stories are always ones where Spider-Man’s life and Peter Parker’s life overlap,” he said, “and that’s what we have in our game, though I can’t say much more than that. Though I can tell you that it starts with Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin, going to jail, and this gives a new gang called the Inner Demons an opportunity to take over the city. Also, he’s a more experienced Spider-Man in our game; he’s twenty-three when it begins, and he’s being doing this for years. So you see a certain mastery when it comes to the combat, how he’s really acrobatic and uses the environment as well as gadgets he’s made. ”
But wait! There’s more. Or rather, there will be. Since E3 is still going on, more movie- and TV-related games may be announced or shown off. Check back every day to see what new titles we’ve added to this piece.