Marvel World of Heroes beta hands-on: A flop in the making

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Marvel World of Heroes is an upcoming game from Niantic, marrying the developer's location-based gameplay formula with the world of Marvel. While it offers some satisfying gameplay, Marvel World of Heroes looks to be yet another example of how tedious this formula is becoming, especially when so many of Niantic's games are quickly closed.

There's a stronger narrative at play in Marvel World of Heroes than in other Niantic titles. After you create your superhero, you'll team up with various Marvel characters to beat up criminals and foil classic supervillains. We got our hands on a beta version, which while a work-in-progress version, gives us a good idea of what the final game will look like. Let's dig in.

In the above gameplay video, we recorded the beginning section of the campaign, where you'll recruit your first few superheroes and find out what's going on in World of Heroes' story. This is an early build, so we frequently encountered bugs, from broken buttons to missing graphics.

While we expect the final release to offer random encounters, this build only contained narrative missions (perhaps because we are testing outside of the current beta region). However, all missions will follow the same gameplay mechanics, providing a good idea of what the finished product will offer.

Marvel World of Heroes's gameplay is simple, quick, and satisfying

The battles are the most polished part of Marvel World of Heroes, and while we can expect changes further along the line, its current iteration feels more or less complete. The formula, regardless of the setting, is the same for each battle. Select two superheroes to assist you, heal up if needed, then defeat all the bad guys.

Baddies in World of Heroes are defeated by reducing their armor and health to zero. It's turn-based combat, and you'll have four action points to spend during your turn. Most actions cost one point, but your superhero allies can offer powerful abilities that cost more. There are not a lot of components at play, but there's enough happening that you can't mindlessly tap to win battles.

Each attack is more efficient at damaging health or armor, so you'll need to carefully balance your attacks to win battles. It's a simple system, and you'll need to utilize all the tools at your disposal to complete the more challenging encounters.

Animations are snappy, and I left each encounter feeling satisfied. Most were completed in less than a minute, and I enjoyed experimenting with the limited selection of characters at my disposal.

While it wasn't present in this build, Niantic's announcement for World of Heroes indicated we will see AR gameplay in the full release.

Marvel World of Heroes offers plenty of ways to spend your money

Outside of the battles, the rest of Marvel World of Heroes' features were bare bones, but we got a good look at the in-game currencies available to players.

World of Heroes' economy revolves around gems, credits, and keys. These are used to buy consumables (e.g. health packs), gems, and loot boxes, respectively. The in-game store wasn't complete at the time of testing, but we weren't encouraged by what was on display. While you'll be able to earn currency to craft and buy your own gear, it's easy to see how Niantic could lock fan-favorite characters and weapons behind paywalls.

The in-game store we encountered had extremely generous trade-in rates for currency. These rates are likely for testing purposes, so expect to see different values in the full release.

Marvel World of Heroes has potential, but it could easily be a flop

We came away from this build of Marvel World of Heroes satisfied with the gameplay but worried about the surrounding package's monetization. It's hard to see what will retain players' interests once the combat wears thin, as at the moment, it's incredibly bare-bones.

We'll have to wait for the full release to see if Marvel World of Heroes ends up being another failure, and in the meantime, there's another Niantic game to look forward to.

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