E3 2019 Preview | Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order
We’re just a little over a month away from the launch of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, but we still had a chance to check it out at E3 2019. The Switch exclusive sequel to Activision’s older titles has a lot going for it, and the talented team at Team Ninja definitely delivers. Marvel’s Avengers may not be out for another year, but Marvel fans definitely shouldn’t ignore Ultimate Alliance 3. Here’s what we thought after playing a mission in the demo at Nintendo’s booth.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order has a heavy focus on Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet storyline. Much like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this will have a cast of familiar characters from the films. Unlike those films, Ultimate Alliance 3 takes extra effort to add other fan favorites from teams like the X-Men. It even highlights fan favorite characters that recently appeared in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. When it launches, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 will have a roster of over 30 playable characters. With characters from the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and even the Inhumans, it’s a powerful lineup.
Our E3 demo was pretty early on in the game, but not right in the beginning. A Nintendo rep was kind enough to join me in some local co-op, giving us a selection of characters from the start. I can’t play Ultimate Alliance without Deadpool, so he was a requirement for the team. She chose to play as Venom, and then suggested having Captain Marvel on our team for extra power. I decided to round out the team with Storm from the X-Men, feeling satisfied with the composition. That’s the beauty of Marvel Ultimate Alliance. Fans can create awesome dream teams and let them work together to obtain a common goal.
This mission starts with the team of heroes meeting up with Jessica Jones on a rooftop. She fills the heroes in about the Hand, a group of ninja that are commonly known Daredevil antagonists. The level was a colorful rooftop run with a night sky lit by a large blood moon. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 may not as realistic as its predecessors, but the colors are vibrant and gorgeous, making the game appear more like a comic book come to life. The developers at Team Ninja also added a new dynamic camera, giving an optional perspective for the gameplay. This camera change really makes for some beautiful highlight shots. One moment I specifically remember was when the red moon took center stage in the background from a sidescrolling perspective.
Fans of the first two games should be pretty familiar with the gameplay. Characters can jump, fly, teleport and swing with the press or two of a button. Blocking and dodging will provide the necessary defensive options needed to stay alive in battle. Characters will have light and strong attacks, comboing into several chain attacks. They’ll even have access to hero powers by holding down the right trigger and pressing one of the face buttons. Up to four abilities can be equipped per character, and they’ll earn more to swap out as they level up. Since this mission was fairly early, all the characters only had two abilities. At one point, we leveled up and unlocked a third ability for the characters.
Players can upgrade and equip their characters with different abilities at S.H.I.E.L.D. sigils. This is also where players can change their team to any characters they’ve unlocked. One of the fun presentation elements of Ultimate Alliance 3 is the way characters introduce themselves. They’ll often make a flashy entrance and their name will show up with a caption that has a lot of charm. The presentation in general is pretty solid, giving a clean UI and a good use of colors to symbolize various elements. Each character is highlighted in a different colored aura to make them stand out too. Several veteran voice actors will also be providing their voices, like Nolan North reprising Deadpool.
During the mission I played, Hand ninjas could launch surprise attacks from various points. There were even slight stealth sections where you have to avoid searchlights to skip fights. Of course, why would we want to do that? Fighting ninja enemies sounds way more fun. Using the various hero powers should feel pretty similar to the previous games. Deadpool still has his stream of gunshots that players could mash for continuous damage. He even had a special teleporting attack that dealt a lot of damage. These powers do use a special power meter, so they can’t be spammed too often without waiting for a recharge.
Going further into the demo, we reached a temple where we ran into Iron Fist. After showing off some flashy martial arts, he joined the team as a temporary ally. It seems that this game will utilize this more often, as some missions will allow even more temporary allies to join the fight. After fending off more ninjas, we ran into special enemies with a stun gauge. It’s essentially a defensive meter that players need to deplete before they can damage the enemy. That stun gauge refills pretty quickly, so players have to act fast to deliver damage while it’s empty.
Finally, during combat, players can build up the Ultimate Alliance meter. This will allow for characters to unleash a special super attack. If all players unleash it together, they can combine forces to deliver devastating damage. If you’re playing single player or with less than four players, you can even do quick switching to other characters to activate their Ultimate Alliance attack within a pretty forgiving timing window. These attacks are flashy and usually take up the whole screen, though it can get a little easy to lose track.
Overall, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is shaping up to be a worthy successor. It’s stylish, fun, and full of characters from all over the Marvel universe. Even though the story focuses on Thanos and the Black Order, fans should expect to fight tons of other enemy bosses. The Destroyer, Surtr, M.O.D.O.K and more are waiting to challenge players to a fight. Luckily, fans won’t have to wait long, as Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 launches for the Switch on July 19th, 2019.