For its fourth series, Marvel Battleworld is taking on Venom, Carnage, and more with the fittingly titled Rise of the Symbiotes. The new season brings with it new heroes and villains to collect as well as a new mechanic that allows a character to gain a Symbiote of their own that alters their abilities. While the core gameplay remains the same, the new Venomized mechanic adds a welcome element of strategy to the mix, especially when you include other add-ons from past seasons in your game. The character roster and the sculpts chosen for the lineup also impress, and when all combined it makes for one of the best seasons of Marvel Battleworld yet.
Fighting battles and utilizing your character's unique abilities to rescue other heroes and ultimately claim victory remains unchanged, which is to the game's benefit. Battleworld continues to offer very little barrier to new players, as all you need to do is pick up on Battle Ball to get characters, cards, and Thanostones (where mystery heroes are contained) to get started. You can also pick up a Megapack to get more heroes to choose from and an exclusive hero to bolster the lineup, but it's not necessary, and either way, you are most likely spending under $25.00.
The collectivity favor also remains high thanks to season 4's much-improved lineup of characters. Last season's lineup was solid but didn't have enough variety. This time around that is thankfully not the case, as not only do we get stalwart Symbiote characters like Venom, Carnage, Scream, Agony, and more, but we also get slick Venomized versions of heroes like Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange, Groot, and yes, even Spider-Ham.
Then we also get welcome additions like Thrr, Squirrel Girl, Sandmanatee, Iron Mouse, Hawkeye 2099, and more. As for the chase set, this time around Funko Games delivers an all-Venomized lineup of Iridescent figures that look fantastic, featuring Spider-Ham, Iron Man, Groot, Doctor Strange, Venom, and Captain Marvel. It's a strong lineup, but the fun doesn't stop with getting the figures.
The big new mechanic is Symbiote Sleeves, which come into play after you win a Thanostone battle. Typically you win a battle and then if it's a Thanostone space, you can then open up the Thanosstone to unlock a new hero to add to your team. When you win a battle on these spaces in season 4, you take a random Symbiote Sleeve and place it over your Hero Card. This hides your ability and all but one attack bonus on your card, but it gives that one attack bonus a significant boost. It changes up your approach on the following turn, but then it also adds a new layer of strategy to future turns, as after you win a battle you can choose to remove the sleeve or keep it.
Characters who also are Symbiote based in nature can also have their own Symbiote abilities that interact with other Symbiote characters. Hybrid for instance may use the Attack Bonuses of a nearby Symbiote hero instead of his own. I would have loved to see more of those power interactions or perhaps an added layer of Symbiote teamwork weaved into the core gameplay just to give the system better depth, but as it stands the additions take advantage of the theme and feel additive without cluttering what makes the game shine.
Rise of the Symbiotes adds another welcome element to the game and introduces one of its best character lineups to date, balancing fan favorites with off-the-wall characters that fans will absolutely love seeing get some love. The sculpts and paint applications of the figures also impress, especially in this season's chase set, and with a game like this collectibility is just as important as gameplay. Marvel Battleworld has found a splendid balance between the two, and it's resulted in one of my favorite sets in the series. Bring on season 5!
Rating: 4 out of 5
Marvel Battleworld Series 4: Rise of the Symbiotes is in stores now.
Review copy provided by the publisher