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Feature Article

Marvel's Newest Action Game Focuses On Immersive And Fast-Paced Team Gameplay

Available now on PC via Oculus Rift.

Out now for the Oculus Rift, Marvel Powers United VR brings together many of the Marvel Universe's most iconic heroes to face off against several earthly and cosmic threats. Co-developed by Sanzaru Games and Oculus, the newest comic book-based action game has been entirely designed around the VR experience, allowing players to move throughout the environment and use each hero's special skills with the Oculus Touch controllers. In Powers United, players can team up with up to four others online to take part in a series of missions while powering up their chosen hero.

Featuring a roster of 18 characters at launch--including Spider-Man, Wolverine, Doctor Strange, Deadpool, Hulk, and Captain Marvel--Powers United has a wide range of Marvel's best and brightest to choose from. While some of the more famous characters from the Marvel Universe are missing, such as Iron Man, the current lineup pulls from the Avengers, X-Men, and even the Inhumans. The developers of Marvel Powers United VR worked closely with Marvel Studios to ensure that they were able to inject each character's style into the game, incorporate their powers and skill-set into the VR medium, and plan for the future roster.

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"It's been fantastic [working with Marvel Studios]," said Mat Kraemer, senior creative director at Sanzaru Games. "There's a lot of things we have to work with them on, such as the look of characters, their powers, and the locations we have in-game--they're totally experts on this and I love relying on them for input. From here on out after the game's release, we have DLC planned as well as ongoing support across the entire game. And the cool thing is that all this stuff is free--free patches, free DLC, that's how it's going to be moving forward."

After selecting your character, you can take part in a variety of missions set across familiar Marvel locales, which includes Jotunheim, Professor X's Mansion, and the Dark Dimension. Each stage has a particular set of objectives, such as defending valuable assets or clearing out waves of enemies. While your team takes out these foes, which include A.I.M. mercenaries, Ultron bots, and Skrulls, you'll use your abilities together to form some satisfying combo attacks, like Spider-Man webbing up enemies while Deadpool picks them off. After clearing through the trials and defeating enemies, you'll face off against the stage's particular boss.

What's admirable about Powers United is that it really goes out of its way to make sure each character feels different. This is illustrated by each character's particular movement style and powers. Using the standard point-and-click movement style for its locomotion, which has become somewhat of the standard scheme for the VR gaming space, there's a great focus on placing you into the shoes of your chosen hero. For instance, heroes like Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and Rocket Raccoon are able to move far more freely compared to others, allowing them to swing, levitate, and fly across the arena to get the jump on squads of foes. This allows other heroes who have a much stronger ground game to keep the action going from below, which opens up opportunities for unique team-based attacks.

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From our hands-on time with the game, there was a clear effort its part to get its players to experiment with the many heroes in its roster. It can sometimes be disorienting to keep up with the action, but after some adjusting to the pace, it becomes more manageable to deal with. As you get more comfortable with your chosen hero, you can tackle the character-specific objectives during each mission, such as casting Strange's immobilizing spells against a set number of enemies or throwing Captain America's shield in quick succession. By finishing these bonus challenges, along with completing the main mission, you gain resources to unlock new costumes and items from the in-game store--run by Lockjaw, the Inhumans' giant, teleporting dog. These costumes include several classic and recent variants from each character's history, referencing some of their most defining eras.

The focus of Powers United is on its immersive VR action, which manages to remain intense and impactful throughout. This is made more apparent while you're flailing your arms around to pull off each hero's moves and working up a sweat, but it does a solid job of showing off over the top detail and moments of action that Marvel fans come to expect from the comics and the films. With ongoing support planned for quite some time, it'll be interesting to see where the game can go from here. But given that there's still plenty of characters and locations within the Marvel Universe, this is only just the start for Power United VR.

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