Feature First

Gaming Reviews

‘Marvel Rivals’ Closed Alpha: The Start of Something Great

Marvel Rivals shows a lot of promise with its release of a feature-rich closed alpha test however it lacks a few features seen in its competitors that may make the gameplay experience frustrating at times.

'Marvel Rivals' Closed Alpha: The Start of Something Great
Marvel Rivals / Image Courtesy of NetEase

What Is Marvel Rivals?

Announced on March 27th, 2024, Marvel Rivals is a 6v6 hero (and villain) based shooter developed by NetEase Games and features familiar game modes such as Capture Zones, Payload and Team Deathmatch. The story revolves around Doctor Doom and his 2099 counterpart. The two are in a merciless clash which results in a “Timestream Entanglement” forcing universes to collide. Heroes and Villains are teaming up with and against each other in an effort to defeat the Dooms before one can gain control of all reality.

A closed alpha test was available from May 10th to May 20th, I was fortunate enough to receive a key to experience the game.

The Good

The Marvel Rivals closed alpha test debuted with many features, a few not normally seen in other tests from my experience. Right off the bat we were introduced to an already large roster consisting of 19 characters with a few of the team-up abilities being implemented. Additionally, players had access to skins, nameplates, icons and even factions.

'Marvel Rivals' Closed Alpha: The Start of Something Great
Marvel Rivals / Image Courtesy of NetEase

This game as with many others did have a battle pass during the test, titled “Galacta’s Quest” this pass allowed players to earn numerous cosmetics to equip with two rewards namely the “Closed Alpha” Nameplate and “Moonlit Witch” Skin being permanent unlocks for the full game. This encouraged players to try out the various game modes which include “Quick Matches”, “Conquest (aka team deathmatch)” and “Competitive”.

As many have stated before this game does feel like an Overwatch 2 clone and that is reflected in the movesets of characters, typically one can describe any playable character as a fusion of Overwatch characters. This is not a negative however, it actually made playing the game a lot easier and familiar to me. I had fun trying out as many characters as I could and completing their relevant achievements for rewards, the team up moves were varied enough to not feel redundant and were easy to understand for the most part.

'Marvel Rivals' Closed Alpha: The Start of Something Great
Marvel Rivals / Image Courtesy of NetEase

In terms of art style, the cartoony / comic-like approach to characters were very comforting to me, I rarely had any complaints with the designs and this extends to the maps that were available. Tokyo 2099 and Yggsgard both looked amazing despite having to lower my graphics settings as I was below the recommended specs. 

Matches were a decent length typically going for 5-10 minutes however, the Competitive Payload mode can go on for much longer depending on how both teams perform, I rarely felt like matches were dragging on with the exception of moments where my team was close to finishing the objective but kept getting held off by the opposing team.

The Bad

From a gameplay standpoint there were a few issues that I found that sometimes made the game frustrating to play. Namely the lack of Role Queue, this is a double-edged sword because while the lack of it makes matches have greater variety, it also means that teams sometimes struggle to complete objectives. 

For example, putting the burden of healing an entire team on one strategist (support) or forcing one vanguard (tank) to go up against two other vanguards can result in a lot of pressure on that individual and make for a toxic environment with team communication. This was extremely frustrating in the competitive game mode as I tried to hit the Gold rank for another permanent reward. The implementation of passive healing found in the latest update of Overwatch 2 could help to reduce this problem.

'Marvel Rivals' Closed Alpha: The Start of Something Great
Marvel Rivals / Image Courtesy of NetEase

The inclusion of flight-based characters also introduced a new wave of problems, typically those players were able to get extremely high above the map making it difficult for others to deal damage to them and preventing certain characters from being able to hit them at all. The flight limit should be nerfed to accommodate for this by reducing the distance between flight-based and ground-based characters to help with dealing damage.

I also ran into some performance issues, whether it was due to my specs or issues with the game itself is yet to be seen. There were two notable issues, one being the use of Doctor Strange’s portal ability. The first time I interacted with it, everything worked as intended however the following times all resulted in my game being frozen which led to me having to force-close my game and have my competitive rank suffer.

Finally, while I am positive that more skins are on the way I found some of the current ones lacking (more to be explained in a future article), approximately half of the roster were given the bare minimum in terms of designs with their skins simply being alt-colors. It was upsetting at the time but fortunately they didn’t cost real life currency to obtain during the test.


'Marvel Rivals' Closed Alpha: The Start of Something Great
Marvel Rivals / Image Courtesy of NetEase

Marvel Rivals has a lot of great things going for it ahead of the full release, however there are still some features that are lacking or need to be improved on. The developers were consistent in sending multiple surveys to gather feedback from the players and I hope that they will take note of all the issues raised and work on fixing it. We will know more in the upcoming Closed Beta Test which has not been given a release date at the time of writing.

Thanks for reading this review, for more Marvel content please feel free to check out some of our other articles and breakdowns here at Feature First. 

Nick is a writer at Feature First and helps manage the Twitter / X content. He's based in Trinidad & Tobago and enjoys catching up on all things film, tv and gaming.