As part of the third annual ‘Sweet Suite’ event held last night in New York City, I once again had the distinct pleasure to meet with ‘Disney Infinity’ executive producer John Vignocchi as I got a second recent look at the upcoming ‘Disney Infinity 2.0 Edition’ title on the PS4 on an even newer build than the one I saw last month. Unfortunately I didn’t get any actual hands-on with the game this time around as the build is so recent, it contained items not yet officially announced so there’s nothing I can share in terms of that other than to prepare you to hold on to your seats firmly, especially as San Diego Comic-Con hits us next week.
That said, below is a bunch of new things I learned as well as impressions I got from what I say last night, in no-to-some particular order:
- The official release date will officially be announced at San Diego Comic-Con next week. It will be one of many official announcements made during the convention. It’s official.
- The PS3/PS4 collector’s’ edition (which includes Hulk — exclusive to the set for a month — and a special base) will be on display at the Disney Infinity pop-up shop at 343 4th Avenue. The shop, along with retailers, will simultaneously begin taking pre-orders for the collector’s edition (expected on Wednesday, but not solidly confirmed). Pricing is not available yet but value is promised and demand is expected to be high and supply much lower.
- Maleficent (or Jolieficent) is my favorite playable character. She can cast a sleep spell just like in the live action film, so the player/NPC on the receiving end is engulfed in a green aura as they float inclined in mid-air. She can also fly with her huge, magnificent wings which audibly thump as they flap, with feathers flying off in all directions.
- Maleficent was my favorite playable character until I saw Stitch. I fell in love when I saw him climb up walls — the animation is absolutely adorable. Stitch also has his blaster and as you increase his skills in the skill tree, he can go from firing one blaster in one hand to firing a blaster in two hands to the best power move of all: his second pair of arms come out and he can fire four blasters at once. Other power moves include speeding as a rolled up ball and a super jump. Could not confirm whether he is voiced by Chris Sanders or not, but it did not sound like it to me.
- Tinker Bell, on the other hand, is most definitely voiced by Mae Whitman, who voices her in the Pixie Hollow series of films. One of her strengths is a healing area of effect (AOE) which I’m told really comes in handy when teaming up with other players in game modes.
- Player demand/input is a key driver in the development of ‘Disney Infinity,’ a fact that can not be understated. Take the newly introduced Disney characters for example: According to Disney Interactive, Stitch was the most requested character to be introduced into the game, while Merida was the second and Tinker Bell came in fifth. As for who placed third and fourth, lips are sealed, because they too will be announced as playable characters in the future.
- A new category in the toy box toys department are fully built games that can be dropped in as a single object and instantly played. In short, they are ‘simply’ a collection of linked objects, each individually available, that combine to perform the function. One such example is a basic pinball machine which allows the player to play (without the character) by changing the camera angle automatically to show the game board. It can even temporarily re-map the controller buttons (for example, L1 and L2 become the flipper controllers), completely independent of the character’s controls.
- Toy Box 2.0 introduces assistants to ‘randomly’ assist with building different types of constructs such as rails, castles and tree houses easily. When doing this, you have two choices of assistants: either a one time drop-in that instantly creates the desired construct; or employing the use of NPC assistants, represented by various characters (including King Fergus, Happy, Terk, Lewis Robinson, to name but a few). The NPCs construct at much slower space than the drop-ins, but not only do they continue to build on an on-going basis, they an actually communicate and work with each other when you call on multiple ones.
