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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Howard the Duck Brings the Weird to the Battlerealm

Just when you think the Collector couldn’t make “Marvel Contest of Champions” weirder he goes and recruits a cartoon duck to handle his less-than-vital backend operations. As you can probably imagine, Howard the Duck has better things to do than be someone’s lackey. We talked to Kabam Art Director Gabriel Frizzera and Game Designer Justin Ostensen about the Contest’s first feathered fighter and how the short-tempered duck’s leaving his mark on Battlerealm.

Marvel.com: Howard the Duck is an… Interesting character. Unique. Some might even say one of a kind. Would the Collector consider him a special edition waterfowl?

Gabriel Frizzera: I think he considers Howard more of a jack-of-all-trades employee. The Collector put him in charge of endless menial tasks that the Deadpooloids are too stupid to do, like organizing his crystal collection and filing catalysts by class and rank.

Marvel.com: I gotta ask though, how is this guy going to hold his own out there with the Hulks and the Thanos’?

Gabriel Frizzera: I think Howard himself initially doubted his skills as a fighter, until he retrofitted an ISO-Loader Suit into a powerful mecha battle armor. Now he stands 9-feet tall armed to the teeth so he probably could go a few rounds against the best Champions in The Contest…that is if the mech’s arms don’t fall off first, of course.

Marvel.com: How did the team come up with the ISO-Loader? It looks absolutely perfect for Howard.

Gabriel Frizzera: I was trying to come up with the oddest combination of heroes to fight together in our holiday story quest… I already knew we were going to do Hyperion, so I challenged myself to come up with another character that would be weird but strangely fitting as his buddy. So I thought of Howard the Duck. I know there was a lot of resistance in putting what is essentially a cartoon duck in a mostly serious fighting game, so I took that as a challenge. I wanted the lovers of “badass” characters and mecha robots to find Howard the Duck irresistible. The ISO-Loader looks pretty powerful but at the same time has the giant duck bill which can break apart, so it rides that line between serious and ridiculous that makes a character attractive. By the responses we got so far, I think we convinced many haters that Howard can be pretty awesome as a fighting character, without being overly cartoony or breaking the fiction.

Marvel.com: Let’s talk about his abilities. Mash All The Buttons! doesn’t sound like the most useful of attacks.

Justin Ostensen: Well, when all of those buttons are all set to cause destruction and fix up the ISO-Loader, it can certainly be a helpful ability. Basically, whenever the ISO-Loader starts to become too badly damaged, Howard will frantically mash the buttons on the console. This can either cause the ISO-Loader to go into its Self-Repair routine and fix up some damage, or let loose a massive Thunderquack to deal a large burst of Energy Damage over time.

Marvel.com: And Howard’s breaking out the Quack-Fu right? How does that help him out in fights?

Justin Ostensen: We wanted to tie Howard’s abilities not only to his legendary Quack-Fu, but also to his infamous temper. Basically, as Howard lands hits on his opponent and he himself gets hit, he builds up his temper gaining boosts to his Attack and Critical Damage stats. But, if the player plays too defensively and doesn’t stay aggressive, Howard will cool off and lose his stacks of Quack-Fu. Gotta stay angry when you’re fighting with Howard!

Marvel.com: I love that Howard gets bonuses when he’s fighting with Rocket. Woodland creatures need to stick together huh?

Justin Ostensen: Well, not to split hairs, but technically Howard is just from another universe. I’d say their friendship in The Contest is more about small Champions wanting to be taken seriously. And with his massive B.F.G. to settle a few scores, Howard is definitely going to accomplish that goal.

Marvel.com: Is there anything else you want to tell us about Howard?

Justin Ostensen: Keep your eyes peeled on in-game messages to see when you can grab Howard and his Mech Suit in Contest of Champions!

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

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The Marvel mobile hit celebrates two years of excellence!

The end of the year looms nigh over “Marvel Contest of Champions” and all of Battlerealm. The Kabam crew’s been hard at work crunching the numbers to pull some awesome data for their two-year anniversary. Wondering how many hours players around the world have been duking it out? Or how many heroes Taneleer Tivan’s collected since the game started? Let’s dig in!

First, how much time do you think you’ve spent playing “Contest of Champions”? One hour? Two? Maybe 10? Well across the globe players put in some serious time cracking skulls, with a whopping 957 million hours logged.  And in that time players opened 7.3 billion—that’s right billion with a “b,”—crystals and unlocked everything from gold to catalysts to Champions.

