Back in May of this year UploadVR Staff Writer Jamie Feltham penned an editorial about what his dream Marvel game might look like. While it focused mainly on the X-Men, the reality of Marvel’s first VR game is actually really, really close to what he dreamed up. This past weekend Marvel announced at the D23 Expo Marvel Powers United VR (by Sanzaru) in partnership with Oculus. The game is designed as an Oculus Rift with Touch exclusive and will be coming to headsets next year in 2018.
At a preview event in San Francisco, CA yesterday, just before San Diego Comic Con (SDCC,) we got the chance to go hands-on with the game and its previously announced characters, as well as the newly announced Deadpool. For my session I played as Deadpool, The Incredible Hulk, and Rocket Raccoon before having to call it quits.
Everything about Marvel Powers United VR is designed from the ground up to encourage and foster “cooperative” multiplayer gameplay. I use the term cooperative loosely though because it felt more like a race to see who could rack up the most points in a single mission than it did an actual battle against bad guys. Things may have been toned down for my demo, but I never once felt like I was in danger or having difficulty fighting enemies. Part of me also thinks that’s sort of the point.
From top to bottom Marvel Powers United VR is all about fantasy fulfillment. Have you ever wanted to blast energy beams from your hands as Captain Marvel and rampage around a level crushing everyone as The Hulk? What about lighting up enemies with hand cannons right before slicing them in half with a sword as Deadpool, or hovering high in the sky as you throw down grenades and shoot missiles from above as Rocket Raccoon?
This is a game that, like no other to date, really does make you feel like a superhero. The closest comparison I can think of is that it plays a bit like a mixture of Raw Data and Robo Recall with a heavy dose of Marvel-colored flavorings.
All characters in Marvel Powers United VR have full, smooth locomotion using the left analog stick. Some characters can also hover in the air while others can quickly leap across levels to close distances or as an attack in and of itself. The right stick rotates the camera, or you can physically turn in a 360-setup. Approximately 12 total characters are planned, with potentially more on the way post-launch, so this is only about a third of the roster right now for when the game ships.
We only got to try a single mission but it just consisted of clearing out enemies, reaching the end of the floor, activating the elevator, going to the next floor, and repeating. On the roof we faced off against a boss and then saw our scores and ranks at the end with a team photo that becomes a neat comic book cover shot.
The Merc With a Mouth
Deadpool was the first hero I got the chance to take for a spin. Funnily enough he was also the most diverse and complicated of the three I tried. On his arms he has shurikens that can be thrown at enemies for big damage, two pistols strapped to his back for quick firing, two SMGs on his hips because why not, and two swords behind his shoulders. He’s like a walking death machine.
What made Deadpool so fun is just how versatile of a character he is. No matter if enemies are far away, up close, mid-range, on a ledge, or even behind cover I was able to quickly take them down with my massive arsenal of weaponry.
When you get a chance to play as the one and only Wade Wilson, I recommend waiting until you’ve played one of the other characters first. He was a little overwhelming to try as my first swing. That being said, I still kicked ass.
The Big Green Monster
Playing as The Incredible Hulk was hands-down, far and away, without question, the most fun I had in this game. For a VR game that is built simply to make you feel like a superhero, it doesn’t get any better than being able to leap around the level, smash up the environment, send enemies flying with a single punch, and pound on the ground in a rampage of brute strength.
At first glance he seems overly simple compared to the others and in most video games I’d agree. Melee-focused characters tend to be boring compared to their ranged and magic-based counterparts. But when you ask someone to swing their fists and jump around in VR that changes.
He can punch stuff, throw stuff, clap his hands for a shockwave, leap across levels, and slam the ground. It’s pure adrenaline and when playing as Hulk you’re guaranteed to get ranked first in most post-game categories. It’s sort of a law.
Rocket “Not A Trash Panda” Raccoon
Finally, I strapped into the tiny shoes of Rocket Raccoon. After playing as Deadpool and Hulk I’ll admit that I assumed this would be a far less enjoyable affair since I didn’t have the voice and charisma of Bradley Cooper, but luckily I was wrong. Rocket was just as fun, if not more fun, than Deadpool in my experience.
He’s got a remote bomb and grenade on his vest for quick access, two pistols at his side for dual-wielding fun, and a big ol’ honkin’ rifle on his back that can be fired as a burst with one hand or gripped with both hands to engage a thermal-sensor scope and a huge rail-gun esque blaster. Oh, not to mention he can hover over the whole level for as long as he wants.
The best part about when I played as Rocket is that I ended up getting more kills than my team’s Hulk. Yeah. Talk about firepower. And if you don’t believe me, check it out in the video above.
Marvel Powers United VR is still early in development (not releasing for another 6+ months from now) so it’s hard to really assess the game as a whole other than the strong potential it has. If they collect an all-star cast of heroes then this could be something really special. Then on the other hand it could get old very, very quickly. Sanzaru confirmed to us that basically all of your abilities for every hero is unlocked at the start of the game because they didn’t want anyone to feel under-powered.
They mentioned unlocks and different costumes/skins for each hero, but how robust that will be is impossible to tell right now. It’s all going to come down to the variety of levels and enemies. Blowing stuff up as your favorite comic book heroes in VR is a fun distraction for a while, but there needs to be real meat to the game to make it worth it in the long run. For example, after playing this same level three times with three different characters, I was already starting to get a bit tired of it.
Marvel Powers United VR doesn’t have a firm release date yet — all we know is that it’s coming to Rift + Touch only and is set for 2018. More heroes (roughly 8 more) are going to be announced in time, but Sanzaru wouldn’t give us any tips about who they might be other than they will be fun to play and not there just to pad out the roster. In the meantime, check out our list of 7 superheroes we would love to see in the game to get some ideas.
If you’re going to be at SDCC this week and weekend you can come play it for yourself at the Marvel booth. For everyone else, what do you think of the game from what you’ve seen so far? Let us know down in the comments below!