Developer Blog – Making the Environment of Wakanda (Part I)

>>Beware! Minor Spoiler Alert for Black Panther: War for Wakanda! <<

(Black Panther overlooking Birnin Zana, the Wakandan capital)

Hi there, this is Tore Blystad, Experience Director from Crystal Dynamics, to give some details on how we created the world of Wakanda for our new expansion, Black Panther – War for Wakanda. This will be a two-part blog as there is a lot to cover!

(Some Black Panther comic references)

On the team, we talk a lot about what we call the “Marvel DNA,” which is at the foundation of everything we do. We spend a lot of time gathering references from the Marvel source material, and we have scoured the Black Panther comics for references to make our unique take on Wakanda accurate and exciting.

Fans of the comics will see many gestures towards the comics, as in this statue below, which is one of my personal favorites.

The jungle is key to Wakanda and our playable space. We aimed to make it lush, beautiful, and atmospheric, with organic shapes and a maze-like density encouraging exploration.

It is often covered by a dense canopy, which creates a moody experience where the sunlight gets filtered through the plant life.

(King T’Challa takes the Avengers on a tour of the Wakandan jungle)

We want players to look for hidden entrances behind every waterfall and in every nook and cranny of the jungle, and to enjoy the beautiful scenery as they traverse through it.

Ancient Wakandan monuments and structures are scattered throughout the jungle, many of them heritage sites that are safeguarded by contemporary Wakandan equipment.

The ancient structures are worth exploring as many of them contain resources and collectibles of various kinds.

We took inspiration from a multitude of ancient civilizations, but the interesting thing with Wakanda is that their culture goes back millennia, and their technology even in ancient times were far superior to any other civilization on Earth.

(Warrior’s Gate – part of the trials needed for returning warrior to go through to re-enter Wakanda)

With the ancient architecture, we wanted to show not only the craftmanship and ingenuity of the Wakandans, but also the forward thinking of their civilization. For example, in the image below, ancient Wakandans spent generations using the living, growing trees as structural elements to integrate into their temple constructions.

(Azzuri’s Temple – Ancient temple in the jungle that is now a heritage site, and has a special significance in the story of War for Wakanda.)

Wakanda is an unconquered nation, and one thing to notice when entering Wakanda is that there is nothing brought in from other regions in Marvel’s Avengers – No art is recycled, including all gameplay objects and resources. Wakanda has its own suite of objects, so everything should feel fresh and new. In addition, there are both ancient Wakandan and contemporary object styles. It has been a huge undertaking for the art teams to pull off Wakanda; both because there is such an abundance of unique art that needed to be built, but also because all Wakandan art objects had to be crafted from scratch since it is such a unique style.

(Wakandan Turrets – The player will meet both friendly and hostile versions of these turrets.)

(Wakandan contemporary wall object for wall running – guess which new character uses it.)

(Wakandan contemporary Resource crate)

(Ancient strongbox)

Ancient Wakandan technology is still in working order, and as potent as when it was constructed.  There are complex puzzle mechanisms, transportation devices, and even mechanical defenses that players can interact with throughout Wakanda. Beautifully crafted from natural materials like wood, fabric, and precious metals, these artifacts offer a glimpse into how life may have been like centuries ago in Wakanda.

(Ancient Monorail – traveling in style!)

(Ancient Turret – Still as deadly as when it was built.)

There is more verticality in the Wakandan landscape than anything we built before for Marvel’s Avengers, and players will have to watch their step as there are deadly drop-offs and bottomless pits scattered around the jungle. We also wanted to reward exploration, with strongboxes and treasures hidden underneath and over the play path.

(Watch out for deadly drop-offs when sightseeing in Wakanda)

(There are caves scattered around the jungle, many of them with ancient Wakandan paintings.)

The Wakandan missions are full of comic references, but in addition, the vistas will also show off iconic landmarks in the distance. Fans of the comics should be excited to see familiar locations as they move though Wakanda.

It was important for us that Wakanda feels like a contiguous space, with sight lines across the various parts of the country. This is different from how most of our other biomes are built. For instance, one mission takes place at the crater rim looking towards the Golden City in the vista, and the next scene takes place within the city itself.

Finally, some credits for all the hard work – Wakanda was built in a collaboration between Crystal Dynamics, Virtuos Shanghai and Nixxes. Art direction and production was driven from Crystal by Jeff Adams (Art Director) and Carlos Garcia (External Art Lead). James Brough was the Art Director at Virtuos Shanghai, and Oscar Stegehuis the Art Director at Nixxes. The main concept artist was Jin Kim from Crystal.

We can’t wait to show you more of Wakanda! Look out for a Part II in the future where we’ll show you more of the outpost!