The widely popular grizzled comic book superhero and a constant centerpiece in the X-Men universe is making his return to the video game landscape in Marvel’s Wolverine; here’s what you can expect from the upcoming PS5 exclusive.
The project is to be led by reputed development studio Insomniac Games which has recently gained much-deserved attention and praise for its successful releases, namely; Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart (2021), Spider-Man (2018), and Spider-Man: Miles Morales (2020); all of which have been key to the ongoing growth of the current new generation of video games.
Not his first rodeo as a playable character, Wolverine has previously been featured in several ensemble titles, most notably the critically acclaimed mobile card game Marvel Snap (2022), and the franchise crossover Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (2011). As for his solo appearances, one notable release was X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), an adaptation of the movie of the same title.
These were all successful projects in their own right, but more than a decade since his last solo game, we’ve yet to experience the titular character treated with the latest advancements in video game technology. But with the project led by Insomniac Games, especially considering their portfolio, one can’t help but be excited for the modern interpretation of the beloved comic book hero.
Recently, industry insiders RinoTheBouncer and Jeff Grubb took to Twitter to share their predictions on the upcoming title.
Wolverine #PS5 🚀
✅Aiming for M for Mature rating/tone
✅Semi-open linear, similar in design to God Of War
✅Combat features dismemberment
✅Brian Horton (Creative Director) and Cameron Christian (Game Director
✅Respects the DNA of what makes Wolverine popular, with… pic.twitter.com/Xt4ncPlF9A
— Rino (@RinoTheBouncer) March 28, 2023
A Faithful Reimagination
Wolverine is known for his seriousness and brutality. Sure a couple of jokes and lighthearted moments are present here and there – just take a look at every X-Men movie released – generally he is a conflicted hero burdened by his immortality, his bloodied past, and his tendency as a cold-blooded killer. It wouldn’t make sense to have him deliver quips and taunts in the middle of combat just as you would with other heroes; a mature rating and tone suit him best.
Insomniac Games has done so with Spider-Man, albeit on the opposite side of the spectrum, masterfully showcasing his humorous side. Asserting their vision for a faithful reimagination that does not disappoint, Ryan Schneider, head of franchise strategy for the studio shares, “In the vein of our Spider-Man games, our goal here is to not only respect the DNA of what makes the character so popular, but also look for opportunities to make it feel fresh and truly reflect the Insomniac spirit.” Moreover, the project was also announced to be a solo title removed from the Spider-Man universe, undoubtedly allowing it the freedom to be its own thing.
Aside from speculation from various sources and a cinematic trailer from a PlayStation Showcase back in 2021, we don’t concretely know anything about how the game will play out. But as RinoTheBouncer, citing Jeff Grubb, shares, it will likely feature dismemberment—after all, we’ve all seen Wolverine hack and slash his way through hordes of enemies, brutally eliminating them in every way imaginable.
That being said, if I had to predict what the gameplay would be like, I would guess that it would be somewhat similar to that of the God of War franchise. A farther camera angle worked for the Spider-Man games to provide players with a complete grasp of whatever situation they found themselves in to make full use of his powers. But for a hero popular for his indulgence in close-quarters combat, a tighter angle would be perfect for a better sense of immersion.
Semi-Open-World Linear Design
To differentiate the two, an open-world style game puts players into a massive sprawling area that they are allowed to freely explore at their discretion. Its very nature allows players an unlimited number of options concerning how they would approach a particular challenge. An example is Horizon: Forbidden West, or the Spider-Man Games.
A linear design, on the other hand, does not offer many avenues for exploration, instead opting to place players in straightforward environments that they have to clear one by one. In simpler terms, you have to go from point A to point B to finish one area and to be able to go to the next one. An example of this is The Last of Us by Naughty Dog.
A semi-open-world linear design takes the best of both worlds to provide a liberating yet straight-to-the-point experience. With this kind of approach, players are free to explore several areas that are much smaller in scope in comparison to purely open-world games. Yet, in terms of design, these are planned to follow dedicated pathways and routes directing you to where you want to go. The key to identifying if a game is one or another is by looking at its map.
(Left) The map for an area in God of War Ragnarok is expansive and free for exploration, but it deliberately uses smaller and straightforward pathways to lead players to their destinations. (Right) The map for Spider-Man, on the other hand, is essentially a birds-eye view of New York. How you go to any destination and how you do so is entirely up to you. | Polygon
It’s a welcomed breath of fresh air, especially in an industry where open-world games have become so prevalent, and has even led to somewhat of a burnout with numerous players being unable to finish certain titles. Both Hogwarts Legacy and Horizon: Forbidden West are noted to have completion rates below 30% (meaning less than a third of their player base has yet to finish the games).
Projected Fall 2024 launch
Marvel’s Wolverine is set to be released Fall of 2024. But as it is in the video game industry, with release dates pushed, delayed, or even canceled left and right, nothing is ever final. Games Radar notes that in an episode of Game Mess Mornings, insider Jeff Grubb shared that he “heard internally they’re still very much talking about 2025.”
Header image courtesy of Insomniac Games