On August 17th fans will finally get to experience the much anticipated Marvel's Avengers expansion War For Wakanda, which will introduce Black Panther into the game as a playable character but will also introduce the world of Wakanda and those who call it home. That includes fan favorites like Shuri and Okoye, and a familiar Panther villain in Klaue. ComicBook.com had a chance to preview the game and watch T'Challa and the Avengers in action, as well as talk to Marvel's Avengers writer Hannah MacLeod and Senior Designer Scott Walters all about Panther's debut, his combat, and the story fans are jumping into.
We're thrown into the action as Klaue's forces have initiated an attack on Wakanda, and they've managed to cut off T'Challa from the center of Wakanda. We see him make his way through several of Klaw's forces with style and agility, spotlighting the beauty of the world as he moves through. Wakanda truly feels like a paradise in places and ancient and history-laden in others, and it stands out from the previous locations in the game. Back to the combat, you see that T'Challa is able to give himself some distance and then jump right back into the fray with a mix of offensive and defensive moves, including his versatile and deadly pounce ability. We also see him throw his daggers towards enemies, which have several forms and provide chippy damage at range that also helps to build up his intrinsic meter.
"He is definitely a very agile and acrobatic character, but he also has a lot of power behind his attacks," Walters said. "Like he has super strength, right? So, we definitely wanted to strike a good balance between being able to show off those characteristics while still being hitting hard and doing stuff. So, a good example is his power attack pounce where he dives at the target and he literally grabs onto them and bears them down to the ground and then can like go at them with the claws. And even for like the larger enemies, there's an upgrade where you can jump on top of the characters like the XOs and the dread bots and even the new hunter crawler. I don't know if you saw the large spider robot, but yeah... Unlike a lot of the other heroes who can grab some of the smaller enemies. He can even jump on top of them with his acrobatic moves and then just really let into them."
Later on in the footage, we see Panther unleash some of his heroics, which include the Kimoyo Beads, a powerful spear, and his ultimate heroic, the Power of Bast. This move is incredible, as he calls upon the ancient spirit to charge at his enemies, which then creates an energy Panther that knocks everyone back. And the best part is, the Panther actually does damage too, though you can also add even more wrinkles to the mix from upgrades that give you even more options.
"Yeah. Yeah. So, the goal for that... I mean, obviously we did a bunch of like gadgets and sort of tech-based skills because he is the leader of Wakanda and the Black Panther and he has access to all of that Vibranium technology, but we really wanted to lean in towards that spirituality side of the Black Panther and how he gets that power from the heart-shaped herb they really revere the panther goddess bast in that culture," Walters said. "So, for the ultimate heroic, we really wanted to celebrate that. And so, he basically summons the power of Bast and ups his defensive abilities. And then there are a lot of cool upgrades to that. So, like he can basically stand his ground against any attack and block and parry, even like the unblockables, which are something that normally would knock the heroes around, and really sort of stand up to those enemies. He can summon the ancestral Dora warriors to fight alongside him as one of the upgrades."
And it gets better, as thanks to a pull from the comics he can actually get back up after being taken down. "And like reading the comics in that whole King of Necropolis arc, we really wanted to have some sort of like resurrection ability. So, we created like a healing version of that that when he triggers it'll heal all of his allies and it can even revive them. And we're like, 'Well, what if he goes down?' And so we did a version of like, well, as long as you have your heroic meter full and you get knocked down or whatever, you can actually revive yourself with that motion as well. So, definitely leaning into that. We also played around with it being both a support and an offensive effect. So you get the giant spirit Panther charging through the enemies and it'll bull them over and stuff like that, but on the trigger you can spec it so it not only heals, but like infuses your other allies with energy. And so it boosts all of their intrinsic as well."
In another inspired pull from the comics, T'Challa can also even do some teleporting during an attack if you have the right ability chosen. "I think early on too I was going through it and I remember that scene of the comic where he's like, 'We have no choice, Bast teleport us to Necropolis.' And I was like, 'Teleporting? We did something like that before.' So, we basically there's a specialization where you can instead of bolting over an enemy, you'll teleport to them and you can actually do that over a really long distance. So, that's just kind of one way to like quickly get to targets while you're sort of in that buff state for the ultimate," Walters said.
