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Where is Wonder Woman?

Where is Wonder Woman?

When you need to stop an asteroid, you get Superman. When you need to solve a mystery, you call Batman. But when you need to end a war, you get Wonder Woman.
— Gail Simone

There’s quite a bit going on in the DC Universe, their comic book series and new imprint label DC Black are doing pretty well, controversies aside. Their films appear to be heading in the right direction with Wonder Woman and Aquaman. The CW shows have heightened the interest factor from the announcement of Crisis on Infinite Earths coming later 2019 serving as significant intrigue around which characters will die in place of Supergirl and the Flash (considering the difficulty in imagining losing your two titular leads). One of the characters that feels like a shoe-in for the CW universe but seem to be purposely missing should be Wonder Woman or Nu’Bia. With Supergirl and now Batwoman making her appearance and receiving a green light for a pilot episode from the network one must wonder what a Wonder Woman or Nu’Bia character would offer to a new live action version of Trinity. That’ll remain a mystery for some time as the main focus of this is to explore what an open world game available for the next generation of consoles look like if focusing on the Amazons themselves. 

This is a curiosity that I’ve had for quite some time that lingered after seeing Wonder Woman’s appearance in Batman v Superman, then the Wonder Woman film. The lingering intensified as I was playing Horizon Zero Dawn, and reached another level during gameplay of God of War. If it’s not obvious of where I’m going I’ve remained extraordinarily curious of what a Wonder Woman game would be, how it would operate, how it could play, how it could look. It’s safe to say that once I got into the overall mood of Spider-Man on the PS4, the beauty, complexity with a mix of simplicity, the storyline, the details, the characters and their interactions made me wonder what could come next, what character should be made into the medium that continues to experience an acceleration of growth. We’ve had several batman games, a somewhat terrible superman game, Injustice Gods Among Us was a very tolerable game (though dedicated to fighting so limitations are obvious). 

There’s an obvious desire to see more female superheroes in various mediums, not simply serving as a sidekick but as a lead, not necessarily needing a love interest, but as someone aiming to save mankind from a significant threat whether it be a being from another planet, or from themselves. Gaming hasn’t fully moved forward with respect to this, in some games you’re able to create your own player, in many single player games there are the typical male archetypes. Certain games and characters definitely shouldn’t be ignored such as Horizon Zero Dawn, Tomb Raider, and Assassin’s Creed Origins. WB/DC has the ability to move forward with a single player game following one of the greatest superheroes to have emerged from the comics and animation to film, but it would be nice and a new realm of exploration of the character in the vein of video games. Developing such a game is long overdue.

I love that duality of Wonder Woman: that she both wants peace and means peace, but when push comes to shove and someone needs to be put down like a dog, that’s what she would be willing to do.
— Patty Jenkins

As mentioned games such as Horizon Zero Dawn, the latest Tomb Raider trilogy, God of War, and Assassin’s Creed Origins/Odyssey even the latest Zelda & Spider-Man, are single player games with depth and breadth of a vast open world to explore. Each of these games provided stories that kept many engaged at a level that the declarations of the death of single player games were dumber each time, not to mention the DLC going deeper into each games universe (sans God of War…a DLC there would’ve been so lovely). Each game listed isn’t necessarily perfect, obviously there are minor improvements that could be made in their subsequent and inevitable sequels, but they do serve as a series of lessons for what a game around Wonder Woman could potentially become. Consider a cross between HZD and GoW with a touch of Tomb Raider as a way of bringing Wonder Woman to the world of single player open world video games.

Horizon Zero Dawn gave gamers a map incredibly massive in scope with a weapons wheel that though took some time getting used to, allowed for a brief moment of weapon switching in the heat of combat. Combat mind you, where in the beginning you have the single use a staff and a bow and arrow against humans in some cases, and some of the largest machinations in the shape of animals seen in most games. Eventually as you progress, as most know and would conclude, you increase your access to weapons and skills, as well as access to using many of the large enemies to effectively become an army of your own. The occurrence can seem rare and in some cases random, but when they occur, when they happen, the quiet moments, the moments of a glowing moon while mounted on the back of a Strider, Broodhead, or Charger allowing many to capture the perfect image to share with others. Horizon Zero Dawn was a game where you discover what happened to the world and the truth behind who the main character Allow is, and where she’s come from.

God of War, though not an original title, has gone through a reboot that took things into an incredibly different level that was unexpected. The 2018 game of the year told an incredible story of the troubles Kratos faces with raising a son and pointing him in a direction that would differ from his own while accepting his true nature. The moments of Kratos unleashing his God-like wrath on enemies throughout the game felt incredible, the subtle moments between father and son, the father with a sense of a reluctance to raise a boy, who’s frustrated with the loss of his mother and the seeming lack of acceptance from his father. The game’s exploration of the Norse God mythology was intriguing and had a substantial amount of promise of what we may find out and see in the game’s sequel. 

