I’m not a huge mobile gamer, but I’ve been so starved for Marvel/Star Wars games over the years, that my curiosity led me to trying the various games on mobile featuring those IPs. Some were better than others, but the one (well, two) that really dug their hooks into me were Marvel: Avengers Alliance and its sequel, Marvel: Avengers Alliance 2. I played the original game for quite some time and even though it was plainly Pay-to-Win, I was able to extract a significant amount of fun from it. The turn-based combat was deeper than you’d expect to find on mobile and the huge roster of characters really got my imagination going when it came to putting together teams built around various gameplay synergies.
Unfortunately, Avengers Alliance was from the pre-mobile era, and lived most of its life as a Facebook game. Playdom, the game’s developer, sought out to make a new title specifically for mobile and MAA2 was born. I loved the game. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed being able to meaningfully build out my characters. Putting together a team had a new layer of depth with MAA2; it wasn’t just about which heroes you brought along, but also what skills you equipped as part of their loadouts. Ironically, unlike the original Avengers Alliance, Playdom goofed up and made MAA2 a bit too generous. It was incredibly easy to avoid putting any money into the game at all, and between that and some of the bugs (specifically, rampant crashing at launch) and some polish issues, the game never generated the amount of interest or cash it needed to stay afloat. Both games ended up being shut down.
I honestly never expected to see another Marvel game in that style again, especially not so soon, but a new title called Marvel Strike Force was recently announced. Currently only available in soft-launch in New Zealand and Canada, Marvel Strike Force is more of a clone of the incredibly popular Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes than it is Avengers Alliance, but the experience is close enough.
I never really hit it off with Galaxy of Heroes for a couple of different reasons, but I’m having fun with Marvel Strike Force for now. It’s really the same thing, just with Marvel characters. MSF is a turn-based RPG where you collect characters to build out a party and grind for gear and star upgrades so that you can tackle harder content. Like Avengers Alliance 2, Marvel Strike Force excludes X-Men/Fantastic Four characters (as most Marvel games do these days) and it suffers for it, but you can also fill your team out with minor characters, more like Galaxy of Heroes. For example, I can have a team with Elektra and a number of different unnamed members of The Hand. Heroes and villains are also separate content tracks and you can only assemble teams from their respective factions, outside of certain types of content such as PvP.
The breadth of available activities serves MSF well. You can push through the campaigns, participate in PvP, do “raids” with your Alliance (guild), tackle special events and more. There’s a good deal of stuff to do already, even though the game isn’t released worldwide. The game is pretty decent looking, too. MAA2 wasn’t too bad, but MSF has some pretty fun animations, especially for critical hits. I love the multi-target attacks, in particular. Spider-Man really feels like Spider-Man (as much as he could in a turn-based game) watching him acrobatically flip from enemy to enemy delivering blows.
Marvel Strike Force is definitely grindy, but things have been fairly generous so far. I obviously can’t spend and money on the game (and have no plans to) being that I’m playing on a New Zealand iOS account, but I haven’t really felt the need to, either. Like all mobile games, things slow down considerably after you’ve played a while and that’s where they get you with microtransactions. While there’s a decent amount of stuff to do, the game feels better as something I log into once a day and make as much progress as my daily resources will allow for. If you’re someone that wants to go hard with this game, I can see microtransactions being a necessity. But if you’re content to just hop on every day and play for a little while and knock out your daily tasks, it’s pretty good fun.
However, one thing I’m not a fan of is how shallow the progression is. I guess I was spoiled by the Avengers Alliance games and all the neat stuff you could do with your characters. The original Avengers Alliance had characters with different costumes featuring entirely different gameplay aspects to consider, a sort of rock-paper-scissors approach to combat roles, and other ways to customize characters, such as using specific upgrade sets to explore some pretty wild possibilities. The sequel let you customize your skill loadouts and also featured entirely different versions of the same characters with different skills and so on. It was very game-y for a mobile game, which is why it captured my attention. Marvel Strike Force (and games like it) mostly focus on simple numerical stat upgrades. You’ll want to upgrade the gear and stars of your team so that you can survive harder content, but that’s about as far as it goes. There are some fixed skill upgrades you can do for each character, but you can’t do things like equip Spider-Man with a set of items that make him able to dodge more in combat, or to ignore taunts or stealth, and so on.
Beggars can’t be choosers, though. I don’t think I’ll ever find myself as addicted to Marvel Strike Force as I did the Avengers Alliance games, but if like me, you’ve been a bit sad since those games went down, Marvel Strike Force will do a decent job scratching that itch for you, especially if you’re already a fan of games like Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes.
We expect to see the game released sometime in 2018. But if you want to jump in now, you’ll need an iOS device and a Canadian (or New Zealand) iOS account.