The review I never expected to write. Before we get into it, you must know that this review is based only for console experiences on either Playstation or Xbox consoles and their respective handheld devices. I know Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign is available on multiple platforms for multiple devices. This review is not applicable to any other device other than those previously mentioned above. Let me explain. On the console versions, and only on the consoles, Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign has completely ditched the Free to Play store model and Free to Play aspects that are found in other iterations of the game. The player pays a one time fee of $14.99, and that is it. There is no Iso-8, no Hero Packs, no in-app purchases of any kind. It is gone. There will be DLC of additional characters and mission packs, but that DLC is only $3.99 per pack. The other amazing thing is, it’s a cross buy title. You buy it for your account and play it on any device that is associated with your account.
30 Second Review
+ The Complete Experience
+ Best Purchase Value in the Game’s History
+ Multiplayer is Real-time Player vs Player
– Low Population Currently for Multiplayer
– Multiplayer is a Little Buggy
What the Deuce
When Marvel Puzzle Quest:Dark Reign originally launched I tried it out on Steam PC, for about 150 hours. I quickly realized that this was a game I could see myself dumping buckets of money into. Upon this realization I quickly uninstalled the game and walked away. I learned my lesson from the days of spending $50 a month for League of Legends six months in a row.
The day that Marvel Puzzle Quest:Dark Reign went live on the PS4 for digital download, I went and checked it out and was quickly taken back that this Free to Play game was now $14.99. I didn’t investigate, I didn’t look into why it was $14.99, I just immediately tuned out, because I’m familiar with the Free to Play store model of this title, which caused me to lose interest.
However, my friends over at WayForward were working with D3 Publishing to bring Marvel Puzzle Quest:Dark Reign to consoles. Despite initially being turned off, as I’m sure other players that saw the price were as well, I chose to reach out to my PR contact for more information. What I found out blew me away. The Free to Play model had been completely removed. You gain a cover after completing missions; the covers level up on their own as you play with them on missions. The level cap is 300. You no longer have to increase your roster size. You just have to unlock the covers–all for $14.99. Immediately I started looking for the catch. I just couldn’t fathom this reality.
I spent 72 hours and 100 percent unlocked the game. No additional charges. Now I did have access to the two DLC packs named Science Friction and The Case of the Cold Chimichangas. Each sells for $3.99. Science Friction unlocks Punisher immediately. The Hulk can also be unlocked after completing his mission set on hard mode. I was a little shocked when I beat it on normal and the character didn’t unlock, since the other pack unlocks Doc Ock right away and contains the Deadpool mission set. At the end of the Deadpool battle, Deadpool asks me to add him to my roster. However, after only beating it on normal mode this was not possible and led to a little bit of confusion. I really feel like there needs to be some kind of in game indicator that explains which characters only unlock from completing the missions on hard mode.
The other new aspect of Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign that I absolutely love is the head to head multiplayer battles. No longer are we doing AI controlled combat. It is Player vs Player. This feature is really cool, and I love it. It adds so much more to the gameplay and overall replayability of the game, as if the game wasn’t already addictive enough! Also, any cover that you have unlocked in single player will be available for multiplayer play. The cover will be 300 and have its full cover set unlocked. Everyone is on an even playing field in multiplayer. It really comes down to skill, and of course a bit of luck.
Now, while I love getting the complete Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign experience for only $14.99, and I love the new multiplayer features, it is not without its own problems. The above screenshot is the current PS4 Leaderboards, and yep, obviously I’m SaintKilljoy184. Currently the online multiplayer seems to be non existent. I don’t know if it’s due to a low player base, a small player installation, or people just aren’t playing multiplayer yet; I have no idea what the cause is. What I do know is that I was unable to randomly match with anyone. I did make arrangements to play with other people, and we logged in at the same time and matched up with very few problems. I say very few, because while trying to do the multiplayer, the game would occasionally crash. I and another player received a TDF connection error at the same time, which I’ve never experienced before. One match the game failed to start, because it gave both players the 1P designation, so there was no 2P, and neither player could take a turn. Also after matching for a few games, the game would require a restart from both players before being able to match up again. All of these are bugs that can be patched, so I’m not too worried about them in the long term, but in the short term it may prove to be a little annoying.
The Price is Right
The $14.99 price is the lowest for Marvel Puzzle Quest:Dark Reign in the history of the game. Plus no microtransactions. It’s a win-win for consumers, as it gets you the definitive and complete experience. I think it is a worthwhile purchase even for someone remotely curious about the game. If you’ve been a hold out like me, then now is the perfect time to get into the game.