There have been several questions about nWay's Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid console game and had a chance to talk to the developer all about the game and get some of those questions answered.
For those who didn't hear the news, nWay and Lionsgate recently announced Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid, a new cross-platform console game that will hit PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC later this year. Fans were excited by the news, though some were a bit confused or worried about certain elements. ComicBook.com recently spoke to Vice President of Creative at nWay Steve Kuroki, and one of the first things we addressed is that this is not a port and was never intended to be one.
"It was never going to be a port," Kuroki said. "We knew it was going to be market confusion if we even considered it, so it's definitely a business decision and a development decision made early on. Not only are we starting everything from the ground up in terms of visuals, but the gameplay controls are actually going back more towards a traditional fighter."
"So a full suite of navigation," Kuroki said. "I would say if you were to compare to a title out there, Dragon Ball FighterZ or Marvel vs. Capcom, that series, full control of everyone on your team, three vs. three. You can assist them in to do an assist attack or you can actually do a full-on swap out to take full control of those characters. And it was never our intention to do a port on that end. The game engine itself is just like most game engines. We've been working in Unity, on this engine for over six years for all the games that we've been making, so in terms of technology, it is unique, some of it, just like a regular shooter would use Unreal forever."
nWay's actually been sitting on this secret for a bit now it turns out. "From that aspect, the development of the actual game has gone over a year," Kuroki said. "We always wanted to make a traditional fighter, but the mobile platform didn't really hold the ideas we wanted to do for, true to traditional fighters, especially with button inputs and all that abilities you use. So, putting it on console gave us the opportunity to do the fighter that we've always wanted to make."
Hit the next slide to find out about Battle for the Grid's combo system!
Any fighting game worth its salt needs to have a combo system for players to sink their teeth into, but as fans know combo systems come in many different flavors, with some favoring complexity and discipline and others focusing on ease of use and making players feel like they always have a chance. For Battle for the Grid, nWay is favoring a bit of the latter but wants to feature enough depth to keep hardcore players around.
"We realize that most of the time, most of the Power Rangers fans aren't your hardcore fighting game player," Kuroki said. "We wanted to build a combat system that could support those kinds of players that can pick it up to mash on one button and do a really easy combo, but we also realize that kind of lends itself to not enough gameplay depth when it comes to advanced gameplay, competitive gameplay. We've designed a combat system that could be a little bit more freeform. You can create your own combos, you can do a combo that lends itself up to a launch, which then you can follow up with some air attacks, and follow up with specials to extend the combo."
The studio has brought in fighting game experts to help craft a satisfying experience for newcomers and longtime fighting fans alike.
"Right now, in tuning, we actually have, on-staff, we have some professional fighting game players that have come on as designers," Kuroki said. "They've been helping us design the system itself. One player, in particular, we had Justin Wong come in and consult with us. With him coming on board and showing us his experience on playing these kinds of games as well as the people that we have on staff, we're very confident that we'll be able to hit not only the casual fighting games fans, the hardcore Power Ranger fans that can actually play the characters that are in our game but also the ones that are competitive and into true fighting games."
Designing a console game from scratch has its share of challenges and for nWay one of those involved picking the right characters for the roster.
"There are quite a few challenges," Kuroki said. "I think a lot of it comes into picking the right characters. Power Rangers, especially with the game that we've made for mobile, now features over 60 characters. We wanted to make sure that we pulled the right Rangers or villains from the Power Rangers universe to support all the archetypes needed for fighting games.
"That's always the debate within the studio itself, as we're now Power Rangers fans," Kuroki said. "Which ones are our favorite? Which one will actually fit the role of a more bruiser, bigger type character, or the speedy type character? That's always a fun conversation within the studio."
The game is definitely inspired by some giants in the space, including Dragon Ball FighterZ and Marvel vs. Capcom, and
"We're also fans of games like DBZ, Marvel vs. Capcom, all the triple-A titles that are coming out," Kuroki said. "It's always been a challenge of trying to figure out what we can do best with our time and resources, and try and offer the best gameplay, but also not really get bogged down by having to keep the game very feature-rich and all these things. We really want to make sure that we make a really fun game that we can build upon and include the community into developing the game. Hopefully, they'll be as passionate. I think they already are, as they are with our Legacy Wars mobile
"We have a plan to release new characters after launch, and continue that, and we'd love to be able to fold in the community sentiment and feedback into shaping up what could be a really big, next-gen fighting game for us," Kuroki said.
Games like Marvel vs Capcom and Dragon Ball FighterZ are known for their flash and over the top moves, something that Power Rangers lends itself too. So, will we see anything like that in the game? I mean, this is a franchise where a Ranger can play a dragon dagger like a flute and call in a Dragonzord after all.
"Yeah, we're definitely taking inspiration from the show, and we have a lot of surprises coming up in the next few weeks," Kuroki said. "I can't say right now exactly what that would be, but fans would be very excited about what we show in the next upcoming weeks."
Kuroki also confirmed that this is a fighting game held on a 2D plane and that it will be true 3 on 3 fights. Now, in Marvel vs Capcom, your fighters can combine attacks and create a ridiculous ultra combo. That won't be the case here, as Kuroki said Steve "Yeah, you won't be able to do all three, but you'll definitely bring at least one into the fray."
Part of the announcement revealed characters like Gia, Tommy, Drakkon, and Jason, but we are also getting Drakkon Evo II and Mighty Morphin's Pink Ranger skins. Some were confused about what is a character and what is a re-skin, and Kuroki cleared some of that up.
"So a skin would be changing the visual look of a character," Kuroki said. "We'll also be modifying some VFX to make sure that it fits in line with a skin. Compare that to a brand new character. A brand new character would mean brand new playstyle, animation and that.
That means Drakkon will be a fully playable character and not a re-skin of the Green Ranger. That also most likely means we'll get a Ranger Slayer character since there is a Mighty Morphin Pink skin offered up as part of the bundle.
As for unlocking new characters and skins, for now, it seems the only way to unlock them is to grab the DLC packs, though that isn't final. "Yeah, we're still talking about that internally," Kuroki said. "Currently the idea is that you'll only be able to get skins through the DLCs."
The Season One Pass will include 3 fighters, an Arcade story, and a new warrior skin, and that middle element is a bit mysterious. It was previously revealed that each fighter would have their own story, but that is expected to be something along the lines of other fighting games, which typically have some sort of artwork or animation between the stages to link the individual fights.
That's why the one that comes with the Season One Pass is noteworthy, and we asked if it was the same as the single characters stories or something separate.
"The Season One Pass has the arcade story put into there," Kuroki said. "I would say right now that they are separate."
Part of that pass also includes 3 new fighters, but those won't be available right at launch. "They will be released down the line," Kuroki said. "The skin will be available at launch, but the characters will be announced down the line."
"Yeah, we'll have practice and training mode, we'll also have training mode and a tutorial, so basically the tutorial teaches you how to play the game, training mode's just freeform," Kuroki said. "You can play against the computer in different forms of difficulty, but also tuning variables to modify your training experience."
One of the coolest aspects of the game is the cross-platform play. The game has been announced for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation 4, but one of those will not be available to play with the other consoles. We're guessing you know who it is.
"Yeah, we're currently not offering PS4," Kuroki said. "I think they're being selective of whose participating in that right now. Ideally, we come out on there, but that's something that we're hoping to be available later down the line, but for sure, at launch, we'll have Xbox, Switch, and then once PC comes out, we'll have that as well."
Since you'll be playing with friends, we got a break down of how the matchmaking and ranking system will work.
"Unlike Battle for the Grid, Legacy Wars has a bit of built-in character progression in power," Kuroki said. "We're not doing that at all with this game, it's gonna be a fair match in terms of character abilities and skills. We'll have a ranked mode, we'll allow you to compete against the best in the world, and compete on the leaderboard and see as they rise and fall within the ranks. Casuals, basically open, you can play against anyone that wants to jump into that player pool. It'll take some consideration over your performance in terms of trying to make the best match as possible, but it doesn't drop you in medals or anything like that."
As for playing with your friends directly, that's where the nWay platform comes in.
"And then using our nWay platform, you'll be able to play the cross-play option," Kuroki said. "You direct matches with your friends that you're hooked up with through nWay Play, and just go fight as if you guys are sitting on the same couch."
Of course, you can also play local co-op on the couch as well, so whatever suits your fancy you can make it happen. Except for PS4, which, you know, C'MON SONY!
Legacy Wars' gameplay structure lends itself to creating fully animated attacks that recreate moves or sequences from the show. That's going to change with a real-time fighting game, but you also don't want to lose the personalities and iconic moves that fans recognize from the show. nWay is trying to find ways to implement those personalities without sacrificing crisp gameplay.
"One of the things that we are building into the combat system in terms of how we show animations is to make sure that we have the opportunity to show the personality," Kuroki said. "For example, at the end of a combo string, or maybe at the end of a special attack, they can hit that pose that's kind of a nod to the show, and how they're portrayed, even into our Legacy Wars game. A lot of the intros where they're coming in and showing off and flaunting their style, we'll also have that as well."
