Unless you’ve been living under a rock—and really, even then—you know that Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” took the film world by cosmic storm this past weekend; and Star-Lord’s band of plucky misfits don’t plan to stop there.
Also late last week, “Marvel: Avengers Alliance” debuted its latest Spec Op, featuring those same Guardians of the Galaxy, led by new-to-the-game Peter Quill. Big screen baddies Ronan and Nebula have touched down on Earth, along with the returning Black Order of INFINITY infamy, with all on the hunt for Thane, bringing together several story threads and necessitating the Alliance to rely on these ringers from the stars.
“Avengers Alliance” Producer Justin Woods spoke to us about the new heroes and villains, breaking this story, synergy with Marvel’s cinematic releases and much more.
Marvel.com: To start, can you provide a brief overview of this new Spec Op?
Justin Woods: Spec Op 20 is introducing the Guardians of the Galaxy into the world of “Avengers Alliance.” You’ve got your five core Guardians there, the same characters that are in the movie: Drax, Gamora, Groot, Rocket, and Star-Lord. Star-Lord is the reward hero for the Spec Op and the [story] centers around Ronan and his relationship with Thanos and some familiar faces that we’ve seen working for Thanos in the past as well as Nebula; we get to establish the cosmic presence in the “Avengers Alliance” world.
Marvel.com: With the last few movie tie-in Spec Ops for “Iron Man 3,” “Thor: The Dark World,” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” they tended to focus heavily on characters featured in the films, but here you’ve not only got the Black Order, but the Circle of Eight and other “Alliance” stalwarts…
Justin Woods: It really is a brand new story. It’s inspired by the characters and the relationships in the movie but it’s really its own standalone experience. That’s something that we got as feedback from our fans is that they really want to play these Spec Ops that have movie relationships right away and they’re always worried that it’s going to spoil the story of the film and we don’t want to do that because we’re not big fans of spoilers, so we build our own thing with familiar characters and that’s really the heart of it. [“Avengers Alliance” writer] Alex [Irvine] writes a great script and he’s really great at writing really funny dialogue. So I think you’ll find that this is a really engaging experience that’s true to the relationships and the characters and how they’re established in the film but it’s unique.
Marvel.com: Star-Lord is the reward character, like you said. What does he bring to the table? I played a team-up with him yesterday and he has a lot of different options as far weapons and stuff like that. And also, I would say, you were talking about the dialogue and I think Alex is doing some of his best dialogue with Star-Lord.
Justin Woods: We think Chris Pratt is obviously extremely charismatic. From the very initial trailer that came out for the film, it’s very obvious that he glues [the movie] together. So story wise, we made sure that he still felt like the leader, he still felt like the glue, but he’s funny, he’s engaging, he talks a lot, and he’s never really afraid to put himself out there. That’s very true to his character in the film. As far as his abilities are concerned, I think the one thing that people are really gonna notice about him and really latch on to is that he’s got his classic element gun from the comics, and that’s one of those multi-function abilities that we have on some of our other characters where when you click the ability, you have multiple options as to how you want to use that. So he really has more than for abilities, he has like eight, and that allows his element gun to fire different types of things; everything from an electrical blast to a rock.
Marvel.com: Ronan’s a villain here, Nebula’s a villain here, they’re both new and you’re also bringing the Black Order in. Bring me back up to speed: are we able to face new Black Order members that were not actual villains that you could fight before?
Justin Woods: Yeah. So, previously we had only teased the existence of Black Dwarf and Supergiant as characters that exist in our world. They appeared as dialogue. And since then, we haven’t actually seen them. And now, you’re getting to fight against Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive again but we’ve also got the introduction of Supergiant and Black Dwarf as villains that you face alongside Ronan and Nebula. So tying it really heavily back into storylines and threads that we already had going on in “Avengers Alliance” but again, bringing in that movie presence. I think it’s a really great synergy. I think it’s one of the best, if not the best movie-related experiences that we’ve built because it ties so heavily back into things we already had going.
