Transformers: Forged to Fight is the upcoming mobile fighter from Kabam studios (you might know them from a little game called Marvel: Contest of Champions). In it, you’ll assemble a team of Transformers from disparate iterations of the brand to pit against your opponent. I got to sit down with Cuz Parry, Kabam Creative Director, to talk about the upcoming title.
After creating a game for Marvel so popular that the publisher built an entire comic around it to retcon it into Earth 616, Parry was thrilled to get tapped to work on one of his favorite properties. “There’s the big three, you know? We’d already done Marvel. So there was just Transformers and Star Wars. And when Hasbro gave us access to everything, more than anyone else has had, it was like…” Cuz paused, still a little dumbfounded at what they were able to play with “…they were just great to work with.” Not only did Hasbro give Kabam access to characters from the cartoons and movies, but also the current IDW comics and toy lines.
So what did Kabam get to do with this unprecedented access to the entire Transformers multiverse? While a fighting game might be pretty much the perfect Transformers vehicle (eh?), as they did with Contest of Champions, they created a narrative to explain what our favorite bots are battling for and why the rosters are…diverse. It’s not just Autobots vs. Decepticons this time!
Cuz explains, “Hasbro gave us special permission to have Autobots and Decepticons on the same team. We had to give them a good reason, create a cohesive story that made sense.”
Which begs the question, if you have ‘Bots and ‘Cons from G1, Bayformers, comics, and toy lines…how is that going to look when you pull it all together? Thankfully, Cuz and his team created an art style that successfully straddles the line between the over-simplified line art style of the ’80s, the “metal origami” of the modern Transformers films, and everything in-between.
I had my doubts (being a die-hard G1 and comic fan); but watching the gameplay video, it really does look like everyone belongs together in the game. Hasbro even let Kabam tweak the size of the bots so that matchups like Comics Arcee vs. Movie Bonecrusher don’t have the later opponent towering over the former (since, canonically, they’re nowhere near the same size). That only goes so far, though, as for now Parry says there’s no plan to bring Titans or Combiners into the game.
But all the pretty art in the world doesn’t matter if the game isn’t engaging. And that’s hard to do when you’ve got opponents that can snipe at each other from across battlegrounds (such as the Sea of Rust and Tianjin, China). The solution? Make them 3D!
Now, instead of the flat plane you’re used to fighting in, you can side-step oncoming attacks. Of course, not all attacks can be avoided. Appropriately enough, transformation powers will factor heavily into your strategy. Some bots, like G1 Optimus Prime, use their transformation to close the distance and perform brutal melee attacks. Others, like Comics Windblade will lift off and strafe the entire arena. But Contest of Champions fans don’t need to worry, these transformation abilities don’t replace special moves. They’re used in FtF to expand characterization and work in nods to classic bits of Transformers history. Cuz’s favorite move is Movie Bonecrusher’s roller-blading strike. But there’s also more nuanced moves like Mirage’s “invisibility box” from the original cartoon (which turned out to be the hardest move the team had to program)!
There will be a mastery system, where you will be able to evolve and upgrade your characters’ abilities over time (though you won’t be able to tweak their appearance, Hasbro wasn’t that generous). As far as what characters you’ll be seeing?
Everything is on the table.
You’ll, of course, be seeing versions of the same character from different properties, especially if they’re fan-favorites like Bumblebee. But Kabam wasn’t afraid to get obscure to draw in the fans or draw on deep nostalgia. Parry explains: “We have one guy on the team, he’s is his twenties, obviously didn’t grow up on G1. But he was like ‘I remember Beast Wars from when I was a kid. That was cool.’ So if you look at the splash screen at the end of the trailer, you’ll see some familiar silhouettes there.” And he’s right! You can see Rhinox off to the right of the image, along with at least one T-Rex (though I’m pretty sure that’s Grimlock), and what looks like Optimus Primal on the ridge in the background. And, obviously, the starting roster is only the beginning. As with Contest of Champions, additional characters will show up in future updates (be on the lookout for G1 Galvatron to make an appearance, he’s Cuz’s favorite character).
When Forged to Fight launches next year, it’s going to have a tough crowd to impress. Current Marvel: Contest of Champions players will be ready to dive deep into the mechanics of the system, looking for next-gen gameplay. And when Kabam has one of the deepest pop culture mythologies at their disposal, die-hard Transformers fans will be ready to pick apart the story the studio has crafted. Either way, Kabam is ready. Look for my impressions of Transformers: Forged to Fight in the coming months!