After a ten-year hiatus, the Marvel Ultimate Alliance series is about to make its grand return. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order launches exclusively on Nintendo Switch on July 19. It’s the first Marvel game to be published by Nintendo and one of the rare Marvel games to release for a major console, despite the popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From the ridiculously robust roster of heroes to the familiar but new story to gameplay, here’s everything we know about the cooperative-focused Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3.
Like recent Marvel movies, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 revolves around the Infinity Stones and a familiar foe: The Mad Titan Thanos. Similarly to the movies, Ultimate Alliance 3 uses The Infinity Gauntlet storyline as inspiration. But this is an original story, taking place in a different universe than the previous two entries in the series and unrelated to the movies. That means you can enjoy it without existing knowledge of either the first two games or the most recent movies.
Written by comic book writer Marc Sumerak, a former editor at Marvel Comics, Ultimate Alliance 3 follows Thanos’ attempt to secure the six Infinity Stones with the help of the Black Order, a supervillain team that has also been referred to as the Children of Thanos. Naturally, it’s up to the superheroes to stop thwart the Black Order, stop Thanos, and save the universe.
But they won’t just have to stop Thanos. More villains are out for the Infinity Stones. You’ll have to stop Ultron, Kingpin, Green Goblin, and more.
For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of Ultimate Alliance, these games cram as many heroes and villains into the same space as possible. Ultimate Alliance 3 is no different. Developer Team Ninja has revealed 36 playable heroes so far.
- Black Panther
- Black Widow
- Captain America
- Captain Marvel
- Doctor Strange
- Drax the Destroyer
- Elsa Bloodstone
- Ghost Rider
- Groot and Rocket Raccoon (fight together)
- Iron Fist
- Iron Man
- Luke Cage
- Miles Morales
- Ms. Marvel
- Scarlet Witch
Heroes will play true to their comic book origins. For example, if you play as Spider-Man, your attacks will often see you web-sling across the battlefield. Whereas if you play with a character like Hulk, you’ll be fighting up close and personal, bashing enemies with his giant green fists.
There are quite a lot of playable characters, right? But there are also non-playable allies that will pop up throughout the story. Nick Fury will offer sage advice to your team. Others will help you during fights against villains. In the Ultron boss battle, Giant-Man will assist in pummeling Ultimo (controlled by Ultron).
- Black Bolt
- Jessica Jones
- Nick Fury
- Nova Corps
- Professor X
- Winter Soldier
As you can see below, the list of named villains you’ll fight is also a who’s who of Marvel supervillains.
- Black Dwarf
- Corvus Glaive
- Doctor Octopus
- Ebony Maw
- Green Goblin
- Proxima Midnight
- Red Skull
- Ronan the Accuser
In addition to fighting villains, you’ll take on a bunch of nameless Black Order baddies. The boss fights seem the most interesting, though. For instance, a clip of the Ultron boss battle, published by IGN, shows how boss encounters will be broken up into multi-stage events (at least for the most important baddies) with cutscenes.
The Ultron battle starts off normal, but then the villain takes control over the giant Ultimo. This multi-stage fight will task players with using their core moves and abilities to wallop Ultron and eventually lead to a grand finale that includes a bunch of minions and mounted turrets that must be commandeered and shot at Ultimo’s hulking frame.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, like the first two games, is an action RPG. At all times, you’ll have four heroes in your party, which can be a combination of human and CPU-controlled characters depending on how many people you’re playing with. It’s co-op oriented, and you can play either locally or online with friends. When playing locally, each player can use a single Joy-Con to control their character.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 has two different camera angles. When playing co-op locally, you’ll play from a top-down, isometric perspective similar to the first two games. When playing solo or online, a more traditional third-person perspective is employed. You can cycle through the CPU-controlled players in your squad, switching your hero in real time.
Throughout the campaign, you’ll fight a slew of baddies, both grunts and the aforementioned supervillains. In addition to light and heavy attacks, each hero can have up to four abilities equipped at any one time. Ultimate abilities can be used when you fill your special meter. They deal extra damage if more than one hero activates their Ultimate at the same time, with Ultimate Alliance Extreme being a four-hero attack. Fights are full of visual flair, with each hero having their own unique animations and special effects that accompany each move.
As an action brawler with role-playing elements, you’ll level up as you play. Leveling unlocks new moves for your hero.
Your team composition matters. Depending on who you and your party choose, you’ll get stat buffs for the whole squad. Tinkering with your squad will provide more ways to approach the action combat. You’ll also get bonuses for having heroes from the same canonical team in your squad. Designated S.H.I.E.L.D. spots throughout the map allow you to switch your party and save your progress.
Two difficulty modes will be available from the jump: Friendly and Mighty. A third difficulty, Ultimate, can be unlocked as well — presumably by completing the game on Mighty difficulty.
ISO-8 pick-ups can be equipped to modify your hero’s attributes and change loot drop probabilities. XP Cubes can be used to level players quicker.
In addition to the campaign, you can partake in Infinity Trials to grind your level and earn rewards. Based on the footage shown off exclusively to Game Informer, we know that Infinity Trials take place in levels that you’ve already finished. If you’re low on experience and facing a particularly strong boss, you might want to go back and complete an Infinity Trial to boost your character. Infinity Trials change aspects of the experience by introducing modifiers such as increased enemy damage.
Infinity Trials will be accessible through the main menu at about the midway point in the story. Before you gain access though, you’ll find other side challenges called Infinity Rifts. These are hidden areas found in story mode that have scenarios and challenges that can be played to unlock items and gain experience.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 will have three pieces of post-launch DLC starting this fall. The expansion content will cover Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Marvel Knights, adding more characters and missions to the game. The pass is only $20, but you cannot buy the three expansions separately.
As far as other paid content, it doesn’t appear that Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 will have microtransactions.
Release date and pre-order bonuses
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 launches on July 19 exclusively for Nintendo Switch. Nintendo isn’t releasing a special edition or anything like that. But you can get a poster by pre-ordering from GameStop. You can also save ten bucks by pre-ordering through Amazon if you’re a Prime member.
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