GDC 13: Infinite Crisis Gives Comic Fans Yet Another Reason To Be Excited

Fans of DC comics and video games have had no shortage of good news the past few years. Between Arkham City, DC Universe Online, and the upcoming Injustice: Gods Among Us, high quality games featuring DC heroes have been released at a steady pace. Warner Bros. and Turbine seem ready to continue this trend, and in a surprise announcement earlier this week, they unveiled an upcoming multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game titled Infinite Crisis. While the name alone is most likely enough to clue in long time comic readers as to what the game is about, for the non comic savvy, the game will be based on the popular comic storyline of the same name from the mid 2000s. We managed to get our hands on the beta version and Infinite Crisis is already so remarkably entertaining and addictive that it is hard to not recommend it to fans of the genre.

For individuals unfamiliar with MOBAs, they feel somewhat similar to a mix between an RTS and an action game. While an RTS puts you in control of an entire army, Infinite Crisis will put you in charge of one specific member of that army with the end goal of capturing the other team’s base. A major selling point will be that you can control a DC hero or villain of your choice, and playing the game as Batman is infinitely more appealing than controlling generic warrior Thorg Strongarm or whoever you’re stuck with in other MOBA titles. The rest of your team will be rounded out by player controlled allies and various, weaker A.I. controlled grunts, and the opposing forces will be made up similarly. This is a more focused approach to the genre, but no less strategic than an RTS. Without your guidance (and the guidance of whoever else in on your team), the A.I. will basically fight to a stalemate so it falls to you to change the tide of battle.

hendrix_poison_ivy_action_098

The focus of the plot is on the titular Infinite Crisis, the tragic end result of the inability of comic book writers to stop writing about alternate dimensions. An infinite amount of other universes exist, and each one contains an alternate version of the world we live in. While all the universes had been content to mind their own business and leave the others alone, some event finally brings them all together. The sudden and unexpected merging leads to some pretty dire and catastrophic consequences, and the very not dire but incredibly awesome consequence of uniting a variety of heroes and villains from each of the universes. Each universe will have its protectors culled from their superhero and villain populace, forcing previous foes to set aside their differences. Batman can’t just go back to fighting the Joker, at least not until this whole cataclysm mess is sorted out, so instead heroes and villains must band together to form a team that fights…other heroes and villains. How exactly this will restore the universe is not particularly well explained, as punching people in the face is typically not a good strategy to repair anything. Still, it manages to gather all the big names in the DC universe under one tent, which is all the plot was meant to do anyway.

There are currently twelve different confirmed characters for the game, and all the big names like Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Green Lantern are already slated for an appearance. However, the actual amount of playable characters is much larger than this as each of the iconic characters in the DC stable will also have elseworld variants that you can play as. So, while you have normal, vanilla Batman, you also have alternate versions of the same character that are unique to the world they inhabited. Nightmare Batman is a vampire that snapped after he brutally murdered the Joker and gorged on his blood (no, seriously, that’s what it says) while Gaslight Batman comes from a steampunk inspired type universe and relies heavily on his sonic weaponry. There are currently six confirmed worlds within the game, each with vastly unique spins on the heroes and villains that inhabit it. What is most interesting about this setup is that each variants is not just a simple re-skin of the original character. It wouldn’t make sense for vampire Batman to behave or control in the same way as normal, non-blood drinking Batman, and the developers have taken this into account. Each variant really represents a unique character, with their own back story, power set, and skills that are completely different from the same character from other universes. Purists of course can stick to the vanilla form of their favorite character, while others might appreciate the diversity the game provides in giving you new ways to looks at classic characters. Additionally, so far the game also has six confirmed classes that each of the characters fall into, with classes having their own unique advantages and play styles.

hendrix_nightmare_batman_closeup_22

The fact that the universes are crashing together will have more of an impact in the game than on just the story. As the developers describe it, catastrophic events can occur throughout the course of the game, altering the way you play. For example, a meteor can smash into the map you’re playing on and alter it for the duration of the match, giving you different opportunities to take advantage of that weren’t there before the map changed. The map is meant to be an integral part of gameplay, and not just in terms of strategy as is often the case in MOBA titles. Many portions of the map are meant to be interactive and respond to character specific skills. A character with super strength will be able to pick up a car, knock down a telephone light, tackle some poor sap through a gas station, and cause other sorts of property damage that can be used to inflict pain upon the other team. The maps themselves are highly destructible, and knocking down certain walls or buildings might open up a new line of attack or allow you to flank an enemy unit.

Currently, the developers are in the process of making three separate maps, each of them with enough unique facets of gameplay to make them feel like their own game. While the modes they’ve unveiled so far do not seem to deviate too much from the established formula for MOBA games, they are very accessible and easy to pick up in just a couple moments for even novices of the genre. However, the executive producer for Infinite Crisis revealed to us that they are working on a very hush-hush third game mode that is specifically built around the highly destructive environment of the game. They would not reveal anything beyond that so at this point we are left guessing as to specifics. Perhaps you will need to destroy certain aspects of the map while protecting others, or maybe the game will force you to avoid getting fined for property damage because you knocked down too many old ladies’ mailboxes.

hendrix_zatanna_action_082

The full version of the game is due out this fall, but if you are eager to jump in, you most likely won’t have to wait nearly that long. You can actually sign up to apply for beta access RIGHT NOW OH GOD WHY ARE YOU STILL READING THIS. It appears that the first wave of applications has already been processed, but Turbine is promising that the beta testing will occur in waves, so there is no need to give up hope yet. The amount of applicants accepted will increase after each wave, so your odds increase each time they go through another wave of beta testing. Perhaps the best news about this whole thing is that Infinite Crisis will be entirely free to play, so you really have no reason to not give this game a shot if you have even the slightest interest in it. Microtransactions are likely to be involved in some way, but again Turbine was not willing to get into the specifics of that quite yet. Still, fans of comics, MOBAs, or free stuff have a lot to look forward to this fall, as Infinite Crisis is remarkably impressive and addictive in the early stages of its launch and has a price point that is really hard to beat.