Skylanders Imaginators Preview [E3 2016]


After receiving hundreds, if not thousands of detailed letters and sketches from children who wanted their own creations turned into Skylanders, Activision and Toys for Bob encountered a lightbulb moment. The result is this year’s iteration, Skylanders Imaginators; a sequel that shakes things up by allowing for much more user creation than ever before.

Marking the return of Skylanders‘ creators at Toys for Bob, Imaginators‘ biggest bullet point is that it will allow players to create and individualize their own characters through a customization suite that covers everything under the sun. It’s a neat idea, and one that should definitely help the series maintain its popularity, while avoiding going stagnant. After all, who hasn’t wanted to create their own Skylander at one point in time?

Earlier today, we visited with Activision in one of E3 2016’s behind closed doors-style meeting rooms, and got a hands-free look at Skylanders Imaginators courtesy of a couple of its producers. They showed us the elementally themed crystals that are required for character creation, then took us through building and editing a unique Skylander, before showing said creature in action. Through this, we got a great overview of what will be in store for the children (and kids at heart) who buy or receive it this holiday season.

The most important thing to understand about this year’s iteration is that, while being able to create your own colourful hero is an awesome thing, it may well end up costing some people a lot of money. That said, how much each person invests in the game will depend on how many characters they would like to be able to use and/or collect.

How’s that different from the other games? Well, as mentioned above, each user-created Skylander must be stored in its own crystal, meaning that those who hope to create a team of 20 will need to buy one crystal per. Furthermore, each crystal is assigned a specific element — be it life, science, fire, earth or wind — and that’s the only one it will work for. Any character you create will need to have its powers and buffs based around that element.

Although it may end up becoming a costly new mechanic for some, Imaginators‘ character design suite is definitely something to commend, as it seems to allow you to tinker with even the most minute of details. As such, it’ll be easy to lose one’s self within it, in an effort to get things just right.

During our session, the producer created a life ninja. At first, it had green skin and a black ninja robe, but those things were eventually changed to caucasian skin and a purple ninja suit. The Skylander’s head was then made bulbous, while his legs were shrunk dramatically, creating a noticeable conflict of proportions. That wasn’t all, though, as a slider was used to turn the hero’s voice from gruff to helium-based, and the game’s sentence combiner was used to assign him a hilarious catchphrase. Then after that, it was time to give him his weapon, assign his powers and tie it all into his selected fighting style (swashbuckler, knight, bowslinger, etc.)

Following that in-depth tutorial, things switched to live gameplay, which featured the colourful and accessible platforming/combat mix that the Skylanders series has become known for. It all looked not only good, but also polished, thanks to years of refinement, although vehicles did not factor in. They are backwards compatible — like all of the toys from the other games — but it seems as if no new content will be created for Superchargers’ chariots. Instead, that game’s twelve, or so, racing tracks have been ported into Skylanders Imaginators.

Kaos is also back (as expected), and is once again up to no good. It seems that he’s discovered mind energy and plans to use it to create an army of Doomlanders to corrupt, destroy and take over the Skylands region. As the Portal Master, it’s up to us to put an end to the childlike monster’s evil plans, and save the day once again.

Although our demonstration mostly focused on the unique Skylander they created, we did get to see a couple of the new toys, including a reformed villain (Wolfgang) who uses music to his advantage and can crowd surf on skeleton hands, and Crash Bandicoot, who’s a playable guest star. Both looked great, and happen to be part of Skylanders Imaginators‘ new sensei class, which is only assigned to certain characters. When used, these special Skylanders gift your collection statistical bonuses, while also presenting their own awesome Sky-chi moves.

Look or Skylanders Imaginators on October 16th, as that’s when it will be released for almost every platform under the sun.