What If: The Next DC Comics Game Is Green Lantern: The War of Light?
For the last few years we’ve had a steady stream of Batman: Arkham games coming, with the next in the series–Arkham Origins–set to release this year, on October 25th. With Warner Bros Montreal developing the game in Rocksteady’s absence (while oddly using Rocksteady’s engine and assets) it not only makes me curious of what other game(s) Rocksteady could be developing, but what other properties DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Interactive could (or should) be working on.
With Injustice: Gods Among Us storming the fighting game genre, what other kinds of games and genres could DC Comics’ franchises explore?
Well, what if the next DC Comics game is:
Genre: 360° Action Adventure/Space Sim
Single Player Campaign | Multiplayer Online
Non-comic fans may see the name Green Lantern and then cringe, thinking immediately of the abysmal, lackluster flick that came out a few years ago, with its B-movie, bulbous-headed villain Hector Hammond, and cosmic cloud of flatulence, Parallax. But comic fans know that the Green Lantern franchise is the real deal, largely thanks to revolutionary editors like Julius Schwartz and seminal writers like Alan Moore and the now-legendary scribe Geoff Johns. These are creators who have revamped classic concepts, redefined characters, and have introduced simply incredible stories.
Recently, the Green Lantern comics have even introduced epic, hardcore space battles, ones that have put famous sci-fi series to shame. When you have beings from all over the galaxy who can create anything their minds can conceive, you end up with the most creative and chaotic space dogfights known to man: battles that consist of everything from ringbearers who can draw up giant armored monsters to dangerously lethal snipers who can shoot a target a whole planet away. Plus genocidal cats who can vomit napalm blood. Yeah, seriously. You can haz death and destruction.
So if any property were to be imagined for a video game, a Green Lantern game would make sense, since it’s one of DC’s most popular and beloved brands. But can a comic so epic be contained by a video game’s conventions?
Green Lantern: The War of Light: Concept
If you’ve never read a Green Lantern comic, Green Lanterns are basically intergalactic space police, appointed by little blue immortals called Guardians, who have been charged with patrolling the universe and stopping crime with the use of their Green Lantern rings.
These rings–which can create anything the wearer imagines by shaping green light into solid constructs–are controlled by strong willpower, and must be recharged periodically by reciting an oath into their power batteries, which look like green lanterns. The Green Lanterns themselves are selected by their ability to overcome great fear: with the amount of danger they often run into, this trait comes in handy frequently.
The last ten years have created some truly memorable stories, including Green Lantern: Rebirth, the Sinestro Corps War, and Blackest Night, written and drawn by creators like the aforementioned Johns, Peter Tomasi, Ethan Van Sciver and Patrick Gleason. The War of Light would be a sort of blending of these stories, streamlined into a single narrative with multiple arcs. A single player campaign could put players into the jade boots of one of their favorite Lanterns, take turns between characters, or into the rookie shoes of a recruit who’s just about to start training with Lantern drill sergeant, Kilowog.
But no matter how the narrative is handled, what’s a game without the gameplay?
Making The Green Lantern Ring Work In A Video Game
Influences: MMOs, the WWE series, Bayonetta and the Final Fantasy series.
The hardest Green Lantern concept to adapt and confine into the limits of a video game would be the Lantern ring. With a weapon limited only by imagination, no one could ever include the range of constructs that a Lantern ring can produce, because a true Lantern ring has unlimited scope. But for a game, there has to be a way to make variety work well with controls, and provide constructs that are not only artistically different, but suited for different combat situations as well.
This could be done in three ways:
- Custom Button Mapping: Similar to many computer games, making hotkeys or assigning particular abilities to particular buttons would allow players to tailor a variety of constructs as they see fit. Giving each button and ability an “alternate fire” option could also provide variety, either through button combinations or holding buttons.
- Contextual Abilities: Similar to the environment-based grapple moves of the WWE games by developer Yukes, or the insane “Torture Attacks” in Platinum Games’ Bayonetta series, players could be given a variety of ways to finish off an enemy depending on the situation, range, and more.