"And then with the supers and everything that's built in, we'll be able to express their style in terms of anything that's coming from the visual reference," Kuroki said. "In playstyle, that's where we actually can fold in a lot of the fighting game expertise. You could imagine as Goldar, for example, he looks like a big brute. He's got a sword, and you don't expect him to move fast. So then we can really lean into that playstyle a lot more than we could do with the card-based game, which is a lot more based on timing and everything."
"So, when Goldar pulls back into a big attack, he doesn't necessarily have to automatically do the attack," Kuroki said. "The player for Goldar needs to make sure the defense of the opponent maybe puts them into a startup attack or some kind of confirm frame so that they can pull off the bigger attack or even a grab for example. We have grabs in this game that we couldn't do in Legacy Wars."
By the way, grabs are awesome, and I apologize to the person who plays me because I will be using them...a lot. Just fair warning.
"So you get close to someone that has a grab, watch out, cause you'll be in a bad situation," Kuroki said. "They can throw into or against the wall, behind your back, or anything like that. It's gonna be fun, and is definitely gonna play a lot different than Legacy Wars."
While Legacy Wars came first, in many ways, this is the fighting game they always wanted to make.
"One of the inspirations for Legacy Wars would be a true fighting game, but we built that system completely differently for that mobile experience," Kuroki said. "So now we're going back to making a true fighting game that has a lot more button input and skill-based, and something that people can have fun just banging away at it or really learning to master the system so they can compete with the best."
Defense is always important in a fighting game, and in Legacy Wars the game uses Guard based moves that randomly pop up throughout the fight (like all the other cards). That's not the case in Battle for the Grid.
"It's not as complicated as our previous games, or even something like Smash I would say, where you have to hold a button to guard and you only have a small amount of time to guard for," Kuroki said. "It's pretty simple, we want to make sure that it's easy to do. If you want to defend, just hold back. I mean, there's a standing guard and low guard, so your attacker does have to mix up being able to attack high or low."
While guarding is easy to do, you can't just turtle and do it forever against savvy players.
"But there's also the cross-up, so they can jump over you, they could bring in an assist attack that might put you in a situation, and then simply, they can just grab you now, so you can play around with them and just walk up, and do what we like to do and just grab our target," Kuroki said.
Fans got to see their favorite locations from the Power Rangers franchise come to life in Legacy Wars, but you haven't seen anything yet when compared to Battle for the Grid.
"Yeah, so the stages will be based around a lot of the environments told within our story mode," Kuroki said. "A lot of the environments will be animated, VFX, high-res fidelity, very excited about how they were turning out. Lot of things that we couldn't do in Legacy Wars in terms of memory and stuff, we'll be able to blow out in this game."
Now, the stages won't be interactive, though Kuroki doesn't shut the door on it ever happening. "We won't do any kind of interactions with the environment, at least the first launch environment, but they will be something that you will have a lot of fun playing within," Kuroki said.
As of right now, there are four characters revealed, which include Megaforce Yellow (Gia), Mighty Morphin Green (Tommy), Mighty Morphin Red (Jason), and Lord Drakkon (Evil Tommy), and the roster image indicates that there will be 15 fighters in the initial batch.
With over 25 years of characters to work from, there were obviously some that just didn't make the game, but that doesn't mean they aren't coming later.
"There's definitely a lot of characters that have been left off the roster," Kuroki said. "Ones that we're planning to add on later for sure, it's hard to say. I won't call out ones exactly, cause I don't want to spill the beans, but once we start revealing the roster I think people would be happy with what we are coming out with."
You can find all the revealed characters and skins below.
Mighty Morphin Red/Jason
-No skins revealed yet
Mighty Morphin Green/Tommy
-Green Ranger V2 skin
- No skins revealed yet
Lord Drakkon/Evil Tommy
-Lord Drakkon Evo II skin
Pink Ranger/Kimberly (suspected to be Ranger Slayer)
- Mighty Morphin Pink skin
Whether you are a longtime fan of Legacy Wars or a returning fan of Power Rangers looking to get re-immersed in the franchise with a new game, here's why you should give Battle for the Grid a shot.
"We've been building this game from the ground up as our love letter to the players that supported us through the Power Ranger Legacy War journey, and to new players who haven't even seen a real Power Rangers game, especially a console game for a long time," Kuroki said. "We're making this game with passion and love, and care for not only the
Steve Kuroki: As a studio, nWay Games are built on people that play all types of games. Mobile, console, from the PS4s to the Switches, and we want to be able to play a game that we have fun with, that are evergreen, and competitive, but we also bring in games that people of all ages can play together. This is our opportunity to bring all that together into something we're really proud of and excited to show everybody."
Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid hits consoles in April, and you can pre-order the game right here!