These are lessons and concepts Wonder Woman could utilize in its own game, a vast open world exploration filled with unique quiet moments and intense battles with beasts, Gods, and others that would make others pale in comparison.

Nubia is not the foil to Diana, Wonder Woman’s true identity, but a true equal.
— Princess-India Alexander

Based on the lessons Wonder Woman could take one wonders what the story could potentially be, considering the vast amount of source material available there are many paths to do down when telling the story of the Amazon. With this specific character I would argue that telling an origin story that explores not simply the woman herself, but the world in which she inhabited before meeting the other parties that form the DC Trinity. Exploring the world of Themyscira could allow developers to tell the story in three different paths, on one hand the game is developed where the player assumes the role of Diana, this would be in line with what to expect from such a game, though the developer could also tell the story of Nu’Bia, the sister of Diana and a princess herself (depending on which origin you decide on), a character that has rarely if ever depicted in other mediums outside of the comics. This is a take that would be interesting in several ways, allowing the player to still have interactions with Diana and also explore who and what she becomes in her own future.

The third consideration of telling such a story of the game is taking the role of Hippolyta, the mother of Diana and Nu’Bia, and the leader and Queen of the Amazons. Such a direction would be interesting in that you’re diving deeper into the history of Themyscira as well as their connections to the Gods themselves. A similar path could be taken with Diana and Nu’Bia, where the player would take part in a story that would lead to all out war between the Amazons and other factions during this time, possibly even a war between the Amazons and the Antlantians or the Gods themselves. 

From the perspective of Hippolyta, the player could explore a world of Gods and Monsters, interactions with Antlantians and other creatures throughout the land of Themyscira. The consideration of Amazonian interaction with Antlantians and potentially showcasing some of the world of Atlantis not to mention a potential tease if you will of an eventual game featuring the under water kingdom is certainly an intriguing one. But on the focus of the Amazons, there’s a great deal many simply aren’t aware of from the history of Wonder Woman, her mother, allies to Amazons as well as those that are antagonists. Though these have all been explored in the comics it would be nice to see these characters brought to life in gaming. 

Even with using Diana or Nubia as the central characters such a game series or trilogy could utilize the storyline by Allan Heinberg and Terry Dodson as a launching pad, introducing gamers to Wonder Woman’s rogues gallery, with the potential of introducing other heroes such as Donna Troy and/or Wonder Girl. or the Rise of the Olympian storyline by Gail Simone. These are launching pads would be ideal as well as engaging. It’s not as great of a tall order as it may seem, considering the worlds that have been built with establishing characters like the Batman Arkham series and the latest Spider-Man as well as those that are new like Horizon Zero Dawn.

If loss makes you doubt your belief in justice, then you never truly believed in justice at all.
— Wonder Woman, Vol. 3: The Circle

There are a litany of avenues writers, producers, directors, and developers could go with such a game, and nailing down the story of a potentially single player game is vital. But one other avenue is creating your own Amazonian warrior, one that’s provided with missions by Hippolyta, one that has interactions with Diana and Nu’bia, an Amazon that takes the player through the story of a world many don’t truly know. It’s a path that could make a lot of sense, though you don’t experience the power and abilities of Diana, it could be a sight to see it happen in game. Either approach to such a game works, with turning Themyscira into an open world environment adding in other areas that tease a larger world beyond the island, with characters that populate the world at large from allies to adversaries, it’s hard to imagine this game this story in the right hands wouldn’t be seen potentially as a game of the year whichever year it’s released.

The Injustice series was a minor step in the introduction of Wonder Woman and other female characters of the DC Universe, though limited in scope and comprehensive story, it was a step in the right direction. Though a story driven open world game (such games will not go away or die), centered on those that inhabit the universe of Wonder Woman is long overdue, as it’s already been stated we’ve been inundated with other characters for the last two decades from Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, Deadpool, Wolverine, amongst others. Many of these games aren’t bad, in fact some of them are some of the best games that have been made, but it doesn’t help that these have been consistently made over and over without giving a thought to one of the most dynamic comic book characters created. 

Many have argued and continue to do so stating that making a superman game is quite hard (I disagree), mainly because of who the character is, as though there haven’t been stories that could adapt to such a medium. Though those games have been attempted with some falling short, one wonders how sizable of a  committee to agree on the scope of such a project centered on Wonder Woman it would take to be given the green light, certainly a lot would have to be measured in a way that’s very similar to other open world superhero and those non-superhero games that have actually been made. 

But it goes without saying, the development, creation, and showcasing of a Wonder Woman single player game is long overdue, and with the power of current-generation and next-generation gaming consoles as well as the storytelling we’ve seen over the last few years from the Last of Us to Horizon Zero Dawn, the open worlds from God of War to Spider-Man and Zelda: Breath of the Wild, one hopes that some day, some company, some developer, some publisher will come to their senses and realize the potential and meaning of what a Wonder Woman game can truly become.

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