E3 2016: Skylanders Imaginators Impressions

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We sat down with Lou Studdard, Associate Producer at Activision to learn more about the sixth Skylanders game, Imaginators. Since the release of Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure back in 2011, the developers have been receiving thousands of drawings and requests from people wanting to see their own special design in the game.

Thanks to a little bit of ingenuity it’s now possible for anyone to do that on their own. This is all handled through new Creation Crystals. There will be crystals available for each of the ten elements and the Starter Pack will come with the one for Fire.

For the story, Lord Kaos is back of course and he’s been using his mind magic to create Doomlanders, evil creatures designed to take down Skylanders. It’s up to you to create Imaginators to bring them down.

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When you place a crystal on the portal for the first time you’ll be asked to choose one of ten different battle classes which essentially decide your created character’s fighting style as a Knight, Archer, Brawler, etc.

There will be a crystal available for each of the ten elements in Skylanders, Air, Life, Magic, Undead, etc., so when you combine the two you can potentially have 100 different types of characters.

When you create your character they are then saved to that crystal so you can take it to a friend’s house and always use your own character. To keep track of things, if you happen to buy a number of crystals, The front of the base has the element associated with it but the back of the base has a spot to attach a sticker based on the battle class. Each crystal comes with a sticker sheet that covers all the battle classes.

Creating a character is as simple or in depth as you want to make it. You can go with the randomize option if you want to just jump right in, but where’s the fun it that?

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You can change the Body, Gear, Color, Powers, and Personality. For the Body, you have control over the different parts, tails, size, height, head, muscles, and aura. A handful of options are available at the start but you’ll unlock more as you play through the game.

Hitting the touch pad on the DualShock 4 at any point in the game brings you right back to the customization menu so you can change things at any time. That way, if you pick up some cool gear, you can equip your character with it immediately.

Under Gear you can change your weapon, headgear, shoulder pads, arm guards, leg guards, and backpacks. RPG fanatics will eat this stuff up as everything you do has stats associated with it. You can use this to mold the exact character type you want. Faster, stronger, heavily armored, you name it.

The Color option is really well thought out in that it starts out with a slider. Moving it will change everything at once as different themes. This was designed to make it easier for people who wanted a more unified look to their character.

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If you want to dive deeper, there’s an advanced menu option which allows you to change every single item individually. The level of customization here is really impressive and can keep obsessive folks busy for quite some time.

Under the Powers menu you get to assign your moves associated with the standard button presses for a Skylanders game. You’ll pick the weapon that’s associated with the Square button, the elemental attack that’s associated with the Circle button, the secret technique for the Triangle and the Soul Gem for the R2.

The Personality section is a lot of fun and can really help to make the character your own. You start with the voice which has a really nice range of options. From there you’ll choose and combine two phrases to get the catchphrase your character will use when they’re placed on the pad and enter the game.

You can then go deeper with voice archetypes and effects, making them sound regal, robotic, gruff, whatever you want. Music and sound are also part of this section allowing you to use things like disco music and cartoon sound effects when fighting. For the record, our character unlocked fart sound effects which, of course, were immediately equipped for the fun of it all.

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You’ll also give your character a name at this point which is saved along with everything else. Your stats have a set starting points for each class so you won’t have to be worrying about for example any particular Fire Crystal having an advantage over another.

As for the game itself, it’s standard Skylanders fare with a few new additions based on the storyline. The Skylanders themselves come in as storytellers, guiding you through the game. Troll Radio from Trap Team makes a return but it’s now a mini-game to unlock new music and sound themes for customizing your character.

The other new characters are the Sensei, who are masters of the battle classes. The Starter Pack comes with the Golden Queen and Master King Pen. Veterans of the series might remember the Golden Queen as a villain, and several will be used as Sensei. There will be thirty-one Sensei available with twenty being new characters and eleven returning villains.

For the story, the captured villains were given a choice of either being imprisoned for eternity or using their powers to help the new Imaginators. Your created characters start with a level cap of fifteen and each Sensei that you use will up that cap by one.

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If you use a Sensei that’s the same element as your Imaginator you’ll get a training bonus. You can also learn an additional move if you are of the same battle class as the Sensei. The Sensei will be teaching your character to unleash the incredibly powerful Sky Chi moves.

Fighting and defeating Doomlanders allows you to earn their armor parts, moves, and catchphrase parts. Using the Sky Chi moves will be critical as the Doomlanders are usually much more powerful than your character.

For fans of Superchargers, racing is back but it’s not integrated into the story at all. Instead it’ll be available as a separate menu item. This was done to accommodate people who didn’t buy the last game or any of the vehicles. Traps from Trap Team will also be used here as elemental ammo. There’s also “some type of card game”, likely Skystones.

Overall I’m very impressed with how things are shaping up. The depth of the customization for the Imaginators is really impressive and it looks like the new Sensei characters will add a lot to the game.

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Oh, and one more thing. It has been announced that Crash Bandicoot is coming exclusively to the PlayStation 4 version, and there was much rejoicing.

Skylanders Imaginators releases October 16 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Wii U.

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