While most people would like to forget that 2016 ever happened, it was a pretty awesome year for comic book video games: The opening month of the year got the excellent Lego Marvel’s The Avengers; We got some great content in the toys-to-life genre in both Lego Dimensions and the sadly now defunct Disney Infinity; Telltale wowed with its Michonne centered mini-series, their first ever Batman game and debuted a strong season opener for The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series: A New Frontier and old games were now new again with remasters of the first two Arkham games as well as the shadow dropped Marvel Ultimate Alliance 1 &2 and Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3.
What 2016 also gave us was a lot of great games to look forward to in this coming year, 2017, from two fighting game sequels from each of the “Big 2” comic publishers, the first ever Marvel Telltale series and a PS4 exclusive Spider-Man game from one of the best game development studios ever, Insomniac Games. These are just the things that we know of and like last year, here’s hoping that 2017 has its fair share of surprises as well. To get you out of those post-Christmas January funk, lets take a look at some of the comic book video games you can look forward to in the coming year and beyond.
LEGO DIMENSIONS THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE STORY/FUN PACK/TEEN TITANS GO!
RELEASE: The Lego Batman Movie Story/Fun pack: February 10th, 2016; Teen Titans GO!: TBD
WHAT IS IT?: Lego Dimensions is getting three DC themed updates in early 2017, the first two of which will arrive next month on February 10th. The The Lego Batman Movie Story Pack will bring the entire spin-off film to the toys-to-life game and come with a Robin as well as Batgirl minifig, a Batwing vehicle and a Batcomputer base build for the portal. This will be accompanied by a timed exclusive Excalibur Batman which will only be available at Target until an undetermined amount of time, so if you’re like me and live in Canada, you’re going to have to order this online or wait for the set to go wider.
Characters from Teen Titans GO! will also be added to the game, but no firm details have been provided as to when the property will arrive. The latest rumour puts the set as a Team Pack featuring Beast Boy and Raven.
WHY SHOULD I BE EXCITED?: Now that Disney Infinity is sadly no more, Lego Dimensions is the only toys-to-life game that will be updated with new comic book character content of any kind. Don’t think that being the survivor means that Dimensions wins by default though, because even if Infinity was still with us, what’s being added to Dimensions is still worth the money. Unlike last year’s DC Comics content that only added new characters, the 2017 Dimensions update will add a whole movies worth of play in the story pack as well as two adventure worlds to explore. It will be interesting to see if Supergirl, a PS4 exclusive character being sold through an updated starter pack, will be available for wide purchase as well.
What will be most interesting to see in 2017 is what comes next for Lego Dimensions. Liam Robertson, an incredibly talented video game historian, recently did a story about how Activisions’ Skylanders franchise could be in jeopardy. Couple that with the demise of Disney Infinity and it looks like the toys-to-life genre could be going the way of the instrument based music game boom of the mid-to-late 00’s. There’s also the matter of now that because Disney in no longer supporting a toys-to-life game, will we start seeing characters from Disney, Pixar, Star Wars and of course, Marvel, show up in Dimensions? In an interview last July a producer from WB Games said that they were most certainly “working on it” when asked if these brands would come to Dimensions, but will 2017 be the year that this happens? If so, it would be a historic win for WB Games who will have the first ever game featuring both DC and Marvel comics characters.
RELEASE DATE: TBD
WHAT IS IT?: A sequel to the 2013’s Injustice: Gods Among Us, a fighting game from developer Netherrealm studios about a universe in which Superman rules the world with a fist of steel.
WHY SHOULD I BE EXCITED?: Ever since the 2011 reboot of Mortal Kombat, Netherrealm has stepped up their game by incorporating a story campaign into their games that not only teaches you how to play before jumping in to matches with other human players, but also carries some weight as well. Though it’s now been four years since the first game landed on shelves, the story has been supported since then through a well-regarded comic book series and finding out what happens in the universe in Injustice is just as exciting as learning about the new characters and mechanics. So far we know that Injustice 2 will allow players to customize their fighters via a gear system that adds both cosmetic and gameplay changes. If Twitter polls are any indication, Injustice 2 could also see characters from other comic book publishers added to the roster as Ed Boon from the studio gauged potential interest of both Spawn and Hellboy appearing as guest characters.
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TELLTALE GAMES OUTPUT
RELEASE DATE: The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series: A New Frontier: Ongoing since last month; Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series: TBD
WHAT IS IT?: After debuting late last month, the third official chapter in Telltale’s The Walking Dead saga will continue throughout early 2017. Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series was officially unveiled at the Game Awards but what form it will take and when it will be released still remains to be seen.
