As both a mobile gamer and a Marvel fan, I’ve been eyeing Marvel Contest of Champions with an equal mix of excitement and concern. The thought of bashing my favorite champions into each other seemed promising, but as a free-to-play offering on a touch screen device, could a Marvel fighting game not only deliver, but satisfy?
I’ve spent a week with the game in it’s Canadian soft launch, and I feel that I can safely say that Marvel Contest of Champions is exactly the game you want it to be.
Like the DC-themed Injustice: Gods Among Us, Marvel Contest of Champions is a simplified fighting game – but this is far from a cheap, Spidey-skinned knock-off. The two games differ in a number of significant ways. For one thing, the fights are 1-on-1 rather than 3-on-3. For another, the combat here is even more simplified than in its DC brethren. If you’re worried that might make things too simple, don’t worry: Contest of Champions makes up for its simplicity with speed.
While Injustice might feel like a weighty, somewhat slower title fight between two heavy hitters, Contest of Champions tries to capture the frantic nature of games like Street Fighter (or, appropriately, Marvel vs. Capcom). So while the controls are as simple as swiping and tapping to attack, dash, dodge and block, the fight will be moving fast enough that you’ll be doing these actions at a frenzied pace, making simple decisions about when to block and how to hit in fractions of a second.
The free-to-play elements are surprisingly gentle here, too. Energy systems dictate how often you can playing in the main campaign or PvP, but you’ll easily be able to sink 30 minutes into a sitting before running into any issue. And even if you do, energy refills (like other items) are handed out at a surprisingly fair rate.
Where you’ll find yourself wanting to part with some money is in getting the characters themselves. Different heroes are unlocked at random from “crystals” that you can buy – but only if you want to. If your patient, again, the game is surprisingly fair. You’ll get one character-giving crystal every 24 hours, and you’ll earn premium currency towards more as you play through the single player campaign.
The only real disappointment is that simplified nature of the game means that different characters play virtually identically, save for their superpowers that can only be used a handful of times in each fight. What sets your heroes apart is how well you’ve ranked them up, and how their class weighs against an opponent’s class. And yes, this means you’ll be obsessively ranking your favorite heroes up as often as you can, and working towards building a fairly diverse team.
If first impressions are everything, Marvel Contest of Champions has made a very good one. Will we still be loving it by the time it sees a worldwide release in December? Be sure to check back for our full Marvel Contest of Champions review.