Skylanders: Swap Force Preview

Editor: Tracy Benson

Skylanders is massive game. Massive in terms of sales, it’s had over a billion total sales and over 100 Million toys sold. To put that in perspective, that’s something like 147 toys sold every minute. Massive in terms of popularity, it was the number 1 best selling kid’s game of 2011. Massive in terms of the amount of things you have to buy, there are 48 unique characters so far, but including variants, this figure comes up to 64 characters you can collect.

Skylanders Swap Force

With Skylanders Swap Force, Activision and developer Vicarious Visions are taking massive to a whole new level. Innovation is the key here, as they’ve made sure to bring new ideas and ways to play into the Skylanders universe. The Swapability leads new extended gameplay with its multitude of combinations. With a new engine behind the game that natively supports HD; the graphics have improved remarkably, giving a sense of a much higher production value. Oh and the characters can jump now as well.

So what is the Swapability? With Swap Force, you’re introduced to 16 new figures that you can literally mix and match. The figures separate at the waist and can be joined to any other figure, combining their movement powers from their bottom half with their interaction/fighting powers from their top half, leading to 256 entirely different Skylanders to be used in unique ways. Along with the new Swap Force figures, there will also be 8 new Light Core figures, 16 new core figures and 16 returning core figures, upgraded with new abilities.

If none of this is news to you, you just need to wait to see the new figures in action. Facing the boss battles is where the Swapability really shines. For example, one of the new characters is Wash Buckler, a squid faced pirate who moves around on tentacles, shooting ink at enemies or using his cutlass for close up combat. Another is Magna Charge, a robot tech Skylander that can zip around on a magnetic ball and uses a rail gun. Against a fire-based boss, Wash Buckler’s water powers make him really strong, but his movement is too slow to dodge the boss’s attacks. Magna Charge’s rail run wouldn’t work, but his movement is a lot quicker. Combine the two and voila, you have Wash Charge, who can speed around the boss and dispense of him easily.

Skylanders Swap Force

With Swap Force there are also all new Action Zones, areas that are exclusive to the new Swap Force figures. Represented by a symbol on the bottom half of the figure, only these characters will be able to gain access to these areas to complete objectives and get the treasure. Yes, that means you will need at least 8 of the new Swap Force figures – one of each type – to access all areas of the game.

The only potential downside with Swap Force is that, along with all the new figures to buy, you also need a new Portal of Power, as it’s been upgraded to handle the new Swapability technology. To soften the potential blow to the budget, the new figures will be released in waves, and the new game and Portal of Power are backwards compatible, so they will work with previous Skylander figures.

All in all it looks like Activision is going strong with the Skylanders franchise with their latest addition. Just in time for the Christmas rush, Swap Force is scheduled for a November release for Nintendo Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Many thanks to Devon Stanton and Megarom Games for the demonstration.

Lurker, observer and occasional commenter, don’t question my geek credentials until you’ve seen my Normandy SR-2 replica and my Doctor Who TARDIS mug.


  • Ralph Tricoche

    Question: can you play this game with the previous SL? Or ios the portal only compaitble in terms of “in playing the last two games with Series 1 and 2” BUT you cannot use those series 1 and 2 figures in the new game.

    • Tracy Benson

      You will be able to use Series 1 & 2 figures in the new game, the new portal is backwards compatible, but you will need figures from Series 3 to complete some sections.