What is Marvel: Contest of Champions, and why is it so popular?

How many time have you gotten into the argument between which Marvel characters were superior over others, or gotten into hour long conversations over your dream team of Marvel characters? If either of these things sound familiar in the least, or you're a long time fan of fighting games, then you've definitely gotta take a look at Marvel: Contest of Champions.

This game implements some very diverse elements to bring a really fun fighting game to your smartphone. Level up and unlock heroes to build an elite fighting team that can move forward and save the universe. Join an Alliance to access special quests, or build your own with friends. Collect crystals to unlock better heroes, and in game items by completing quests and challenges.

This is a mobile fighting game that puts you in charge of building a team of Heroes — and Villains, to protect the galaxy. At it's core it's a straight up fighting game. Characters fight one on one using a collection of light, medium, heavy, and special attacks to knock each other out. The game is far more nuanced than just tapping, and swiping though. You'll need to cultivate heroes with different strengths in order to open up side paths, make decisions on who should be leveled up using crystals you find, and completing Versus or Special quests to grab crystals of a different kind.

To help you get started, we've put together a top down guide to saving the galaxy.

Modes of Play

Modes of Play

When it comes to saving the galaxy, there are four ways to play. You can go on Story and Event Quests, challenge other players in the Versus arena, and help put teammates by completing Alliance Quests. Each mode has different perks to it and works a little bit differently. Not all of them will be open when you first start playing, but as you level up they'll become available.

Story Quests are where you'll find the main mode of play. It's broken out into four Acts, and each Act has multiple chapters, each of which has 6 maps. Before starting a map, you'll select your team of Champions before the level opens up. Each Map has multiple steps, with icons for the enemies you'll face along your way. You'll also see items like potions, and chests that can be picked up during your run through each map. To move forward you'll expend energy, one energy for each movement forward. When you come across an enemy, you'll choose which of your Champions will fight against them gauging Class bonus', health, and attack to get yourself as many advantages as possible.


Event Quests work the same as Story Quests, but are only available for a specific period of time. Some of them will help you pick up certain in-game items like crystal shards, or better catalysts for use in ranking up your Champions. There are also quests which revolve around certain Champions — for example there is Arachnid Action with Spider Man, Miles Morales, and Spider Gwen. Alliance mode lets you get points for your Alliance while doing things like using items from your inventory, leveling up Champions, or fighting in the PvP Arena.

Versus is the PvP arena, where you can play in 1v1 or special 3v3 matches. Neither of these require energy, although after a match the Champion you choose will have to cool down before you can use them again. In this mode you'll pick up special battle crystals which will unlock specific in game items that you can't get elsewhere. Many of the 3v3 arenas require specific Champions to access, and are only available for a limited time before they are no longer accessible, so checking in every day is a good idea.

Questing can become difficult if you run low on health potions, or don't have adequately leveled Champions in your roster. You can purchase more items, or crystals using units — these are acquired by completing quests in game. If you don't have enough credits, you can purchase more using real money. The in-app purchases using real money only pop up if you don't have enough credits, and will let you purchase items, energy, crystals, and other in-game items.

Roster of Champions

Champions, Crystals, ISO-8 and Catalysts

As soon as you start rolling through Quests you'll notice that you acquire crystals and ISO-8 which can be used to level up your Champions. Trust us, keeping your stable of Champions filled with high level heroes of multiple classes is always a good choice. Each Champion has a specific class that gives them a bonus against a specific class, as well as a detriment with another. To begin with you'll only be able to bring two Champions into each battle, but this number increases as you level up.

There are several different types of crystals that you'll find as you play through the game. Some can only be acquired in specific arenas, like the battle crystals which are available through Versus mode. Each crystal can unlock specific in game items. Sometimes it will be energy, or a new Champion, other times it might be crystal shard that let you save up to buy better crystals. These are an integral part of gameplay, since you need crystals to continue leveling up your stable. One of the handiest things that crystals will unlock, are ISO-8.

Crystal and champion info screens

ISO-8 is what you use to level up your Champions. There are different strengths to this element, and it's the only way you'll be able to strengthen your Champions. Each time they go up in level, you'll see a difference in their hit points as well as their attack power. When you have fully leveled your heroes you can then rank them up. This requires a catalyst, and opens up a new tier of levels. The only trick with this is that each Champion has a max rank. A one star Champion can only rank up twice, but Champions with a higher base star rating can be ranked up multiple times. If you run low on ISO-8

You'll need to grind through Quests to grather up more crystals and ISO-8 to get your Champions to a point where they can knock out any enemy they come across during a Quest. While this might sound a bit discouraging, there is a silver lining here. Many Quests, both Story Quests and Event Quests have multiple paths you can take. This means that going back to replay a particular map for in-game items can also get you prizes for fully exploring a map by following a path you ignored initially.

Alliance screen

Social Aspects

Like many games on mobile there is a huge social piece of this game, and it shows up with Alliances. You can certainly choose not to join an Alliance, but even if you pick one out at random it gets you some great boosts. Helping out your Alliance is the only way to pick up Alliance crystals, and you can ask them for help once every 24 hours if you're having issues in the Versus arena or on a Quest Map. It's also very easy to start your own Alliance and it fill it with nothing but friends who are also playing the game.

Even if you opt out of an Alliance — and miss out on specific missions and crystals in doing so, there is still a chat scroll that goes along at the bottom of your screen nonstop. Generally it's just random chatter; folks looking for people to join their alliances, trying to find people to play with, or looking for folks who have specific Champions they can fight against in the Versus arena. While you can definitely get by with playing by yourself, with minimal interaction, this is a game that is definitely a lot more fun with people to fight with.


Where to play

Marvel: Contest of Champions is available for free on Google Play and runs well on either tablet or your smartphone. Where you play isn't really decided by which devices this game is available on, since you're only limited by what kind of tech you have at your disposable. Instead it's decided by how you conserve battery strength, and how well you want to see this very pretty game.

Marvel:Contest of Champions is a game that is going to eat your battery alive. If you're playing on a smartphone with a decent battery — we could easily get several hours of gameplay in using the Nexus 5X before needing to plug in and charge again. It was slightly less noticeable using a tablet, but the drain was still there. It's not surprising either, there is a lot going on with this game, and as we mentioned it's quite pretty.

While you can easily get by using your phone, the difference the larger screen makes is striking.

If you want the best experience playing Marvel: Contest of Champions, you should definitely play for a while using a tablet. The bigger screen lets you clearly see everything that is going on. While you can easily get by using your phone, the difference the larger screen makes is striking. It also translates when you are in the middle of a fight. Blocking, and attacking both are a fair bit easier on the tablet since you have more room to work with. Happily you can sync your account across devices, so you can switch between using your phone and a tablet at your leisure.

Marvel: Contest of Champions is a fun mobile twist on fighting games, that brings you plenty of different options to make the game as much fun as possible. With multiple modes of play you're sure to be coming back for more each time there is a lull and you need to amuse yourself. The game is still actively evolving, and there is sure to be more excellent content coming soon for those of us that have been playing a bit obsessively. If you've been wondering whether Marvel Contest of Champions is worth a look, it definitely is and now is a great time to start.

Jen Karner

Jen is a staff writer who spends her time researching the products you didn't know you needed. She's also a fantasy novelist and has a serious Civ VI addiction. You can follow her on Twitter.