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Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 beginner’s guide

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Fight better, level up faster

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 characters Team Ninja/Nintendo via Polygon

In Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, developer Team Ninja created a game that’s sometimes simple, sometimes complex. After traveling around the universe with dozens of superheroes and villains, we’ve assembled our best tips, explanations, and advice in this guide.

Explore

In Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, standard video game rules about exploration apply, except that they’re more important here.

If your destination is to your left, head right first. If you’re standing in a hallway of prison cells, check inside every one of them. If they’re locked, see if you can open them. If that wall looks suspicious behind a pile of random boxes, punch it all. There’s almost always a sparkling box to destroy— and loot to collect.

Getting an XP cube from a sparkling box in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 Team Ninja/Nintendo via Polygon

This would be 101-level, not-really-worth-mentioning advice in pretty much every other game, but Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3’s upgrade items are most often (slightly) hidden, so stay curious and explore.

Complete Infinity Trials to level up faster

You’ll gain the materials you need to upgrade your squad from playing the campaign and exploring, but you’ll never be drowning in Ability Orbs, Void Spheres, XP Cubes, or anything else you need to level up.

If you’re looking to make your team stronger — or even just need a few items for a single upgrade — stop playing the campaign and complete Infinity Trials, which reward you with upgrade materials.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 Infinity Trial S+ rank Team Ninja/Nintendo via Polygon

Also, the better your performance in an Infinity Trials, the more loot you get. You can and should return to play a trail again, earn all three stars, and collect anything you didn’t earn earlier.

Take level ratings seriously

Before you enter a rift or begin Infinity Trial, make sure to check the recommended level requirement. If it says level 20, and you’ve got a team of heroes hovering around level 10, don’t waste your time banging your head against that particular challenge. Find something near your level, or just wait. You can always attempt that trial later from the Infinity menu.

Level up when you get stuck

There are parts of the Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 campaign (like boss fights) where the difficulty spikes significantly. If you find yourself dying over and over, dive into your menus for some upgrades.

If you’ve got XP Cubes sitting around, use those to raise the levels of your characters. If you have Ability Points and Ability Orbs, consider buying the first Ability upgrade tier on your characters, which reduces EP cost and lets you use powerful moves more often.

There really isn’t a perfect team

Team Bonus menu in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 Team Ninja/Nintendo via Polygon

Yes, the characters in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 can buff each other and earn a team bonus, but it doesn’t seem to make much difference. We’ve never discovered a magical, perfect combination of heroes. Instead, we tend to focus on the bonus part. They’re nice to have, but they’re far from necessary, make-or-break attributes.

In our experience, the level of any given character and smart use of Abilities (more on that next) is far more important than the single-digit percentages that team bonuses bring to the fight.

Use Abilities and Synergy constantly

Captain America charges through enemies with his shield. Iron Man fires a deadly beam from his chest. Gamora soars into the air and lands with a devastating shockwave. Ghost Rider whips his flaming chain around his head.

These are Abilities, some of the most powerful attacks in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, and you should use them at basically every possible opportunity. Don’t be precious.

Hold down R (the bumper), hit a face button (A, B, X, Y), and you’ll perform a powerful Ability attack. The only caveat: You need Energy Points (EP) to use an Ability. You can see your current amount in the EP Gauge (the blue rings at the bottom left of your screen). EP refills slowly over time and quickly as you attack enemies.

The benefits of Abilities are obvious alone. Fair enough. But they can be significantly more powerful if you combine them with what Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 calls Synergy.

If you’re playing with AI companions like we are in the video above, holding down ZR (the trigger, instead of R, the bumper) and hitting a face button will not only perform your character’s Ability attack, but another character will perform theirs, too.

It gets better. When certain Abilities happen at the same time, they have a Synergy effect, which basically means more damage.

You can also perform instant Ability attacks at the same time that other characters are performing their own Ability attacks. You’ll feel a vibration in your controller, you’ll see the A button appear on your icon at the bottom left of the screen, and you’ll see a 3D arrow connecting you and your ally. Hit A, and you’ll start your Ability attack.

Written out, it seems obvious. It’s not. It’s super easy to miss. The window for pulling off the attack is often ridiculously small. But if you manage to hit A, you’ll automatically trigger an Ability attack of your own.