10 July 2018
Heroes and world "certainly inspired" by popular team shooter video game, designer acknowledges
Crystal Clans, Ashes and Summoner Wars studio Plaid Hat has revealed its next competitive card game – and it’s a little familiar, to say the least.
Guardians is a card-battler starring a roster of superpowered characters. Players build a squad of three heroes, each of which has a unique set of abilities and moves that can be combined into a custom deck.
The gameplay is reminiscent somewhat of light faction-based shufflebuilder Smash Up!, as players use their team to dominate a series of locations, knocking out rival characters with attacks and reaction cards.
But it’s Guardians’ theme that gives off a particular sense of déjà vu, as it appears to have taken heavy inspiration from the hugely popular team-based first-person competitive shooter video game Overwatch.
To begin with, there’s the setup: Guardians’ characters are described in the game’s rulebook as a “network of legendary heroes” formed to establish peace in the world before stepping aside to allow a newly-formed global government to rule, now returning three decades later to deal with “new threats”.
Overwatch, meanwhile, stars a selection of characters that once formed an elite squad of heroes to bring an end to a war between robots and humans and usher in peace, later disbanding as the result of the corruption in the world. The game is set 30 years later, as the team reunites to deal with new crises.
Guardians’ characters, too, seem to be based closely on the make-up of the Overwatch team. There’s a purple-hued sniper with fancy eyewear (Astra in Guardians, Overwatch’s Widowmaker), a winged soldier who dominates the skies in mechanical armour (Valkyrie/Pharah – the former is even said to “rain down judgement”, just as Pharah cries “Justice rains from above”), a cyborg blademaster (Ronin/Genji), a cybernetically-enhanced super-soldier (Rajesh/Soldier 76), a heavily-armoured robot warrior (Harbinger/Bastion), a cloak-wearing gunslinger with pinpoint accuracy (Venger/McCree) – and those are just the most obvious comparisons.
Most telling of all is Guardians’ Whiplash, a quiffed and goggled police officer with “unparalleled mobility” whose look, description, stance in the box’s artwork and duel-pistol loadout draw instant comparisons to Overwatch’s speedy British hero Tracer.
As in Overwatch, each Guardians hero also boasts an ‘Ultimate’ – a special attack that must be gradually charged over the course of a match, but has the ability to significantly swing the fight in their favour with the right timing. (Guardians limits its players to three Ultimate cards, which are flipped facedown after use and cannot be played again.)
Fans have been quick to point out the similarities between the two games online and, for their part, Guardians’ creators have been upfront about their muse, with designer Callin Flores acknowledging that Guardians was “certainly inspired by it” in response to a comment sarcastically calling the game “#definitelynotOverwatch”.
Guardians’ thematic and visual debts to Overwatch reveal little about how the gameplay will actually pan out on the tabletop – we’ll find out if the game lives up to its inspiration when it releases in Q4 of this year, following a ‘preview sale’ at Gen Con next month.