With so many big brands just outsourcing these projects to outside developers and then sticking their branding on top, we reviewed MARVEL: Realm of Champions to see whether it lives up to its name.
MARVEL: Realm of Champions 3.0 Patch
The latest update to Realm of Champions is a huge one. As well as welcoming fan-favourite playable Champion, Thor, Kabam have introduced Gear Levelling, Pinnacle Quests, Showdown, Summoner’s Journey, and more. These new game modes are a welcome addition to a mobile title that was badly in need of fleshing out.
Thor, in particular, is a great addition to the game. Unlike the other champions, such as Iron Legionnaire (that’s Iron Man to me and you), Thor feels like he packs more of a punch. This evidences the fact that Kabam are taking onboard some past criticism of the game. Thor is a well-rounded melee bruiser who can take a hit as well as give one out. His “ultimate” is devastating; when combining his God of Thunder ability and Lightning Charge ability, he temporarily becomes essentially invincible.
In spite of the introduction of new game modes, Arena Conquest remains Realm of Champions most popular. These 3v3 PvP battles are pleasantly tense and revolve around capturing a central respawn zone before assaulting the enemy B.O.D.O.K (an immovable base with the ability to defend itself). The B.O.D.O.Ks are lethal but are easily damageable so a single hero can make all the difference. Playing these battles for the first time, the mighty Mjolnir in hand, taking down the B.O.D.O.K with a leaping Wrath of Odinson strike was a great feeling.
While not a game mode in itself, Summoner’s Journey is undoubtedly a cool addition to the game. It is a new form of solo progression involving not only the unlocking of gameplay rewards but also excellently illustrated virtual comic strips that reveal world lore. When you first open MARVEL: Realm of Champions, it can be overwhelming; it took me a while to find the lore, but when I did, I was pleasantly surprised.
In short, players find themselves on Battleworld, a patchwork planet of civilizations from across the multiverse. The story is intriguing and offers a well-conceived explanation for why these benevolent heroes are battling each other once again. For many of us though, all we care about is the epic battling, right? Well MARVEL: Realm of Champions also has that, to a degree…
Kabam have rightly been praised for adding intuitive mobile controls that mimic console gameplay. The fixed camera angle works well too and there is an ideal combination of auto and manual aim. Still, it’s hard to compliment the combat much more than that. As noted above, one of the most common criticisms of Realm of Champions is that the superheroes just don’t feel that super. Abilities just don’t feel powerful especially when compared to other MOBA-style titles like League of Legends which were released many years prior.
While Arena Conquest is fun for a while, it gets old quickly and the other game modes failed to hold my interest for more than a few matches. While it can be fun to find yourself in a spontaneous one-on-one with an enemy Champion (especially when it’s the Hulk), it’s still won’t be enough to grip most players for long. In spite of the new additions, the “fight-loot-upgrade-repeat” gameplay loop grows old quickly.
While Showdown, one of the new game modes which sees 3vs1 combat, is quite a lot of fun, to give Realm of Champions a fighting chance, Kabam desperately need to continue adding more modes as well as expanding Arena Conquest. Currently, Arena Conquest battles are just too short. We understand that mobile MOBAs need a shorter battling time, but some of our matches felt like they were over before they had even begun.
In a recent interview with Kabam’s directors, I asked them about new game modes. They said there would be plenty of new ones on the horizon but that they had no immediate plans to expand Arena Conquest with more players, bigger maps, and longer match durations. A move that I believe to be a mistake.
Sound and Graphics
The sound effects are weak, and the graphics look surprisingly dated for a 2020 release. As we’ve seen in our rundown of the most beautiful mobile games, our handheld devices are capable of a lot more. The accompanying videos and trailers are of the highest quality, we just wished the same effort was put into designing a beautiful game. With the budget of Marvel behind them, we expected more. Quite a lot more.
Sorry folks, you can roll your eyes as much as you like just don’t stop reading – it’s time to talk about capitalism. MARVEL: Realm of Champions does little to hide its commercial intentions. It propositions players with countless ways to make in-app purchases, both cosmetic and impactful. Its desire to take your hard-earned cash is perhaps best illustrated through its veritable crypto exchange worth of in-game currencies, which include:
Gold – used for ranking up Champions, upgrading gear, and purchasing further in-game items
Rare Gear Shards – used to redeem more powerful or unique gear
ISO-9 – used to upgrade Champions
Journey Tokens – used to progress Champions further along their Summoner’s Journey
Asgardian Runes – used to buy items from the Asgardian Vault
There may even be further currencies, but to be frank it was headache-inducing to spend too much time exploring the various in-game storefronts. In my recent interview, I asked the Kabam team how much is too much for in-game items largely marketed to younger audiences. I didn’t receive an answer which is perhaps unsurprising in a game that sells in-game bundles for £100 ($140).
The shop itself is no particular treat either. There is a dizzying amount of purchase options that would confuse anyone who didn’t personally design the game or commit months to learning it. Much of the UI (User Interface) seems to have been lifted from its seven-year-old sister-title MARVEL: Contest of Champions. While daily, weekly, and monthly Bounties are entertaining and offer incentives to diversify your choice of Champion, they fail to inspire the same dopamine rushes that they used to; the unskippable crystal (loot box) animation grows old very quickly.
Our Closing Thoughts on MARVEL: Realm of Champions 3.0
The sizeable patch was a well-needed one and definitely adds to a game which previously felt more skeletal than Red Skull himself. Summoner’s Journey pays meaningful homage to the comics while giving the game more of an authentic Marvel feel. Thor is a great new hero – I enjoyed using him, and it was fun to upgrade him from basic Thor wearing Level-1 “Co-worker Braces” to a battle-ready champion of Asgard equipped in full God-slayer armour.
Still, it is far too evident that maximizing profits was always the primary intention as opposed to creating an exceptional game. If you’re looking to have a few fun clashes while you’re waiting for Marvel’s Phase 4, then it will entertain you for a while. But the weaknesses and limitations of the game are currently just too much to counterbalance that. Let’s end by addressing the hulking pink elephant in the room – if it wasn’t a Marvel game, we wouldn’t be playing it.