Oculus’s newest VR game, “Marvel Powers United” gives players the chance to live their wildest superhero dreams with some the most immersive and impressive graphics that virtual reality gaming has to offer.
The four-player fighting game drops Wednesday for a very reasonable $US39.99, and if you own an Oculus Rift, you absolutely should buy it.
For those who haven’t invested in a VR setup yet, the game can be purchased as part of a limited time bundle that includes everything you need to get started for $US399 (which is the regular price of the Oculus Rift alone).
I got to play “Marvel Powers United” early and can sincerely say the game offers all the childhood wonder of beating up pretend baddies with your friends, but with a lot more impressive tech.
Here’s what it’s like to play:
First, some context:
Comic book fans will be happy to hear that Oculus’s newest game brings many of your favourite Marvel heroes and villains into one place, without the constraints of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
This means the most recognisable heroes like Captain America and Black Panther can fight alongside Wolverine, Deadpool and Black Bolt, of the “Inhumans” series.
The game also allows players to unlock up to six costumes for each character, all inspired by different iterations or universes in which they have appeared. For example, after playing as Wolverine, decked out in his classic yellow and blue body suit, players will be able to unlock Logan, the elder, more rugged version of the same character played by Hugh Jackman in the 2017 film.
Outside of comic books and the popular mobile game Marvel Puzzle Quest, this is the first time we’ve seen these characters come together since Disney bought Marvel studios in 2009.
When I dropped in to the game’s prologue, I was immediately taken aback by the stunningly beautiful and detailed virtual world around me.
The tutorial-style prologue takes place in New York City, and after walking through a crumbling virtual street at the foot of Avengers Tower, I joked to the attendant helping me that I wished I could take a break from vigilante justice to go for a site-seeing stroll down 5th Avenue.
The actual game mechanics were really straightforward and easy to pick up. Each hero has unique abilities and fighting styles to master, and a team of four heroes is assembled at the beginning of each mission. The formula isn’t exactly revolutionary, but VR brings an entirely new level of excitement to the otherwise repetitive style.
The character movements in virtual reality games are famously clunky and awkward, but “Marvel Powers United” managed to maintain the illusion that I had become my playable character almost seamlessly.
Being able to cast spells out of my hand, fly through the air, and stare down famous Marvel villains in VR was an incredibly fun and immersive experience unlike any I’ve had in a VR game before, and I would recommend it to both VR newcomers and enthusiasts alike.
I was also impressed by the fact that the game included an exciting feature that is often left out of other VR games: an actual virtual body for my character.
It may seem like an obvious thing to include, but in so many VR games, the player is represented only by a floating head and disembodied hands that cut off about half way up the forearm.
Whereas in Marvel Powers United, when I chose to play as Captain Marvel, I was able to look down at my virtual torso, arms and legs, all outfitted in her patriotic super suit.
Each mission asks you to complete a series of objectives, like defending a point or clearing an area, while waves of enemies and bosses attack from all sides. The enemies are scaled to your skill level, so every victory feels like a satisfactory and well-deserved win…even if you play the game over and over again.
The matches, which last about 15 minutes, are played across an exciting list of stages based on famous Marvel locations, like Wakanda and Asgard.
The formula is not a particularly inventive one, but it offers endless hours of entertainment for players who want to focus their efforts on what superheroes do best: fighting bad guys.
After you manage to defeat every boss in the game, you’ll get a chance to square up with Thanos, the main antagonist from Marvel’s recent summer blockbuster, “Avengers: Infinity War.”
While the game was visually stunning, the movement was wildly disorienting, and the game’s lack of full-room capability was pretty disappointing.
Because the game does not offer a full-room VR experience, players use a joystick to push their character forward. This can create the sensation that your body is moving forward, without actually going anywhere.
Because each person’s sensitivity to balance and motion is different than the next, people naturally react to VR differently. Motion sickness is a common side effect from being in VR too long, but usually is something that the average person can get used to with practice.
With that said, as someone who is not at all new to VR games and who has personally never experienced this side effect before, the disorientation became so bad it prevented me from fully enjoying the game.
More than once, that sensation caused me to lurch forward in the real world, or briefly lose my balance while standing with both feet planted on the floor.
After a solid 30 minutes of play, I really wished I had chosen to play in a chair. By the end of the session, I left the demonstration feeling nauseous.
Aside from some of the disorientation I experienced standing up, I loved playing “Marvel Powers United” and would highly recommend it to VR enthusiasts and Marvel fanatics alike.
The ability to completely immerse oneself in the Marvel world, and fight alongside one’s favourite super heroes with the help of virtual reality is – in my opinion- unparalleled and completely worth the quirks that come with the territory.
Before you try the game yourself, you can check out the official trailer here:
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