Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy puts players in charge of Marvel's biggest and most notorious galactic misfits. This is quite literal in the video game's case as only Star-Lord is playable. As Star-Lord, you're tasked with maintaining some semblance of unity while also making sure nobody accidentally or intentionally blows their own butts off while getting the job, whatever it might be, done. And it's not always easy.
ComicBook.com recently had the opportunity to preview the video game via Parsec and play through Chapter 5, a level roughly five hours into Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy featuring a seemingly abandoned Nova station. At the start, the Guardians were on their way to pay a fine of some sort after causing and getting into trouble with Lady Hellbender. Without spoiling too much about the narrative content of the chapter, it seemed to be the first real introduction of the Universal Church of Truth in the video game.
It's worth noting that, due to this preview build not having been, according to the developer, representative of the final game's quality, there were a number of odds and ends that either weren't present or were still being worked on for release. That includes various visual and gameplay bugs, lack of raytracing, and a non-final audio mix.
This fact made itself most apparent whenever a brief interaction with other characters would trigger on the station. Star-Lord can use his visor to view objects of interest not necessarily visible to the naked eye, and triggering this is the relatively simple press of a button. One press, visor on, another press, visor off. For whatever reason, most of the conversations also triggered the visor to briefly visually glitch on his face. There was also one point where I had to reload to the last checkpoint because an elevator switch just would not let itself be activated.
Even so, it made for a relatively impressive showing. When previously discussing the fact that only Star-Lord was playable, Eidos-Montreal indicated that this design decision radiated out to basically all corners of the video game, and it shows. The narrative flashpoints where Star-Lord has to make the call on what to do, which not everyone in your ragtag crew will agree with, can feel truly tense, making it seem like, for example, Rocket might just make off with the Milano because something you've done has rubbed him the wrong way.
This is carried through to combat as well as Star-Lord essentially dictates various actions to Drax, Gamora, Rocket, and Groot. That isn't to say that they are useless without going through the quick menus to have them use abilities or grab explosive barrels, but my time inside the Nova station went much more smoothly when I was making sure my compatriots were focusing their efforts on the beefier enemies with shields or rockets.
Between enemies, environmental odds and ends like explosive barrels, Star-Lord's abilities, the Guardians' abilities, and positioning, combat can quickly get hectic, but thankfully, there are ways to turn the pace down a bit. Scrolling through various abilities to use with Star-Lord or one of the other Guardians, for example, slows time slightly, allowing for a bit more tactical thinking. But that's nothing compared to Huddles.
Huddles, an ability that charges over time based on your actions in combat, allows Star-Lord to call in the rest of the squad for a pep-talk while time is frozen. Depending on how much you pump up the Guardians, you can come out with some serious firepower set to rocking tunes in the aftermath. The premise is basically that Star-Lord listens to what the rest of the Guardians say and gives an appropriate response, and while it's hard to say how all of the Huddles might play out, the few I took part in made it relatively easy to figure out the right choice.
Between missions, the Milano is home, and like any home, it's filled with the detritus of life. For Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, that means references, Easter eggs, and opportunities to have conversations. The density on the ship is wild and ranges from a Dazzler poster on the wall of Star-Lord's bedroom to an entire conversation tree with Rocket about his creation and Halfworld. It's not necessary that players explore every nook and cranny of the ship, but it certainly rewards those that do.
All told, I was only able to play Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy for roughly an hour and a half, and just the one level, but if the rest of the game is anything like what I've seen, it would seem that the developers have a good grasp on what makes the crew tick. And also, what makes them boom.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is set to release for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC on October 26th. It is available to pre-order now wherever such things are sold, and pre-ordering the title gets an outfit pack full of throwback outfits for the Guardians. You can check out all of our previous coverage of the upcoming Marvel-branded video game right here.