The lights are on
Last weekend, Activision formally announced its next Transformers title. The Edge of Reality developed Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark is one part movie tie-in and one part follow-up to High Moon Studio’s fan service filled Cybertron series.
Many fans were disappointed that High Moon isn’t at the helm of the next Transformers game, and there is skepticism due to its intersection with Michael Bay’s approach to the series. We choose to look at it optimistically. Chances are that High Moon is working on a Transformers game tailored to new-generation hardware. Here’s what we hope that game will look like.
The Autobots and Decepticons are teamsTransformers: War for Cybertron featured three-person cooperative play that gave players the chance to team up as a different trio of Transformers in each level. Fall of Cybertron abandoned that approach entirely.
There were certainly some moments in the game that benefitted from an individual approach (Grimlock's rampage and Bruticus' assault come to mind), but I missed playing through that title on its hardest difficulty with friends. Fighting alongside other player-controlled ‘Bots and ‘Cons might be limiting from a storytelling perspective, but there are other ways High Moon can incorporate the approach.
Give players free reign in the worldWhen Transformers first aired in the 1980s, the conceit was that the Autobots and Decepticons needed to remain in hiding. Changing into vehicles and other innocuous objects was a way to blend in on Earth.
In the High Moon games, those transformations don’t always feel necessary, and they are never for stealth purposes. The levels are linear and, unless there’s a reason you need to move quickly from point to point, staying in robot mode is often the better choice.
An open world approach to the series would give us more reason to use our vehicle forms. That solves the need to use the form for traversal, but let’s not forget about the “Robots in Disguise” tagline.
Bring the fight to EarthThe opening moments of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron take place on the Autobot Ark under attack by the Decepticon Nemesis. Fans of the original series will remember this as the event that precipitated the armies crashing on Earth and remaining in slumber for millions of years.
The end of Fall of Cybertron sends the Ark and the Nemesis hurtling through a portal. My sincere hope is that Earth lies on the other side of that portal.
An open world Transformers on Earth could emulate contemporary sandbox games like Saints Row or, with its character swapping feature, Grand Theft Auto V. Switching among well-known characters, calling in support (a la Saints Row’s “homies”), and tackling larger scale missions in terrestrial environments would bring the series full circle.
As for multiplayer, fans would likely be excited for a more open online experience similar to Grand Theft Auto Online. Another option would be a persistent online war driven by instanced multiplayer matches with players backing the Autobots or the Decepticons long term.
Give Bumblebee his voice backOne of my biggest gripes with the Michael Bay movies that bled into Fall of Cybertron was the characterization of Bumblebee. The little yellow scout is one of my favorite generation one characters.
Robbing him of his voice was one of my least favorite decisions in the movie. After Johnny Yong Bosch’s strong performance in War for Cybertron, opening Fall of Cybertron with a mute Bumbleebee was a big disappointment. Give the little guy back his voice and wit.
Just go nuts and leverage the G.I. Joe and Transformers licenses togetherThey may be absurd, but I absolutely love the G.I. Joe and Transformers crossover comics. There hasn’t been a good G.I. Joe game since Taxan’s 1991 NES entry. The last title to feature the team of “real America heroes” was EA’s tie-in with the 2007 Rise of COBRA film (and we don't know right now who holds the license).
Activision has a relationship with Hasbro already, and it would be a dream come true to not only get a good G.I. Joe game, but to have it tie in with Transformers. Who doesn’t want an Optimus Prime that transforms into a COBRA HISS tank or a Starscream that looks like a Night Raven? Sure, it sounds crazy, and that’s why it’s so much fun.