E3: X-Men: Destiny Preview

In the game, players get to control the destinies of one of three brand new mutants. You also get to choose which side you'll end up on: the side that saves humanity or the side that takes it down. The story, by Marvel writer Mike Carey, give you many opportunities to decide where your loyalties lie, deeply customizable characters and powers, and features all your favorite mutants, including Magneto, Cyclops, Wolverine, Quicksilver, Colossus, Surge, Nightcrawler, Wolverine and Gambit.

Each character has passive abilities and upgradable core powers. You can also add special attacks by spending experience points and making choices throughout the game. You control the special attacks by collecting M power, which is represented by the blue meter in the upper left hand corner. As you build up your M power by pulling off successful combinations and collecting orbs, you open up new special attacks, each progressively more powerful. Of course, the special attacks drain your M power. Your critical attack, which is the most powerful will drain you entirely, leaving you vulnerable.

One of the attacks we got to see was Force Field, which is great against a single enemy. In the courier scene, we were shown how it not only protects the courier, but how anyone entering the force field has their life zapped from them.

There is a huge roster of characters from the X-Men universe, including old and new faces. Wolverine, Gambit, Nightcrawler and a character new to the games, Northstar. Havoc, Toad and plenty of others make an appearance. These characters will fight you, fight alongside you and also give you secondary objectives and challenges. You can choose whether or not to bother with those, but they often open other options later in the game.

You upgrade your abilities with x-genes, which are unique to the mutant they came from. You get these a variety of ways, including interacting with fellow mutants. What you get depends in large part on who you meet throughout the game, which gives you a reason for paying attention to side quests. For instance, when you meet Northstar, his x-gene isn't available right away. You have to find these x-genes hidden throughout the world or by completing different challenges.

We got to check out a boss battle in the Pure Fire laboratory, where the U-Men (started by Sublime) are enhancing ordinary humans with mutant genes. In the game, John Sublime been kidnapping mutants and extracting their x-genes. In the battle, he takes some of them himself to challenge you and your mutant abilities. We saw him take the Colossus x-gene and grow in size (and ugliness). Our character Aimi then used the Quicksilver x-gene to speed up. You can also pick up some of the suits along the way if you have each character's offensive, defensive and utility x-genes. The full complement of abilities matched with the suit also give you bonuses. You have the option to change out what you're using at any time and mix and match x-genes from any character. There are three slots available for x-genes at a time, plus one suit slot.

After you take down this multi-stage boss (who in our fight has taken x-genes from Quicksilver and Surge in addition to the one from Colossus), you are presented with a cut scene “destiny moment.” Time freezes and you have to make a moral or philosophical choice that will affect the present and future of the game. We were told that, because of the wide variety of customizable abilities and destiny moments, no two gameplay experiences are the same. You can go back and forth as much as you want until the final act, where you have to align yourself with one of the two factions. In this particular moment, we have to decide whether to side with Gambit who is trying to build up a mutant army or help Colossus and the X-Men to destroy the stolen x-genes. When the group chose Gambit and the Brotherhood, we were told that this choice meant we'd be fighting super-goons throughout the rest of the game. If we'd made a different choice, they couldn't exist.

The three playable characters, each vetted through Marvel with a fleshed out back story, are brand new to the universe and therefore have no set allegiance. We were also told that they may end up in the comics, though nothing is definite. So far Aimi and Grant have been revealed as playable characters, but the third character is Adrian, who is a former Pure Fire who's father was killed in combat. He's learned that he's a mutant, becoming the very thing he's hated his whole life. Aimi is the daughter of mutant parents who has been ostracized by her family in Japan and sent over to a semi-destroyed San Francisco. Grant is a naïve all-American kid who's never paid attention to the mutant/human conflict.

There were still a few bugs in the visual elements, but the graphics and game play look really outstanding. Right now, X-Men: Destiny is looking at a September 2011 release but no exact date has been announced.

Click on any of the below screenshots for larger versions!