Marvel: Avengers Alliance is a relatively intense turn-based action game that sets players in the familiar world of the Marvel Universe. The game is enjoyable mainly because the selection of heroes comes from the comics and pretty much ignores the movie lineup. It's important to remember that these beloved characters came from the comics in the first place, many of them having been around for many years. Many grew up with heroes like The Hulk and Hawkeye in his signature purple suit, so it's refreshing to see those same heroes in the game.
In a nice touch, players do not just control a series of one-of-a-kind heroes. Instead we're allowed to make and customize our very own S.H.I.E.L.D. agent to fight alongside the rest of the superior Avengers. While my character was definitely weaker than any of the superheroes, I was eventually able to hold my own in a fight. Even though my S.H.I.E.L.D. agent is somewhat of a weakling, he's been fighting along with some of the world's mightiest heroes and doing pretty well.
Now that player-versus-player combat has been overhauled, a whole new dimension has been added to the game. Even though you're not battling players in real time, the dynamics of a PvP battle are much different than you will find in standard PvE. First, you cannot access many of the helpful items or distress calls while in a PvP match. Yes, that's correct: You cannot pull out a frag grenade and sling it at your foe, or call in one of your friends' heroes to help you out. In PvP, you're on your own in every way. Second, the player on the other side of the battle has done everything he or she can to insure that you lose your battle.
This means that many of the opponents that new players came across, even from the very beginning, might be able to mop the floor with them in a heartbeat. How? The easiest explanation seems to be that players utilize pieces of equipment that buff the entire team. If you find a neat item that gives a bonus to PvP, you can take it out of your inventory permanently and use it to make your team stronger while fighting other players. What has resulted is a matching system that places equally-ranked players against each other, but neglects equipment buffs. In other words, you can fight a player who appears to be of the same rank but has buffed his team out to such a degree that he is able to destroy you before you hardly do any damage.
The matching system definitely needs some tweaking. Although items and team line-up can change, the system needs to consider just how incredibly buffed-out some teams are before they are matched with teams that have almost no buffs at all. Granted, New players will probably learn how to properly outfit their characters and team soon enough and will not need to worry about being mismatched with someone else who is much stronger, but the video tells no lies: The system is confusing and frustrating for brand-new players.
Luckily, I've already learned how equipment works and how important it is to buff out your team before sending them into battle. It's very possible that I've missed one or two important pop-ups regarding how to play correctly--who reads those, anyway?--but I would still like to see things revisited to be more newbie friendly.
So, is the new PvP system fun? As far as the gameplay goes, it's only slightly more in-depth than the standard PvE and mission gameplay. In fact, I prefer the linear PvE, because it's a chance to fight alongside cooler heroes and to fight more notable villains. During PvP, it's doubt you'll see many surprising cameos. Having said that, the PvP in Marvel: Avengers Alliance provides a chance to play against some truly tough opponents and to win some cool prizes and a bit of fame.
It's very possible that core gaming is something that still has some growing pains in order to fit into the much faster world of social gaming. Do those who have the most time to dedicate to a title--similar to someone who can check in on his farm or town more often than not--gain the most rewards? The players who trounced me even though they were at the same challenge level might simply take advantage of social gaming's standard designs. Will those designs change to accommodate core gaming, or will core gaming have to blend in with social gaming? I plan on trying to find out over the course of this column.
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Which do you prefer? Were you as confused with the new PvP system? Let us know in the comments. Add Comment.
Beau covers MMORPGs for Massively.com, enjoys blogging on his personal site and loves social and casual gaming. He has been exploring games since '99 and has no plans to stop. For Games.com News, he explores the world of hardcore Facebook and social games. You can join him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.