It’s time for a shocker for the Game-Wisdom awards this year, as my #10 is a mobile game. Of all the mobile games I’ve played, this one seems to be one of the fairest in terms of its free to play status, no matter how many controversies the developers keep adding in.
If you were to tell me that not only a mobile game, but one of the many Marvel-focused ones would be on my GOTY list at the start of 2018, I wouldn’t have believed you.
Marvel Strike Force follows the party-based RPG design of other mobile games like Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes — where you’ll build parties out of famous Marvel heroes and villains to fight other groups of said heroes and villains.
The game has all the trappings of mobile F2P design: Different kinds of currencies, energy systems, timers, and lootboxes for progression. With that said, I’m sure you’re all wondering why this game makes the list this year.
From a design point of view, while the game’s use of the Marvel brand is not as well done as Marvel Puzzle Quest in my opinion, the gameplay has depth to it. Each character has three abilities plus a passive one. While there are characters that are obviously better or worse, there is depth in building the perfect team.
Some parties are easy to figure out, with characters of the same organization getting buffs, but putting a team together of different characters that have synergies is another story.
Of the F2P games I’ve looked at on mobile, this one seems to be one of the most generous in allowing free players to make progress. Daily rewards and quests will provide you with bonus resources and the game’s premium currency. While you can spend premium currency to buy what’s needed to unlock characters, there is no way at this time for someone to log on, spend a bunch of money, and instantly have the best team in the game.
With that said, what keeps the game from scoring higher are the limits and issues of being on mobile. At the moment, there is no way to directly play against someone, with “pvp” having you faced off against the AI controlling a player’s team. The use of energy, lootboxes, and randomized progression can be frustrating. I also think the developers should take a page from the mobile game Dragon Ball Legends in terms of having constant events and new challenges for players. There is a great RPG layer here, but the game doesn’t capitalize on it.
The biggest issue is that the designers in my opinion don’t know how to set up a fair monetization system. The “offers” are nowhere near alluring enough to convince someone to spend money in most cases. The times where they tried to push the monetization have backfired; especially with the conditions needed to unlock the game’s “legendary characters.” You need to get specific characters to the right rankings and then wait for the specific event to come up.
At the moment, the developers are facing pushback over another way for characters to be upgraded via red stars that is entirely lottery-based. If someone gets a good pull, their account and team are metaphorically propelled up the ranking. And getting a good pull means that everything else in the game becomes easier, ergo, allowing them to be better than everyone else faster.
I’m surprised they don’t go the League of Legends route and sell premium skins for the characters, as I’m sure there are plenty of alternatives that could be used for purchases.
At this point, I don’t know where Marvel Strike Force is going to go from here, but considering it has held my attention the longest on the mobile side is no easy feat, and why it gets a spot here.
Next at #9, a game that I’m betting no one here saw coming or has even heard of.
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