E3 2015 – Skylanders SuperChargers Preview: Vehicles in the Skylands
The first thing you need to know about Skylanders SuperChargers is that the Kaos — the super baddie — is looking to destroy the Skylands with his Doomstation of Ultimate Doomstruction, which is pretty much the coolest name for a giant machine that can eat the sky. If you’ve been around video games for a couple of years, then you are probably aware that Skylanders isn’t a new thing. In fact, it was the first of the toys-to-life genre of games that are currently finding a solid footing in the gaming industry, and SuperChargers is the fifth game in as many years.
New Skylanders, New Figures
As with the other Skylanders games, SuperChargers introduces a new set of Skylanders available for play. The new game will feature 20 new characters and their associated vehicles (which are actually functional. On the cars, the wheels move, etc.). If the characters and their specific vehicles are used together, the vehicle will get supercharged, but we’ll jump more into the vehicle gameplay in a bit. Fans of the existing games will be excited to learn that eight of the new characters are re-imaginings of existing characters, complete with new looks, powers, and upgrades.
In Skylanders SuperChargers, the big new innovation is the addition of vehicles. There are a variety of different gameplay types for the different vehicles, including dogfights or races through the air, underwater or surface of the water gameplay, and open arenas or races on land. We were only offered a glimpse at each of these, but they all seemed to offer vastly different styles of play that would make it worth having the different types of vehicles.
Each vehicle includes a primary and secondary weapon, and are upgradeable and customizable with mods — 12 different ones for each vehicle –that can be found throughout the game. Some of these may be found in the new ‘luck chests’ that they have added into the game, which are hidden but can drop elements and collectibles. The drops from the chests are different every time, so it’s worth going back to try to get something else.
As I mentioned, pairing a Skylander on the portal with their appropriate vehicle will supercharge it, giving it more armor and better abilities. It also changes the look of the vehicle to match the upgrades it is given when supercharged. The vehicles range from land, to air, to sea, but the whole game can be completed with only the starter set, which only includes a land vehicle. What this means is that optional sea and sky areas of the game will be locked until you obtain those types of vehicles to use.
Continuing a Success
Don’t worry, you won’t be spending all of your time in the vehicles. The great platforming and character gameplay from earlier Skylanders games is back and the game looks more stunning and vibrant than it ever has, like a living Saturday morning cartoon. The unique aesthetics of the characters and environments (and now vehicles) has always been a key part of the Skylanders success stories, with kids — and heck, probably even adults — looking at a character on a shelf and wondering what kind of attacks and abilities they might have.
If you own any of the previous Skylanders collection, everything is supported in SuperChargers. The prior portals will work, as well as every single character. The traps from Trap Team will function a little bit differently in this game world however, giving you boosts for your vehicles. There are currently over 304 figures available, if you include all variants, so the news that all of these figures will work is huge for anyone that has been investing in the series’ collection.
Skylanders has its own unique corner carved out in the toys to life genre that other games can’t touch. While it may not have the licenses that Disney Infinity or LEGO Dimensions have, its unique characters with a bevy of looks and upgrades and excellent platforming gameplay are more than enough of a powerful foundation to keep the series going strong. With the addition of vehicles and the support of old figures, we can be sure that Skylanders SuperChargers will represent another success for this long standing franchise.