In mid June, Marvel Entertainment released a mobile iOS version of the very popular Facebook and Playdom.com free to play game, Marvel: Avengers Alliance. And while it is excellent to finally have this addicting game on iOS, gamers should know what to expect.
Understandably, the game has been out for over a month now, so you may be wondering why now? Well, the game recently updated, with the first season of Player vs. Player (PvP) finished, and new chapters rolling out. And ever since the rollout, it seems more and more gamers are going to forums, searching out answers, and starting topics about what is working for who.
First off, the game has changed since release on Facebook and Playdom.com. Most notably, and a major reason for any poor reviews on the app store, is that the mobile version does not sync with Facebook accounts, thus Facebook players would have to start a new game to play on mobile. This may afflict the Android version when it does finally release as well, but that is yet to be seen. Marvel Entertainment’s move was baffling to most players who were looking to continue on mobile, but is the only real reason for poor reviews.
But there are certainly other differences as well. Early in both versions of those games, players could get heroes for free, collect rare currency more easily, and access weapons that are (as of yet) not available on mobile. Now that we’ve talked about the major changes, here’s a brief rundown of the game.
You start off as a rookie agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and are sent out to help heroes on missions to beat bad guys (most major villains of the Marvel Universe are present). Along the way, you’ll pick up items dropped by enemies, or via chance grids at the end of certain battles, and level up as you go. You quickly have access to Iron Man, Black Widow, and Hawkeye. Your fighting team will always consist of your agent, and two other heroes. All other heroes in the game must be purchased with command points. And this is where the game can get tricky, turning the free to play model into a revenue stream for Marvel, which is no doubt their intent.
There are four types of currency, and they are progressively harder to obtain. The most common is silver, used to pay towards character upgrades, equipment, supplies, and weapons. Gold is the next most common currency (although still very hard to obtain), and is the only currency that is an IAP. It’s also the only currency that can be converted to command points, and is the only currency that can be used to obtain some of the most rare weapons or gear.
Then there are S.H.I.E.L.D. coins, which are used as well to pay for hero training and some of the more rare weapons and gear (but usually not as rare as the items that you can only pay for with gold). And finally, the most rare and coveted currency is command points (CP). These can only be obtained by getting a 5 star completion on a chapter, or on the prize grid (either the daily prize, or when defeating a mission’s boss). And a great deal of pain, heartbreak, and forum ranting come from this currency.
As stated earlier, Facebook and Playdom players seem to have gotten a better deal starting out, since there were several advantages given to those players as stated above. Mostly, players were able to obtain CP in actual battle, and thus were able to purchase more of the heroes earlier on. These players also had chances at obtaining heroes for free. And finally, when a chapter was 100% completed, players received a special (powerful) golden weapon. As of yet, mobile is missing out on all of these great features.
This is important to note because when a PvP season is active, mobile players are playing against Facebook and Playdom.com players. I liken this to being a little league baseball player asked to step up to the major leagues. It just isn’t a level playing field, and is a whole different ball game. And ultimately it kills any kind of balance when in a PvP season. There are other issues, such as the AI doing a terrible job of fighting your PvP fights when you are away, and often result in an automatic loss. Losses will drop your ranking and knock you out of contention for cooler gear, weapons, and heroes that have yet to be unlocked (but are later for an expensive amount of command points). To be fair, Facebook and Playdom.com players have dealt with this same struggle, yet they are now at an advantage thanks to mobile.
So, how does the mobile player survive despite these handicaps? First off, I would recommend going to the official Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AvengersAllianceMobile for any announcements about the mobile version. Any news about updates will be posted here. This page will serve to support both iOS and Android, once it is released on Android. Secondly, if you’d like to catch a glimpse of what may come for mobile, head on over to http://www.avengersallianceguide.com/#axzz2aXnvYTHD. This is an excellent resource for everything about Avengers Alliance for Facebook and Playdom.com, but also has tons of strategy guides, forums to read on what players are finding successful, and general tips and tricks. It is not for mobile, but still has a wealth of knowledge from other players who have been playing for a while. And trust me, early on, you’ll want the advice on how to manage your resources, lest you pay real cash.
And therein lies the beauty of this particular free to play model. Mobile gamers know we’re getting a watered-down version of the game, but it is balanced well enough that if you’re careful with your resources, it’s very possible to forego spending money and still have a blast playing the game. It will take patience though, and that is what free to play is all about. In a world where free to play is a slap across the face to most gamers, it is very refreshing to find that Marvel Entertainment found a good balance without mandatorily creating a situation of having to spend money, commonly referred to as “hitting the money wall.” In a way, mobile gamers also have the advantage of knowing (for the most part) what is coming next, so mobile gamers can prepare accordingly.
So, with all this said, I’m going to offer some good advice for newbies (or even people playing who have hit the proverbial wall). First, don’t just blindly spend your gold! There’s multiple ways to use this currency, and you’ll be enticed to do so at almost every screen, but it is so hard to obtain that you’re better off to stock pile this currency in particular. Read through the forums first and see what other players do with their currency, and find out which weapons, gears, heroes (and hero outfits) work best so that you have a synergetic team. Some heroes work great together, others don’t. Your agent should compliment the heroes you play with, so make sure you equip him/her accordingly as well.
Also, some heroes are enticing because they might be your favorite, but trust me when I say that some of the more obscure heroes (or even ones that you may not care for) end up being the best in the game. Read up on who and what works for PvE (computer battles, when going through missions) and more importantly, PvP. It will come down to how you want to play, and which strategy works best for you.
Finally, the mobile version makes it very easy to add Facebook, Playdom and Gamecenter players. By doing so, you’ll build an army of friends who will gift you silver, energy, and S.H.I.E.L.D. coins so that you can keep building your roster and leveling them up. This is a social game, and your success hinges on this concept. Finally, just have fun with the game. Learn the strategies, learn what classes work best against other classes, and adjust accordingly. I hope this helps those stuck, or those wanting to try the game. Until next time, I’ll be looking for you in PvP. Game on!