It was back in 2009 that we received the last Marvel Ultimate Alliance game, and now the series has returned with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, a Switch-exclusive game that's just released. We've been sampling the campaign, and after seeing the credits roll, we have 10 top tips for helping you deal with Thanos and his minions.
1) Block, block, block
This may sound obvious to some, but it's easy to forget when you're superpowered warriors that it's not all about attack. Sure you've got cool moves in your arsenal, but so do the various bad guys and grunts you encounter, and it's only by holding ZL to block that you can stay alive, especially on Mighty difficulty and above. You can dodge by tapping ZL and a direction as well, which is worth it for avoiding sticky situations too.
2) Take on the Infinity Trials
Throughout the world you'll come across tears in the universe that signal Infinity Trials, tasking you with tackling extra challenges for new rewards. There are even additional requirements for even more rewards, like a time limit, and this is worth it if you want to level up your characters and earn some extra goodies before progressing. It's also something for those completionists to dive into as well, although beware because they offer a tougher challenge than the campaign. Even if you miss them on your way through, you can always access them from the main menu.
3) Upgrade whenever you can
As you level your heroes up and progress, you can upgrade them in a number of ways. XP cubes can be found throughout the game to give characters an XP boost and help them level up, and as you go you'll not only unlock more special attacks to use with R and an accompanying button, but you can upgrade each of these individually to increase their potency. Find what works for you and spend your upgrade items carefully - they don't grow on trees.
4) Remember your ISO-8s!
As you work through the game you'll discover substances known as ISO-8s, which are little crystals you find in the world that offer alterations to gameplay. You can assign these to different characters, some of which come with good effects and a drawback (like raising one stat and reducing another), while others are tamer in their effects. These impact the various stats available and will help you to tailor each hero to your playstyle and face the tougher challenges out there.
5) Consider some co-op
Considering the co-op focus of this game, this tip might sound obvious, but it's worth pointing out. Human brains are always easier to work with than AI, and if you can work with others to manually direct attacks at tough bosses and combine powers, then you'll have a much easier time taking down the bad guys, especially since your buddies can probably dodge attacks better than a lot of your computer-controlled companions will (not that we're bitter).
6) Head to the Lab regularly
The Lab can be found any time there's a glowing blue circle on the floor, which also lets you save and swap heroes out. Here you can invest in a gigantic skill tree of sorts that alters stats in exchange for in-game currency and valuables, but you can also modify and upgrade your ISO-8s, as well as recycle them. It's worth tweaking all of these if you can but take your time - resources are limited, and you won't have nearly enough to go wasting them on upgrades you don't want.
7) Search for hidden secrets
In the world there are hidden chests tucked away in corners or behind secret walls, so make sure to take your time to find them, because they contain goodies such as ability orbs (to upgrade attacks), XP cubes, and ISO-8s. Some are even hidden behind a barrier that requires certain heroes to attack, so they're far from a walk in the park to access. We even found one by accident behind a bookcase, with no indication it was there.
8) Don't be afraid to try new things
The roster of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is expansive, and that's why it's always worth trying new heroes as they come along. Not only will they offer different attacks, but they can also combine with your existing heroes in new and interesting ways, and what's more is that they also come at a higher level as you get further into the story. Our four-hero team was always changing until we found something that clicked, bringing together Storm, Black Panther, Spider-Man, and Deadpool.
9) Stagger the opposition
In Chapter 1 we were introduced to the stagger mechanic, which encourages you to whittle down the purple bar under an enemy's health. This is because, upon depletion, the enemy is staggered and more susceptible to damage, so coordinating attacks and saving your bigger firepower for a staggered foe is wise, especially with the bosses that have giant health bars in the first place.
10) Extreme and Synergy Attacks pack a real punch
When the yellow circle around your character portrait flashes yellow you can perform an Extreme Attack with R and L, and that's the most powerful one available, and they're unique to each hero. What's better than that is combining them though, either in co-op or alone by continuously tapping R and L together, bringing the other heroes into the attack. This is great for boss fights or when an enemy is staggered, but when this gauge isn't full, holding ZR and pressing attack buttons activates Synergy Attacks, where two heroes combine to great effect, consuming the blue bar instead. Using both of these is the key to victory, and produces some satisfying results.
That's about it for our top tips. Stay tuned on Monday for our review, as we're using the weekend to sample all of the co-op action before putting pen to paper.