Where previous Disney Infinity expansions have worked within the rules and tools of the core game, the new Marvel Battlegrounds set breaks those rules, creating a Power Stone-esque competitive brawler that's almost worthy of a standalone release. Instead of working with the movesets the Disney Infinity team has established for its Marvel Comics characters over the past two instalments of the series, all 28 heroes and villains have been given brand new moves unique to Battlegrounds. New blocks, throws, combos and super moves make even characters players have spent hours with feel fresh and new.
In battle players run freely about various interactive stages, fighting against up to three opponents at a time. The Infinity folks like to mention Capcom's Power Stone, and the inspiration taken from that classic is clear.
Familiar capsules filled with green health and purple super power appear randomly on the field as a fight progresses. Marvel Power Discs (from both Infinity 2.0 and 3.0) will spawn as well. Each houses special team-up powers, and must be held for a short period before being activated, giving other players a chance to knock it away. Once the gauge is full, the Disc can be activated, unleashing powerful and often visually stunning effects. The Ant-Man Power Disc causes a giant-sized foot to crash down on the battlefield. The Darkhawk Power Disc shoots some sort of beam no one cares about because Darkhawk.
Check out the training session below to see how it all comes together.
The Battlegrounds playset includes a short but entertaining story mode. Someone's stealing Vibranium, because the Black Panther figure is coming out, and the player must travel across five different stages before facing a movie-verse appropriate final boss.
Story mode takes around a half hour to complete, with optional challenges expanding solo play time. Each chapter awards experience points, but since characters don't need to gain experience in Battlegrounds it's stored in a bank to be applied to any Marvel figure the player owns, to be used to level up abilities in Disney Infinity 3.0 proper.
The real meat of the Battlegrounds set is the four-player versus mode. It's kind of inspired how the Infinity team put it all together.
Since the physical portal that allows players to activate their figures in-game only has two spots, Battlegrounds uses the figures as one-time unlocks. Place Steve Rogers on the portal once, and he's available for play in the game mode forever. Folks who don't have all of the characters can share with their friends to unlock the whole set (or just frantically buy them all).
Even better, there's a weekly rotation of free trial characters — you don't need to own Nova to play Nova this week — plus playing the game awards tokens that can be used to select any other locked character from the selection screen. As my children have either misplaced or eaten most of my Marvel Infinity collection, these features are a lifesaver.
As for the actual battles, they're crazy fun. Four super-powered friends causing havoc in giant interactive arenas. If you can get three friends together around your television set for this I'd strongly recommend doing so, as you can't punch AI players in the arm for kicking your butt.
A staggering amount of work went into creating the Marvel Battlegrounds Pack for Disney Infinity 3.0. They built a new combat system, gave every Marvel character in the game new movesets, recorded fresh voice over and built eight exciting fighting stages. All of that for a game within a game.
Earlier this month Disney announced they wouldn't release a new Disney Infinity game this year, instead focusing on building new experiences within the Disney Infinity 3.0 engine. If Marvel Battlegrounds is any indication, they made the right call.
The Marvel Battlegrounds playset for Disney Infinity 3.0 will be released March 24, alongside new Ant-Man, Black Panther and Vision figures. The $35 set comes with the playset piece and a Steve Roger figure (which incidentally has a different moveset than the previously-released Captain America).