Skylanders Trap Team is fully unwrapped at
E3 with new Trap Master characters, details on multiplayer and how
the new trapable villains work.
The pressure is on this year for
Skylanders to respond to competition from Disney Infinity,
which is attacking the former’s profits and shifted more units in
2013. Trap Team is Activision’s answer, and turns
attention not only on this year’s new characters but new technology
in the portal that leverages titular Trap toys to capture villains
in the game and then play as them.
The new Portal not only looks different but
incorporates a speaker to underline the trapping mechanics. As the
villains are captured the sound travels from the screen to the
portal. Place a plastic Trap token in the portal’s slot and you can
call up which ever villain you have previously trapped. There are
more than 40 enemies to capture in total.
So far, so Skylanders. Novelties aside
this all sounds like another standard iteration.
However, playing the game first hand at E3 was an
eye-opening experience. The new villain and Trap Master character
designs look great on the PlayStation 4 demo (and in physical form)
and, in multiplayer, the new quick-swap play scheme felt
The ability to pair up not only two Skylander
characters when playing with someone else, but a shared villain
adds another dimension to co-operative play. Either player can
switch to play as the villain at any time, but care must be taken
not to deplete the villain’s energy too quickly and to pair up
abilities that complement the main characters.
The villains are more powerful than the Skylanders,
offering a range of useful attacks, so the game balances this by
limiting their energy store which once depleted takes them out the
game until they have recharged.
Wired.co.uk saw this play out in the curiously
titled “Sewers of Supreme Stink” E3 level and found that the
different elements were more coherent than expected. There is a
back and forth between the Skylanders and villains as players
change to access particular attacks. But what starts as staccato
switching soon develops a tactical flow not seen in previous
As you play, different combinations spring to mind.
Whether it is freezing an enemy with a villain before switching
back to a Trap Master to finish them off or placing a villain’s
healing glyph on the floor to aid an ailing Trap Master, there is
plenty here to earn the “Team” moniker in the game’s
title. The Trap Masters themselves may lack the tactical mix
and match mechanic of Swap Force, but they have the same
attention to detail and look dramatic both on the portal and
At the launch we had seen Snap Shot, Wallop and
Widfire. At E3, the Trap Team characters available to play also
included new ones: Krypt King, Jawbreaker and Gear Shift. It was
good to see a variety of interesting designs for these characters
as well as a better mix of genders this year (Swap Force
had no females in its swappable hero roster).
Beyond these headlines there are also other reasons
to look forward to Trap Team. Not least of which is the
return of Skystones, the tactical tile laying game that my family
still played long after finishing Giants.
Skystones Smash, as it is called this year, takes
things in a more numerical direction but retains the simple
tabletop play style. For a franchise famous for crossing virtual to
real world toys it seems incredible that a physical Skystones board
game hasn’t been created.
Other nice touches are the ability to find hidden
quests for the trapped villains that unlock special upgrades, along
with gaming areas that only Trap Masters can unlock. I also like
that you can collect enemy villains regardless of whether you have
purchased the related Trap toy. They then wait for you in the hub
world villain vault.
This all comes at a price, of course, and many
families will probably spend too much on the game by trying to
collect all the characters. A better route to value is to stick to
a starter pack with just the odd extra character now and again,
although too much of this restraint probably nudges you into
Having shown that the various toy and video-game
elements work coherently in Trap Team the challenge for
Activision is to create an equally convincing commerce model for
the new Trap toys. A little like the line of Power Discs for
Disney Infinity, these physically simple items are granted
value purely by the characters they unlock.
Here lies the danger for a product designed to turn
a profit. Sell them too hard, or create too many special editions
with pre-loaded characters and they will start to feel expensive.
From what has been shown so far, the balance is looking about
Skylanders Trap Team has the making of
another strong outing for the franchise. It will be interesting to
see how this compares with Disney Infinity when we learn more about
that at E3 over the coming days.
Skylanders Trap Team will be released on
Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and
3DS on 5 October in the US and 10 October in the UK.
For more news from E3 2014 visit our topic hub
10 June 2014 | 7:00 pm – Source: wired.co.uk