- Modes: Much like the various “jobs” found in the various Final Fantasy games, players could perhaps switch between “roles” on a dime, customizing each with a set of different layouts of abilities. Need to help your allies? Take on a support role. Need to be more aggressive? Take on an attack role.
Moves could also be upgraded with a Willpower meter, which levels up over time and allows players to increase the complexity, range, power, and duration of constructs, as well as balance power application. Using long-ranged abilities, for example, means that most of your willpower is being devoted to propelling projectiles at fast speeds to far off target, instead of being delegated to defense. Using willpower for high-speed flying may make it harder for your character to concentrate on shooting targets. Produce too many constructs at once, and perhaps the constructs will last for shorter times.
Upgrade your willpower, and all of this power management becomes easier. Allocate willpower points to construct durability and they’ll last longer; allocate points to your flight speed, and your Lantern will soar fast and swift; allocate points to construct size, and create titanic structures that can dominate the battlefield.
Between the diversity of constructs and how you use them, ringslinging could be as deep and nuanced as it is fun and creative, just like a Green Lantern game should be.
Flight and Movement
Influences: Starhawk, Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner
Taking a page from Starhawk and Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner, combining high-speed mobility, agility, dashes and throttle control into one smooth but highly responsive movement system would make flight as important to strategy as your constructs. Lanterns of all types should be able to chase enemies across the battlefield, even draining a little power for short afterburner-like bursts; certain corp rings, body size, attributes, and Willpower levels determining just how much faster or slower one character is from another.
Powerful flight controls would also make encounters even more dramatic and tense, with the idea of outracing enemy beams or constructs making for awesome narrow escapes, or flying backwards to get an enemy making for great high-octane battles that never stop moving.
Any Green Lantern fan can tell you that even within a single corp, each Lantern is different. Take the Earth Green Lanterns for example, just on the types of constructs they like to create, and how they create them:
Hal Jordan’s pilot background makes him more prone to creating aerial constructs, and simple things like boxing gloves and energy bubbles. His impulsive nature and quick wits make him a fast-thinker who can create pretty normal constructs fast.
John Stewart, on the other hand, is a former marine and architect, and his constructs lean toward structures and military weapons. When he creates a construct, he builds completely solid shapes that are forged in stages, from the inside-out, and may take a little longer to make.
Kyle Rayner, an artist, sketches his constructs into being, and sometimes finds himself revising or reshaping them as he goes. As a comic book creator, he has a tendency to create whacky and cartoonish figures or stylish and unique figures.
Taking these examples into consideration, and you’ve just created three classes: a standard warrior class, a slow but strong knight class, and a fast but weaker rogue class.
This also extends into a Lantern’s energy aura and look, which directly reflect their personality. Guy Gardner’s ring, for example, is constantly sparking with energy due to Gardner’s explosive and impulsive nature. His costume later became extremely unique, with his need to prove himself over Hal Jordan. Simon Baz, the newest Earth Green Lantern, was on the run from the law when he received his ring, so unlike most Lanterns who conceal their identities with a simple domino mask, he wears a mask more akin to a cowl. And while most Lanterns have some kind of variant skin-tight space suit, some–like Jack T. Chance, who works in the most crime-ridden sector of the universe–don’t wear a costume at all, for one reason or another. But each costume at least requires a corp insignia, and players should be able to bring all of these elements together to make a truly unique Lantern.
The War of Light is the player’s journey, and it should be reflected in character creation.
If you’re going to have a Green Lantern game centered around the Green Lantern Corps, it naturally should take place largely in space. Of course, there are thousands and thousands of planets to explore in DC Comic’s universe, but keeping most of The War of Light in space allows the developers to concentrate most of the game’s assets and time–mind you, for a game that is a new IP and the possible start of a new series–on building well-defined and refined mechanics. Also, space is just great for wide-open battlefields.
Planet-side locales and space environments alike should always have some variety, and if there’s enough time and resources, it’d be fantastic for developers to include destructible elements that players can use tactically for cover or ambush techniques.
