The biggest threat to Marvel Rivals is all the other rival team shooters

RMAG news

Marvel Rivals pits its greatest heroes against each other and it’s a lot of fun. It’s also a familiar kind of fun if you’ve ever played Overwatch. As Overwatch 2 fights to hold onto players (and attract new ones), there’s no shortage of new games with similar team PvP dynamics, modes and characters. Like Valve’s leaked Deadlock title, or PlayStation’s Concord, or Star Wars: Hunters. Add the now console-bound (and more strategy-heavy) Valorant, and yep, there are a lot of team shooters on the horizon. Oh and I forgot Foamstars, like most of us. 

Rivals, made by Netease, has a headstart, however, with a roster of characters that most of us have heard of. These are also heroes whose powers and abilities we already know. And it’s certainly a roster: 19 characters, expanding now to 21 for the next wave of tests.

I was going to complain that this is a heady number of characters and combinations to learn, or at least get used to. But, well, Overwatch launched with 21. One leak, data-mined from the closed alpha, suggest there are plans for up to 39 characters. Oh my.

Briefly playing this alpha-build demo at Summer Game Fest offers a glimpse at the game, and nascent metas (combinations of characters and team builds), but it takes time to evolve and coalesce. It also takes time for me to get good at a new team shooter.

Like the original Overwatch, Rivals pits six heroes/villains against six other Marvel characters, with familiar team goals of escoring a slow-moving object, or protecting zones from the opposing team. It’s not all Marvel Presents… Overwatch, though.

I liked the destructable environments, with some walls taking only so much damage before crumbling and exposing your hero. It kept me on my toes. Other unique gameplay features include “Dynamic Hero Synergy,” a sort of baked-in meta where two (sometimes three) characters can augment each other in battle.

One example of this happened as I found early success with Groot. Groot is a tank-type player, with the ability to make Mei-styled walls, just made of plants, not ice. However, if Rocket, his Guardians of the Galaxy team-mate, is on the same team, it increases the duo’s damage output. And Rocket can ride around on Groot’s shoulder, too. Cute.

I mentioned the Groot-Mei connection, but other skill overlaps with Overwatch characters are obvious, but with a twist. Hela, queen of Hel, has a few similarities with Overwatch 2’ s Kiriko, with the ability to escape tight spots, but swapping healing for a focus on damage dealing.

Meanwhile, Black Panther’s lunge attack gets an instant cooldown if you hit an enemy, mimicking Genji’s dash attack that recharges if you get a kill.

The third-person perspective, which a few early testers found divisive, takes some getting used to. Look, I get it: when the core USP of a game is the global juggernaut that is Marvel’s intellectual property, you want to see what you paid for. You want to see Iron Man blasting Magik from the skies, Loki faking his death as he circles back around to attack Namor’s weak spot. In first person, a lot of that character design is lost, and your team mates and enemies rarely stand still in order for you to appreciate their character designs and lore.

I’m not sure why, but playing this kind of game from a third-person perspective made movement feel, somehow, sluggish. Unless you’re Spider-Man, who has an uniquely high level of mobility and speed compared to the rest of the current roster.

Overwatch 2 struggled with a lack of PvE features as well as the major change to 5v5 team battles. For a lot of Overwatch players, the game has fallen out of favor. However, for a lot of people it’s still the team shooter to beat. Will the draw of Marvel’s greatest heroes (and villains) be enough of a draw, and can NetEase sustain Rivals appeal when it launches? A closed beta test, which will include PS5 gamers this time, is scheduled for July.

Catch up on all of the news from Summer Game Fest 2024 right here!

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *