New minions are the standouts.
Advisory: The game featured in this article has microtransactions that exceed $10.
Throughout the summer a number of fixes and improvements have been made to D3GO’s Marvel Puzzle Quest. The branded match-3 puzzler–available on mobile and PC via Steam–has been around nearly seven years and in that time it’s seen a number of changes, though this summer’s improvements feel the most concentrated in the game’s history. Whether it’s quality of life improvements or new enemies to beat into oblivion, the changes represent an all around improvement.
Consider the litany of UI changes:
- Characters that can’t receive a chosen support are greyed out in release 204.
- Supports were again improved with banners denoting equipped characters, the ability to sort your faves, and applicable selections front-and-center and highlighted in release 205.
- Supports are again updated–swapping and unequipping them made easy–but above all else the banners that trudge across the screen are timed in the sequence they activate. Multiple banners can appear at once, as is needed when Dr. Strange’s Flames of the Faltine is activated, helping keep track of the action in release 206.
- When minions generate AP they no longer show “1” per category but instead the accurate number as of release 207.
- A totally new roster screen–with a vertical orientation instead of horizontal, aligning it with the rest of the game–is released. Improved sorting and filtering to help you keep track of your heroes represents the best of release 209.
These improvements are likely minor to the overall experience but they’ve come with such frequency a player who’s taken the summer off from playing will likely be surprised upon return.
More surprising, however, is the addition of two new minion types. Minions in MPQ are the main force players match tiles against in story mode. Those stories broadly rotate in-and-out with only minor changes to buffed characters; the Hearts of Darkness storyline currently in rotation sees a number of SHIELD agents and Maggia thugs featured in the daily battles, and challenging these longstanding units is second nature to players by now. Indeed, their main gimmick, of using powers that create countdowns on specified tiles that deal damage or destroy a row, are predictable and easy to plan around.
Two new enemy minions have been added to the mix: A.I.M. (of MODOK fame) and the Sentinels (giant mutant hunting robots). Both are welcome additions as they change what we expect of the minions we pummel on the daily and because both seem to be increasingly culturally relevant.
A.I.M.’s tiles have a way of moving about the board that we haven’t seen from mooks before. The standard minion–A.I.M. F.O.R.C.E.–has a passive power that destroys some special tiles while swapping others. The MECHA‘s automaton tile freely wanders the board, unleashing high damage when it swaps itself with a special tile; the SPLICER‘s unleash experiment meanwhile swaps with tiles and creates special tiles for the enemy team. The meanderings of these tiles can be difficult to track if you allow more than a few to exist at a time.
They pair well with other abilities that speed up countdowns, target specified opponents for damage regardless of where they are in line, and otherwise hurt and heal together.
Hunting mutants may be the name of the game for the Sentinels but they have a penchant for charged tiles that do bonus damage in MPQ. The Seeker creates charged tiles every turn, the defensive Vanguard reduces the damage to fellow Sentinels for each colour that’s charged, the Instigator prevents your team from causing Sentinels damage when matching more than one charged tile, and the powerful Eradicator punishes players for not matching away charged tiles in their strongest colour while creating new ones for the team.
Both teams have recently played a part in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, too, with the forces of A.I.M. particularly creating trouble in the level based on Wakanda. A.I.M. are the apparent villains in the upcoming Marvel’s Avengers, as well, giving them greater prominence than most other minions featured in the game, though the Sentinels featured heavily in 2014’s X-Men Days of Future Past. Seeing villains that aren’t just standard fare but pack a different kind of punch elevates the story mode.
It’s not the same as the PvP where other players unleash fascinating hero combinations nor is it the same as the game’s massive boss events but it makes a difference. The developers will be able to mix and match these new powers with in-game heroes for new challenges, too, that should keep players on their toes.
The developers have continued to release new characters every two weeks as well. Those characters represent every corner of Marvel’s universe: the street level Misty Knight packs a punch, the supernatural Legion is as wonky as Mister Fantastic before him, Anti-Venom dishes out pain while simultaneously offering powerful healing, and the new Samurai Daken can resurrect. These characters are a marked improvement from the bizarre release of 5-Star Yelena Belova.
With improvements as varied and effective as these it’s likely D3GO have found their stride working in a pandemic-riddled world with the best updates yet to come.
Marvel Puzzle Quest continues to regularly add new characters, with additions such as Apocalypse, Super Skrull, The Hulk (Immortal), Maria Hill, Havok, Karnak, Mister Sinister, Hellcat, and Canadian character Northstar this year.