Review of Interview: Marvel’s Avengers Developers Talk About Creating a Worthy Black Panther & Wakanda

Marvel’s Avengers‘ biggest and most anticipated expansion is just around the corner. War for Wakanda will bring the coveted Wakandan hero,  Black Panther, to the roster and continue the game’s overarching narrative. Adding such a hero to the game is a tall task, given all the added pressure such an icon brings. Senior Gaming Editor Michael Leri recently spoke with Writer Hannah MacLeod and Senior Game Designer Scott Walters about developing a hero with such a legacy, the themes of the story, Chadwick Boseman’s affect on the game, and the PlayStation-exclusive Spider-Man DLC that fans can’t stop asking (and complaining) about.

Michael Leri: War for Wakanda is the largest expansion so far and it’s completely free. What is the thought process behind giving away such a huge chunk of content for no extra charge?

Scott Walters: We always envisioned Marvel’s Avengers to be this sandbox environment where players can jump in with their favorite heroes and experience the story that we are telling along the way. We never wanted to gate sections behind a paywall. If they were there for the campaign, we want them to come back for the new content without having to pay extra for that.

And for new people… we wanted to be able to provide something that fits into an overarching narrative. So there’s no way we could just sell just the Wakanda thing because it’s so ingrained with the rest of the multiplayer. We want people to be the Avengers — it’s a large ensemble cast — and we want to players to join the playerbase of the game and experience all that stuff.

Interview: Marvel's Avengers Developers Talk About Creating a Worthy Black Panther & Wakanda

There are eight other heroes in the game and they all play somewhat differently. How do you make sure that Black Panther is not a reskin of an existing character? And does the team set out with a specific playstyle in mind from the beginning or is it a natural process?

Walters: It’s definitely a natural process. Whenever we start, we go to the source material. We got through all the comics. We got through the movies, cartoons, and anything else they’ve ever been in. And we highlight things that show up repeatedly and things that are iconic for the character and things that players would expect to see when playing that hero.

And that sort of informs where we go in terms of the playstyle or the theme. For Black Panther, it was very much a melee-first focus, very acrobatic, very agile, but still conveying his power. Things like the power attack are, on paper, a grab but unlike Hulk or Kamala who use their size to just pick up and ragdoll enemies, he’s jumping through air, leaping on top of them, slamming them, and unleashing his claw attacks on them. For the large enemies that normally can’t be grabbed, because he’s not picking them up with one hand and ragdolling them, he can jump on top of those guys and do something that the other heroes that can grab enemies can’t quite do.

Finding ways to bring those iconic things into the game really distinguishes what that playstyle is going to be like. And we find creative ways to expand on that with the various skills and let players really double down on or specialize in certain playstyles. Black Panther is not a ranged character by nature; he’s much more up close and personal. But we have a ranged mechanics that we want to support for puzzles and aerial enemies. We definitely ways to expand that for people that really identify with that and think that those mechanics are cool.

Interview: Marvel's Avengers Developers Talk About Creating a Worthy Black Panther & Wakanda

The Cosmic Cube event left off with the heroes putting the cube in some sort of safe place. Does War for Wakanda tap into that larger story at all? If so, how?

Hannah MacLeod: What we’re thinking about with any post-launch content is continuing that story of the Kree invasion. So Wakanda is one piece of that puzzle, but the other thing that’s really important for all of our releases is if someone’s favorite character happens to be Black Panther and they have no interest in the other campaigns, they can come into this. It’s more of an episodic situation where you can come into this not knowing anything else and still get a complete story experience. It’s a little bit of both.

Wakanda has so much content involved. There’s so much to do. We had the chance to explore some stuff that’s not necessarily related to the invasion but it’s that two-pronged idea. It helps that our writing team is very egalitarian where we all work on everything to the point of where we often forget who wrote what. We always have in our minds what happened before and we plan on happening in the future.

How did developing the story go for this expansion? The film stuck out so much in the Marvel Cinematic Universe partly because of its ability to talk about isolationism, colonialism, and tougher topics like that. What themes does this piece of DLC touch on? 

MacLeod: What really influenced us a lot, especially in our research for the initial story, was this idea of the monarchy and what the future of Wakanda should be. In the most recent two runs of Black Panther, there have been a lot of discussions on whether Wakanda should even be a monarchy. There’s the idea that Wakanda is not just one monolithic thing; people have different ideas of how Wakanda should be run, who should be in power, and that sort of thing.

One of the themes that we ended up doubling down on was the difference between the position of king and Black Panther. What is their job? What is their responsibility? What is most important for them to do in order to be part of Wakanda? Evan Narcisse did work on the game so we were also heavily influenced by his run of Rise of the Black Panther, but that one is much more about T’Challa’s family and how certain important events in his personal life led to him being the leader he is.

We did a lot of work of figuring out our version of T’Challa’s origin story in our heads and how each of those events have led him to be the more isolationist king that he is in our game right now. We tweaked things. We pushed things here and there like the context behind his father’s death. It’s a little different in our games than what you’ve seen in the comics or movies. And that has influenced him and Shuri. They’ve both taken very different lessons from that experience.

There are so many themes you can explore. The most important part for us was to show a T’Challa that was more experienced as a king. He’s been in this role for a while. He knows what he’s doing. He’s a little stubborn in his methods. In the movies, you see more of his origin. In the comics, the vast majority of the time you see Black Panther, he’s been doing this for a while. So in order to explore more of the decades of different stories we can pull from, it was really important for us to look at a wiser T’Challa.

Interview: Marvel's Avengers Developers Talk About Creating a Worthy Black Panther & Wakanda

In September, there was a War Table stream where you said you were altering what you were showing after the untimely death of Chadwick Boseman. That was the right and respectful call. What was the team planning to show that day and how did Boseman’s death change the team, if at all?

MacLeod: We pushed the announcement of Black Panther back. That was really the only thing that was affected. We were still in development on Black Panther at that point and continued to be until now.

I think Chadwick Boseman’s passing certainly had an effect on us in terms of knowing that we really needed to do justice to this character even more so. Even just from his performance of T’Challa, he’s become this pop culture icon. He’s become Black Panther in a lot of people’s eyes. Our goal from the get-go before his untimely passing was to extend that legacy.

We wanted it to give people another view of T’Challa that we might not be as familiar with. We weren’t trying to rewrite anything. We hoped to do justice to this character that he’s now made so iconic.

It also heavily influenced our actors. Chris Judge has spoken to that before. He was a little nervous to take the role at first because of Chadwick’s performance being so iconic. We’re really glad he took the job. He’s amazing. The biggest influence that Chadwick had was just to reaffirm our desire to get this right.

Marvel's Avengers' Spider-Man DLC is Still 'On Track' for 2021 Release

War for Wakanda is the last major chunk on the roadmap. Can you speak about the next phase of the game? And is there any more news on Spider-Man? 

Walters: Right now, our focus is on War for Wakanda. That was our capstone for the roadmap that we shared. We’ll definitely have more news coming forward later.

As for Spider-Man, we’ve always planned to have that be a 2021 release and we’re still on track for that. We’ll have more announcements later on.

The post Interview: Marvel’s Avengers Developers Talk About Creating a Worthy Black Panther & Wakanda appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

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