Developer: Netmarble Games
Publisher: Netmarble Games
Release Date: April 30th, 2015
Platforms: Android, iOS
Reviewed on: Android (Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4″)
A review copy was provided by Netmarble Games
Mobile games have been an extremely hit-or-miss venture since their explosion a few years ago, especially the free-to-play (F2P) variety. Countless game developers have released games trying to pass for F2P, only falling into the trap of pay-to-win – where users who spend the most money have the biggest advantage. It takes a delicate balance between the two to satisfy free players and paying players, and I was extremely relieved to find that Marvel’s Future Fight found that balance.
Future Fight takes place in one of the many Marvel universes, and your heroes receive an alarming visitor: Nick Fury has sent a robot messenger named Jocasta back in time to warn you that the future is in grave danger. You have to set aside your differences, assemble what heroes and villains you can collect, and fight the plot that sets his future in motion. In a clever touch of writing, the cataclysmic future is tearing the multiple Marvel universes apart, so characters from each dimension can appear in the game. You’re able to view the multiple dimensions thanks to an invention of scientist Dr. Jemma Simmons, a great nod to Agents of Shield and a fantastic character.
When you’re dropped into the game, you’re given three heroes: Black Widow, Iron Man, and Captain America. Between finishing missions and collecting currency, you open “Dimension Chests”, which allow you to find more hero biometrics. Once you find the required amount of biometrics, you can summon that hero and take them into missions. When you’ve recruited a hero, further biometrics acquired for that same hero are saved to upgrade the hero’s star-level. Heroes come in 1, 2, and 3-star flavors, and can be upgraded with more biometrics all the way to 6 stars. In my time with Future Fight, I noticed that biometrics are a very rare thing to happen naturally; your best bet is to spend your in-game currency on the chests for them.
The review copy for Future Fight was a little over-the-top: the account was pre-loaded with 500,000 crystals – the in-game currency – which amounts to a little over $9,000. I doubt anyone is going to be spending that much in the game, but it definitely allowed every option to be explored! That much money ended up being more disappointing than I was expecting; spamming the button to buy chests until you have every hero isn’t very satisfying, and your inventory gets filled up quickly with extraneous gear and ISO-8. ISO-8 is a a substance in the Marvel universe that – in this case – is used to upgrade your heroes in various ways, such as attack power, health, dodge, and any number of physical attributes. After spending half the crystals on chests, I had over 900 pieces of ISO-8 in my inventory, and ran into the only truly annoying experience in this game – inventory management. For some reason, the game won’t let you enter a mission if you have more than 400 items in your inventory, and clearing them out is a massive pain. I probably spent close to 45 minutes selling and combining ISO-8 gems to clear out my inventory, and it was an insanely tedious experience. However, as I said, normal players are unlikely to experience this, as you’d have to spend ludicrous amounts of money on the game to have that problem.
Future Fight runs on the standard F2P mechanic of “energy” – you’re given a finite amount of energy to play missions with, and when it’s out you either need to purchase more or wait for it to regenerate. Oddly enough, I never ran into an energy problem, even before I had infinite resources. Between achievements, daily gifts from the dev team, and leveling up, you begin racking up quite a good amount of energy – at least enough to quit playing because you have something else to do, not because you’re out of energy. It’s a very refreshing change from most games that give you a small sample of gameplay before you’re out of juice. If it weren’t for the hardcore players – that probably burn through their energy quickly and often – they could remove the feature alltogether, although Netmarble would deprive themselves of another way to spend crystals.
Each mission you go on has the same basic layout – a couple mobs of enemies, a short loading screen, a couple more mobs of enemies, and then a boss. This routine would be extremely dull normally, but the constant switch-up of enemy types, abilities, and your own heroes makes each level a test-ground for whatever you want to try next. You heroes and villains each have a class type – Blast, Speed, Combat, and Universal. Each has their own special strength and weakness, and each counters another in the class rock/paper/scissors type of clash. Blast fighters have mostly ranged attacks, Combat characters are almost entirely melee, Speed characters are fast and furious, and Universal is a nice balance of the three. The bosses of each stage have a type, so bringing a balanced team pays off well and allows you to counter whatever you come up against. Future Fight plays a lot like Diablo and its various clones and it’s no better or worse for it – it just works.
The roster of heroes and villains is truly insane, and it touches almost every substantial Marvel property. There’s 37 heroes available currently, with more already announced to be on the way. Besides the Avengers from the current movie, you’ve Blade, Falcon, Captain Marvel, Spiderman, Sharon Carter, Kingpin, Venom, Luke Cage, The Winter Soldier, and a couple dozen more. Each has unique abilities, and the Avengers themselves already have a costume bundle from Age of Ultron for purchase. They’ve created an ingenious way to limitlessly add heroes and costumes, and it’s only a matter of time before your favorite is in there.
In the tutorial, you’re shown two different types of control styles, and then asked which one you’d rather play with. The first is standard touch controls – you tap a place to run to it, you tap an enemy to attack it, and you tap a power to use. The second scheme – my personal favorite – works quite well. It’s a virtual control pad that allows you to hold your device like a console controller, and creates a virtual thumbstick wherever your touch on the right of the screen, letting you guide your character around fairly smoothly. Your right hand is used to attack and use powers, and it feels very much like using a real controller. I never ran into any control issues, and it ended up operating much more smoothly than I’ve seen any other game do.
The settings allow you to adjust your volume, as well as your graphics. If you have a lower-end device, you may want to adjust your graphics downward, as Future Fight has some insanely pleasing visuals for a mobile title. I used a Samsung Galaxy S 8.4” tablet to play – which is fairly close to top-of-the-line currently – and I encountered a few instances of slow-down when facing huge mobs and using a giant area-attack. Besides when the screen is crowded, everything else runs very smooth and looks very polished. I didn’t experience a single crash during my playtime, which is an accomplishment unto itself in the mobile arena.
You’re able to connect Future Fight to your social media accounts – Google+ and Facebook in my case – to save your progress in the cloud and find your friends. Making friends in this game is important, for several reasons: you’re able to call a single hero from a friend’s roster per level, to assist you for 10 seconds of fighting – it doesn’t seem like much, but it can help out in really dicey boss fights. Friends can send you Assemble Points, which are a third currency in the game that lets you buy chests in the store. You also eventually unlock the Arena, which is a PvP mode of sorts. If you can’t get any of your friends to join the game, don’t worry – you can find and add other Future Fight players through the social function.
Future Fight is truly massive. It’s almost difficult to write about, because I can’t think of a good enough place to begin or end. There’s an absurd amount of content to work through, and when you’re done with the story, you can work on the hardmode portion of the game – “Elite mode” – work on your hero roster, test yourselves in the various randomized levels that appear – Dimension Rifts – or focus on the PvP. All of this content is accessible regardless of whether you spend money – which is not only surprising, but extremely commendable. This is an exceptional F2P game, in every sense of the word. Players may be off-put if they don’t like grinding, and if you demand instant gratification, playing this the free way may not be for you. However, if you’re even a casual Marvel fan, you’ll find a lot to love in here, and you’ve got absolutely nothing to lose.