The right settings and stages could make for some memorable moments in a single player campaign or a multiplayer event. Imagine during the course of fighting, a world is invaded by the Dominators or Khund; imagine being forced to do battle in Mongul’s Warworld arenas, with a stage laden with traps and dangerous gladiators; imagine the awe and terror of being on a planet that has begun to explode, and needing to fight your way off of it.
This is Green Lantern: The War of Light, and it’s awesome.
Multiplayer, and The Seven Colored Rings
Influence: GoD Factory: Wingmen; Uncharted
For the multiplayer component, The War of Light would allow a player to be a part of the seven lantern corps, each with their own place on both the color and emotional spectrums: the Green Will Lanterns, the Blue Hope Lanterns, the Red Rage Lanterns, the Violet Love Lanterns, the Yellow Fear Lanterns, the Indigo Compassion Lanterns, and the Orange Lantern of Avarice. Each lantern corps would come with its own appropriate stats, abilities, buffs and debuffs included.
Hope Lanterns, for example, would be the perfect support to Green Lanterns, since their blue rings naturally boost the powers of green rings. They would also prove effective at neutralizing and diminishing the power of rage and fear in red and yellow lantern rings, respectively, and would make the wearer immune to orange lantern abilities.
Indigo Lanterns would be able to fly about the battlefield invisibly, create “energy twins” to decoy enemies, and copy the abilities of other rings.
The rings of love, worn by the Violet Lanterns called the Star Sapphires, could be used to freeze enemies in stasis crystals, heal allies, and use “Love Attunement” to tether themselves to another player and find them instantly on a battlefield.
Like GoD Factory: Wingmen, gameplay should focus on team arena battles, with the unique abilities of each ring complimenting the weaknesses of your team, while exploiting the weaknesses of your enemies. Similar to GF:W, cooperative play should be implemented on various levels, with players encouraged to fight alongside allies in battle instead of constantly playing lone wolf, and perhaps including a “base” area that can only be destroyed through the power of multiple rings. These bases could also contain power batteries, which may require players to fly back and recharge from them periodically. This could also help balance the gameplay and attributes of various rings, since perhaps some Lanterns may burn up power faster, and others could recharge in other ways: like Orange Lanterns stealing power, or Yellow Lanterns gaining power boosts when defeating Green Lanterns.
There could also be events or handicaps that give a player or team various boosts or penalties during a match; like Uncharted, perhaps stage hazards could overtake the stage, or–taking a page from the comics (pun intended)–a player could be possessed by a Corp entity, beings that represent their particular emotional spectrum and can give individual Lanterns incredible powers, like unlimited energy, unlimited constructs, etc.
Other modes could include the typical Horde Modes of other games, perhaps with facing Black Death Lanterns, Manhunters, Third Army creatures, or any of the other beings that have threatened the universe. Cooperative missions could also extend the narrative of the single player campaign, or even create a shared world experience.
The Green Lantern franchise is popular for a reason: almost everyone in the world–as a child or an adult–has at least once in their life wished for the chance to make what they want just appear; to magic up or will into existence everything they ever desired. The power of the Green Lantern series is taking that wish and making it something honorable and valiant: a corp of men and women (and other) who, without fear, dedicate their lives to fighting evil and injustice across the universe with the most powerful weapon ever made.
Ask any fan to recite the Green Lantern’s oath, and they’ll do it in an instant. In fact, most conventions involving the Green Lantern series end with a mass recital of the pledge. While fans have previously only been able to live their fantasy through decades of stories published by DC Comics, a proper Green Lantern video game could finally fully immerse players, and truly make them feel like they are a part of the Corps.
Rocksteady, Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment, and DC Comics: give us the Green Lantern game we’ve always wanted.
Make this game, please.
Note: All images within are the property of DC Comics with the exception of the “Lantern Corps” image found in the “Multiplayer, and The Seven Colored Rings” section: that image was provided by Deviant Art user Bloody Samoan.