Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is a Hectic ARPG that Calls Back to the Originals

If you were in the Discord chat with me when Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order was announced at The Game Awards like my DualShockers coworkers were, you would understand just how excited I am for the game. The original Marvel Ultimate Alliance was a huge part of my childhood as it was a co-op game I played often with my brother across Xbox, Xbox 360, and Wii. After the series was laid to rest following Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, I was content with what we got. That being said, when Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order was unveiled I noticed it was the series revival I didn’t know I wanted.

I finally had the chance to try the game out at E3 this year and it lives up to my expectations, for the most part. The art style looks great on Nintendo Switch and the gameplay retains the fun Diabl0-like style of the originals. While the screen could sometimes get too cluttered, even on a TV, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order seems like an amazing fit for Nintendo Switch from what I played.

The first thing I noticed when playing Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order was how its visuals popped. While not graphically intensive, its comic book style reflects the source material even better than the original games did with their more realistic looks. I enjoyed all of the characters’ new but faithful looks. Environments, while simple in gameplay design, were also colorful and enjoyable to romp through. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order’s visuals definitely left more of an impact on me than the other Marvel game on the show floor due to its more stylish look.

Unfortunately, the game can get quite cluttered during intense fights. Even with the bold outline around my distinct looking character, it was sometimes easy to get lost in the action when multiple enemies and flashy attacks are on screen at the right time. I was playing on a TV as well, which makes me worry about how much worse it will look on an even smaller screen in handheld mode. This may also have been the result of playing with three other first time players, but I could see hard to follow action on screen becoming the final game’s one major flaw. On the bright side, the frame rate never tanked during these intense moments, so at least the game seems very polished from a performance standpoint.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is a Hectic ARPG that Calls Back to the Originals

Our demo began with the ragtag group of Marvel heroes meeting up with Jessica Jones, who told them that Kingpin was holding himself up in Shadowland near New York City. While the heroes began to pursue Kingpin, The Hand attacked. Throughout the rest of the demo, we fought The Hand across the rooftops of New York and outside of a Chinese temple. The camera would switch between a top down and isometric perspective, which made the game’s camera feel a bit more dynamic. That being said, the only real challenge of this level was to defeat enemies and move forward, so I’m unsure if objectives will be varied in the final game.

I started the game as Wolverine because I was happy to see the X-Men return, but I was also able to try Rocket and Groot, who are one character in this game, and Miles Morales. While their powers vary, all attack boil down to being light, heavy, or one of four special attacks. Some characters also have unique abilities that play around with this concept, like the fact that Rocket and Groot can use light and heavy attacks at the same time. While all of the powers do cause the aforementioned screen clutter, these moves are flashy and true to their respective characters.

If you have played the original Marvel Ultimate Alliance games like I did, you should feel right at home here. While there are some tweaks unique to this game, it still evokes all the right notes from previous games in the series. I also couldn’t help but have a giant grin on my face when I changed characters at a SHIELD logo stamped on the ground for the first time in over a decade. I did see characters level up, but wasn’t able to play around with the giant upgrade trees that Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order will have. Still, playing the game over and over to flesh out that skill tree seems like it will be the main recurring draw for more hardcore players.

Our demo ended when we ran into Iron Fist, who was introduced with a funny description, and then fought waves of The Hand. This was a bit overwhelming at first, but everything playing was able to synchronize and all press L and R at the same time in order to pull off a devastating ultimate attack. While the sweet spot for multiplayer will probably be two players because of how busy the screen gets when there are four, I will admit that pulling this off with three other people was super satisfying.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is a Hectic ARPG that Calls Back to the Originals

The earliest trailer for Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order looked a bit rough around the edges, which caused concern despite my unprecedented excitement for the game. Fortunately, after getting my hands on it I can say that it felt like the proper successor to the original two games in all the right ways while trailblazing with its own unique style. The general screen clutter that happened frequently in multiplayer may ultimately hurt the game, but I can see myself really enjoying Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order when playing by myself or with just one other person.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance: The Black Order release exclusively for Nintendo Switch on July 19. That being said, Team Ninja, Koei Tecmo, and Nintendo do plan on following up the game with new characters from the Marvel Knights, X-Men, and Fantastic Four brands later in the year through DLC.

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