Square Enix is no stranger to big-name games with titles like Marvel’s Avengers and the Final Fantasy franchise under its belt. When they previewed gameplay footage of Guardians of the Galaxy at E3 2021, I was sold—this was going to be my next big game. After sitting down for a few hours testing it out for myself, I was absolutely right.
Last week I was given the opportunity to play the game, hands-on. The preview started part way through the game, so I’d see a well-rounded overview and not just the beginning tutorial. I had a full team already, was able to spend some ability points between them, and even had a few alternative outfits to check out.
Starting out on the Guardian’s ship, the Milano, I realized just how in-depth this game was going to be. I managed to spend at least the first 30 minutes exploring the ship and talking to my companions. Obviously, Rocket is my favourite, he is a little firecracker and the voice acting by Nolan North (Uncharted) is excellent. Each character has a room to explore and throughout the game you’ll be able to interact with items, prompting conversations with your teammates, developing your relationships.
If you’re looking for something to compare to, think Mass Effect, I find the two games have a lot of similarities. From the dialogue with Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot, to the way your interactions affect how they feel about you, every choice you make has an effect on some aspect of the game. Even the way you control your team in combat, using different member’s abilities to your advantage mid-battle, struck me as familiar.
“If you’re looking for something to compare to, think Mass Effect…”
During the chapter I played, I found there was almost too much dialogue. You can absolutely skip through the conversations, but for my first playthrough, I didn’t want to miss anything. In the future, I can absolutely see myself clicking through the chats though, it can easily eat up all your time. I’m just thankful there is an option to speed it up.
Star Lord moves similarly to your character in Red Dead Redemption or The Witcher. This always frustrated me personally, as the shift from standing still, to walking, to running, to stopping always feels a little wonky. It’s a small complaint that won’t bother most people, but it took a bit of getting used to on my end, so it’s worth mentioning. I ran into a lot of walls.
One thing I want to make clear is that Guardians of the Galaxy is not going to be a walk in the park. The preview started on normal difficulty, and learning the controls on the fly had me getting pummelled. I knocked the difficulty down to easy just for the sake of completing the chapter, but even then, the game wasn’t simple. I realized I couldn’t just ignore my team and pew-pew my way to victory. Each member plays a role and has valuable skills that will help you succeed, and I suggest you use them.
Something Guardian’s brought to combat is the team huddle. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. In battle, once a bar on the right is charged up, you’ll be able to trigger the huddle. Star Lord holds his iconic cassette player in the air and the team groups up, talking about how they feel about the fight. You, as Star Lord, take what they say into consideration and respond with a motivational speech of sorts.
“One thing I want to make clear is that Guardians of the Galaxy is not going to be a walk in the park.”
If you respond correctly, your team will receive a power up for the rest of the fight. Everyone is covered in purple lightning, Star Lord’s tunes are blaring, and the team is stronger than ever. I have to say, the huddle itself is a little cheesy, but I really enjoy the concept behind it. Even in combat, you’re playing a role and making choices that affect the outcome of the fight and the game. You can also “fail” the huddle and receive no bonus at all.
Square Enix made sure that Guardians of the Galaxy was full of options in the story and game play. As an action-adventure game, you will make choices through dialogue that can affect the game, but Square also made sure there were ways to tweak the gameplay in your favour. I mentioned the difficulty levels, but there are also options, like always succeeding in the huddle, to make your playthrough a little more relaxing. On the other hand, you can ramp things up and make it a real challenge if that’s your style of play.
It looks like there is plenty of room to grow in the game, with abilities to purchase for each character and a plethora of outfits to collect. These are things that I find always give a game some replay value, or something to keep you playing after you complete the story. Completionists will have plenty to do.
My initial impressions at E3 were absolutely right—this is my next big game. I’m hoping that the complete version of Guardians of the Galaxy is the action-adventure game I’ve been waiting for, and so far, it doesn’t disappoint. I can’t wait to sink my time into the full experience.
Guardians of the Galaxy will be released on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and Steam on October 26, 2021, with pre-orders available now.