Speaking of Champions, the Kabam team has released 80 butt-kicking heroes and villains over the past two years, including everyone from the Uncanny X-Men to the Inhumans to the Avengers to cosmic threats like the Mad Titan Thanos. We’ve even seen entirely original Champions hit the battlefield. No doubt somewhere The Collector’s smiling.

Marvel Contest of Champions fun facts

Marvel Contest of Champions fun facts

With 574 thousand alliances containing Summoners from 243 countries, you can bet those Champions get their exercise—24 billion battles-worth to be more precise. Spider-Man’s swung into 1.45 billion different battles on his lonesome, dispensing killer one-liners and web-fisted justice. Captain America slung his shield in 575 million fights, while the feisty Rocket Raccoon blasted bad guys in 309 million melees. Black Bolt, King of the Inhumans, made sonic mincemeat of 547 million offenders while Storm brought the lightning down on just as many.

While you probably haven’t sent your Champions into a million fights, I bet you have a go-to hero, a fighter you can rely on to get the job done even with the chips down. For players getting busy with the 5-Star heavy hitters, Scott Summers, Cyclops, proved the Champion serving up the pain most often. Doctor Strange got called into action most for the 4-Stars, with Colossus, Wolverine, and Spider-Man (Classic) rounding it out for the 3, 2, and 1-Star fighters respectively.

Whew! It’s been an awesome two years in “Marvel Contest of Champions” and I can’t wait to see what Kabam brings us next year! See you on Battlerealm folks!

Check out “Contest of Comments”  the post-game Show where you stay on top of all things “Marvel Contest of Champions!”

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

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Celebrate Two Years of Marvel Contest of Champions with Howard and Hyperion's Holiday Hijinks

Marvel Contest of Champions” turns two! We’ve gotten two years of repulsor blasts, Hulk smashes, Asgardian thunderbolts and the stray chimichanga on Battlerealm and it’s been a wild ride. The team at Kabam, Art Director Gabriel Frizzera, Marketing Associate Vincent Huynh, and Game Designers Dominic O’Grady and Simon Cameron, dropped by to tell us what’s in store for players to celebrate the big two year anniversary

Marvel.com: Hey gang you’ve got some fun stuff coming up for players. An anniversary, a new character, and some special rewards for Marvel Insiders. Can we get a tl;dr?

Vincent Huynh: That’s right, we’ve got lots going on this year for our two-year anniversary! This Thursday, Hyperion will be entering “The Contest.” You can also take a look at him in our new quest that’s up and running, Howard and Hyperion’s Holiday Hijinks that goes until January 4, 2017. By completing this quest, you will earn Marvel Insider points based on what difficulty setting you play at. Use these points to redeem a limited time exclusive in-game reward! (See below for more details).

For our Two Year Anniversary, we’re also teaming up with Marvel to give out a FREE month of Marvel Unlimited! Explore the Marvel Universe with thousands of digital comics including the entire Contest of Champions comic book series! This offer is only valid from December 9 to the 11 so make sure to check your in-game mail for details on how to redeem it. The Collector also wants to celebrate this big milestone and will be handing out some gifts to players as well including a 3-Star Groot! Log in this Saturday to claim your gifts!

Marvel.com: How does it feel having hit the big two-year mark? That’s an awesome milestone! Congrats!

Dominic O’Grady: It feels really, truly awesome. To be able to work on a game this popular and special for this long, to see it grow and transform and expand its audience more and more is a very special and humbling feeling. We’re so grateful to all our players for coming on this crazy ride with us, and we’re not planning to stop it any time soon.

Gabriel Frizzera: It’s really unbelievable how fast we have grown in only two years. I still remember sitting in a room with a few more people to work on the pitch for the game, and thinking “It’s Marvel! Don’t screw this up!” It feels like ages ago when I think of everything but it’s only been two years ago since we launched. We still have so many plans and stuff we want to create… We’re having so much fun and can keep doing this for years to come!

Marvel.com: What can you tell us about the new quest players will get a crack at?

Gabriel Frizzera: It’s called Howard and Hyperion’s Holiday Hijinks (yay for alliteration), and it’s a buddy road trip featuring a very odd couple indeed. The Collector gave everyone a holiday break, except for Howard the Duck, who’s organizing the Collector’s crystal collection… Needless to say, he’s not thrilled about it. That’s when Hyperion shows up. He needs Howard’s detective skills to help him find his home dimension, which might still exist in the Battlerealm. Hijinks ensue!

Marvel.com: Ok now onto Hyperion. The guy’s a seriously heavy hitter and an extremely rare specimen. Elder of the Universe or not, has the Collector bit off more than he can chew picking up one of the last Eternals?