Panther's moves are powerful but also elegant, and he always seems composed and ready for anything whether he's in the costume or in the palace. We get to see this in effect when he meets the arriving Avengers, and at no time do you feel he is not in charge. He's always the most commanding presence in the room, both in terms of his voice (with credit going to Christopher Judge) and his mannerisms and attitude, and it was always the plan to carve a story around this T'Challa and not one at the beginning of his career.
"I think we always wanted to do a story of a more established Black Panther for a number of reasons," MacLeod said. "One, the movies very much focused more on like his early years and him just sort of starting to come into his own. But when you look at the comics, the vast majority of the time you meet Black Panther, he's been king for a while. So, those stories you can dig into are from a more experienced Panther. But we also thought of... Every time we think about adding a hero to the game, we have to think about it in terms of the makeup of the entire vendor's group as well. And I think for most of the Avengers, they've been doing this a while. They've been very experienced on it and we didn't want to put to T'Challa on a back foot compared to them."
You also see that just because their family doesn't mean Shuri and T'Challa see eye to eye on everything. In fact, there's one line where Shuri says to T'Challa that he needs to go and prove he can be both the Black Panther and ruler of Wakanda, and this conflict and evolving dynamic between the two will get some shine in War For Wakanda.
"Absolutely. One of the things when I was put on board for Wakanda that everyone wanted to focus on is the relationship between T'Challa and Shuri because it's so fascinating how they have connected and come apart in the comics because Shuri also wanted to compete for Black Panther at the same time as T'Challa," MacLeod said. "She wanted to go up against their uncle and become Black Panther herself, and she didn't get the chance to. So, there's parts of her that feel ready for leadership roles. And who wants to have more of a say in what's going on in Wakanda and that leads to some friction for sure. I think part of the reason it became so central to our story is because we wanted to T'Challa to be in a space where he was not as trusting of other people, not sometimes out of a fear of being betrayed, but also out of a fear of putting the people he loves in danger. Our T'Challa very much feels burdened as a protector."
"So, he feels like he has to be the one who protects Wakanda. He has to be the one who keeps the people he loves out of harm's way. And Shuri just... It doesn't work for her," MacLeod said. "She really wants to be a part of it and she thinks that she can help him. And there's some reasons in his backstory that we've tweaked to kind of get him to that place because we wanted to talk about that trust. But also the discussions of leadership. You mentioned in some of the more recent comics, there's been a lot of really interesting discussions about the monarchy in the most recent runs of Black Panther. And that very much influenced our ideas of what we wanted that conflict between the two to be out."
We also see some of the villains in the expansion, including Crossbones, a boss fight that has Crossbones attaching his armor to a large battle cannon, which has two weak points. You cant damage them however until you stun Crossbones, as it lets down the field for a small amount of time. The fight is a good showcase of Panther's mix of melee and range, as is a later fight that has you attempting to defend system cores that keep Wakanda's network online. This fight allows you to access a EMP blast, but if you utilize it there's a catch. You'll shut down the enemies weapons, but you'll also shut down your own turrets for a limited time, so it's up to you whether it's worth it or not.
This brings us to Klaw, who in the past has been a bit more on the cartoonish side. In War for Wakanda however, he's actually tactical and threatening and feels like a quality foil for the expansion and Black Panther.
"We wanted him to be a worthy villain of Black Panther," MacLeod said. "I think they don't quite do him justice in the movie of just the sheer charisma he has in the comics. He's very well-spoken. And the more research we did, the more that was clear. I mean, when he eventually becomes the Sonic Monster, he can literally influence people's minds just based on his voice. So, we really wanted to lean into that because it is a perfect foil for T'Challa because to T'Challa has become much more closed off and more standoffish while Klaw, despite being evil is more charismatic."
"So, we kind of like the dichotomy there between those two, but yeah, we wanted Klaw to be a worthy adversary for T'Challa. And part of it comes from his tech, which Scott can talk more about for sure. And then, part of it comes from just, he has some personal vendettas against Wakanda that really make him the right person. And he doesn't mind letting those personal vendettas get in the way so to speak of any other job he might have to do there. Yeah. So, we went full in on Klaw being this kind of charismatic evil guy who is extremely confident in his abilities," MacLeod said.
Marvel's Avengers' War For Wakanda expansion hits on August 17th, and you can find even more coverage of the game right here.
Are you excited for War For Wakanda? Let us know in the comments and as always you can talk all things Marvel's Avengers with me on Twitter @MattAguilarcb!0comments