The X-Men’s resident ninja warrior hits hard in Battlerealm!

Betsy Braddock makes her inaugural appearance in “Marvel Contest of Champions” this week, katanas and psi-blades ready to slice her opponents to shreds. A new combatant on the fields of Battlerealm, she enters the fray alongside Archangel and a host of other Champions with less than pure intentions.

We talked to Kabam Art Director Gabriel Frizzera and Character Designer Simon Cameron about Psylocke’s kit and the all the ninja awesome she brings to the game.

Marvel.com: Psylocke is definitely a unique mind-melding, soul-swapping, one-of-a-kind mutant. As collectibles go I have no doubt Betsy’s a must-have. The question becomes, why’d it take so long for The Collector to snatch her up?

Gabriel Frizzera: As it’s been the case with many recent arrivals, Psylocke was brought to The Contest not by The Collector, but by a third party. In her case it was The Grandmaster, as part of his X-Enforcers. He knows Betsy spells trouble for his brother: She’s a skilled ninja warrior, capable of physically subjugating her enemies, but also possesses incredible psychic powers. The Collector’s many secrets are not safe around her!

Marvel.com: Where’s this Psylocke from in the Marvel-verse? I can’t quite place her costume. Is it from a particular comic or is this another “Contest of Champions” exclusive?

Gabriel Frizzera: This one is a blend between her classic purple costume from the 90’s and two of the more recent black-and-white incarnations from UNCANNY X-FORCE. We wanted the X-Enforcers to look like an homage to that fantastic team, but at the same time feel like they’ve been “evolved” by the Grandmaster. So we did some subtle tweaks to both Psylocke and Archangel, but without changing too much.

Marvel.com: Recently she’s been using her katanas to slice and dice, but from the image I saw it doesn’t look like she packed her swords for the trip to Battlerealm. Any reason why she’s just rocking her psi-blade?

Gabriel Frizzera: Actually she uses both the katana and the psy-blade in her basic moveset! We really wanted her to feel like a ninja warrior, so the sword is out all the time, along with the psychic bag of tricks. And that’s not all: in her special 3 attack she uses her “psy-bow and arrow,” a personal favorite from the comics!

Marvel.com: I’ve always been curious, when the team takes a crack at someone like Psylocke, how do you figure out how she fights? She’s shown up in fighting games before, so did you take any inspiration from those appearances, or is this Betsy all “Contest of Champions”?

Gabriel Frizzera: If a character has appeared before in movies or TV shows, I usually guide the team to it. But as a general guideline we only go to other Marvel games as a last resort, to avoid getting overly influenced by it. Sometimes we end up in the same creative space, but this approach helps create something fresh for [“Contest of Champions”]. In the case of Psylocke, we mainly wanted the comics “bad-girl” attitude, and then used Japanese sword fighting videos as animation reference to get the stances and moves straight from the source.

Marvel.com: Ok let’s dig into her abilities. Her Signature Ability in game is Psi-Feedback. Can you tell us a little about that?

Simon Cameron: Certainly! Psylocke’s Signature Ability increases her Critical Damage the lower her opponent’s Power is. It also gives her the ability to suppress her opponent’s Abilities when she’s reduced them to zero Power. If she can set up her opponent and keep them from gaining Power, she can do big critical damage while preventing them from countering her with an ability of their own.

Marvel.com: The rest of her abilities, Power Burn/Drain/Lock, make it seem like she’s the mutant you want to use when you really don’t want your opponent using their special powers.

Simon Cameron: Shutting down her opponent’s Power is certainly one thing Psylocke does very well. This goes hand in hand with her Psi-Charges, which allow Psylocke to continue attacking her opponent without granting them Power in return, but at a risk. Psylocke builds Psi-Charges by siphoning away some of her opponent’s Power. She can use it to power her own abilities, but these charges can also be reclaimed by her opponent to use against her. She’s a talented assassin and reflecting this she can be extremely powerful if she gets her opponent into the situation she wants.

Marvel.com: And when can we pick her up for ourselves?

Simon Cameron: This skilled mutant hero and assassin will be available on March 16!

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more “Marvel Contest of Champions” news and interviews.

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The Lord of the Dark Dimension lays siege to Battlerealm!

Everyone please join me in welcoming the dark lord of the Dark Dimension, the one and only Dormammu, to “Marvel Contest of Champions”!

We talked to Kabam Art Director Gabriel Frizzera and Character Designer Simon Cameron about Dormammu’s appearance on Battlerealm and what players can expect from Doctor Strange’s arch nemesis.

Marvel.com: Oh boy what has The Collector done to draw the attention of the one and only Dread Dormammu?