Gabriel Frizzera: Hyperion is one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel universe. I’ve always been a fan since that original Avengers story where they met the Squadron Sinister. Since then, the character has gone through many incarnations and the recent comic run focused on his soul-searching gave more depth to a character that could easily be only defined by his powers. I think he’s a mighty addition to The Contest.

Marvel.com: Let’s talk about Hyperion’s look. He’s sporting his current comic outfit right? Any special “Contest of Champion” details here?

Gabriel Frizzera: He’s inspired by the current look, but we added some trims and details to break the spandex a bit. I think one of the strengths of his costume is the Silver Age look, symbol of the innocence and high morals Hyperion has at his core (until he gets angry, then he can be very morally dubious indeed). So I insisted we had some old-fashioned details like strongman bootlaces, and the boy scout well-kept hair.

Marvel.com: Can we get an ability breakdown for this guy. What can he do? What’s his play style like?

Simon Cameron: As an Eternal, Hyperion’s incredible powers come from his body’s ability to store and convert cosmic energy, which gives him a very high natural resistance to Energy based attacks. It also makes him extremely powerful if his charge is high. But he can be weakened (relatively speaking) if you can make him drain his charge. To reflect this in game, Hyperion generates Cosmic Charges, which he will convert into Power Gain buffs.

However, if his Power is already full, Hyperion instead keeps his Cosmic Charges, gaining passive bonuses to both Attack and Physical Resistance. His third Special Attack also allows him to enter Cosmic Overcharge. While he’s overcharged he constantly gains power, allowing him to access his first and second Special Attacks, while keeping all three possible Cosmic Charges active!

Marvel.com: And can you tell us a little about the Marvel Insider rewards players can earn?

Vincent Huynh: Players who are also part of the Marvel Insider loyalty program can earn points for completing our latest quest, Howard and Hyperion’s Holiday Hijinks! From December 7 to January 4, players can earn 2,500 points completing the Beginner difficulty, 5,000 points for completing the Normal difficulty and 7,500 points for completing the Heroic difficulty!

All players have to do is sign into Marvel Insider and enter their player name into the corresponding activity. Once the quest wraps up, points will be awarded in the following weeks! On the rewards side, we’re also launching an exclusive in-game reward that can be redeemed for 125,000 points.

The reward will consist of:

  • 1x 3-Star Memory Lane Crystal (this will give you one of the Champions released in 2016!)
  • 10x Crystal Shard Crystals
  • 2x Energy Refills
  • 2x Champion Boosts
  • 5x Level 3 Health Potions
  • 10,000 Gold

For those who are not yet part of the program, there’s still time to join to get your points!

Marvel.com: Anything else that we need to know?

Vincent Huynh: We just want to take the time to thank all our fans for playing the game. We wouldn’t be able to get to this special two-year milestone if it weren’t for our loyal fans. We’re working everyday to try and make this game better so it can be enjoyed for more years to come. We have a lot in store for the future so stay tuned!

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

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Join the fight against AIDS with a special promotion!

It’s not every day you get to kick super villain butt and help out an awesome charity, but Kabam and the “Marvel Contest of Champions” team are making it easy by teaming up with (RED)®.

We got a chance to talk to the entire “CoC” crew about (RED)® and the cool things they have in store for players.

Marvel.com: Before we start talking about all the in-game content for (RED)®, can you tell us a little about Kabam’s involvement with (RED)® and what it means to the team?

CoC Game Team: We were very honored Apple invited us to this effort and to contribute to (RED)®’s mission to deliver an AIDS free generation. At Kabam, our job is to bring people together to share great experiences in the games we make.

We’re excited to leverage that social power and direct it at such a great cause. In the game, our player community perseveres over tough battles and quests every day. This week, together with Apple and (RED)®, players can contribute to defeating a real-world enemy.

Marvel.com: Players who pick up the (RED)® IAP will get access to a special quest? 100% of the proceeds will be going to the Global Fund?

CoC Game Team: That’s right. All proceeds from the (POWER PACK)RED go to the Global Fund, and it’s full of some great stuff including: 3-Star Daredevil (Classic) and Elektra, a (POWER PACK)RED TICKET to the exclusive quest, and some ISO-8 to level up these Champions.

Marvel.com: And making it through the gauntlet nets us a special (RED)® character right?

CoC Game Team: You bet! In addition to the (POWER PACK)RED prizes, mastering it 100% will land players a guaranteed special 3-Star (CRYSTAL)RED which will give players Elektra, Daredevil (Classic), Iron Man, Red Hulk, Hulkbuster, or Guillotine. This is a great line-up of some favorite red-donned Marvel characters.