- One of the new — and quite spectacular — mechanics in Toy Box is Interiors. By attaching a door to any building, it can be entered. Initially it’s a generic space, but you are able to remodel and decorate any building using available objects. A tutorial featuring Cogsworth demonstrates how you can start with the one small room and instantly add additional rooms in a modular fashion. Each type of room connects to the existing structure via doors (indicated by an inter-locking icon), a la habitrail. Rooms can take various forms such as hallways or rooms with a varying number of doors, etc. The build-mode is a bird’s eye view, floor plan type of look with the deepest regions of space as a backdrop — and take the hint: regardless of the building’s size when outside, in the toy box, the interior can be as massive as your imagination allows (think the Tardis, or Oscar the Grouch’s trash can). When you’re happy with your building’s interior layout and decor, it’s time to invite some friends to hang out with you. Online friends sharing the level can enter the building and check it out, or you can also drop in one of the objects (in the form of a statue) that will actually recruit NPCs to join you inside.
- Among the Interior objects are themes such as Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Disney Infinity. One Disney Infinity-themed object is a ‘painting’ which is actually one of the released screens from the first generation of ‘Disney Infinity.’ The painting is so true to life and detailed, that you can walk up to it and read the TOY BOX and Disney copyright watermarks.
- NPCs themselves are much more refined and detailed (within reason) compared to the first generation, but there is a definite improvement over the little hopping rectangular forms.
- Other graphic improvements added since I saw the game a few weeks ago include colored fireworks on the Main Street Electrical Parade vehicle and Sven from Frozen, whose breath you can occasionally see as it condenses in the ‘cold;’ he also can produce snow as you run with him (as a mount). The little details are just beautifully reproduced and amazing to discover. Another example is the Darkwing Duck Ratcatcher smokescreen whose smoke looks like it was hand drawn and animated.
- The User Generated Content (UCG) system has also seen an overhaul. The number of slots for downloaded toyboxes has been increased dramatically from 100 to 300. Players can now vote thumbs up/down on published community toyboxes as well as meta tag them. Toybox levels can also be tagged and searched by Disney Infinity character, so if a player creates and publishes a level based on Frozen, for example, it can be tagged with Elsa and Anna, so other players can find the level by searching for Elsa, for example.
- At present there are approximately 600 new toybox objects introduced in Disney Infinity 2.0 — that’s in addition to supporting all of the objects from the first generation.
- At the end of the Tinker Bell / Stitch reveal trailer, Stitch smacks Davy Jones with what appears to be a fish and that it is indeed — not just any fish, however, but a boomerang fish belonging to Lew Zealand from ‘The Muppet Show.’
In addition, Disney Interactive has announced more details in regards to activities next week at San Diego Comic-Con:
- Disney Infinity Pop-Up Shop: From July 23-26, the Disney Infinity Pop-Up Shop, located at 343 4th Ave. (between J & K streets), will be the official headquarters of Disney Infinity. Open to the public from 5PM-10PM each day, fans will have their first hands-on experience with the game where they can play in both the Play Set mode as well as the newly updated Toy Box mode. Fans will be able to pre-order Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes and be treated to special guests, giveaways and other surprises.
- Marvel Unlimited Plus Members Event: On July 24 from 3PM-5PM, Marvel Unlimited Plus Members can access the Pop-Up Shop for a special Open House event. There will be special giveaways and other surprises.
- D23 Member Event: On July 26 from 2PM-4PM, D23 Members can access the Pop-Up Shop for a special Disney-themed event. Alex Hirsch, creator of Disney Channel’s “Gravity Falls,” will be on site for an autograph session. There will be special giveaways and other surprises.
- Marvel Games Panel (Room #6A): On July 26 from 12:30PM -1:30PM, Disney Infinity Executive Producer John Vignocchi will participate in the Marvel Games Panel to talk about Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes and reveal big news. Marvel will also be making a series of announcements for upcoming games. Be sure to check it out for more surprises and limited edition giveaways.
- Marvel Booth (#2329): The Marvel booth will host Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes game demos and attendees will have a chance to play and pre-order the game. John Vignocchi will host daily on-stage presentations. There will also be limited edition giveaways and autograph sessions with special guests.
- Microsoft Game Lounge (San Diego Hyatt): Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes will be showcased and fans will have the opportunity to get hands-on time with the game.