WHY SHOULD I BE EXCITED?: 2016 was a great year for Telltale, and while their engine work still remains shoddy to say the least, the quality of the stories being told certainly was not. The Michonne mini-series from early last year reinvigorated interest in that series in a big way and their debut Batman series was so good that it was awarded the 2016 Comic Gamers Assemble Game of the Year. It this momentum keeps up throughout 2017, it could be another stellar year for the busy company. A New Frontier, the real continuation of The Walking Dead, had a strong debut in December of last year and we still don’t know what to expect from their take on Guardians of the Galaxy: will it feature characters solely from the movie, the comics, or both? When will it arrive? With Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 heading to theatres in May 2017, I would expect it to either debut then, finish up, or have the retail Season Pass disc arrive around that time. Given how well Batman was received, I would expect at least a tease of a second season if not the start of one in 2017 as well.
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BATTLE CHASERS: NIGHTWAR
RELEASE DATE: Mid 2017
WHAT IS IT?: A continuation of the Battle Chasers comic book series that was successfully Kickstarted and being developed by ex-members of Vigil who worked on the Darksiders franchise envisioned as a throwback to 16-bit JRPG’s from the SNES era. In 2017 the game picked up a publisher in the form of THQ Nordic.
WHY SHOULD I BE EXCITED?: From the screen shots that have been released throughout 2017, Nightwar looks absolutely stunning and after replaying the original Darksiders in November of last year via the Warmastered rerelease, I remembered exactly how talented the folks who made those games truly are. Since picking up a publisher, the game is also getting a physical retail disc release when it arrives in the middle of this year and as a bonus, backers (like myself) also have a chance to upgrade to that edition.
MARVEL VS. CAPCOM: INFINITE
RELEASE DATE: Fall 2017
WHAT IS IT?: Not counting the Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 upgrade, the fourth entry in Capcom’s Marvel Vs. Capcom series that evolved out of games like X-Men: Children of the Atom and X-Men Vs. Street Fighter.
WHY SHOULD I BE EXCITED?: After Capcom lost the Marvel license and was no longer able to either support or sell any of their Vs. Series game they released, many thought they would never see another MvC game…that was until PSX came this year and Capcom made the fourth entry in the series known, losing the four and gaining the sub-title Infinite. The game appears to be going back to the simpler days of the first entry in the series with an emphasis on 2v2 battles instead of the 3v3 brawls that were introduced in the second game and carried over into part three. The Infinity gems, not seen since Marvel Super Heroes, are also making a return as power-ups as well. Right now only six fighters have been revealed, three from each camp, but like many, I’m excited to see who Capcom will announce as playable up until the game’s official release late this year. Xbox One owners in the meantime can also look forward to Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 coming to that console in March.
RELEASE DATE: TBD
WHAT IS IT?: An exclusive Spider-Man game for the PS4 being developed by famed developer Insomniac Games and published by Sony.
WHY SHOULD I BE EXCITED?: If the last sentence didn’t already answer that question for you, you perhaps should check your pulse to see if you’re still alive. After feeling like he was being held hostage by Activision, Spider-Man is in the hands of someone who could finally make what could easily be the best game to star the character to date and a challenger to Batman’s throne in terms of marrying talent with a super hero. After the reveal at E3 last year, there hasn’t been any news regarding Spider-Man and we don’t know if it will even arrive in 2017, which is something I at least wouldn’t mind. After a string of games clearly rushed to market, this game should take as long as it needs to come to market. At the very least if we don’t actually get to play Spider-Man this year, expect to find out more about the project throughout the year.
WB GAMES MONTREAL’S DC COMICS GAME
RELEASE DATE: TBD
WHAT IS IT?: As of this writing, no one really actually knows anything.
WHY SHOULD I BE EXCITED?: In the preview for the year 2016, it was expected that we would hear about not one, but two DC Comics projects from Batman: Arkham Origins developer WB Games Montreal. 2016 came and went, and not only did we not play anything new from the studio, nothing was formally announced either. It was rumoured mid-last year that the two games being worked on by the studio were a game based on the Suicide Squad property, as well as a Batman game wherein the Dark Knight’s son, Damien, would be the one under the cowl. Nothing was heard about either game, that was until last month when the rumour mill once again began circulating that the higher-ups at WB Games were not happy about the progress being made on the Suicide Squad game, and all resources were being shifted to the Batman project which again, was never revealed in any capacity to be real.
WB Games Montreal didn’t get a lot of credit for their work on Batman: Arkham Origins and since that game released over three years ago, the only thing anyone has played of theirs has been a short Batgirl DLC campaign for Batman: Arkham Knight. Whatever the studio is working on, I wish them all the best and hope to hear from them as soon as possible.