Marvel.com: So basically players that take part in the initiative are helping out an awesome charity and setting themselves up for a solid in-game reward?

CoC Game Team: Yep, it’s that easy. Together if we act now, we can deliver an AIDS free generation by 2030!

Marvel.com: Anything else we should know about the event? Dates, times, things like that?

CoC Game Team: From November 30-December 6, 100% of the proceeds from your (POWER PACK)RED purchase goes to the Global Fund to support HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, counseling, and testing in sub-Saharan Africa. Find out more information in game or on the App Store. If you’ve never played the game, the (POWER PACK)RED is a great reason to jump in and get a leg up adding some powerful Marvel characters to your roster.

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

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The super sonic king of the Inhumans makes his voice heard across Marvel games!

With over 75 years of rich history, the Marvel Universe has produced countless memorable heroes and villains. On a regular basis, Marvel Games Presents will highlight these characters’ histories as well as shine a spotlight on their current gaming appearances.

Today, the spotlight falls on the leader of Marvel’s next television stars, the Inhumans, Black Bolt!

Fantastic Four (1961) #45

Fantastic Four (1961) #45

  • Published: December 10, 1965
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: April 06, 2009
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

MEET BLACK BOLT
Exposed to the power-granting Terrigen mist while still an embryo, Blackagar Boltagon developed the ability to manipulate electrons in addition to a destructive sonic force unleashed by even a whisper of his voice. A silent and thoughtful leader, Black Bolt would become king of the Inhumans, ruling alongside his queen, Medusa, and the rest of the royal family.

mcoc_blackbolt_image_1920x1080
MARVEL CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS
“Black Bolt is a fascinating character. He is the embodiment of duty and responsibility as a monarch, choosing to restrain his awesome power and only using it as a last resort. In a world where we see our leaders becoming pettier and more egotistic by the day, Blackagar Boltagon represents the purest idea of an enlightened ruler, one who sacrifices for his own people.” – Gabriel Frizzera, Art Director on “Marvel Contest of Champions”

 

screenshot_blackbolt
MARVEL FUTURE FIGHT
“It was difficult for us to bring the King of the Inhumans, Black Bolt, into our game. The concept of his voice being destructive was interesting, but it also made it difficult to envision and realize into ‘Marvel Future Fight.’ The effort that went into the character is why I have a particular affection for Black Bolt.

“When we first started developing Black Bolt’s skill set, our primary objective was to show the players the magnanimity of his position as King of the Inhumans and the destructive capabilities of his voice as expressed in the original comics. From design to character animation, we persistently adjusted his skill composition and effects to create the Black Bolt we have now. Since then, we have been collecting feedback from our users and have adjusted the range and distance of Black Bolt’s Quasi-sonic Scream attacks and also reduced the cool down time so players can get more of the percussion feel. To increase his [ability to survive], when Black Bolt advances to Tier-2, he now becomes immune to damage while using the Quasi-sonic Scream. Also, to show that sound waves are on the most part unavoidable, we added the ‘Ignore Dodge’ buff to the skill. These changes will showcase a Black Bolt that aligns more closely with the original comics.

“As the person in charge of the development team for ‘Future Fight,’ my hope and pleasure would be to know that our players felt absolute power while playing this character. Furthermore, we plan on improving many of the characters to be more similar to the original comics and to be even more exciting to play. Look forward to seeing what lies in the future for ‘Marvel Future Fight.'” – Doohyun Cho, Dev Director of “Marvel Future Fight”

marvel-heroes-2016-black-bolt
MARVEL HEROES 2016
“Silent and Stoic. There is not that much more to say about Black Bolt. I think the coolness of the All-New All-Different costume speaks for itself and I am proud of the attention the artist put into this model. I am hoping our fans are speechless when they see Black Bolt in action.  Also, Black Bolt destroys things with his voice. ‘Nuff Said.” – Chris Frenton, Art Director of “Marvel Heroes 2016”

vfxthesilentking

MARVEL PUZZLE QUEST
“Black Bolt is a really strong 5-star character in ‘Marvel Puzzle Quest’. He has a Quasi-Sonic power that will destroy part of the board with a whisper or the entire board with a scream causing massive damage when it is built up. But be careful with his passive ability as it can cause a ton of damage if not closely monitored!” – Josh Austin, D3 Go! Producer on “Marvel Puzzle Quest”

marvel-tsum-tsum-black-bolt
MARVEL TSUM TSUM
“His skill will be focused on his most devastating power – his quasi-sonic voice. The animation will be destructive!” – NHN PlayArt Corp., “Marvel Tsum Tsum”

Uncanny Inhumans (2015) #15

Uncanny Inhumans (2015) #15

MORE BLACK BOLT
Follow Black Bolt’s ongoing adventures in UNCANNY INHUMANS, issue #15 currently on sale!

