The latest in Activision's uber-popular Skylanders series, Swap Force, is finally available, which introduces new characters – as well as a few returning favorites – for another fun adventure.

For those of you getting into it for the first time – or trying to adjust to the new "swapping" abilities that the characters introduce this time around, we've got some helpful tips to get you started. It's hardly complicated, as this is a game players of all ages can approach with ease, but these will certainly help you along.

Getting Started

The Starter Pack for Swap Force comes with a copy of the game, an "interactive portal" that you plug into your game system (via USB) and three playable characters – Ninja Stealth Elf, Blast Zone and Wash Buckler.

There are characters that fit into a specific class, and this will come in handy over the course of your game. Blast Zone, for instance, is a Fire class, while Wash Buckler is a Water class. When you come across specific zones where characters are stronger in a different area, don't hesitate to switch out your Skylander characters on the portal to get the right one. The game will pause while you switch, so don't worry about losing your progress.

In addition, some Skylanders characters can have top and bottom halves switch out. These are usually the bigger characters that have pieces that magnetically attached, compared to the "one piece" Skylanders, like Ninja Stealth Elf or previous ones from Skylanders and Skylanders Giants.

Some areas will require you to use a Skylander with "swapped halves" in order to access them. It doesn't really matter which half is which, as you can have Wash Zone or Blast Buckler and easily access it. Just as long as one half is Fire and the other is Water – or different, depending on the zone – you'll be fine.

That's really about it, but remember that "swappable" Skylanders require both halves in order to work. It's important you don't lose their pieces, because they won't work unless you have both a top and bottom half. Keep them somewhere handy.

Getting Into Combat 

When you first start up your game with a Skylander, you'll have a couple of abilities available with combat. One generally launches projectiles or lets you attack enemies up close; the other is a more powerful attack, like a charge technique, that lets you roll over bigger enemies. Both Blast Zone and Wash Buckler have these, as do other characters you pick up.

As you progress further into Swap Force, you'll have the opportunity to power up characters with improved techniques they already have, as well as new attacks. Make sure you take the time to help them grow when you can, as they'll be more effective against tougher enemies that are introduced later in the game.

Also, keep in mind that you can use previous Skylanders figures from Spyro's Adventure and Giants in Swap Force. Their stats carry over with them, so you can use them right off the bat without having to re-earn the new abilities all over again. Big plus there, especially if you want to get right into dominating.

That said, make sure you take the time to help new characters grow. They really fit into Swap Force's world quite well, and the more you open them up, the more they can do for you in the game.

Seek Out the Collectibles

One thing that there's not a shortage of in Swap Force is Collectibles. Seeking these out through small hidden areas and accessible rooms will help you earn a bonus star at the end of the stage, compared to just earning one for completing the mission.

These collectibles are scattered throughout, whether it's part of Captain Flynn's crashed ship, or more critical items like Soul Gems – which unlock new abilities for select Skylanders – and Story Scrolls, which provide more of their back story. Some may appear outside of reach at first, but a solution, like a crate dropped off from a higher ledge, may help you access them.

If you see caves, make sure you stop in and see what they have to offer. You may have to defeat some enemies, but the rewards you'll reap by doing so are certainly worth it.

Treasure chests are also available in each stage, and they're easy to get into. Simply press the right trigger and mash the acquired button until it eventually pops open, and collects the goods inside.

Even if you want to get through a level right away, be sure to take the time to explore it. Use select Skylanders to get into additional areas. It's well worth it, and you'll be one step closer to getting the stars you need once you finish it. The more stars you get, the more you'll unlock later on.

Yes, You Can Jump

Finally, there's one more feature that makes all the difference in Swap Force – you can now jump! For the first time in the series, all of your characters can easily get over small ledges by jumping over them, rather than having to walk around as they did in previous games. This ability is also helpful when it comes to getting to another area of the game, or leaping on branches to collect strings of coins. It's finally nice to get some air.

Skylanders: Swap Force is available now for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. It'll also release on PlayStation 4 on November 15th and Xbox One on November 22nd.