Last week, I was invited to a meeting with lead developers at Netmarble and representatives for Marvel as part of the press tour for the upcoming mobile game MARVEL: Future Revolution. Future Revolution markets itself as “Marvel’s first Open World Action RPG mobile game, featuring an original storyline with fan-favorite Marvel Super Heroes and Super Villains.” Here’s what I learned from my meeting with Bill Rosemann, VP + Head of Creative for Marvel Games, Danny Koo, Director of Production for Marvel Games, Simon Sim, President of Netmarble US, and Joe Lee, Executive Producer of Netmarble, and the impressions I came away with about the upcoming game.
The demo was hands-off, meaning I didn’t get to play any of the game for myself. As a result, my ability to assess the moment-to-moment gameplay in Future Revolution was limited to what I saw on the screen during Netmarble’s presentation. One thing I can say is I came away impressed by the high production value and the large scale of the project. The graphics looked high quality, with better-looking character models than you see in some AAA video games.
Something else that intrigued me is that the Earth you start the game on is not one you know or even particularly recognize from either the MCU or the comics. Here’s how Netmarble sums up the story:
MARVEL Future Revolution begins when numerous Earths converge in the multiverse to form an entirely new ‘Primary Earth’ filled with unique zones and missions to explore, such as the high-tech New Stark City, the dangerous Hydra Empire, the wild and rugged Sakaar, and many more. As agents of the newly formed ‘Omega Flight’ Super Hero team, players will work together to battle an onslaught of Super Villains and defend the ‘Primary Earth’ from a never-ending series of threats.
Creating a wholly original story is a bold choice, given all the source material Netmarble could have pulled from. It certainly makes the game a lot more intriguing to Marvel fans like myself, who are more interested in experiencing something new than seeing a comic book storyline rehashed.
The trailers Netmarble shared suggest that the narrative for MARVEL: Future Revolution is much more expansive than any Marvel video game I’ve ever played. Marc Sumerak, a name familiar to comic book fans, is the lead writer of the game. He clearly has a lot to play with a radically altered Marvel Universe home to new locations like New Stark City, Xandearth, and Midgardia.
MARVEL: Future Revolution is a hack-and-slash roleplaying game. Since the demo was hands-off I can’t tell you if the gameplay is as satisfying as the games it’s emulating like Diablo or Marvel Ultimate Alliance. But I was impressed by how the game can handle dozens of characters on screen at the same time without frame rate drops.
Since I didn’t get to explore the open world for myself, I also can’t tell you how expansive it is nor how interesting it is to explore. I’m still curious to learn exactly how open Future Revolution is and what it’s like to traverse through its world, which wasn’t a focus of the presentation.
Future Revolution’s structure is similar to that of a lot of MMOs (Massively multiplayer online games). The game features several modes, including multiple types of PvP (Player versus Player) combat, from 1 vs 1 matches to 10 vs 10. More multiplayer content unlocks as the player levels up, including modes titled Blitz, Special Operation, and Raids. Nothing revolutionary, but it doesn’t have to be, as long as the gameplay is satisfying.
MARVEL: Future Revolution is a live-service game so, in Net Marble’s words, it will be “always-on and evolving.” The studio says that it will provide new content across the whole life of the game. A live-service title’s continued success comes down to whether its gameplay loop is engaging enough to keep bringing players back for more, which is no small considering the litany of other games competing for their attention.
Future Revolution boasts an “extensive collection of iconic costumes from the Marvel Universe, with more than 400 million costume combinations per hero.” Character skins and customization options are the main source of revenue for many free-to-play titles. The wide variety of customizations Future Revolution has to offer (or sell) to players is a positive sign for its commercial success.
I asked if Marvel is less Draconian about design modifications to its most iconic characters than other licensors, since getting approval from third parties can be a frequent source of frustration for video game developers. Bill Rosemann answered that many of the costumes come from comic book storylines, but also that Marvel is happy to bend and stretch the design of its heroes as long as the changes don’t break what makes them iconic.
I came away from the demo very impressed by the game on a technical level, but with little knowledge of what it’s like to play. I learned about several of its mode, its combat style, and was given a quick tease of the story. But until you know how a game like this feels, it’s difficult to pass judgement one way or the other. Ultimately, Because the hands-off demo left me with more questions than answers, I came away curious if not entirely captivated by MARVEL: Future Revolution. I do, however, certainly look forward to learning more in the weeks to come and experience it for myself when it launches.