E3 2019 Hands-on – Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3
The fact that a new Marvel Ultimate Alliance game is being developed by Team Ninja and published by Nintendo is one of the craziest and equally coolest gaming news I’ve seen in recent memory. I would have never expected for Nintendo, a company that has as many mascots as the late Stan Lee’s company has superheroes, to decide to revive a licensed franchise previously owned by Activision. But oh boy, am I glad that they’re going forward with this nonsensical idea. I had the chance of playing a demo for Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 during E3 2019 and the best way I can describe it is by shouting Stan’s favorite catchphrase: Excelsior!
The core gameplay didn’t change that much from the older Marvel Ultimate Alliance games, and I think that’s for the best. You can still freely change between the four characters in your team and edit your roster whenever you find a S.H.I.E.L.D. icon on a level. There are still lots of different screen-clearing special attacks for each character, but unlike MUA 2, I wasn’t able to produce duo-specific special attacks, such as Cap using his shield to defect Storm’s electric blasts. That didn’t matter that much, though. It was still very fun, as the sheer amount of content in the demo made me ignore such absence.
The demo alone allowed me to play as an immense amount of characters. I could use Captain America, Deadpool, three variants of Spider-Man, Daredevil, Thor, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Iron Fist, and many more. I’ve seen a lot of full-fledged and fully priced games with smaller rosters than what Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3‘s demo had to offer. All of them felt unique, with different combos and special attacks. Some of them were suited for ranged combat, while others, such as Iron Fist, are meant for melee combat. Other Marvel characters appeared in the demo as NPCs, such as Jessica Jones, acting as unenthusiastic as her MCU counterpart.
The game’s visuals were also a pleasant surprise. While Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 doesn’t feature groundbreaking graphics or textures, it succeeds at looking and feeling like a playable comic book. It’s colorful and chaotic. The framerate dipped a bit whenever there was too much action onscreen, but given how there’s still time for the game to be released, I’m pretty sure that’ll be fixed by then.
I almost feel sorry for Square Enix. In the year that they finally unveiled their hyped and high-budgeted Avengers game, another Marvel game with probably a tenth of the budget and graphical performance has managed to steal all of the attention from comic book game fans with its more interesting visuals and roster size. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 might not be a looker, but its comic book style, fun gameplay, local co-op, and ridiculous amount of content more than make up for it. I still can’t believe Nintendo is bringing Marvel Ultimate Alliance back, but after playing this demo, I’m more than grateful that they’re doing so.