It’s been six months since I last ranked Disney Infinity’s play sets. Since then Disney Infinity 3.0 has been released, along with four more play sets, raising the total number by almost 50%. With Marvel Battlegrounds, the next Marvel-themed set, out in just under three weeks, this is a good time to catch up and take another look at all 13 sets released so far.
To refresh: there are a few different branches to Disney Infinity. The toy box mode lets you design your own worlds and levels to play in, and you can download toy box levels made by other players online. Play sets are professionally designed, stand-alone expansions usually packaged with two new figures. They’re bigger, longer and more accomplished than the toy boxes, and feel more like what you expect from a “real” videogame. As I wrote in the previous rankings piece, “if you’re the type who doesn’t care about user-generated content, and who isn’t interested in building your own toy box worlds, these play sets are probably what you think of when you think of Disney Infinity.” So let’s look at ‘em all, from worst to best.
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13. The Avengers: Despite its cornucopia of cameos, including drop-ins from Captain Marvel, Luke Cage and the Wasp, the open-world Avengers play set makes a bad impression for Disney Infinity. It might be the most repetitive of the play sets, with its endless frost giant battles and similar mission types. And unlike the Spider-Man play set, there's basically no variety in the environments—you'll be fighting your way through this ice-covered slice of Manhattan for the entire run. It's not all bad, though—the first hour or two is great fun, and it's probably the best way to level up your Avengers characters.
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12. Spider-Man: The Spider-Man play set is another action-heavy open world, but it's more diverse than the Avengers one, with a handful of different environments to play through. You'll often dip into the sewers or into OsCorp buildings to rescue scientists and fight the Green Goblin's legion of alien symbiotes. The collection of playable characters also provides a novel mix of personalities and skills, from Iron Fist's kung fu cool to Nova's wide-eyed power cosmic. It's still a little too repetitive, and the storyline doesn't quite make sense, but it's a step up on the Avengers set that came with Disney Infinity 2.0.
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11. The Lone Ranger: Maybe the movie wouldn't have been a bust if it had the same spirit as the play set. This is almost like a PG-rated Red Dead Redemption, with the Lone Ranger and Tonto tussling with bandits and rustlers in a cartoonish old west town. In retrospect it's a baffling choice for one of the few official play sets to be released so far, but it's a setting and style of play that's unlike any of the other sets so far, making it a fine addition to your collection.
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10. The Incredibles: The Incredibles set that came with the original Disney Infinity starter pack is a clear precursor to the Spider-Man and Avengers sets. All three are free-roaming, superhero beat-'em-ups set in a big city sandbox. The Incredibles set is shorter and simpler than those later two, but that actually works in its favor. It's not long enough to grow too repetitive, and there's no sense of disappointment over a hinted-at greater depth that doesn't come to pass, as in the New York-based Marvel games. It captures the spirit of The Incredibles like no game before it, which makes it a success.
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9. Star Wars: Rise Against the Empire: The three Star Wars sets released so far have largely been superior to everything that came before. This streamlined retelling of the original Star Wars trilogy is as packed full of business as the other two sets, with different planets to travel to and a variety of iconic vehicles to pilot. It's the least impressive of the three, though, because of how carelessly it splices up the storyline. Crucial characters, locations and plot points from the movies are all excised, from Bespin to Han's freezing to Yoda, even though he's playable in-game if you find the right collectible. Vader tells Luke he's his father on Hoth, for crying out loud. You don't even have to be a Star Wars purist to find that hard to handle.
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8. Guardians of the Galaxy: The play set based on the surprise smash movie is tighter than the other Marvel play sets despite also offering a greater variety in play. Instead of a sprawling Manhattan it's set in Knowhere, the hollowed-out head of a giant space giant called a Celestial that's adrift in space, which means the environment is broken up into a series of distinct chambers. Instead of the straight-forward brawling of the other Marvel sets, it combines beat-'em-up action with spaceship fights and platforming. Also the Guardians characters have a nice variety of skills and play styles. All of this makes this one of the less repetitive play sets in the entire game.
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7. Monsters University: That original Disney Infinity starter kit did a great job of showing how much variety the game could offer. One of three shorter scenarios included in the first play set, Monsters University is one of the few pranking games I can think of. It's less about beating people up or racing than it is pranking and scaring your rival monsters. It might grow a little tiresome before it ends, but there's nothing else like it in Disney Infinity.
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6. Toy Story in Space: This play set might be the funniest of the entire lot, thanks to appearances from a few of the movies' original voice actors and a heavy presence from the Little Green Men from the first movie's pizza parlor crane toy. Most of the play set involves saving those aliens from various mishaps and disasters, with the platforming almost verging on puzzle territory at times. It never gets too repetitive or bogged down with button mashing, and it's so fun and so effortlessly a part of the Toy Story world (even if it's based on the Buzz Lightyear of Star Command cartoon) that it's hard not to love this play set.
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5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Another strong Star Wars play set, this is also a pretty fascinating look into how other companies can adapt the plot of one of the most carefully guarded films ever made. This play set was released the day after the movie opened, and unlike most Disney Infinity releases it wasn't really sent to the press before it was in stores. It doesn't take as many narrative shortcuts as Rise Against the Empire, but it does glide right past the biggest surprises from the movie, and doesn't really explore Rey's connection to the Force or Jedi self-discovery. Like the other Star Wars sets, it's an open-world game that has a lot of genuinely fun things for the player to do, from space battles to lightsaber fights. And with Finn, Rey and Poe as the main playable characters it might have the most likable cast of any of these play sets.
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4. Pirates of the Caribbean: The last of three play sets included with the original starter pack, the Pirates game can be seen as an expanded ad for what you can create in Disney Infinity's toy box. It combines hack'n'slash action with sea combat and more exploration than you'd probably expect. Of those three original play sets it's the closest to a full-fledged, stand-alone game, with a large world to play through and enough changes in play style to keep you from ever growing bored.