Transforming Dreams Into Reality: Cuz Parry Talks Transformers: Forged to Fight
Remember a simpler time when you would gather all your Transformers toys together and duke it out to see if the Autobots really did reign supreme, or if the Decepticons could finally pull out a victory over their mortal enemies? There was nothing quite like being able to bash Hasbro's little morphing toys together back when we were young. Though today that's a bit of a pricey endeavor, gaming has caught up to the imaginations of our youth, and has given us a handful of Transformers game that put us in the shoes of our favorite Cybertronians.
But even those games have largely been focused on third-person action combat, and we haven't really seen a fantastic fighting game featuring Optimus Prime or Megatron. That's where Kabam's new Transformers: Forged to Fight hopes to fill the void, not just in the gaming space but in our hearts as well. We talked with creative director Cuz Parry about the upcoming mobile fighter, including what lessons were learned on Contest of Champions and just how the Generation 1 and cinematic universes would collide.
For the last two years, Kabam's Contest of Champions has been the Marvel mobile fighting game du jour. The free-to-play fighter has been growing its roster and gaining fans in turn since launch, and while Kabam is still focused on making Contest a perennial hit, it's now turning its eye towards another big license in Hasbro's Transformers. With Transformers: Forged to Fight, Kabam hopes to do for the robots in disguise what it did for Marvel's super-powered characters --- only better.
"We're evolving our fighting and improving things that maybe we wished we had done," Cuz Parry said. "Just even the advancement in the devices, we can do so much more. You're going to get to collect your favorite team of Transformers from the cinematic and Generation 1 universes."
Ah yes, Kabam will be mixing genres, taking characters from the beloved Gen 1 universe and mashing them up against the versions made famous in Michael Bay's live-action movies. It's certainly an interesting choice, given how the die-hard fans and more casual observers perceive the modern and classic incarnations. However, in the big Venn diagram of fandom, both still have one big thing in common: the Transformers themselves. Though the exact story specifics of how these two worlds will merge remain a secret, Parry promises the explanation will be worthwhile.
"We've been working with Hasbro, and we have come up with a reason why these realities collide," Parry said. "They have space bridges and other transportation, and if you start mixing in dark Energon, realities could collide.
"There's going to be Easter eggs for fans who've watched the cartoons, and if you know the movies, there'll be stuff in there for you, too. Some things always align, like Decepticons don't like Autobots. Sometimes there's a bigger common enemy, and things can change a little bit. This concept of the realities colliding will definitely be explained and becomes part of the mystery you unravel in the story of the game."
While the story will be part of the game experience, Forged to Fight is first and foremost a fighting game. Though you'll be able to explore the mystery of the game's lore --- which stands on its own apart from the films and the IDW comics --- it's more about making fans' dreams come true.
"I don't want to be cavalier about it, but if you think about Smash Bros., you stop thinking about why Pac-Man is in a game with Okami and Mega Man," Parry said. "At the end of the day it's just fun. Hasbro was cautious about it, since they'd never done it before, but we did say it was the dream for a lot of people. If you're of a certain age, you may like character from G1 or the movies more, so we want players to be able to make the team they want and use strategies in comprising the best team."
Working on Contest of Champions of the last two years has taught Kabam's development team a lot, and everything accomplished there has allowed the team to hit the ground running on Forged to Fight. Though there'll be some familiarity for Contest players, this Transformers game is taking the strategic elements one step further by putting its arenas in three dimensions. That means players won't just be standing on an even plane, they'll be allowed to dodge and side-step certain attacks if they're savvy enough.
"If you think about what a Transformer does, they all have ranged attacks," Parry explained. "Everybody has a gun or everybody shoots something, so that was core to evolving the fighting. In Marvel, not everyone has a ranged attack or the ranged attack is used as a special, whereas with Transformers, we knew we needed to get in range attacks. If someone is sitting across the arena using a ranged attack and you're stuck on a 2D plane, that's kind of unfair. So we thought, let's get side-stepping in. That got us to 3D arenas with destructible elements."
The ability to strike from a distance isn't the only unique thing about Transformers either. You see, they also... transform. The alternate modes for every single Transformer will be included in the game as part of their regular attack set, and for some, as a cinematic special. That too impacts some of the three-dimensional strategy, as knowing whether or not an incoming vehicle attack needs to be dodged or blocked could make the difference in a win or a loss.
"For people familiar with Marvel, you know the rock, paper, scissors of the fighting system, for heavy attack you hold down," Parry said. "In Transformers, if you hold down, you'll transform and unleash some kind of heavy attack. Where the strategy comes in here, which is different than Marvel, some of the characters like Grindor, he turns into an attack chopper. He'll fly backwards and launch a missile at you. If I see somebody transforming, I need to know what does he transform into, what's the nature of that attack, and do I have to side-step, step back or block?"
We don't know much more about how Forged to Fight will play than that, and even early gameplay only gives but a hint of what to expect from combat when the bell rings. Unlike Contest of Champions however, this Transformers game will include a full world to explore that isn't just a bunch of islands in space to tap on. Players will be able to roam this mysterious planet where everything takes place between fights to learn more about the story, the characters, and who is behind the collision of these two universes.
The core will remain based on fighting and putting together the best teams you can, and Kabam is looking into ways to make your collections meaningful too. As many Contest of Champions players can attest, often characters you unlocked months ago become overmatched before you've really gotten to work with them. For Forged to Fight, Parry is hoping to make sure collections remain important, and aren't just about the latest or most powerful characters you've unlocked.
"We're definitely looking at having meaningful collections, so that your favorite characters can stay in use," Parry said. "We learned from Champions that players have moved past many of their favorites, so we're exploring other venues and systems to use these various bots to your advantage. I look at my collection, and I use my strongest guys all the time. We're blessed with a great team that's really thinking about how to make sure you have something do with the characters you're collecting for a long time."
Transformers: Forged to Fight will be out in 2017 on mobile devices.