Gabriel Frizzera: This time The Collector has nothing to do it. Without spoiling the story too much, the person responsible for luring the Lord of Darkness to the Battlerealm was our own Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange. I’m not going to say for what purpose, you’ll have to play the quest to see!

Marvel.com: In the “Marvel’s Doctor Strange” film we only really got to see Dormy’s face, but here you have him all fleshed out, pardon the pun. What went into his full body design?

Gabriel Frizzera: We knew that Dormammu, being a god-like creature, would be too powerful—and large—to fit the battle arenas. However, he’s known to assume a material [form] to physically battle earthly heroes so we took cues from a couple of incarnations of Dormammu in the comics: the classic design with the crown of thorns and curved shoulder spikes, and the Dark Reign massive armored version. We kept the elements we felt define Dormammu, and pushed the obsidian armor to make it more aggressive-looking.

Marvel.com: His signature ability is Soul Leech. That sounds crazy ominous. What’s going on there?

Simon Cameron: The Lord of the Dark Dimension is not only a massively powerful entity in terms of more direct power but he can also have a strong, shall we say, corrupting effect on those he wishes to control. To reflect this, his Signature Ability gives him a chance to do damage over time to a target each time one of their Buff effects ends, twisting their own strengths against them.

Marvel.com: His other abilities seem like they’re all about controlling his opponents and making sure they can’t use their most powerful attacks. Is that fair to say?

Simon Cameron: Absolutely. Dormammu is a control character. He Nullifies Buffs, he Power Locks, Power Drains, and Power Burns. He’s all about preventing his opponents from using their most powerful abilities while building his Dark Energy charge to enhance his own attacks.

Marvel.com: If you manage to pick up Dormammu, who should be showing him around Battlerealm? Tell us all about those sweet sweet synergies.

Simon Cameron: The two Sorcerer Supremes—current or past—in The Contest are obviously his Enemies, with Doctor Strange going a step further to be his Nemesis. And while Dormammu doesn’t have friends per say, he also has synergies with two of his pawns on Earth, The Hood and Mordo.

Marvel.com: Anything else we need to know about the ruler of the Dark Dimension? When can we pick him up for ourselves?

Simon Cameron: Just that he’s coming soon! Keep your eyes on in-game messages to see exactly when.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more “Marvel Contest of Champions” news and interviews.

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Parker Robbins brings his wicked wardrobe to Battlerealm!

Something wicked this way comes, and his name is Parker Robbins.

As if the denizens of Battlerealm didn’t have enough to worry about, now The Hood, an emissary of a mysterious evil benefactor, plans to cause even more trouble in “Marvel Contest of Champions.” We talked to Kabam Art Director Gabriel Frizzera, Champion Designer Simon Camerson, and Marketing Specialist Vincent Huynh to get the skinny on the Hood’s plans.

Marvel.com: The Hood’s been flying pretty low under the radar since his ILLUMINATI shenanigans. Why’d the Collector want to pick up Parker Robbins?

Gabriel Frizzera: The Collector has nothing to do with the Hood’s presence in the Battlerealm. He kind of came on his own free will. He’s on a mission for his master, a god-like entity with an appetite for multiversal conquest. He’s coming to spoil the Collector’s party, and The Hood is the first wave.

Marvel.com: Ooohhh sounds ominous! By the way I am loving the way Parker’s guns look here! Hellfire infused pistols have never looked cooler.

Gabriel Frizzera: Thanks! We wanted to make those pistols look special. We are familiar, through comics and movies, with what happens to a person when possessed by a demon. But what happens when guns get possessed? What happens when an object originally created to cause harm and destruction becomes infused with even darker powers? So we melted it, twisted it and added pulsing arteries and magma until it looked like an object forged in the depths of hell.

Marvel.com: And the team has overloaded Hood with some serious abilities. Does he have more than the average Champion or am I just seeing things?

Simon Cameron: He certainly has a number of abilities at his disposal, but not an untoward number of them. A number of his abilities have secondary effects, which trigger when abilities expire. He can also trigger Invisibility in a number of ways. All in all, while there may be a fair amount of text on his bio card, he’s far from the most complex character in the game, and we think he’ll be pretty easy to pickup and play.

Marvel.com: And holy—what is this team up with Dormammu? Resurrect non robot Champions?!

Simon Cameron: Dormammu has often worked from behind the scenes. Whether he’s empowering agents to do his bidding because he feels the task isn’t sufficiently important to warrant his attention, or because he’s been bound never to return to Earth; we’re looking at you Doctor Strange. We’re representing this in The Contest by giving him a chance when teamed up with the correct Champions, to resurrect any non-robot villain Champions when they’re knocked out of a fight.

Marvel.com: What can you tell us about his play style? How are we fighting with Parker?

