It is the first Skylanders game to be released in North America before other regions, unlike the previous two games where Australia got the installments first. This is also the first Skylanders game not to be owned by Vivendi.
The gameplay for Swap Force is based on the two previous games, Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure and Skylanders: Giants. Players use a portal to bring real life action figures into the video game. For the new game, Skylanders are able to jump, and there are new swappable Skylanders. The new game also brings a new Portal of Power (and therefore is only sold as a starter pack). The new Portal was added because of the new technology that makes the Swap Force characters work correctly. These sixteen new characters have top and bottom halves that can be separated from each other and recombined with the halves from other characters. This allows for a total of 256 combinations between all tops and bottoms. Another new feature of the swappable characters is that each has one of eight distinct ways of moving. These different movement types are necessary to enter certain side areas in the game called "SWAP Zones". Only characters with the correct bottom half can enter said areas.
As with the previous installments of the game, Skylanders: Swap Force will be available for purchase in starter kits that will include a copy of the game itself, the portal of power, a handful of characters to begin or supplement your collection, a poster of the entire Swap Force collection, cards, stickers, and Web codes. The current starter packs and the characters include the following:
Console Starter Pack
Ninja Stealth Elf
People who pre-order Console Starter Pack or Gamestop Exclusive Dark Edition Starter Pack from GameStop receive a free, never before released Skylanders: Giants Lightcore Hex figure and a poster.
People who pre-order Console Starter Pack from Toys "R" Us also receive a free, never before released Lightcore Hex figure, a poster, and any single Skylanders: Swap Force character they would like.
People who pre-order Console Starter Pack from Walmart also receive the free, never before released Lightcore Hex figure.
People who pre-order Console Starter Pack from Target Corporation receive a free, exclusive, physical magic/trading card that grants a hat (UFO Hat) when placed on the new Portal of Power, as well as the Lightcore Hex figure.
People who pre-order Console Starter Pack from Best Buy also receive the free, never before released Lightcore Hex figure.
New Skylanders/Returning Skylanders and Map Packs
Swap Force features sixteen new core characters and sixteen new swappable characters, in addition to sixteen reposed Skylanders from previous games, five new dark figures and eight Lightcore Skylanders.
Dark Wash Buckler (Water - Climb)
Dark Blast Zone (Fire - Rocket)
Dark Slobber Tooth (Earth)
Dark Ninja Stealth Elf (Life)
Dark Mega Ram Spyro (Magic)
Tower of Time - Includes PopThorn, Battle Hammer, Sky Diamond, and Tower Of Time Location Item
Sheep Wreck Island - Includes Wind-Up, Platinum Sheep, Groove Machine, and Sheep Wreck Island Location Item
Arkeyan Crossbow - Includes Grim Creeper, Thorn Horn Camo, and Arkeyan Crossbow Magic Item
Fiery Forge - Includes Bumble Blast, Knockout Terrafin and Fiery Forge Magic Item