We've previously previewed Skylanders Imaginators after having its basic theme and gameplay demoed to us at an event in London prior to E3 2016, but during the US expo itself we found out so much more.
It injects some role-play character creativity to add another layer of strategy to its action adventure gameplay, something we saw before. However, we've now found out that it also includes Crash Bandicoot as fully playable guest star this year.
At E3, Activision completed the reveal of this year’s Skylanders game. To be totally accurate it’s actually 2016’s second game after the launch of card-battling mobile title Battlecast last month.
The novelty is creating your own character. Perhaps taking inspiration from the success of Skylanders Swap Force’s character mix-up feature, but Imaginators takes this to a whole other level.
Starting with a blank or randomly generated slate players can customise almost every aspect of their character; arms, legs, torsos, heads and tails all combine to make characters as varied as player’s imaginations.
Skylanders Imaginators: Building your Skylander
Once the basics are plugged together, you can then set the colour and size any of the parts - or the character as a whole. There is a lot of work being done here under the hood to obscure just how complicated a process it is. Happily, children can simply plug together any combinations and let the game figure out how the physics work when they run around the levels.
As ever, we have new Skylanders characters this year again. Unlike previous years though, these are entirely unseen - the Senseis. They work with the created character to unlock new abilities and parts through the levels.
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There are 20 Senseis to collect, spanning 10 different types. If you want to unlock all the special parts it seems you will likely need one in each of the 10 categories.
Skylanders Imaginators: Here's Crash Bandicoot
Classic Sony platform gamer hero Crash Bandicoot was revealed as the new element for E3, as an in-game a guest star. The character is not only included in the game but also as a figurine. Both on screen and in the hand this will be a must have for any retro gaming fan.
In an interesting twist that, unlike last year’s Amiibo characters that only worked on Nintendo, Crash is playable on Xbox and Wii U as well as PlayStation consoles - especially as he's always been a Sony exclusive previously. Initially, it seems he will only be available in the PlayStation starter packs though.
Parents should remember that the game can be completed with the Starter Pack on its own and that any of the existing 300 or so toys are supported. In fact, a great way to save money this year will be picking up some of the classic Skylanders second-hand or discounted. The only items not supported this year are the plastic Traps from 2014.
Fans of Skylanders fiction will be excited to get their hands on toys for 11 different villains this year. These characters reprise their roles, but in the hands of the player rather than fighting against them for a change. Placing the toy on the portal lets you play as them in the game.
Skylanders Imaginators: Graphics
The game itself looks similar to previous years' although with an added shine to visuals and pop to the audio. The PlayStation 4 version demonstrated at E3 really did look impressive.
The main challenge here is to ensure the game doesn’t become overly complex. Unlocking hundreds of parts as you play through the adventure will multiply the character creation options exponentially. Add to this the ability to apply special abilities in a custom upgrade tree and it starts to sound pretty involved.
This may be no bad thing for most players, apart from the youngest who might find it a little to much. There is a little more complexity here which serves to age-up the game slightly and makes it more inviting to fans of role play experiences.
As is the way with toys to life games, Skylanders likes to keep us guessing. No doubt more will be revealed through the year - most likely at Gamescom in Cologne in August. We’ll report back as soon as there’s more.