On September 1st, Disney Interactive announced that they would be shutting down its Facebook-based social-strategy game MARVEL: AVENGERS ALLIANCE after more than four years of support. This came as quite a shock to many fans, including myself, given both the abruptness of the announcement and how popular the game remained. Now, with less than 48 hours remaining, I can’t help but reflect on the game I dedicated a bit of every day to for such a long time.
I was introduced to the game a little late, somewhere around October of 2012, when content was churning out in full swing and the community was growing rapidly. The gameplay was interesting enough; turn based strategy with all your favorite superheroes, rock-paper-scissors style variety in a class system, four varied abilities for each hero like Pokémon. But throw in a wholly original story, and great artwork? I was hooked immediately– I even joined a Facebook community of people, versed in the lore of both the game and the comic books, assembling to make friends and discuss strategies and metagame. Very involved, very detailed stuff. I also watched the growth of a comprehensive Wikia just for the game!
The player takes the role of a rookie SHIELD agent working as a liaison between the growing crowd of super-heroes and SHIELD (which is already a liaison between the government and superheroes but okay whatever). Your agent is also tasked with investigating the mysterious new Iso-8, a strange energy source that when controlled, vastly increases strength and power. Over time, new gear for your agent that allowed you to go toe-to-toe with some of the nastiest baddies in comic books. In fact, once you found some truly devastating equipment combinations, your Agent could be tailor-made tough enough to take on waves of enemies alone and walk away without a scratch. And as your Agent gained renown in the caped community, new allies would join in the droves. (Or, well, purchased with in-game currency…) Seriously though, droves.
The sheer selection of heroes in Marvel: Avengers Alliance was nothing to sneeze at. Sure, when it started, it only featured about 30 super-heroes. Over the game’s lifespan his roster expanded to a record-setting 166 unique playable characters. That’s more than any Marvel game I’ve come across, and that includes LEGO: Marvel Super-Heroes and LEGO: Marvel’s Avengers, a feat I thought truly impossible. Characters were rolled out regularly, as prizes from completing limited-time missions, Player-vs-Player tournaments, and promotional releases. More than half the characters in the game even had unlockable alternate costumes based on their appearances in the comics and on film, widening the variety of what they can do. It was a veritable completionist’s dream (or nightmare, depending on your outlook) to collect every last variant.
Since Marvel Avengers: Alliance was originally promoted for 2012’s The Avengers film, it should come as no surprise that the game had several “Special Operations” events that followed the material put out by Marvel Studios at the time. These included Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Agents of SHIELD, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man and even Jessica Jones. Periodically, the development team would release these event missions and a slew of alternate costumes to complement and promote the films as well. Timing was everything to a fan of this game, and we never knew what to expect next.
One of my absolute favorite aspects of the game’s storytelling were the twists placed on existing popular storylines. This version of Avengers vs. X-Men featured Jean Grey among the Phoenix Five instead of Namor. The Worthy hammer-wielders from Fear Itself attach themselves to completely new heroes from the comics like She-Hulk, Spider-Woman, and Luke Cage. Even the Horsemen of Apocalypse have changed to feature Beast, Rogue, and Iceman. Avengers Alliance had its own takes on the long-running Incursion storyline, Dark Reign, Avengers Arena, Infinity, Spider-Verse, Black Vortex, and even the then-unreleased Civil War II. The final Spec Ops storyline combined elements of The Thanos Imperative, a fitting end for a game series originally based on the films, now headed towards Avengers: Infinity War.
Marvel: Avengers Alliance was great fun, and an interesting jaunt for a long time, especially when it was my only excuse to still use Facebook. I’ll miss it dearly… well, except for PvP. That was an endless source of frustration every damn month. Still, thank you to all the dedicated staff who worked on the game from start to finish. You made something truly historic that was enjoyed by fans extreme and casual alike. And thanks to my Revengers Reassembled chums– I never would have had any success in this game without your help.
Hey reader! If you’re interested in reading more about the game now that it’s over, check out that Marvel: Avengers Alliance Wiki I mentioned. It’s painstakingly detailed with literally everything featured in the game since day one and remains an invaluable resource.
Until Disney decides to bring back Infinity and M:AA, make mine… well… maybe don’t make mine anything– I can’t have my heart broken a third time!