Simon Cameron: Well he’s a Mystic, and like most Mystic Champions he’s well equipped to fight opponents who use a lot of buffs with both Stagger and Fate Seal. His special attacks all have various debuffs, and his heavy attack allows him to refresh their timers, so you’ll likely want to land some Heavies to keep them rolling.

Also his Invisibility makes a big difference, both increasing his Critical Damage, and giving his opponents a chance to miss with their attacks, which doubles against ranged attacks. This is great because it doesn’t break his animation the way an Evade does, allowing him to charge through most ranged attacks in relative safety.

Marvel.com: Anything else you can tell us?

Gabriel Frizzera: Our new event, “Dawn of Darkness,” is a direct sequel to the mystic event from last November, “Conclave of Sorcerers.” Doctor Strange is regrouping the Illuminati to create a final solution to stop Thanos from creating an entirely new set of Infinity Stones. He intends to be prepared for when the Mad Titan shows up next. But for that end, Strange has a plan so dangerous in mind, he doesn’t dare tell his closest allies… a plan that will involve a cat-and-mouse game with one of his most dangerous enemies, one of the most powerful mystic beings in existence.

Vincent Huynh: “Dawn of Darkness” has just kicked off and is ready to play now until March 1! Help Doctor Strange take on The Hood and his overlord from spreading evil and destruction across the Battlerealm. Check out our latest Motion Comic here to find out which demonic figure The Hood is bound to serve.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more “Marvel Contest of Champions” news and interviews!

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The unlikeliest of candidates gets her shot in The Contest!

Did you have fun wrecking faces with Howard and the Iso-Loader in “Marvel Contest of Champions”? Well now you can take Gwen Poole, comic book trivia queen and all-round ne’er do well, for a spin!

We talked to Kabam Art Director Gabriel Frizzera and Game Designer Simon Cameron about the blonde bomber and the chaos she’s bringing to Battlerealm.

Marvel.com: So the Collector’s picking up comic book nerds now? Who’s he gonna collect next, me?

Gabriel Frizzera: Nobody is safe. The Collector has noticed you’ve been working out, so you could wake up trapped in a crystal at any point!

Marvel.com: Well thanks for noticing! But Gwenpool’s slightly less conventional than a lot of the other Champions in the game and her particular brand of weird is very Deadpool-y. What makes her special?

Gabriel Frizzera: She does have the Deadpool vibe, but there’s a distinction: she’s just a normal person who’s very knowledgeable in story tropes and Marvel lore. Deadpool is part of the Marvel Universe and can’t help being who he is, while Gwenpool is very methodically manipulating in what she thinks is a fictional universe for her own benefit. And she does that in the game too. She has played [“Marvel Contest of Champions”] in her “real” universe, so she knows how the gameplay goes, and how to exploit it.

Marvel.com: And she’s looking fly in that pink and white. Any special “Contest” flare?

Gabriel Frizzera: She’s such a new character, we wanted to keep her really close to what we have seen in the comics. One thing we paid special attention to was not to make her body idealized: she’s a normal teenage girl playing Super Hero, not a muscled athlete. We also gave her some interesting weapons, like the pink bazooka, the football bomb and the Special-Edition Collector Plushie, which she uses as a shield when blocking.

Marvel.com: Plot Armor sounds like a really interesting ability. Essentially this puts a hard cap on the special damage her opponents can dish out right?

Simon Cameron: It’s actually even better than that. It caps based on her current health. This means once her signature ability is unlocked, Gwenpool can’t be killed by a special attack, though she’ll come really close to death! Turns out knowing all your opponent’s powers and abilities is a pretty big advantage!

Marvel.com: Are there good times to use Gwenpool specifically because of this ability? Maybe in a really tough boss fight?

Simon Cameron: Definitely! Tough boss fights are definitely a place where she can shine. This is especially true for bosses with really scary special attacks.

Marvel.com: What about her other abilities? How do they fit into her kit?

Simon Cameron: The rest of her kit is built around Debuffs. The most important of these is Bleed. She has two different Bleeds: one comes from her basic attacks but is relatively short, the other involves landing a heavy attack on an already bleeding target but lasts a long time.

Her other Debuffs come from her Special Attacks, each with their own—Incinerate, Ennervate, and Armor Break respectively. Then when one of these Debuffs expires, she will remove a Bleed to re-apply her Special Debuffs. She definitely needs to play aggressively to keep lots of Bleeds stacked up. With clever timing of when she applies her Debuffs—you don’t want them to all expire at the same time!—she can stack several of them or keep one Debuff alive for as long as possible.

Marvel.com: And when can we break her out of a crystal and recruit her for ourselves?

Simon Cameron: She’ll be available on January 5!

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more “Marvel Contest of Champions” news and interviews!

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