Exclusive Disney Infinity Wave 1 Hands-On

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Wave 1 Disney Infinity CharactersWave 1 Disney Infinity Characters

Wave 1 Disney Infinity Characters

Having pawed through the footage and notes I took at the Disney Infinity event, here’s a detailed look at the play-sets, figures and upgrade tokens. All worth understanding if you want to be ready for Wave 1 of the game when it arrives on June 28th.

Play-sets are a big element of Disney Infinity: they provide access to the different campaign games that typical take around six hours to play. The Starter Pack comes with three: one for Monsters University, one for The Incredibles, and one for Pirates of the Caribbean. At the event I was able to have hands on with each of these, so I’ll work through them in turn below before getting on to talk about figure upgrades and special powers.

Perhaps the biggest surprise here is that each play-set only supports the characters from their particular franchise. You can’t take Sully into the world of The Incredibles or Captain Jack into Monsters University. Each of the play-set stories is designed to function with a particular set of characters. The Toy Box mode, that I’ll cover in depth in another post, is where you can bring the different franchises together and make your own game experiences with them.

I was generally impressed, though, at the variety of each play-set. These really are very different games, rather than cookie cutter experiences dressed for a particular franchise. Both the style of play and the functionality available to the player varies a lot and really substantiates Disney Infinity‘s claim that this is a platform for games rather than a new game franchise.

Pirates of the Caribbean Play-Set

As you can see with my play-through, the first level of this takes place both on land and at sea. Unique to this play-set is the ability to customize and sail your ship on a programmatically generated sea — not unlike Assassin’s Creed III, in fact — only here (as with all of Disney Infinity) you can do it in four player co-operative play online and two-player split screen locally.

There is plenty of pirate action in addition to the sailing and sea-fare. You explore locations, go on fetch quests, and generally make your living doing piratey kinds of things. It was interesting to hear that the inspiration for the game came not only from the movies themselves but also from the theme-park rides that share their theme.

The Pirates play-set will feature the following characters:

Monsters University Play-Set

This is a very different play-set. What stands out first is that there is very little fighting or shooting — none, in fact. Despite its “scare” game-play mechanic I think that younger players will enjoy this the most. The game is played in two open world campuses: Monsters University and Fear Tech and revolves around pranks and platforming rather than the combat and fighting of the other sets.

As you can see in my interview, this does mean that the upgrade coins have less impact in this environment although some of them can still be used to gain extra money for completing levels.

This set will initially include the following characters:

  • James P. Sullivan (Included in Starter Pack)
  • Mike Wazowski

The Incredibles Play-Set

This offers the highest impact game-play out of the three sets in the starter pack. Characters platform and battle their way through different environments to defeat Syndrome’s enemies. Interestingly it seems that we will also get to play as Syndrome, as he is a character slated for wave 1 release.

As they progress players can build and expand their island complex with buildings and technology. This play set is reported to have the following characters coming out for it:

  • Mr. Incredible (Included in Starter Pack)
  • Elastigirl
  • Dash
  • Violet
  • Syndrome

Upgrade Coins and Tokens

Perhaps the biggest difference between Disney Infinity and Skylanders is the way the two games handle upgrades. While Skylanders progresses toy characters like a traditional role-playing game — you earn money/experience that results in permanent upgrades and new attacks – Disney Infinity has a swap-in / swap-out upgrade scheme based around upgrade coins. They also have hexagonal coins that unlock particular objects in the Play Box mode. Both upgrades and objects are themed around a particular Disney character.

These coins, one of which comes with the starter pack, can be purchases in blind packs (sealed and unseen before purchase) for $4.99 for two. The logic of this is clearly to leverage the collectable success of stickers/trading-cards/LEGO-minifigs. It also opens the door to put these (what I imagine are inexpensive to manufacture) items in cereal boxes and crisp packets — as John Blackburn gave a wry smile to.

For gamers this is something of a risk though. Unlike buying toy figures that have an intrinsic “play” value, to unlock content already on the disc these tokens simply act as keys to access power-ups, upgrades and multipliers and don’t offer as much interest away from the game. I think Disney will have to tread carefully at retail if this isn’t going to push the value balance in the wrong direction for parents. Seeing plastic discs on eBay for hundreds of dollars would certainly ring more alarm bells for me than seeing collectable figures for the same price.

Having spoken about Disney Infinity with John Blackburn before the event I was interested to follow up on their retail and pricing strategy right after the presentation. He explained how it would be rolled out…

Disney Infinity Wave 1 will provide 40 items: 17 interactive figures, 3 play-set pieces (I assume that this is the initial three I have discussed above rather than new ones), and 20 power discs. Subsequent waves will add not only new characters but also “Play Sets” from different franchises and new tokens.

Other play-sets rumored for future release are Toy Story with Sheriff Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and Jessie; The Nightmare Before Christmas with Jack Skellington; Phineas and Ferb with Agent P; Tangled with Rapunzel; and Cars‘ Radiator Springs with Tow Mater, Francesco Bernoulli, Lightning McQueen and Holly Shiftwell.

With the figures and starter box already being listed in the UK they are likely to appear on Amazon.com any day now. I’m using the following links to track them as I imagine getting in early will be the way to ensure you get the figures you want. Now I just need to get the kids to decide — easier said than done.

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Pirates of the Caribbean Figures:

The Incredibles Figures:

Monsters University Figures:

 

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