Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy preview: PS5 hands-on with the funniest superheroes around - MrLiambi's blog


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Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy preview: PS5 hands-on with the funniest superheroes around

Square Enix surprised a fair few when it announced a game featuring the hugely popular Marvel comic book and movie superhero team, Guardians of the Galaxy. Not just because we hadn't heard anything about it before the publisher's E3 2021 showcase, but that its release date is also remarkably close - 26 October 2021. So, while exciting, it raised some eyebrows. There's always suspicion when a triple-A game so close to release appears from nowhere.

Pandemic conditions can be largely blamed for that though. The hype machine is harder to ride when there's little access to gameplay due to lockdowns and travel restrictions. And, in all fairness, Square Enix has allowed us to go hands-on with the game at its earliest opportunity. It's something that has allayed any of our initial worries for sure.

Trial and error

We played a whole chapter of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy on PlayStation 5 - which lasted around an hour-and-a-half. We can't say how big the campaign is in total, nor comment on variety in gameplay in other sections, but we did enjoy what was on offer.

Guardians of the Galaxy is a single-player game with squad combat and, as such, can seem confusing initially. But, once you get a hang of the controls and the actions needed to send different AI teammates into battle situations, it all becomes intuitive.

It didn't help that we were thrust into chapter five without progressing through tutorials first, but hey, we're professionals. And "trial and error" are our middle names (well, it's actually a hyphen as in "Pocket-lint", but you get what we mean).

The start of the chapter set the stall and we got to wander around the Milano, the GOTG ship. There are plenty of Easter eggs to discover there and we didn't have much time to find them, but you can chat with other crew members and check out objects lying around. Some of those prompt further conversations with your teammates - providing some background and a fair few giggles along the way.

In addition, we played with the jukebox which is choc-full of 80s hits - a superb touch. After all, "cheesy pop hits" are our middle names. Ahem.

We only had a limited amount of time with the game at Square's London office though, so we quickly started the main part of the mission: a visit to a Nova Corps base, where things don't turn out to be straightforward.


We'll avoid spoilers in terms of story, but needless to say, after some rudimentary puzzles that were solved by asking team members to perform actions on objects, we were soon set upon by plenty of enemies to test the combat system.

The chapter in question is around four hours into the game, so is actually a reasonable challenge. Waves of different enemies, plus a couple of boss battles, were ours for the tasting. We died a fair few times - but managed to figure it all out and get through the entire demo in time.

It's perhaps refreshing that Guardians of the Galaxy is primarily a single-player game - it contrasts well with the game-as-service experience of Square Enix's other Marvel outing to date - Avengers.

What's also good is that it retains the spirit of the comic books and movies, by utilising each of the crew members' unique talents, yet without hiding it behind multi-player online play. You take control of Star-Lord (Peter Quill) but can also command each of the others during battle - Rocket Racoon, Groot, Gamora, Drax.

This is performed through radial menus pulled up with a button press, then flick the right-stick to the character you want, then one of their special moves, and they'll perform it on the enemy you're focusing on. All the while, you are also using your own run-and-gun, third-person combat abilities, plus another radial menu when you want to send off an assigned special move yourself.

It's a little daunting but, as we've already said, it becomes quite intuitive. The end result is much like the battle at the start of Guardians of the Galaxy 2, with Baby Groot dancing while the rest of the team jump in and out of combat.

This chaotic fun is also interspersed with the team's trademark side-cracks and banter, plus an opportunity to briefly pause the action in a "call to action" moment where the team crowd around and Peter (you) have to choose one of the gee-up options on screen. Choose the right one and everyone gets a bonus for the fight. It's silly, but funny and very in-keeping with GOTG generally.

Environmental objects can also be used in combat, by focusing on them and asking a teammate to use them. They are generally specific to certain characters, such as an entanglement zone for Groot to exploit.

We have to play a lot more to see if different locations and enemy types offer variety, but everything we experienced so far felt sharp and flowed well.

Belly laughs

Outside of the combat, the game is elevated no-end through the constant chatter. Like in the movies, the Guardians never shut up and the script is often comedy gold. There are some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments, even just in our brief demo.

We won't spoil it, but do make sure you visit the cells on the Nova Corps base and press a certain button. As it's optional, you'll miss out on a brilliant pay-off if you don't.

There are puzzles and a bit of adventuring to be had, but not on the level of a Tomb Raider or Uncharted. There's crafting and role-playing-style ability levelling too, but more to help in battle than anything else.

The game (chapter five, at least) is also reasonably linear so there are few other side quests and missions. Still, you will likely be enjoying the stunning performances from the voice cast to care.

Industry fave Nolan North's take on Rocket is superb, but all of the cast do a great job. Perhaps our only criticism is that Quill's hair is a little too blonde Morrissey, but that's (literally) splitting hairs.

The rest of the graphical presentation is looking great, even without ray-tracing - which is yet to be implemented, we were told. We played on PS5 and couldn't tell you whether it was running in native 4K or upscaled (which is a good thing, we suppose), but it did play smoothly in 60fps.

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