Guardians of the Galaxy game sequel rumours: Creators want to "maintain a little air of mystery"
With the Guardians of the Galaxy game up for five BAFTAs, we asked the developers our burning questions.
The Guardians of the Galaxy game seemed to come out of nowhere – it was released in October last year, just four months after it was announced at E3 2021 in June. But so far, there's been no word on a sequel.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, which was developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix, is nominated for five awards at tonight's BAFTA Games Awards 2022 – it's up for Audio Achievement (based on that excellent Guardians of the Galaxy game soundtrack) and Narrative, as well as three acting gongs.
Ahead of the BAFTA Games Awards 2022 ceremony, we spoke to a number of the game's developers. And yes, we did ask them whether there are any ideas for a sequel floating around. First off, though, we spoke about the BAFTAs, and the developers are clearly chuffed to bits to be in contention for these prestigious prizes.
"I've been working in games for 20 years, and you don't start out writing a game hoping for an award," said Senior Narrative Director Mary DeMarle exclusively to RadioTimes.com. "And it's a very challenging thing to make games, and then to be nominated - it's just amazing. And the BAFTAs are the BAFTAs, it's like, 'Wow, this is great.'"
DeMarle and her colleagues worked on the game in secrecy for years before it was officially announced last summer. She told us: "Keeping it silent, for me, wasn't hard necessarily, all that time. Because you're so focused on the work. You're so focused on, 'Let's just get it, let's make it, go.'"
When the partnership with Marvel was established and development began on the game, it didn't take long for the team from Eidos Montreal to settle on the idea of a single-player adventure game where you play as Star-Lord, as opposed to a multiplayer game where you play as the whole team (which would've been more akin to Marvel's Avengers, also from Square Enix).
"After the initial meetings, Marvel was like, 'Do what you want to, tell us what you want,'" DeMarle remembers. Conception began in earnest, and discussions were had among developers about whether "you can play all characters" and "should we play this as a multiplayer game?"
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The team of developers looked at the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, animated TV episodes and comics during this development phase. And DeMarle recalls: "It was the material itself that kind of gave us where we wanted to go. So the more we dove into it, the more we realised what is unique about the Guardians.
"You have these very strong individual characters, who are these misfits, and they're alien, and they're unpredictable, and what would it be like to hang out with them? We just wanted to hang out with these unique strong characters.
"And we realised in that conception of it, we're like, 'Well, to be the so-called leader, and to be the one who's at the centre of it, who has to deal with our unpredictable behaviours, who has to guide them along the way, when you're struggling yourself to figure out what it takes to be a leader.'
"All of that spoke to us and made us realise that, no, we want to keep it centred on the player character, one single player character. You are Star-Lord. And we went back to Marvel with that, and admittedly they themselves were like, 'Are you sure? We weren't thinking you would just do a single player.'
"But when we explained it all, they're like, 'Yes, yes, I think this will work.' So a lot of people were surprised by the choice, but we knew from the beginning it would work and we stuck with it."
The game pushed ahead as a single-player adventure with one fixed ending, but DeMarle and her team factored in a number of choice-based moments in the game, where your decisions can send ripples throughout the relationships between Star-Lord, Drax, Gamora, Groot and Rocket. Did these branching moments in the game make it more difficult to write?
DeMarle says: "For me, I would say it makes it 10 times more challenging, which I love. Choice and consequences is really at the DNA of our core team. You know, we started with the Deus Ex franchise, we always feel it's super important to offer players meaningful choices, and then allow the players to see those consequences play out in the game, because it makes it a more personal experience for the player and it engages you."
The game culminates in a memorable climax when, just as you think the story is finished and the credits are about to roll, you're thrust into one final boss battle. Were the developers worried at all that players would switch off their consoles or computers before that fight, thinking the game was over?
"I can't say we worried about that," DeMarle says. "I think we were worried about getting an ending. I mean, we have a reputation. Endings are hard. Our past games have not always hit the right ending. And my lead writer likes to say we decided to make up for that on this one by just, like, constantly not ending the game, and throwing in more and more."
Considering that there are three major threats to overcome in the game's final act, the writing team put a lot of thought into how those narrative threads should all tie up at the end. As DeMarle puts it: "Ultimately I think the way we ended up doing it, first of all, it does work. The way we ended up lining them [up], and then just embracing the ideas of, 'The game is funny, the game is humorous, let's play with that, let's break expectations and end it with a very unique boss battle that is more of a conversation at times.'"
As the story and gameplay developed, so too did the game's impressive audio component. The game has eight hours of music, including a roster of hit songs from the 1980s, a full orchestral score, and an entire album of tunes attributed to the in-game band named Star-Lord.
There aren't many games that have a whole album of original songs, and when we say that to Senior Audio Director Steve Szczepkowski, he jokes: "Can you share that with the BAFTA judging panel, please?" We promise to fire off an email, before Szczepkowski talks us through the experience of what it was like to put together a rock album for the game.
He told us: "As a musician, you know, this is like, 'Oh, so I'm going to have an opportunity to write and record an album?' Like, what musician never dreamed of that! But when it came to finally doing it, you know, the reality kind of set in and for sure, some songs came together quite easily. And they give you this false impression of your own abilities where you're like, 'Oh well, yes, I can write songs. I'm a songwriter.'
"And then the next song you struggle with for about four months until the Creative Director is knocking on your door, saying, 'We need this song, like, soon.' And that's when you're like, 'I'm not a songwriter, what am I doing?' So there's a lot of moments of confidence and then quickly off the cliff into complete panic."
Anyone who's played the game or listened to that album will tell you that Szczepkowski's work paid off in a big way.
With our interview time nearly running out, we had to ask - with the game having been out for a few months now, and a whole new wave of positivity emerging from its Xbox Game Pass release, has talk started to turn to sequels? Is there a whiteboard of story ideas, heroes and villains they'd like to explore, or maybe even songs they'd like to include in a Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy 2?
DeMarle steps up to answer the question, saying: "Um, on that one, I think we're gonna leave you in suspense. I mean, we surprised everyone by being secret on this one for the longest time. So we're just going to maintain a little air of mystery on that one."
The composer of the game's excellent score, Richard Jacques, chimes in to add: "With Game Pass, though, it's been amazing seeing a whole new generation of players taking it up that hadn't got around to playing it for whatever reason.
"And I think from Steven's and my side, seeing people just all of a sudden listening to the Star-Lord album, listening to the score online, you know – we've seen our numbers jump through the roof since Game Pass has been out. I think the gamers are really enjoying playing it."
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is out now on PC, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Xbox Game Pass.
The BAFTA Games Awards 2022 begin at 7pm on Thursday 7th April, and the ceremony will be live streamed on BAFTA’s Facebook, Twitch and YouTube channels.