E3 2014: Skylanders Trap Team Preview: If you can’t beat em, join em
Every evolution of Skylanders games brings a new gameplay element that it revolves around. Giants brought big, hulking Giants Skylanders, obviously. Swap Force allowed us to swap the bottom and top halves of characters to create unique ones.
With Trap Team, the villainous bosses that you beat will be transported to the Villain Vault at Skylanders Academy, the game’s hub level. You'll be able to use the villains you’ve sent to the Vault in-game and fight as them by putting them in traps. You'll have to use a trap of the same element for the villain that you want to use. For example, if you defeat a Life element villain; you’ll need a Life trap to use that villain in-game. If you don’t have a Life trap, he’ll stay in the Villain Vault, unplayable until you buy a Life trap. Just remember that only one Villain can be trapped in a trap at a time -- though that doesn’t really matter, since you can only use one villain at a time.
The new portal that comes with Trap Team has a special slot on the front where the trap containing the villain works. When you decide to trap a villain, you’ll hear the villain speaking/screaming/exclaiming on TV, which will be transferred over the portal (there’s a speaker on it). Dialogue and sound is a big part of the experience, as you’ll hear the villains make comments throughout the game.
In the game, there's only one villain playable at a time. If you want to use a different one, then you have to change out the trap that you’re using. If you’re playing co-op with two players, then you’re both sharing that one villain. Now, you won’t be playing as that villain like you would a Skylander. You’ll still be your normal Skylanders. With the tap of a button, one player can switch to using the Villain. Villains have a meter than depletes while using them; when the meter is empty, the villain goes away while the meter restores. Taking damage will cause the meter to deplete more quickly.
The villains that we were shown were really cool and have that Skylanders humor to them. They include Food Fight, who shoots a tomato that sprouts in the ground; Buzzer Beak, a cute little bird with propeller attacks; Brocolli Guy, a broccoli stalk that leaves buffs on the ground; Painyatta, a candy piñata monster with candy and confetti attacks; and Wolfgang, a British, heavy metal music werewolf that attacks with his guitar of doom. You’ll be able to combo attacks and buffs by switching in-between the villains and your Skylanders. Also, you’ll notice the music change when you switch to a villain.
Villains and traps aren’t the only things that are new to Trap Team. There are new Traptanium Skylanders that use special Traptanium weapons. They’re bigger than regular Skylanders, a bit more powerful with their huge weapons, and they can interact with special crystals in the world.
One last thing – if you’re a fan of Hearthstone, you’ll love Skystones Smash, a new card game in Trap Team that plays just like Hearthstone.
Like Skylanders games before it, Trap Team will support every Skylander that has been made thus far, and they are all getting level cap increases. Jumping returns (why would they get rid of it?) as well.
I always wonder how much longer Skylanders can keep going, keep coming up with new toy ideas that are fun and not just a gimmick. With Trap Team, they’re keeping the franchise fresh once again.
Skylanders Trap Team will release on October 5, 2014 on Wii, Wii U, 3DS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
You can follow Senior Editor Lance Liebl on Twitter @Lance_GZ or email him at Lliebl@gamezone.com.