In theory, I’ve been playing Marvel Future Revolution quite avidly today. In practice? I’m not entirely sure. It’s so automated in places that it feels like I’m a spectator to the process, albeit one that can’t help but be drawn into its constant flurry of unlocks, experience gains, and that horrible sense that I’m achieving something. I’m just not entirely sure what it is. And yet here I am, ever so slightly tempted to go straight back to the game after I write this. But I know there are so many better ways to spend my time (at least so far) and yet…No, I’d best not return. Ok, maybe.
Much has been written over the years about how mobile games lure us all in. Even the strongest of souls has almost certainly found themselves beguiled by at least one mobile game over the years. When it comes to free-to-play games, they’re shrewdly designed. Formulated in a way that constantly rewards us while encouraging us to stick around for just a few more minutes or maybe succumb to a quick in-app purchase or two. After all, they’re only a couple of quid at most, right? It’s addictive and pervasive at times but I’ve kind of made my peace with it after 10+ years of mobile gaming. It’s a bit like eating a burger from a dodgy burger van. Sure, steak is better but sometimes you’re in the mood for the less salubrious option.
Back to Marvel Future Revolution, and it certainly simplifies things. Starting out, there’s a sense that you could be part of something bigger. The opening sequences involve a lot of cutscenes that even involve some voice acting. Few of the Marvel characters here look like the movie equivalents but you get the idea. Some of the storytelling has a hint of what worked so well for the Marvel Action Hour that people like me grew up watching on a Saturday morning. There’s charm here. Wow.
And then, it fades. Sort of. Once you’re past those early moments that introduce your choice of characters – Iron Man, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, Black Widow, Doctor Strange, Star-Lord, Storm – you pick your poison and the game turns to a fairly formulaic pseudo-MMO mobile experience.
It’s open-world, loosely, but you’ll never feel like you have much freedom here. Instead, it’s all about fetch quests and killing robotic bad guys. It’s possible to wander around the areas yourself but the game encourages you to hit the mission button and it’ll do the rest. By doing so, your character automatically heads to where it needs to go and your main input is choosing which special power to use to attack with. Even then, if you leave the game running without any input for a moment, auto-attack generally has your back and you don’t really need to do much. That changes when it comes to boss battles such as one memorable experience with Ultron that I was under-levelled for and forgot to dodge accurately during. I got wiped out pretty fast but, ultimately, I just need to level up with some street trash so I’m up to scratch for the next bout.
For the most part, it’s not exactly an involving experience and yet you’ll see experience gains pop up on screen and that tantalising ‘mission complete’ dialog and you’ll still feel a teensy bit happy. Alongside that, you’ll gain new armour and other equipment. It’s far from Diablo but you’ll still feel like you’re getting somewhere. I got up to level 10 in only about 90 minutes. I don’t think I really earned it given I was more of a spectator that occasionally pressed a few buttons but I still felt myself sticking around for a little bit longer even though I knew I had appointments to keep. It was nice to unlock new gear and spot a new costume along the way, even if I knew I was being fooled into thinking this was something bigger.
That’s what will probably lure you into Marvel Future Revolution. It’s fast satisfaction. That game you play for 10 minutes on your phone before you head to an appointment. Not the game you play instead of a ‘proper’ game but one that keeps you busy for a few minutes here or there where a portable console just isn’t practical. You’ll feel a little excitement when you unlock new gear or see yourself level up. Just enough to keep you happy.
Marvel Future Revolution promises to offer dungeons and raids for players to team up in the future. There’ll be PvP too which will hopefully involve more strategy. For now, Marvel Future Revolution is pretty safe and familiar but that feels ok too. With a comforting license behind it and an easy-to-pick-up play style, you just might find yourself a little beguiled. I didn’t count on it but you know what? I’m itching to get that buzz of achievement again. It should only take a few minutes. Or maybe a few minutes more. This is how it gets you, isn’t it?
Marvel Future Revolution is out August 25th for iOS and Android. Jen’s worried she’ll be hooked despite her better judgement.