With the largest roster of characters ever, does Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order stand out as a great comic book game, or will the 10 years away from the franchise leave it turning to dust with the snap of a finger?
During the past 10 years we’ve had some MCU tie-in games, a load of mobile games and the outstanding Spider-Man on PS4, but now Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order has just released – and exclusively for Nintendo’s Switch.
In MUA3, players start off controlling the Guardians of the Galaxy, boarding a Kree battleship and finding all six infinity stones at once – and with Thanos’ Black Order right behind them! If you’ve seen any of the MCU titles, the story will be familiar. Thanos wants the stones, but he definitely shouldn’t be allowed to get them. From the Kree battleship, the Guardians use the Space stone to teleport to The Raft. Upon arrival, Nick Fury assembles an alliance, including the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Avengers, the Defenders, The Spider Family (and Venom), The Midnight Sons and the beloved X-Men (with Marvel Knights, The Fantastic Four, more X-Men and story DLC planned until 2020!).
The Guardians give players an idea as to the different playstyles to expect. Star-Lord is a ranged player, sitting back and shooting, while Drax is a heavy hitter, Gamora is agile and quick, and Rocket and Groot (they’re one character) act like a mixture of Drax and Star Lord. After the introduction to the game you’re given a decent amount of characters to choose from.
As you progress further into the story, you’ll run into and unlock more characters, with fan favourites such as Miles Morales Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and Deadpool, but also some characters for the more hardcore fans, such as Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider and Elsa Bloodstone. Players can choose four characters for their team, allowing the ability to handle any situation. There are also bonuses for selecting characters from certain teams. Picking Hulk, Thor, Captain America and Iron Man yields the Avengers buff, which increases everyone’s energy bar, while picking Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Daredevil and Doctor Strange delivers the Defenders buff, increasing the damage you can take.
Visually, MUA3 is outstanding. The graphics are similar to that of Guitar Hero meets the current Jason Aaron Avengers comic run, while the costume designs for the heroes are a mixture of MCU outfits and comic book. Thor’s outfit is pulled straight from Avengers/Thor 1, while Captain America’s is from Age of Ultron (the best Captain America suit). Characters that haven’t appeared in the MCU (at least yet) have their original/iconic costumes.
The X-Men appear in their classic 1990s animated series outfits, and you’ll instantly hear that iconic theme song whenever they’re on screen. The attention to detail in the costumes/characters had us laughing and impressed. Star-Lord dances when he walks/shoots, Iron Man’s air flaps open and close when he moves around, The Wasp makes toys and candy hilariously large and crushes foes with them, and Deadpool… is just Deadpool!
The combat in MUA3 is fresh, familiar and entertaining. If you enjoy the Diablo series then you’ll be right at home here. Most characters have their own specific style of play, (ranged, heavy hitter, etc), on top of specific abilities and effects. Thor’s allow him to fly and electrocute enemies, plus he also isn’t affected by lightning/shock attacks. Doctor Strange and Scarlet Witch can withstand more magic based attacks, but crumble in close range. Meanwhile, Wolverine and Deadpool can heal when not in combat due to their healing factor (Deadpool can also teleport!). The combat is simple enough for new players to the series, but also in-depth enough for hardcore gamers to strategically pick their heroes.
Besides having standard special abilities like punching with a glowing fist or breathing fire, each character has an ultimate ability that deals large amounts of damage and can be activated in tandem with the rest of your team. Some of these ultimate abilities are not only visually stunning, but you feel the raw power of the attack. If all your heroes’ ultimates are charged at once, you can activate all four simultaneously and unleash chaos on your screen. Your heroes can also be upgraded by spending experience points, coins and Iso-8’s (crystals that buff your stats). Thankfully. with multiple currencies in the game there are no microtransactions.
MUA3 also has some hidden challenges in each level, which upon completion reward more currency, alternate costumes for your heroes, or even unlock special heroes to use throughout the story mode.
Not only is MUA3: The Black Order entertaining and beautiful, its an entry in the Ultimate Alliance series that was well worth the incredibly long wait. Whether you’re a fan of the earlier entries in the series, love the MCU, or you’re a Marvel Comics mega-fan, there’s something for everybody. With its simple story, entertaining combat, stunning visuals and the largest roster of heroes yet, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is easily one of the best titles you can get on the Nintendo Switch.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is available now exclusively for Switch.