Photos by Jorge Figueiredo
Disney Infinity made a big impression when it debuted in 2013. Since then, the franchise has only gotten bigger with the addition of the Marvel Universe and Star Wars for Disney Infinity 3.0. However, the latest iteration of the toys-to-life franchise is far more than just another layer of characters and Play Sets. Disney Interactive has improved many of the elements that made Infinity a hit in the first place, enhancing the game-play with some neat new features that are sure to please players of all ages. There are a few hiccups (notably with the multi-player lobby) that take away slightly from the overall positive experience, but the game is still a blast to play and any issues will hopefully be short-lived.
Like its predecessors, Disney Infinity 3.0 is played with figures placed on the game’s base that allow the character the figure represents to appear onscreen. It requires the game, a base, and at least one figure, so a starter pack – which includes all of the above and at least one playset – is a good idea for those new to the series. The Disney Infinity 3.0 Star Wars Starter Pack, for instance, includes the base, the game, Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, and the Twilight of the Republic Play Set. You still need to collect single player coins to move characters between Play Sets – for example, you need to find a Chewbacca coin in the Twilight of the Republic Play Set to use the Chewbacca figure in that Play Set – but it’s much easier than the 2.0 mechanism of collecting 10 coins, which was mostly just annoying.
Infinity 3.0 offers multiple ways to engage with the game. Those who seek structured play can pick up a Play Set (which is an actual physical piece that sits on the base) and run through the beefy single-player campaigns, or you can enlist the help of a friend and play together locally. Players who want to use their imaginations can fire up the Toy Box, which is the game’s sandbox mode, allowing creative types to build their own worlds or explore those that have been shared online through the community portal. Thanks to backwards compatibility, figures from the previous two versions of Infinity can be used in the Toy Box, though earlier Play Sets will only unlock sets of toys that can be used in the Toy Box.
The design of the single player levels and missions in the new Play Sets (Twilight of the Republic, Inside Out, Rise Against the Empire) is far more refined than it was in the previous version, most likely due to the way each was developed. Infinity 2.0 had a mish-mash of developers working together on different Play Sets, which could make many of the Sets feel similar or repetitive. 3.0 takes a more intelligent approach, assigning only one or two developers to each Play Set. Twilight of the Republic was co-developed by Avalanche and Ninja Theory, which makes for a very action-packed experience. Rise Against the Empire, on the other hand, was developed by Avalanche and Studio Gobo, and focuses more on vehicles. Avalanche also developed Inside Out, which is probably the best of the three Play Sets (and the other two are great). Flipping between two-dimensional and three-dimensional puzzle-platforming levels makes for some great family gaming sessions. Disney’s decision to play to each developer’s strengths is definitely a smart play, giving each Play Set a sense of wholeness and identity that was lacking in the 2.0 campaigns.
As wonderful as the campaigns are, they pale in comparison to the Toy Box, which has consumed more of my time than all of the Play Sets combined. Like 2.0, 3.0 has a nexus called the Toy Box Hub, in which various “subject-matter experts” (fighting, vehicles, etc.) guide with short quests that familiarize you with the controls and solidify your knowledge of the game. I’d actually recommend stopping in the Toy Box Hub before diving into the Play Sets, since it will make your gameplay experience much more enjoyable. More quests await in different portals scattered about the Hub.
When you’re not on the hunt for treasure or new quests, you can kick back in the section of the Toy Box Hub that houses the El Capitan theatre (which is set up like an actual theatre), where you can watch episodes of Toy Box TV and gain access to some unique Toy Boxes. Across the street from the El Capitan is Flynn’s Arcade, which functions as a multi-player matchmaking system for Toy Box games. And if you really want to try something different, you can play in the new-and-improved My INterior, which is a special modular house that you create and customize rooms for. Townspeople (and other online players) can wander around as you complete tasks for rewards.
Disney Infinity 3.0 also features a refined version of the 2.0 sidekick system to aid you in the game. Sidekicks can be decked out in special equipment and can fight by your side. Additionally, they can be used to plant crops (they farm while you’re off doing other stuff), raising crops that they can consume to increase their stats. Sidekicks even have their own rooms in the INterior that they can customize. It’s pretty neat to see what they come up with, and the feature is particularly appealing to kids, as they can spend time nurturing these little partners which will aid them in the game later on.
