Even in a show full of announcements and updates for the likes of God of War: Ragnarok, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – Remake, and so many more, Marvel’s Wolverine was the game that ended up stealing all the headlines. And it’s easy to see why- it was by far the most surprising announcement at the show. We all saw the Insomniac Games and Marvel logos one after another and immediately assumed we were about to see something related to Spider-Man– and were proven wrong in the best way possible (though of course, we eventually did end up seeing Spider-Man as well).
Even though all we’ve really seen of Marvel’s Wolverine so far is a very brief CG trailer followed by a title screen for the game, even though it’s going to be at least three years (if not more) before we get to play this game- in spite of that, there’s no shortage of excitement surrounding the game. Given Insomniac’s track record with Marvel and their talent as developers of video games, it’s easy to imagine just how excellent a Wolverine game made by them could turn out if done right. Of course, there are certain things that it will need to do right, and to that effect, here, we’re going to be talking about a few things that we’re hoping we will see in Marvel’s Wolverine.
Insomniac adopted the open world formula for Marvel’s Spider-Man, which, of course, was absolutely the right fit for it- the open world traversal is one of the best parts of both those Spider-Man games, after all. But we’re hoping Insomniac won’t feel the need to stick with that sort of a design approach for all of their games going forward, because a Wolverine game, we feel, would be best if it was linear. Wolverine is a character that’s always on the move, and for someone who never stays in one place too long, being restricted to a single open world map would actually end up feeling like a misuse of the character. Ideally, Marvel’s Wolverine should be a linear game, littered with larger levels, or perhaps semi-open world hubs, similar to what we’ve seen in games like God of War, Uncharted 4, and The Last of Us Part 2 in recent years. Constant forward momentum in a meaty, well-paced, linear adventure is can be trickier to achieve, since the story itself has a much more immediate presence than in an open world game, but it’s also what would suit Wolverine the best.
This should go without saying. Wolverine isn’t exactly a kid-friendly character, especially when compared to someone like Spider-Man. His stories are darker, and more importantly, don’t shy away from violence. Adamantium claws and effectively being immortal means Wolverine tears through enemies with brutal efficiency, and that’s something that we hope to be able to do ourselves in Insomniac’s game. The game’s director has confirmed that Marvel’s Wolverine will have a “mature tone”, which is good news, because this is a game that will flourish when it doesn’t have to abide by those restrictions. Insomniac did an excellent job of making Spider-Man’s combat feel appropriately zippy and kinetic, so we’re hoping the combat in Marvel’s Wolverine will have the kind of heft and impact that it should.
Of course, saying that we want the combat to be “mature” is still a little vague- but there are also specific mechanics that the game could make use of in the game’s combat system that we’d actually like to see. For starters, having the ability to manually extend and retract Wolverine’s claws could open up some interesting scenarios. Certain enemy types could be more resistant to his adamantium claws, requiring different combat strategies. Maybe players could also pick up objects, weapons, and furniture in the environments to use in combat. It’d also be interesting to have a rage mechanic of sorts. And yes, the 2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine tie-in game already did a lot of this stuff- but hopefully the combat in Insomniac’s game will be a little better and little less one-dimensional than that.
This could be another excellent way to really make the combat shine in Marvel’s Wolverine. And honestly, if we’re playing as Wolverine, it’d be kind of a bummer if we weren’t allowed to completely and utterly wreck environments. It helps, of course, that Marvel’s Wolverine is going to be exclusive to the PS5 and not cross-gen, because now, Insomniac can leverage the hardware to make destructible environments an integral part of the game’s combat. The reveal trailer at the PlayStation Showcase showed a scene of complete destruction and chaos, and yes, a brief CG reveal trailer for a game isn’t exactly representative of what the final game will be- but we’re really hoping that Insomniac is looking to have that level of destruction physics and mechanics in the game.
Movement and traversal in general probably won’t be nearly as emphasized in Marvel’s Wolverine as they were in Spider-Man and Miles Morales, but Insomniac can still do a lot of fun stuff with how Wolverine moves around. Sure, he can’t swing around on webs, but he can be pretty nimble thanks to his adamantium-reinforced skeleton and the fact that he cannot hurt himself. Naturally, that means that there’s plenty of room for Insomniac to get creative with parkour and traversal in the game- which, for a game coming from a studio known for Ratchet and Clank and Spider-Man, is incredibly exciting. Oh, and circling back to destructible environments- that’s something that could be made an interesting part of traversal there. If you can’t find a way to get past a wall, maybe you could just break the wall.
Wolverine doesn’t exactly need stealth, given his abilities, but making stealth an important part of the game’s core gameplay loop could be a great way of injecting some variety into the experience. After all, Insomniac can always come up with narrative justifications for why players need to be stealthy- such as having to rescue hostages, or escorting a vulnerable companion character. Besides, Wolverine’s abilities are perfectly suited to some slick, brutal stealth gameplay. Combining quick movement, jumps, and brutal melee kills might make for some thrilling stealth scenarios that still manage to retain the inherently aggressive nature of Wolverine’s abilities.
This is a big one that anyone attempting to make a Wolverine game would have to deal with. If we’re playing as a character who keeps healing himself and cannot die, how will the game ever be challenging. If it isn’t challenging, if players aren’t punished for playing poorly, then why would anyone ever bother to engage with the mechanics? Insomniac will need to think about this long and hard, and come up with something that is balanced in a way that makes sure players are constantly engaged and appropriately challenged, while still feeling true to Wolverine. That is, of course, way easier said than done, but there are ways to do it. Maybe your health only regenerates at the end of a fight; maybe it does regenerate, but very slowly; maybe enemies can carry weapons that temporarily block your healing. One way or another, the game will need to give players some sort of a handicap, because Wolverine in his purest form is just way too OP.
This one, admittedly, isn’t as important as some of the other stuff we’ve spoken about, but it’s still a pretty big part of a superhero game. Insomniac did an excellent job of featuring a number of different suits in both Spider-Man and Miles Morales, and frankly, being able to equip various different skins in licensed superhero games has become something of an expectation by now. Wolverine has had quite a few iconic looks over the years, so we’re sure there’s no shortage of skins for Insomniac to add in the game.
CONNECTIONS WITH SPIDER-MAN
This one might be a bit of a pipe dream, depending on how Insomniac is approaching this game, but we’re still hoping it happens. The studio obviously has a really good working relationship with Marvel that is only going to grow stronger, so is it possible that their Wolverine game could end up being set in the same universe as their Spider-Man games, perhaps opening the door for a larger connected universe. Obviously, Marvel’s Wolverine should have a self-sufficient story that doesn’t rely on its connections to any other games, and Insomniac has confirmed that it is going to be a standalone- but we’re still hoping for a few small connections that establish that Insomniac’s Marvel games are set in the same universe.