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Skylanders Swap Force First Look

Developer: Vicarious Visions | Publisher: Activision
Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Genre: Action

Release Date: October 2013

In a crowded room in the back of Activision’s closed door suites, we met with Executive Producer Scott Greggor, from Vivarious Vision, to talk about Skylanders Swap Force. Chaos is back and he is trying to take over Skylands from the Cloudbreak Islands by “evilizing” all the creatures in Skylands. To stop this, the Skylanders have to knock the evil out of the creatures and characters impacted by “evilizing.”

The demo starts with Crusher, one of the Giants. Vicarious Vision is going to honor the existing collections. Every toy from Giants and Spyro’s Adventure are fully playable in Swap Force. This means, for the player, that you can have over a hundred Toys playable in Swap Force without using a single new toy from the upcoming Series 3 set.

Before developing the third title in the Skylanders franchise, Vicarious Vision looked to the fans in order to discover their most requested fixes for the game. Almost unanimous was jumping. The fans wanted it in the game and have been asking for it after each release. It is now finally a part of Skylanders. Scott Greggor explains why jump wasn’t there to begin with. He told us that jumping takes away the unique feature found with the different Skylanders. By keeping them grounded, they didn’t all have the same jumping ability. But they do listen to feedback and this is proof. Another thing that will change with the inclusion of jumping is platforming elements. We personally can’t wait to hop, skip, and jump, in Skylanders Swap Force.

In addition to the jumping, players will instantly see an upgrade on-screen. Skylanders Swap Force runs on a brand new engine. Crusher looked absolutely amazing and massive. The lighting effects were also great. Vicarious Visions would not tell us what version of the game this was. It will be available on both next-generation consoles as well as the current generations.

There will be 16 new swap force characters that will give the players 250 different combinations of characters to create. This is done because all of the Swap Force Series will be able to swap the top and bottom portions with each other to create an entirely new experience.  Vicarious Visions said that this adds a new play dynamic and give kids a sense of discovery and how different elements can be overcome by you experimenting.  In addition to the Swap Force characters, there will be 16 new core characters. So 32 new characters are being introduced to the franchise that already have a hundred! 

A little more about the Swap Force characters that we were shown. First, these are very sturdy toys. I was given the chance to hold a few and the plastic was very thick. They seemed to be slightly thicker than Series 2 was. Even with magnets holding the tops and bottoms together, on the Swap Force, the magnetic force was so strong that they wouldn’t come apart on their own. However, I could easily pop them off. Also, due to the magnets, you won’t be able to put the top on any other way than what it is supposed to be.

Our first Swap Force character is Nightshift, an Undead Vampire Boxer. He throws out his smoky arms with gloves on it and punches and uppercuts people. He also has a bite and can teleport to nearby areas.

Next up, a new air Element, Free Ranger, is shown. He has the power of the weather. Lightning fires from his eyes and wind comes out of his wings. He can even turn his entire bottom part of his body into a tornado. 

Our next Swap Force character shown, a water Element, named Freeze Blade. He is also a new Swap Force Water Skylander and has ice blades he throws in combat.

To demonstrate how quickly and easily you can modify the toys, Freeze Ranger and Free Blade are born from the previous Freeze Blade and Free Ranger toys. Players can also put two Skylanders on the new, upgraded, Portal of Power so up to two players can use one portal for drop in and drop out cooperative multiplayer. 

A new type of elemental zone exist in Swap Force. This is a "roleamental zone." You need two different elements to get in. That can be done with a swap force, for single player or two players with both elements needed.

We were quickly shown some other Skylanders as well.  Blast Zone is a new Fire Elemental Swap Force character. Star Strike is a new Magic Skylander Series 3. Stink Bomb is a new Life elemental Swap Force. He hides himself in his stink (he is a skunk) and is also a ninja. In addition to this, he has throwing stars. So lets swap again. Stink Shift, a Life and Undead Elemental Swap Force character is born. Just with all of the possibilities, my four year old is going to lose his mind. 

Washbuckler is a Water Elemental Swap Force with a ladder icon on him. This gives the Swap force characters even more variety and adds new side parts of the levels. Beating these new side levels can give you bonus missions you can participate in after beating a level. This gives more replayability and more content to go through that isn’t just the regular story. The new icons will join elemental Zones in Skylanders Swap Force. You will be able to see the new icons on the front of each Swap Force characters. They refer to these as “Roleamental Zones.” 

In addition, there are now Elemental Zones that require two elements to get into. This can be fulfilled by using a Swap Force character, if playing alone, or by using two player cooperative play and dropping in the two elements needed.

Another interesting feature of Skylander Swap Force is the upgrade paths. All Swap Force characters will have an entirely separate upgrade for both their upper and lower bodies. This means there will be even more gameplay time needed to fully upgrade your new toys and gives a lot more replay value.

Skylanders Swap Force features an Easy, Normal, and Hard difficulty levels from the initial playthrough. Once you beat the game on any difficulty, there will be a new Nightmare Mode that opens up for an extreme challenge. In addition to this, Swap Force also has a dynamic difficulty adjustment to change things up on the fly. This means if you are struggling, the game will automatically make things a bit easier for you.

Skylanders Swap Force features a new cast of NPCs, or non-playable characters, along with a returning cast of some of your favorites. The game comes out in October for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii U. There will also be a new 3DS version of Skylanders Swap force in addition to two new Adventure and Battle Packs.

Pricing for the new figures has not been set yet. However, with Disney releasing Disney Infinite, we expect the pricing to not go up from Series 2. As a dad with a four year old and a fifteen month old (who also thinks he can play), we are extremely excited to see more of Skylanders Swap Force.

By Kaleb Rutherford - 06/13/13
ESRB Details: This is an action platformer in which players assume the role of whimsical creatures that must stop an evil villain's plans. Players complete various puzzles, traverse platforms, and use elemental attacks (e.g., Magic, Water, Fire) to defeat enemy trolls and robots in a fantasy setting. Some characters use “cartoony” tools/weapons (e.g., giant hammers, blasters, bombs) against enemies, resulting in small explosions and comical yelps; enemies generally disappear amid colorful puffs of smoke when defeated. During some sequences, players can mount turrets and blast projectiles at flying vehicles/machines.
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