And so we come to a conundrum. When you first start realizing the power and potential fun locked away in the Toy Box, you’ll wish that you could access it all at once. The developers have really outdone themselves, providing more objects, more templates, and better “builders,” who basically just start building whatever it is they specialize in automagically. However, it takes time to go through the tutorials and even more time to unlock everything. It’s a fine system, and being able to see what the game has to offer before diving in is a good idea. Disney has made it a lot of fun to learn about everything that you can do in the game. Just know that you will have to make a serious commitment to the game before you gain access to everything it has to offer.
As for the other stuff, the animations feel smoother and the load times are faster and more entertaining than they were in 2.0, since the game constructs the Toy Box right before your eyes as it loads (though load times for larger Toy Boxes are still fairly long). Infinity 3.0 is also more welcoming than its predecessor. There are all kinds of tutorials to help you on your way, making 3.0 even better for younger kids. There is some cartoon violence but no more than in a typical LEGO game (i.e. no blood).
My daughter, who is eight years old, loves playing Infinity 3.0 either on her own or together with me. She loves the fact that 3.0 has a set of strong female characters (she’s figured out some tricks that I never would have thought of). Her favourite thing about the game is the Toy Box, since it allows her to customize her own world, giving her personality an on-screen representation. Indeed, when we first started playing previous versions together, she would tend to run around and play. Now she tends to stake a claim in part of the Toy Box and let her imagination run wild.
Disney Infinity 3.0 is not perfect. Not yet, anyway. Occasionally I found that my characters would get stuck in odd places, though updates will likely fix the problem. Some of the online features don’t yet work properly. I imported my Toy Box from 2.0 and have been prevented from adding new items, even after deleting old ones to make room. I’ve also been having trouble joining multi-player games in Flynn’s Arcade, either timing out or getting booted, which would be a much bigger problem if there weren’t so much other stuff to do. It’s disappointing that this is the case, as it is one of the features that I was looking forward to. The game isn’t broken – I’d still say it’s fantastic – and these issues will eventually disappear, since I know that the teams are constantly working on refining the game. (I’ve been logging into Flynn’s every couple of days, and at the time of publication, I was almost able to get into a game with three other random players – so there is hope!)
Finally, it should be mentioned that Infinity 3.0 has a number of collectibles that children may ask for. There are multiple figures (each with different and distinct powers) and power discs, which can enhance characters, modify landscapes, or provide new toys in the Toy Box. Each of these things cost money. However, the distribution strategy is a major improvement over the old system. With previous versions of Disney Infinity, Disney sold blind packs of power discs, which was frustrating because you never knew what you’d be getting. A number of online trading networks emerged to help people fill in their collections. For 3.0, Disney is selling the power discs in larger numbers while allowing folks to see what they are buying, which is a much better (and more consumer-friendly) way of doing things.
Having said that, it’s quite sneaky of Disney to have an “Infinity Collection” on the menu that shows you what you have (and haven’t) collected (owning multiple characters at least grants an experience bonus). The bottom line is that you need a minimal number of characters to finish the Play Sets, but you can still have a lot of fun in the Toy Box without spending a fortune.
Disney Infinity 3.0 takes the best parts of the previous two iterations and amps it up like nobody’s business. There is enough content in the game for many different play-styles to be accommodated, and a lot of work has gone into making everything accessible. Play Sets are more fun and feel more complete, and the new Skill Point distribution system makes it a lot easier for players to assign skills to their characters. Infinity 3.0 is also a lot more wallet-friendly than the other two, as characters seem to be compatible with more Play Sets than their previous counterparts.
I could keep going – almost every activity in Infinity unlocks more toys – but that’s almost spoiling the fun. Between the structured Play Sets and the sandbox play of the Toy Box, there really is something for everyone. The Infinity series has always been about discovery, and this iteration is no different. The game remains accessible despite the large number of features, so players will be busy for quite some time. You just open the box, set up, and you’re off to the races with Disney Infinity 3.0!