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Another Master of the Mystic Arts makes his presence felt!

Mordo brings his formidable magical powers to bear in “Marvel Contest of Champions” ready and willing to serve up mystical justice to those who threaten his dimension. Creatures from the outer dark? No problem. Supernatural zealots? Easy peasy.

To get a better feel for Mordo’s eldritch abilities we talked to Kabam Art Director Gabriel Frizzera, Champion Designer Piero Herrera, and Quest Designer Dominic O’Grady about the mystic arts master and what players can expect from him in-game.

Marvel.com: Out of all the characters in the “Doctor Strange” film, in theaters now, what was so compelling to The Collector that he just needed Mordo for the Contest?

Gabriel Frizzera: The Collector is always on the look for new mystics for the Contest, and Mordo is on the same level with the best of them. He’s very resourceful and disciplined, and can give one of the best Champions in the Contest, Doctor Strange, a run for his money! In fact he has the potential to be one of the best Champions in the Contest, period.

Marvel.com: Mordo’s looking fresh! From what I can see he’s wearing his bohemian mystic wanderer duds from the movie. Did the team keep it cinema-perfect or is there a little Kabam flair in there?

Gabriel Frizzera: For this character we wanted to be as loyal to the movie as we could. Of course we always tweak things here and there to adapt him to the game style, but he’s mostly the movie version. One of the main goals for us was to give him a very distinct set of moves, a sort of “martial artist meets sorcerer” style, complete with his “Staff of the Living Tribunal”, and all sorts of magic flair, including a brand-new magic shield for his blocks.

Marvel.com: As the Ancient One’s pupil Mordo had access to a wealth of mystical knowledge. What sort of things did the team focus on while figuring out how they wanted him to play?

Gabriel Frizzera: We wanted him to have an arsenal of magic tricks that are well-known staples of the Doctor Strange mystic universe, but that we didn’t have a chance to try with Doctor Strange himself. Stuff like astral bodies, mystic shields, and dimensional manipulation. His level three special is highly inspired by the movie: Mordo transports you to the Mirror Realm, where he can shape the world around you.

Marvel.com: And let’s talk about his in-game abilities. Mystical Barrier sounds like he’ll be leaning towards a more defensive style?

Dominic O’Grady: Mordo will, no doubt, be a defensive powerhouse. Particularly we imagine him shining in Alliance Wars where his stun manipulation will make him a challenging opponent to control.

Piero Herrera: Indeed! While he is getting Power over time, he gets even more defensive when controlled by the CPU. This also does open up opportunities to use a heavy attack against him, so if you encounter him in Alliance Wars, make sure to take advantage of the Heavy Attack when he is against the wall. Otherwise, Mordo will be able to get enough Power to do a Special 3, which will bring him and his opponent into the Mirror Dimension.

Marvel.com: And you’ve gotta give us more info on his other abilities: Degeneration, Mirror Dimension, and Soul Barb. Those sound awesome!

Piero Herrera: Mordo’s abilities provide lots of utility. Mirror Dimension on Special 3 gives you very powerful Fury effects, and based on how low your health is, you have a chance to trigger a regeneration ability instead. Soul Barb on Special 2 does damage over time based on how many buffs your opponent has. But one of his most awesome abilities is his Astral Evade; if Mordo is stunned, his astral form protects him from incoming attacks by breaking out of the stun and counter attacking.

Marvel.com: And when do we get to wield all of these incredible mystical powers for ourselves?

Piero Herrera: Mordo has been showing off his Mystical Powers in the Sorcerer’s Conclave and will join the Contest at 10 AM PST today!

Keep checking Marvel.com and our social channels for the latest on “Marvel Contest of Champions”!

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The Battlerealm Adds More Mystical Contenders with New Doctor Strange Event

We know you can’t get enough of magical madness, and so do the awesome folks over at Kabam, which is why they’ve prepared an eldritch energy-empowered “Marvel Contest of Champions” event to coincide with Doctor Strange’s film debut. We got to talk to Kabam Art Director Gabriel Frizzera and Designers Dominic O’Grady and Tiep Bui all about the upcoming supernatural shenanigans.

