Available For: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Mac, PC, Wii U, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
We Played On: PlayStation 4
Disney Infinity 3.0 takes Disney’s spanking new Star Wars franchise and turns it into a campaign that will have parents and kids excited to see their favorite characters on the screen.
But while Disney Infinity 3.0 makes huge improvements in terms of gameplay and structure, it still feels simultaneously like too much and not enough.
Disney Infinity’s story mode comes in the form of Play Sets. There are several available for Disney Infinity 3.0, but the one that comes in the Starter Pack is called Twilight of the Republic. It stars Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano, as well as a handful of familiar characters from the Star Wars prequel movies.
If you found the Avengers Play Set in Disney Infinity 2.0 as dry as I did, you’ll be glad to know that Disney Infinity has improved on its single-player and cooperative story experience. The story felt far more cohesive to play, with complex environments and obstacles to fight through. Instead of experiencing the monotony of Disney Infinity 2.0’s endless and disconnected beat ’em up missions, I felt like I was contributing directly to the plot, and each chapter of the story had a purpose.
Combat with the Force-wielding Jedi is also a lot of fun. Anakin can use the Force to drag enemies closer to him, while Ahsoka pushes them away. Add in the super-fluid lightsaber combat, and being a Jedi is as awesome as I always imagined.
I experienced a few sticking points, though. When I attacked with my light saber on the ground, my character lunged towards the closest enemy. But if I jumped in the air, the character stayed static, swinging lightsabers around even if the enemy had moved.
Games like Kingdom Hearts have taught us that if a superpowered character jumps and attacks, they’ll darn well follow their enemy. In Disney Infinity 3.0, however, you just kind of hover impotently until you fall to the ground. Usually you get shot at by droids while you’re up there.
All that said, the combat felt a lot more varied and interesting than in the last game.
The Toy Box
Hello darkness, my old friend. Disney Infinity 3.0’s Toy Box has improved as well. The biggest change is one you’ll notice right away: the Toy Box Hub. This is the completely redesigned starting area for new players. In it, you’ll meet the familiar Toy Box hosts and have access to tutorials, as well as Disney Infinity staples like your INterior (aka, your house).
The Toy Box hosts are arranged in a circle in a totally white landscape. Once you speak to a host, that host’s section fills with color as they explain what they have to teach you. There’s a host for driving, a host for adventures, a host for farming, etc.
This new arrangement made it easy to understand exactly what types of gameplay are in Disney Infinity’s Toy Box, and believe me, there’s a lot.
Within each host’s domain, as it were, is a door to a tutorial world to help you get the hang of it all. Let’s start with the good stuff.
Farming is a new addition to the game, and it’s glorious. In the farming tutorial world as well as the overworld, you can plant crops which will grow over time. Once a plant is fully grown you can harvest it for food.
Why do I need food, you ask? Well, your Sidekicks are hungry. Sidekicks are little bean-shaped Disney characters that used to just run around being pointless and adorable. Well, they still do that, but now you can summon Sidekicks to be your particular companions.
These Sidekicks can be equipped with gear like hats and tools that make them stronger and help them do certain tasks. One hat, for example, lets them plant more lettuce. A hoe improves their farming. They also can be equipped with weapons and helmets and accompany you into battle. Your chosen Sidekick will basically follow you anywhere you go, and you can place a new Sidekick and kit them out at any time.
I loved farming, and I loved dressing up my Sidekicks and doing missions with them. My chosen Sidekick was Mabel Pines from Gravity Falls. Having her with me (and kicking butt) made Disney Infinity’s Toy Box a lot less lonely.
That’s something that hasn’t changed, though. The focus of the Toy Box Hub and all the tutorials (which basically add up to a full game) still feel like a world of possibility that is just out of reach. There are so many things to do, but I’m hard-pressed to find any of it meaningful or fun for more than a few minutes.
Even the stuff that I should love, like building and decorating a house, doesn’t interest me for long. In The Sims I can sink hours into perfecting tiny design details. But in Disney Infinity, the controls just don’t offer the level of granularity I want when customizing my INterior.
I started my INterior experience by wallpapering my house in Agrabah Palace wallpaper from “Aladdin,” then adding a long series of rooms wrapping around the starting point. I picked one to start decorating in, designated it “the kitchen,” and started placing counters against a wall. But the furniture doesn’t snap into place very easily, and it was hard to tell at times whether I was placing something flush against the wall or just slightly away from it. Eventually I painstakingly assembled a line of counters, found out that the length of the counters meant that there was a gap between the counters and the wall anyway, and then asked myself why I was even bothering to decorate a house I wouldn’t play in.
I don’t think my experience is universal. As a kid, I would probably have had the patience and imagination to make a fantastic mish-mash of a house and be excited to call it my own. But that doesn’t change the fact that Disney Infinity 3.0’s building controls are tetchy and don’t lend themselves to detailed room-furnishing. I would have had to have the patience of a saint to fully outfit my house. And I’m no saint.
Disney Infinity 3.0 is rated E10+ for Cartoon Violence. Any enemies you defeat just explode into colorful sparks, which you pick up and use as currency to buy things in the Toy Box.
All the characters are designed to look like plastic toys, so it’s very clear that none of the action is realistic.
It might not sound like it, but I found Disney Infinity 3.0 to be a huge improvement over the last Disney Infinity game. The story mode had direction, and combat was a lot of fun. The Toy Box does its best to inspire you to create and explore. It makes the experience more personal by giving you Sidekicks to help you out along the way, and it introduces great activities like farming. But ultimately, I still felt like there was nothing waiting for me beneath Disney Infinity’s glitzy, magical surface.
For creative, self-directed players, I think Disney Infinity is a valuable sandbox. And we can’t discount how much imagination kids can bring into an open world like this. Disney Infinity lets you do anything you want. That’s very freeing for some players—and paralyzing for others.
Without a clear idea of what I wanted from the game, I had very little to pull me back into it over and over again.
I’ll also grant that as an introduction to making games, Disney Infinity remains important. The Toy Box mode lets you assign actions to objects, a concept that comes from coding. The way it’s presented in Disney Infinity is more visual, but it’s still a good foundation to introduce kids to what goes into making a game. For me the controls were finicky enough that I can’t imagine making a full game, but with practice and patience I think your mileage may vary.