Marvel.com: With Ronan and Nebula, those are comic book characters that have been around for years. It’s not like when you did Savin for “Iron Man 3” who was mostly a movie character. How did you kind of balance what version you wanted to use? Because I feel like Avengers Alliance is its own thing; it’s not the comics and it’s not the movie. It’s its own distinct universe.
Justin Woods: Yeah, it’s interesting. Often times we have to look at if we’re going to do a more modern take on the character as opposed to a more classic take. And anyone who’s played “Avengers Alliance” for any amount of time realizes that we’ve done about half and half of both. And so when we look at Ronan and we look at who he is in the comics: a very conflicted character, finds himself at odds with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes but also on their side as an ally and the film version of him is, without giving away too much, very different than that. And so as to kind of be more familiar to the movie going crowd who might not know who Ronan is and may not have a very established understanding of what he was like in the comics, we went a little bit more towards his film version with little hints that he had some of that greater good mentality inside of him.
Marvel.com: Something else I noticed playing it last night, something that seems to be happening more now is the mid-fight dialogue where the villain, if you’re getting close to defeating them, they’ll launch a little barb. Is that something we’re going to see consistently now?
Justin Woods: Yeah, that’s a little feature that launched back in Chapter Five that has been utilized very minimally up to this point and yes, I think you’re going to see a lot more of that. The mid-combat dialogues are really engaging and they really pull the story back into the combats; now we can integrate them together as one and story is of the utmost importance in this game and in anything we do. So I think you’re going to see a lot more of that in the future.
Marvel.com: “Avengers Alliance” is set on Earth and you have a lot of different locations going all over the planet but it’s still anchored to Earth. Is it a challenge to tell a story set in New York with the Guardians of the Galaxy fighting Ronan and the Black Order?
Justin Woods: It is and to be honest, that’s more of a production challenge where making new worlds is extremely difficult and very time consuming and we know very well that our fans would much rather that we spend that time and energy on new characters and new experiences for them so we have to find that balance and then dig into the story and Alex does a really good job utilizing New York and finding new ways to destroy [the city]. So I commend him for that. We have Wakanda, San Francisco, and London, so we have some different locations and we have another location or two coming down the road as well, but space is an interesting thing because so many of the space heroes have, for one reason or another, found themselves on Earth in the past and that’s kind of why we know about them, right?
Marvel.com: You guys are going to have to, with the rolling destruction, bring in Damage Control at some point.
Justin Woods: I’m wondering how New York is still standing at this point. We need to maybe build some destroyed New York maps or something like that.
Marvel.com: Or at least partially destroyed.
Before we get off of Spec Op 20, in terms of tech, in terms of the new weapons that we can earn and now purchase in store, in terms of the new gear and supplies that are available, what’s new?
Justin Woods: Spec Op 20 has got new weapons based on space and space themes and character themes around Ronan and Nebula. So a lot of new characters and since space is sort of an unexplored territory, a lot of new themes and very alien sort of feeling gear that is not something we’ve done before so it’s pretty unique in that sense.
Marvel.com: Finally, the Guardians of the Galaxy cinematic uniforms are going to be coming out periodically. How are they rolling out?
Justin Woods: Each of the new Guardians costumes is going to be rolling out as a set of tasks built around our covert operations system. And so one at a time we will release them, release the covert operation, and then at the end of the covert operation, you have an opportunity to get that costume. The very first release is going to be Drax and people are going to be wondering how they have an opportunity to get that costume if they don’t own Drax already because he is not available for sale right now. I don’t want to tip my hand quite yet on that, but we have that figured out so don’t worry about that if you’re in that situation. If you don’t have Drax you’ll still have an opportunity to get that costume.
Marvel.com: Do you want to say anything about these costumes, the abilities they offer?
Justin Woods: Some of the abilities and stuff is still in testing so it’s not quite finalized but I will say that every one of these costumes is a really cool alternative to the existing costumes that are comic based in the game.
We did not forget about comic Star-Lord, he will be coming somewhere down the line and we’re really excited about the costumes.
Join “Marvel: Avengers Alliance” and play the Guardians of the Galaxy Spec Op today!