Marvel Rivals: The Fun Easter Egg-Filled Hero Shooter Delivers Chaotic Action

Exclusive: The creators of new hero shooter Marvel Rivals tell us all about the work that went into assembling its impressive cast of playable characters.

The iconic heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe collide in the upcoming squad-based third-person hero shooter game Marvel Rivals, developed by NetEase Games in collaboration with Marvel Games. The fast and frenetic online shooter has teams of six go up against each other across a variety of multiplayer modes and classic Marvel locations, a collection of lush environments that are also destructible. Players can choose from an impressive roster of heroes and villains, including Marvel’s biggest names, many of which you’ve seen in MCU movies, as well as surprising deep cuts from the comics, each with their own signature play style and abilities.

What unfolds as both teams clash is pure, unadulterated chaos that plays out kinetically, quickly, and most important of all, in a thoroughly fun experience. Between respawns, players can select a different Marvel hero or villain to leap back into the fray with, with the tide of battle often going back and forth during its tense matches. And with players changing characters on the fly and unleashing their signature abilities, gameplay in Marvel Rivals remains engaging and unpredictable until the final moments.

Den of Geek recently went hands-on with an alpha build of Marvel Rivals at Summer Game Fest 2024 and, after an engrossing hands-on session, spoke with Marvel Games executive producer Danny Koo and NetEase head of production Paul Ella about the making of the game and what players should expect from the upcoming beta testing.

Marvel’s Heroes and Villains Assemble

One of the most striking things about Marvel Rivals is how distinct each character in the alpha roster is. While Black Panther slashes enemies with his claws and unleashes energy collected by his vibranium mesh suit, Spider-Man can web up his enemies and Loki can create duplicates of himself on the battlefield to confuse the opposing team. In addition to unique individual abilities and play styles, characters can use Dynamic Hero Synergy techniques to augment each other on the battlefield. For Koo, the priority was emphasizing the uniqueness of each character.

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“For each character, we identified what are the three most important key elements about this character in terms of what they do, how they look, and how we express them,” Koo explains. “Once we’ve gotten that figured out, we move towards building a skillset around those important elements. We’re not going to worry about what classes they belong to. We just want to make sure that the characters are fun to play first, then we assign something.”

More than just being true to their respective natures and backgrounds in combat, each character has recorded dialogue, costume designs, and physical mannerisms that help highlight their individual identities. The dialogue, appearances, and character bios also help fill in Marvel Rivals’ overarching narrative premise of the multiverse colliding following a confrontation between Doctor Doom and Doctor Doom 2099.

“The team has built great easter eggs around the map so that you can pick what happened, why Loki is the King of Yggsgard [the mystical realm of Asgard absorbed by the World Tree Yggdrasil], why the Spidey characters took over Tokyo 2099,” Koo teases, while complimenting NetEase Games’ hard work and close attention to detail. “We look forward to building more narrative through gameplay, the maps, and you can even unlock character bios as you play to give yourself more background story about what their role is in this world.”

The Controlled Chaos of Marvel Rivals

Once you join the battle in Marvel Rivals, the action never really stops, with players quickly respawning after being downed and re-engaging the enemy as teams clash over a number of objectives and strategic points. With everything from the Punisher’s smoke grenades to Groot summoning protective wooden walls, these battles deliver colorfully rendered pandemonium as teams of six vie for control of the battlefield. With so much action taking place at once, the developers gave Marvel Rivals a third-person perspective to give players a better sense of the battle.

“One of the advantages in having it as third-person, you can see that chaos happening around you,” Ella says. “You’re not getting hit from outside of your peripheral vision and not aware of it. It is a complete melee fight just as any Avengers or Guardians [of the Galaxy] fight should be.”

“Six is the sweet spot to represent a team mixup,” Koo notes. “We want our Marvel fans to be able to pick their favorite heroes, team up with the synergy skills that are in the game and provide an additional layer so that they can interact with each other. We want to also encourage them to use the destructible elements of the environment to their advantage as well.”

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Going Beta

After holding a closed alpha test this past May, NetEase Games and Marvel Games are looking to take Marvel Rivals into a closed beta test at the end of July for PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S. Marvel Rivals is planned not only to be cross-platform, but cross-region, with dedicated servers in North America, Europe, and Asia planned, while Marvel Games is also looking into the possibility of adding a dedicated server for Oceania. As Marvel Rivals prepares for its beta testing, Koo and Ella hint at an even bigger experience for players than they saw with the alpha tests.

“You will be expecting around 21 characters for the beta test,” Koo teases. “How we picked our roster was about 70% of all the characters that you know and love, the greatest hits. And then, we’ll throw in some curveballs and deep cuts.”

“On top of the roster that you saw in the alpha, we have two newly announced characters,” Ella adds. “We have Venom and Adam Warlock that’ll be joining us in the beta. If you go across to Steam and wishlist the game, you will get all of the updates. We’re planning the beta for sometime towards the end of July, but we’ll be talking more about it towards the end of June.”

Marvel Rivals is developed and published by NetEase Games in collaboration with Marvel Games. The game is slated for release on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.