By Dan Vondrak, project lead at Raven Software

When we were planning the combat system for Wolverine, one of our key focuses was building a system that allowed the player lots of options. We wanted to make sure that no matter what state you were in, the buttons on your controller were going to do something cool. What this means is the more you’re willing to experiment, the more you will get out of the game.

Heavy Auto-Finishers

One of the great things about working on a Wolverine game is looking through decades of comics to find some really great finishing moves. Our job was finding as many ways as possible to get these moves into the game (and put our own visceral twist on them). The heavy attack has a lot of uses in the game: uppercuts that send enemies into a bounce pain state, charging it sends them airborne, and combining it with light attacks performs the heavy finishers. Using the heavy attack can also result in very powerful context sensitive moves known as Auto-Finishers. When enemies are starting to get low on health you can perform brutal instant kill moves by pressing the heavy attack. These are fast and brutal: sweeping low chopping legs off, double slicing both arms off, punching your fist right through the chest – trust me, use that heavy attack more often in combat. In addition to all the other bonuses, the Auto-Finishers are a great way to really feel like Wolverine and get some great cinematic-looking kills.

Pop-up, Air Attacks, and Juggling

You can charge Wolverine’s claw attack by holding the heavy button. Once it’s fully charged, releasing it results in a powerful pop-up attack that sends enemies (and Wolverine) up into the air. This can be an overlooked move, because there are so many ways to attack on the ground. What I like about the air attacks is the separation you get from the enemies on the ground – you’re safe from most attacks up there. To maximize your time in the air, chain into the quick air attacks that will juggle the enemy and keep Wolverine airborne, then make sure to finish with either the heavy attack (known affectionately as “Thor’s Hammer” around the office after a move from Marvel: Ultimate Alliance) or the Air Grab. I prefer the Air Heavy when I’m in an exterior location with drop offs. It’s a quick way to get instant deaths: The kick Wolverine performs sends enemies shooting out like a cannonball.

Action Figures

To unlock the Wolverine uniforms in the game you must find action figures. You need to collect two action figures for each uniform – but there are actually five of each action figure placed in the game. We wanted to make sure there were lots of chances to find them. Even after you’ve collected the two you need for a particular uniform, find the other three because they are worth a lot of XP and a little rage.

Getting the Most out of Grab

There’s so much you can do with grab in Wolverine. We purposely built in a lot of context-sensitive moves that work off the grab button. We love the idea of Wolverine getting up close and personal with the enemies, and grab is perfect for that.

Grab Attacks – After you’ve grabbed an enemy, the quick kills are lots of fun (performed by pressing the heavy button) – but if you want to get the most out of a grabbed enemy, soften them up with the grab attacks. Using the normal attack button, you can unleash a long string of quick jabs, then move on to one of the grab finishers.
Grab Slam – One of my personal favorites! Perform a light pop-up (tap the heavy button) to send an enemy just a few feet in the air, then press grab and you’ll grab the enemy by the ankle and slam them to the ground. The beauty of this move is that enemies bounce back up after the grab slam, opening them up for another grab slam or any of the other context-sensitive bounce moves. My personal combo is to grab slam two or three times, then finish them off with the heavy bounce attack (we nicknamed it the “Bruce Lee” during development). Try a grab slam next to a floor spike and see what happens!

Grab and Spin – Similar to the grab slam, but instead of just tapping the grab button, hold it down. You grab the enemy by the legs and spin them round and round, knocking other enemies out of the way, smashing breakables – pretty much clearing a path using the enemy. Then let go of grab to send the enemy flying. I always try to do this with forklifts and lots of enemies around so I can knock enemies into the air and impale them on the forklifts.

Air Grab – Once you’ve launched yourself into the air by charging and releasing the heavy attack, you can grab enemies and slam them into the ground, sending nearby enemies on the ground flying back.

Environmental Kills

Located all over the levels are environmental kills – forklifts, spikes, statues, trees, computer consoles, cement mixers – all kinds of objects you can use to impale, shred, electrocute, and dismember enemies. Use Feral Senses to highlight these objects then either grab an enemy near one, or throw an enemy into one to get the environmental kill.

Something most people don’t know is that in addition to looking cool and causing instant death, you actually gain double the rage of a normal kill. If I enter a room with plenty of environmental kills, I’ll usually spend my rage performing fury attacks right away, then quickly build it back up using the environmental kills. Some tougher enemies need to be beaten down and weakened (shown by a red pulsing outline on the enemy) before you can use the grabbed environmental kills. But you can always use the throw environmental kills right away – no need to weaken them first. Be careful, because the enemies can knock or throw you onto the environmental kills as well, and you’ll have to tap yourself off.

Experience Counts

An easy (and fun) way to get more XP out of each kill is to vary your attacks. Wolverine has a reward system built in that increases the XP for each kill if you use different types of attacks to kill the enemy. So mixing up the attacks between normal, heavy, ground, air, fury and all the rest is effective. Combine that with the “experienced” mutagen and you can gain levels a lot faster.