Smaller Marvel Game Turned Out Better Than Big Budget Avengers

Smaller Marvel Game Turned Out Better Than Big Budget Avengers
Look, you can play as Spider-Man! (Screenshot: Marvel / Netmarble / Kotaku)

I know, I know. The last thing the world seems to need right now is yet another Marvel video game. It feels as if a dozen have been announced and about as many have been released in the last few years. On top of that, this is a mobile game, so I know a lot of you have already checked out. But listen to me. I think Marvel Future Revolution is a fun open-world MMORPG that’s bursting with wild comic-book energy and isn’t nearly as annoying to play as Marvel’s Avengers.

The first thing that impressed me about Marvel Future Revolution was the roster of characters it launched with. You get your usual Iron Man and Captain America, but it also includes Storm, Captain Marvel, and Dr. Strange, heroes who don’t show up in games as often as some other, more widely used Marvel characters. Future Revolution also launched this week on iOS and Android with Spider-Man, a character who still hasn’t appeared in Square Enix’s Avengers game. Rounding out the initial roster is Star-Lord, who, like other characters on offer here, is heavily inspired by his MCU counterpart.

Marvel Future Revolution’s story isn’t especially original, focusing on other dimensions and alternate Earths colliding into each other, causing different versions of heroes and villains to meet face to face with their superpowered doppelgängers. If you’ve read any Marvel comics or played any superhero games in the last decade or so, you’ve probably already encountered this kind of setup. But while it’s not a unique story, it helps explain why 200 Spider-Men are running around the same area.

Developed by Netmarble, Marvel Future Revolution is marketed as the first Marvel-themed open-world action RPG. This is technically true, but it ignores that Future Revolution is also an MMO in many ways. It almost seems like Marvel wants us all to forget that the game Marvel Heroes existed. Like Marvel Heroes, you pick a hero and level them up by running around various worlds filled with other players, beating up bad guys and collecting loot. However, Future Revolution also includes many side quests and loot that actually changes how your hero looks, not just their stats. This means you can end up with some very ugly superheroes early on as you grab and equip any new, better gear you acquire.

You can play around with different camera angles, like this one that feels more Diablo-like. (Screenshot: Marvel / Netmarble / Kotaku) You can play around with different camera angles, like this one that feels more Diablo-like. (Screenshot: Marvel / Netmarble / Kotaku)

Combat in Future Revolution is simple, but thankfully not boring. You have different abilities you unlock and upgrade as you level up. You then equip some of these and activate them during combat while moving around the level using a virtual thumbstick. Some of these attacks are more useful for groups of enemies, while others are better suited for one-on-one fights, and others stun or incapacitate enemies, letting you set up combos. While you can just mash the virtual buttons that correspond to each ability and get through most fights, bigger combat sequences or boss encounters demand some skill and precision. There’s also a dodge button, letting you roll out of the way of deadly attacks or escape crowds of goons.

Admittedly, this isn’t some incredibly deep or complex combat system, but it’s not dead simple either, and I felt like I got better at combat over time, mastering certain abilities and developing strats for particular enemies. Honestly, I prefer playing this game over last year’s much bigger release Marvel’s Avengers because in Future Revolution heroes feel powerful, able to easily defeat dozens of random thugs and robots. I’ll take that over the fragile heroes in Avengers who get one-shotted by the same Adaptoids over and over.

Future Revolution also features a surprising depth of RPG and gear systems. You have your main hero, who you can level up via missions and items, unlocking new skills and increasing your stats in the process. But you can also unlock combat badges that boost your character’s stats, upgrade your squad’s combined power level, collect and equip cards that help you deal more damage or find better loot, and more. The game is good about slowly introducing you to its more complex systems as you progress, but I suspect some players might still find it all a bit too overwhelming and walk away.

If you feel that way, here’s a tip: You can always hit “auto equip” and the game will handle all these decisions for you. This might mean you lose out on a perk or a specific build, but it’s nice to have the option to just go “Uh..I don’t know!” and essentially ask the game to figure it all out.

Screenshot: Marvel / Netmarble / Kotaku Screenshot: Marvel / Netmarble / Kotaku

This being a free-to-play mobile RPG, you’re probably wondering if or how the game shoves microtransactions and ads in your face while playing. And yeah, no shock here, Future Revolution contains microtransactions, letting you buy new costumes, gear, character slots, consumable items, and more. Mercifully, the game doesn’t constantly beat you over the head with these purchasable items. And there are no energy timers or mission limiters. You can easily play this game for hours and not need to spend a dime. I also never had to watch a video ad or anything really annoying like that. Overall, it feels fairly kind and chill compared to other mobile games I play that seem determined to stick an ad on every screen and menu.

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Future Revolution as much as I am right now. The easy but active combat system, mixed with a weird, silly comic-book storyline and the option to play as some lesser-seen heroes really helped this free-to-play RPG sink its hooks into me, and I’m surprised to say I’m having more fun with it than I did with Marvel’s Avengers. Perhaps in 10 more hours, I’ll hit some paywall or I’ll get bored, but for now, I’m having a blast being Spider-Man, ugly, mismatched suit and all.

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