Marvel.com: What do we have going on in the Contest of Champions world? Halloween was last week, we have the Doctor Strange film dropping this week, what do you have for us?

Gabriel Frizzera: This event is called “the Sorcerer’s Conclave” and it’s probably the most important event of the year, in many ways defining the future of “The Contest of Champions” storyline. Everything starts innocently enough with the Collector introducing his new “Arcane Arena” challenge to his Summoners, where all the best mystics in the Battlerealm will be competing. But things become a bit more complicated when Doctor Strange shows up as the bearer of dark omens…

Entering Marvel Contest of Champions: The Sorcerer’s Conclave

Entering Marvel Contest of Champions: The Sorcerer’s Conclave

Marvel.com: An all-new story event with Battlerealm’s ever-expanding number of mystical contenders sounds awesome! I’m guessing heroes like Doctor Strange and Magik will be a big part of the melee?

Gabriel Frizzera: All mystics will be part of it. But the “Sorcerer’s Conclave” title alludes to a small group of extremely skillful masters of the mystic arts (Mordo, Scarlet Witch, Doctor Voodoo and Loki) capable of performing a very specific spell, the “Arcane Door of Augur-Tendash”. What’s the goal of this spell? Only Stephen Strange knows, but the very survival of The Contest might be connected to it.

Marvel.com: And this is all coming on the heels of a build release right? Is anything else due out with the release? Balance rejiggering or anything like that?

Tiep Bui: Auto fight! This is a feature that we’ve had a lot of requests for so we are very excited to release this to our players. It’s a great way to help players get through more content.

We’ve also added in Dimensional Rifts! These are short, time limited, high difficulty, high reward quests. Complete the highest Tiers of Dimensional Rifts to earn rewards like 5-star Shards, Tier 2 Alpha Catalysts, and 5-star Awakening Gems. While the Dimensional Rifts accompany the events surrounding Doctor Strange, these quests are something we will be looking to keep up with in the future.

Finally, we’ve made some updates to improve your user experience within the game. The Champion Info Screen has undergone a revamp to show players greater details on their Champion’s stats and abilities. The Champion Upgrade Screen has also gone through some improvement to allow for more than six ISO-8 to be selected at one time.

Marvel.com: Those sound like some simple but impactful quality of life improvements with the HUD. Me likey. With regards to the event, when can we start slinging magical energy around? And when does it end?

Gabriel Frizzera: It started on November 2, Steve Ditko’s birthday! Which means it’s live now!

Dominic O’Grady: The Sorcerer’s Conclave will run for the rest of November, until December 7 at 10AM PST.

Marvel.com: Are there any juicy secrets the team wants to clue us in on for the future? What’s the next big thing for the Contest?

Gabriel Frizzera: As our long-time players must know, The Contest of Champions is turning 2 years old! After the Doctor Strange event ends, we’ll have a special anniversary build and a completely unexpected buddy holiday road trip. The two brand-new Champions involved in that story are a surprise, but let’s just say the Collector had to search beyond the boundaries of our own regular Earth to acquire them… Keep your third eye open for more details!

Play “Marvel Contest of Champions” now and stay tuned to Marvel.com in the coming days and weeks for the latest on Doctor Strange in other Marvel games. Marvel Insiders also earn points for checking out each of these articles. To become a Marvel Insider, join here: marvel.com/insider

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The Mad Titan enters the Battlerealm!

Thanos the Mad Titan makes his Marvel NOW solo series splash in Jeff Lemire and Mike Deodato’s THANOS sporting an all-new look. The new threads come courtesy of the awesome team over at Kabam and their version of Thanos in the “Marvel Contest of Champions” mobile fighting game. We talked to Mike about using Kabam’s version of the character and to Kabam Art Director Gabriel Frizzera about what it means to see their work in comics.

Marvel.com: Hey Mike, Thanos is look really good in this book. I’ve heard that the new costume comes from Kabam’s “Marvel Contest of Champions” mobile game. How’d you learn about the outfit and what about it spoke to you enough to use for the comic?

Mike Deodato: I was Google searching a good reference for Thanos when I found this amazing image created by Kabam. They really nailed it. It’s the best version I’ve ever seen of the Mad Titan. The proportions are exactly as I would draw him, a heavy, blocky type with big hands.

Marvel.com: And Gabriel, as a mobile game based on a comic universe, obviously the Kabam crew is adapting characters and costumes and events for the digital space. How does it feel to have some of your team’s work actually influence the source material?

