WhenÂ Marvel: Avengers AllianceÂ hit the scene two few years ago, it turned heads with its accessible approach to turn-based battles featuring numerous super heroes and villains, along with a level of polish and production value that isnât seen in many Facebook games. It later migrated to mobile, and while a sequel may have been the safe route, Disney Interactive came up with something even better.
That something isÂ Marvel Avengers Alliance Tactics, and it takes things to the proverbial next level by combining some of the core concepts of its predecessor with squad-based tactical gameplay, all rendered in 3D graphics. Itâs a marriage thatâs âslap your foreheadâ obvious once you hear it, and one that was definitely inspired by one of last yearâs big hits from the same genre.
âSomething that weâve always dreamed about is making something along the lines ofÂ XCOM: Enemy UnknownÂ in terms of the gameplay,â executive producer Gabe Brown said to Gamezebo. âWe really wanted to takeÂ Avengers AllianceÂ to new and interesting gameplay outside of just a straight sequel. And so itâs just something that we talked about internally. When we started thinking about the next step in the franchise, this is one of the concepts that popped into our heads, and we said, âOh man, we need to do this, this sounds great.ââ
The new approach comes with a change of perspective.Â Avengers AllianceÂ put players right into the action with a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent avatar participating in battles alongside Marvel heroes, butÂ TacticsÂ reassigns you to the commander level, pulling strings from above the battlefield. Squads can be made up of a mix of heroes and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and the developers worked hard to ensure there are reasons to include some of the latter.
âHeroes are definitely the biggest and the strongest, and theyâre the guys you are going to want to send in first, and the agents will play more of a support role,â Brown said, mentioning things like heals and buffs. âThey can also play a more active role, but itâs riskier because theyâre not as powerful as heroes are. Itâs interesting because it opens up a huge, huge variety of strategies that you can take into each combat and determines how you decide to play your characters. Itâs something that weâve been playing around with, and we really enjoy the depth and variety we can get there.â
Other twists include a S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ with various structures to build and upgrade. Yet thereâs a lot that is familiar too, including the currencies, Command Points to recruit heroes and agents and S.H.I.E.L.D. Points to train characters up to the next level and purchase items.
ISO-8, the story device that ties all of the recent titles in the âMarvel Game Universeâ together, also returns, albeit with some additional developments. The overall story, though, is new, starting players off in the Savage Land to investigate anomalies that arise from the impending collision of numerous parallel dimensions.
It sounds a lot like the saga that Jonathan Hickman is currently weaving in theÂ AvengersÂ andÂ New Avengersseries, but while the prominent Marvel writer did give some feedback,Â Marvel Avengers Alliance TacticsÂ isnât dependent on whatâs going on in current comics.
âThe storyline really ties into a lot of what weâve been doing withÂ Avengers AllianceÂ and the Marvel Game Universe,â Brown said. âItâs really centered around the fact that incursions are happening, these worlds are colliding, theyâre coming together and all kinds of weird stuff is popping out: universes where mutants are the dominant race or universes where anything can possibly happen.
âWe do the dialogue through Black Panther and other characters,â he continued. âThey help us understand whatâs going on. Through dialogue we reveal things, even to people who are more casual players who havenât been exposed to Marvel before, in a way thatâs approachable and understandable.â
The scope of the threat means that itâs all hands on deck, providing an in-game excuse for unlockable villains like Loki, Klaw, Ronan the Accuser and Taskmaster to be available for recruitment. And dimensional hijinks raise the possibility that different versions of familiar characters could pop up as well. Brown wouldnât confirm or deny that notion, only saying that heroes from parallel worlds were âdefinitely on the table.â
Perhaps the only real surprise is that Disney Interactive chose to launchÂ TacticsÂ on Facebook, following the same path asÂ Avengers Alliance. The company says itâs because even after the first title released on iOS and Android, it found the Facebook audience to be a larger, more engaged one.
Still, itâs difficult to imagine that if this game catches on, it wonât have a multi-platform future too. If the success ofÂ XCOMÂ taught us anything, itâs that tactical games with the right UI can shine on mobile devices. Commanding heroes and agents on a tablet just seems like a natural next step.
For now, Brown really wants you to playÂ Marvel Avengers Alliance TacticsÂ where it just launched. Not only does his claim that âyouâre not going to see many games that look like this on Facebookâ ring true, he and his team believe the gameplay is just as special.
âHonestly, weâre super proud of this game,â he said. âWe really love the accessibility and the depth that it brings to the tactics genre, and it makes it kind of a unique experience that you donât really get very often. We love how well it plays and weâre really excited to share it with the rest of the world.â