When Marvel’s Avengers launched last year, Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix promised that it was far from the end of the story for Earth’s Mightiest heroes. Post-launch content would serve to not only give players new characters and keep gameplay fresh, but push the game’s overarching narrative forward. That’s precisely what the developer is looking to do with War for Wakanda, the latest expansion for Marvel’s Avengers that adds the Black Panther as a playable character, while furthering the stories of Kamala Khan as well as the rest of the Avengers.
Long live the king
Square Enix provided me with an early look at the War for Wakanda expansion in Marvel’s Avengers, where I got to get a look at Crystal Dynamics’ take on the Black Panther and the expansive land of Wakanda. The story finds Wakanda fighting to protect Vibranium, one of the most valuable minerals in the world and the country’s most valued resource. Longtime Black Panther villain Ulysses Klaue is at the heart of the latest attempt to rob Wakanda of its precious Vibranium.
We finally get to see Black Panther show off his fighting style as he faces off against soldiers operating under Klaue's authority. Primarily a melee fighter, he quickly moves throughout the battlefield, striking enemies down with a flurry of punches and kicks. His arsenal of moves also includes the ability to activate the kinetic energy in his suit, allowing him to take hits without being stunned or losing his momentum. Black Panther also has a javelin that he can throw to deal damage and pin enemies, very similar to how Thor’s hammer works in the game. The Javelin isn't Black Panther's only projectile attack, as he's also equipped with Vibranium daggers, which can dish out rapid damage from a distance.
A new world to explore
The latest Marvel’s Avengers expansion not only introduces Black Panther, but it also ushers in the sprawling world of Wakanda. I spoke with senior designer Scott Walters and writer Hannah MacLeod about bringing T’Challa’s illustrious surrounding cast to Marvel’s Avengers. They shared that Shuri, T’Challa’s younger sister, has a pivotal role in the story, describing the pair as “co-main characters” in War for Wakanda. As number two to the throne, Shuri is just as much in the fight to save Wakanda as T'Challa is, using her scientific brilliance to build new tech for the nation's forces.
The developers also spoke about why the Black Panther DLC is arriving nearly a year after the game’s initial launch, despite him being a top pick among developers. “We wanted Wakanda to be big,” said MacLeod, stating that Crystal Dynamics wanted the addition of Black Panther to be more than just another character added to the roster. This discussion also provided some insight into how the team selects and integrates new characters into Marvel’s Avengers.
The strength of the Black Panther
Many fans will recognize Black Panther, Wakanda, and its cast of characters from the popular film adaptation, but Crystal Dynamics is also looking to expand on the world of Wakanda itself in a way that's fresh and unique. The developers hope to further tap into the spiritual side of Black Panther, teasing that fans will meet a mystic sorcerer on their adventure that challenges some of T'Challa's core beliefs.
Wakanda also serves as a way to further dive back into some of the game’s existing characters. Take Thor, for example. The god of thunder is featured in the new story expansion, in a land that is deeply rooted in its own religious and spiritual beliefs. This opened the door for some really interesting ideas to play out in the game’s story.
MacLeod stated that “We have an actual family tree that we put together.” This tree starts with Kamala Khan and branches out, visualizing her relationship with all of the other members of the Avengers. When working on War for Wakanda, the developers had to ask themselves where T’Challa fits in on that family tree. It’s this process that has helped the team build upon the acclaimed story in Marvel’s Avengers’ base game, without compromising any of the work done there.
Assembling something special
Marvel’s Avengers: War for Wakanda is the latest expansion for Crystal Dynamics’ superhero team up game, and it’s also the most ambitious yet. The addition of Black Panther not only opens up new gameplay options, but it also hopes to push the game’s overall narrative forward. A narrative that will continue to unfold in future updates to Marvel’s Avengers. The Marvel's Avengers: War for Wakanda expansion hits all platforms on August 17, 2021.