Gabriel Frizzera: We are very proud every time that happens! We have lots of “Omega Level” Marvel geeks here at the studio, so we try to be very respectful of the source material; but at the same time we are confident we understand the language of Marvel well enough to add our own humble contributions to this gigantic creative tapestry being created by so many awesome artists and writers. Thankfully we have great partners at Marvel that support us every step of the way!

On a more personal note, I’ve been a fan of Deodato’s work since I was developing as a young artist in Brazil (I still own some of his early independent stuff!). To have a fellow Brazilian create such great work for the major publishers was always a great inspiration for me, and to have him use my own work as inspiration for his art is a great honor!

Marvel.com: And Mike to take a step back, when you’re designing new looks for characters, new costumes, where do you draw your inspiration? 

Mike Deodato: I usually go back to my early influences that include all those great artists from Metal Hurlant magazine, like Moebius, Caza, Druillet and many others.

Marvel.com: Same to you Gabriel but maybe a little deeper, what is your philosophy on translating some of Marvel’s most recognizable characters to the game? What kind of things do you think about before bringing them to Battlerealm?

Gabriel Frizzera: Our philosophy is “Always Look at the Comics.” They are the source and the purest expression of these characters. We aspire to be an extension of the Marvel Universe, not only being authentic to it, but also expanding its reach to new fans. If we do our job right, players who never read a Marvel comic before will be interested in following the stories, and when they do, the experience will be as seamless as possible.

 

Marvel.com: Mike the costume looks a lot more technological than the standard blue and yellow cloth-looking material we’ve seen him wear for so many years. Are there any story implications for the upgrade, or was it based purely on aesthetics?

Mike Deodato: Aesthetics alone, I was just blown away by Kabam’s design.

Marvel.com: High praise indeed! Gabriel can you talk to me a little about Thanos’ “Contest of Champions” design? What was important to keep from Thanos’ original iconic look, and how did you guys make it your own?

Gabriel Frizzera: Thanks Mike! Well we started, as always, picking a favourite version from the comics. We loved Jim Cheung’s Thanos from “Infinity”, and that was our departure point in this case. But as in any character we adapt, we try to make it our own. First I changed the proportions of the body in a very simplified concept piece. That helped us visualize how the character will look in one of our character skeletons (in this case the XL skeleton), which has a bigger torso and arms, and smaller legs and head.

Then I “blockified” some of the details like the hands, muscles and face. The Contest of Champions characters inhabit a “sweet zone” between realism and comic stylization, and for Thanos wasn’t different. Finding the character’s main shapes and details and exaggerating them to make the character even more iconic is one of the things that makes our characters so popular. I also finished out some of the details that sometimes are only implied in comic illustrations, to help the modellers know what’s going on in all angles of the body. Cheung drawings are very “3D” already, so in this case it was not so hard.

Then, our lead character artist Gene Campbell took the concept and pushed to the next level. Our team of 3D modellers are very accomplished in 3D sculpting, so every step of the way the character becomes more and more tangible. Usually at this point I let then add their own interpretation of what makes the character work in 3D, only coming in to course-correct every once in a while if necessary. They’re pretty talented, so that makes my work much easier.

Then the final model comes to life with the textures and materials. The comics can take us only so far in that regard, so we took inspiration from the movies. Thanos’ nice golds and shimmering cosmic metals look very nice in Guardians of the Galaxy, so that was our main reference. But with a twist: we like to bring it all back to comics by stylizing the colors. Every character needs to be recognizable at a glance, and Marvel characters have very iconic 2 or 3 colors schemes. We pay a lot of attention to that.

Marvel.com: Is there anything else we need to know about Thanos’ outfit or the THANOS title dropping on November 16? Mike anything you want to say to the fine folks over at Kabam?

Mike Deodato: Collaborating with Jeff Lemire has been an absolute pleasure and I think it shows in my art. Readers are going to see some of the best work of my career. As for the Kabam folks, thanks a lot for the inspiration, keep up the wonderful work guys!

Marvel.com: Gabriel, how ready are you to go pick up Jeff Lemire and Mike Deodato’s new THANOS title and see the team’s outfit in action?

Gabriel Frizzera: Hell yeas! As I said, I’m a big fan of Deodato’s work, and Jeff Lemire is one of my favourite writers out there… his voice is unique and I’ve been following his independent work before I saw his Marvel stuff. His Moon Knight is one of my favorite current books. I can’t wait to see where he takes the Mad Titan! And I just wanted to give a huge shoutout to the team that helped bring Thanos to life in-game: Luke Takeuchi, Melany Hamill, Cuz Parry, Gene Campbell, and Derek Ng-Cummings! Great work gang!

