Space. Reminiscent of their arrival in Avengers: Infinity War, the Guardians of the Galaxy encounter a mysterious Kree ship in the middle of an asteroid. From here on chaos ensues as its revealed that the Mad Titan Thanos is searching the universe for Infinity Stones, leaving the Avengers, Wolverine, Inhumans, Guardians and more to put a stop to the genocidal warlord.

This is the setup for Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, set in alternative universe to its predecessors. It features a story that will seem more than familiar to those that have invested any amount of time into the MCU, it’s been promised that this adventure is a completely original storyline, while still taking influence from the Infinity Saga. From the first few chapters played, it’s fair to say that this promise has been delivered upon.

Gameplay sees players controlling one of four team members, with the changing of characters controlled via the use of the D-pad. There’s a ridiculous roster to explore, with numerous heavyweights such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Wolverine, and more made available early on. You then take on hordes of enemies and malevolent super villains using a variety of different moves and signature traits suiting the superhero picked.

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Perfectly balanced

The genius of MUA titles is that all of the controller mechanics transcend any individual within the 30+ character roster, with Y being a standard attack and X acting as a heavy move. So, Peter Quill’s Element Gun, for instance, can shoot a couple of energy shots in his standard but opting for the heavy allows for a more powerful charge shot. There’s also evasion moves, special attacks and an ultimate - these are all easy to grasp.

Although it’s never going to have the depth of Marvel’s Spider-Man, everything about the mechanics comes together to create a damn satisfying hack and slash combat experience. Speaking of which, it’s terrific to see the likes of Yuri Lowenthal and Nadji Jeter returning in their roles from the PlayStation counterpart, as Peter Parker and Miles Morales.

As you demolish your way through hundreds of enemies, your characters level up increasing their stats and unlocking more thrilling moves. I’m already leaning into favourites like Captain Marvel, which is great but has presented a problem. Relying on the same superheroes sees their experience flourish, yet others are left behind due to the fact that enemy difficulty naturally increases. Why do I want to pick a level six Scarlet Witch when my Carol Danvers is pushing level 15?

She’s not alone

XP Cubes can be collected to level up weaker teammates but naturally these are rare. Being only six hours in, this isn’t a major concern at this moment, although it’s one that could mean experimenting with Earth’s mightiest heroes may be a necessity rather than a choice. Combining which superheroes merge up for the best offense is part of the fun too, with Guardians powering up one another and Web Warriors doing the same.

Unless Stark-tech has rolled out for Switch, those who are downloading digitally will require 13.2GB of room to start out the action. As a third-party console exclusive for Nintendo (which is a rare sight), MUA3’s comicbook blend of cel-shaded saviours come together to lighten up the Switch, whether sprawled out across widescreen or on the go. The art style differs itself well from competitors, with fidelity clearly given to superheroes over the generic feeling environments.

It may be too early to call, but in truth I’m addicted. Unlocking each character is a delight, and the story has engulfed me like the Venom symbiote. I’m just hoping it has the legs to keep me suiting up for one more battle after the credits roll.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order releases on Nintendo Switch on the 19th of July, check back here for our review on the day.

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