Marvel Realm of Champions Preview – Game of Houses

Marvel Realm of Champions Preview

I’ll start this preview by saying that I’m not the greatest Marvel connoisseur. Sure, I know about most of the heroes and villains, and I have seen my fair share of movies from the sprawling cinematic universe. One thing I do know, however, is that these guys were made for brawling, and that is exactly the approach that Marvel Realm of Champions is going for.

The latest game from Kabam, makers of Marvel Contest of Champions, initially fooled me – and apparently others as well – into thinking that it was going to be some sort of deep strategy and city-building RPG with hero houses competing for supremacy. As it turns out, it is a team-based arena brawler set in the Battleworld, with Champions fighting in real-time.

One of the highlights of Marvel Realm of Champions is the ability to customize your Champion, something that is declared as a first in a Marvel game. You can equip the parts to your liking across six slots, five for gear and one of the weapon. Gear comes in different types and rarities and can be leveled up, and your choice of weapon may affect the role that a Champion plays in the battlefield, between support, attack, and tank. For example, Storm can use the wand to perform in a support role, while her staff is best suited to an attack position, with consistent damage output.

This is an interesting addition and one that oddly enough feels necessary, considering that Marvel Realm of Champions’ launch roster is a meager one. According to my calculations, it will consist of the six Champions that were available in this preview build (Iron Legionnaire, Web Warrior, Black Panther, Hulk, Storm, and Sorcerer Supreme), plus Captain America which seems pinned for launch day. As you can see, for story purposes some Champions are the real deal, while others are variations of the iconic heroes, such as Iron Man and Spider-Man. There is a lot of space for the cast to grow with more heroes or variations, with Thor as an example that is coming in a future update.

Marvel Realm of Champions offers a mix of PvE and PvP modes that are suited to short gameplay bursts. A single battle can be completed in roughly five minutes, so you may jump into the game for a quick match while commuting, to earn some gear or a few additional experience points.

The two main game modes are called Stronghold and Arena Conquest. The former is a cooperative mode for a team of three players, and the latter is where all hell breaks loose as two teams of three go all the way to destroy the rival’s B.O.D.O.K., an acronym for Baron Organism Designed Only for Killing.

Your goal in Arena Conquest is to first capture the center point of the map to lower the B.O.D.O.K.’s defenses, and then you can rush it for a few seconds until you are propelled back to the central area. The first team that destroys the opposing B.O.D.O.K. wins the match. In the Stronghold mode, you must defend your ISO-Core against waves of increasingly difficult enemies. These enemies are called adaptoids and start small and frail, but the final wave brings a boss that demands the team’s full and unwavering attention. The match ends either when the boss is defeated, or the ISO-Core’s health falls to zero.

Marvel Realm of Champions Preview Web Warrior Spider-Man

As the threat level increases, so do the potential rewards. However, the twist here is that when you lose a match, the threat level decreases, and you must continuously strive to keep it in an optimal level. If you manage to find that sweet spot between hero upgrade and consistent skill-based gameplay, you may be able to earn better rewards at a reasonable pace.

A couple of other game modes are available: Arena Deathmatch and Onslaught. The first one is self-explanatory, with three teams of two players fighting to hit the 10-point mark, which is when a countdown starts and the team with the most points wins. As for Onslaught, this is the first of a series of limited time events called Strikes. Your team will face 15 waves of enemies in a bid to survive.

The maps in Marvel Realm of Champions are very small, pushing everyone to a center point where they will have no option but to engage in intense quarrels. Put the barriers and rocks to best use, avoiding taking damage from ranged Champions while you group to deal with the tank that comes your way. Trying the different units to see which one fits your playstyle best is crucial, but you have to brave your way until you can unlock some of them. During my time with this preview build I was able to unlock Hulk and Sorcerer Supreme, and used the earned in-game currency to purchase the Web Warrior from the store, so I had a few options to experiment with. Still, it feels like a meager selection for a Marvel game.

I can see where Kabam is going with Marvel Realm of Champions, and it is a promising place. Behind its straightforwardness lies a core gameplay loop that isn’t new, but it is well oiled and capable of convincing Marvel enthusiasts and fans of brawlers alike. The customization options open new ways for experimentation with different roles, giving it some welcome layers of depth. However, the initial roster should be larger and more diverse, because first impressions matter, and what is a Marvel game without dozens of heroes and villains to choose from? Keep those characters coming at a nice pace after launch and many players will surely make their way to the war-ravaged Battleworld when the game releases on December 16. You can pre-register for Android and iOS at the official website.

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