Watch out for Mike and Jeff’s THANOS when it drops on November 16 and stay tuned to Marvel.com for more “Marvel Contest of Champions” news and interviews.

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Johnny Blaze makes a fiery entrance to the Battlerealm!

Ever dreamed of burning rubber and bad guys’ souls all while wearing an awesome leather jacket? Well the good people at Kabam have heard you friends! They’ve unleashed the Ghost Rider on Battlerealm and now every hero needs to beware Johnny Blaze’s fiery gaze. We talked to Kabam Art Director Gabriel Frizzera and Game Designer Justin Ostensen about the Ghost Rider and everything he brings to “Marvel Contest of Champions.”

Marvel.com: Can the Collector and the gang really hope to harness the Spirit of Vengeance on Battlerealm? As usual, he’s playing with some seriously volatile energies.

Gabriel Frizzera: He had little choice in the matter, since it was the Grandmaster who brought Johnny Blaze to the Battlerealm under false pretenses, just to stir some trouble. All the Collector could do was try to beat his brother in his own game and capture Ghost Rider for his roster, before he causes too much damage to The Contest.

Marvel.com: Ok, I’m skipping right over everything else to get to the really important question: are we going to get to hit people with a motorcycle?

Gabriel Frizzera: How did you guess? That’s exactly his Special Move #3. He runs you over with his Hellcycle (in fact he push-kicks the Hellcycle over you), then does his famous Penance Stare to make sure you’re extra-dead. There’s also lots of flaming chains to the face, and even some fire-breathing.

 

Marvel.com: Let’s talk about his kit. Spirit of Vengeance seems like the linchpin of all his abilities. How does it play with Judgement?

Justin Ostensen: Judgments are a pretty unique and powerful ability, with Spirit of Vengeance acting as a more powered up version. Basically, as the player performs different actions during the fight, they’ll place these Judgment effects on the opponent, which each come with their own powerful effect. Everything from Fate Seal to Life Steal to Bleed are in Ghost Rider’s Judgments. But, the thing that makes Judgments extremely powerful in the hands of a skilled player is that each Judgment gets multiplied for each other Judgment already active. Placing these effects in the right order can allow Ghost Rider to deal with any type of threat in The Contest in brutal fashion.

Marvel.com: Bleed Immune sounds pretty self-explanatory, Ghost Rider being a burning heap of leather and bones and all, but how does Evil’s Bane work into everything?

Justin Ostensen: We really wanted to tie into Ghost Rider’s “hunting down the wicked” routine by making him more effective when he’s fighting against villains in The Contest. His Evil’s Bane ability grants him increased Armor and Critical Hit Chance whenever he’s facing off against a villain such as Abomination or Ultron, and his chance to place Judgment effects also rises.

Marvel.com: Ghost Rider’s had a ton of different leather getups since his inception. Where did you guys pull his looks from? Comics? Nicolas Cage movies?

Gabriel Frizzera: Ghost Rider is one of those characters that has a lot of different interpretations throughout the years: the classic blue jacket, several different versions of the leather costume, variations on the bike, from a normal “daredevil” light motorcycle to a crazy twisted metal monstrosity, etc. When it comes to characters like that, we always ask: “when I say the name of blank, which version comes first to mind?”. Sometimes the answer is clear-cut, but sometimes is a composite of many different versions. In the case of Ghost Rider, we knew we wanted to use Johnny Blaze, but the truth is some of the visual traits that people want to see when they think of Ghost Rider are not from Johnny, but from the Danny Ketch version.

So we used Johnny as a base, but pulled some details from other incarnations of Ghost Rider (like more exaggerated metal spikes), to create a “prototypical” version of the character, one that would satisfy fans from the comics, the movies and even the ones that know nothing about the character but love the visual of the crazy flaming skull dressed in black with lots of chains.

Marvel.com: And who are we playing Ghost Rider with? Who are his ideal teammates?

Justin Ostensen: You’re going to want to grab up Ghost Rider’s old teammates, Wolverine (X-23), Elektra, and Deadpool to increase Ghost Rider’s defensive capabilities. Putting him on a team with his rival, The Punisher, will also increase Ghost Rider’s offensive capabilities as well.

Marvel.com: And when do we get to rip up the road with Ghost Rider?

Justin Ostensen: With the Summoners’ help, the Collector has been able to temporarily subdue the Spirit of Vengeance and he should be roaring into The Contest at any moment. Keep an eye on in-game messages and arena announcements to know when you can finally add Ghost Rider to your roster.

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

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