I’ve always enjoyed Japan’s take on American comic books. Tiger & Bunny is great, but nothing has reached the near-universal popularity of My Hero Academia. Despite its popularity, there haven’t been many video games that utilized the franchise to its full potential. That’s about to change.
Did you ever think you’d see the phrase “My Hero Academia 24 Player Battle Royale Game”? I didn’t. When My Hero: Ultra Rumble was announced, I was somewhat skeptical about how well it would work. Does it have what it takes to defy the odds and go Plus Ultra, or will it be crushed by Fortnite and its insane crossovers? I enjoyed what little bit I played of My Hero: One’s Justice and its sequel, but it didn’t scratch that itch I had for a My Hero Academia game. Personally, my dream game was a 2D team-based fighter made by the guys at Arc System Works, who did the incredible Dragon Ball FighterZ. At least, that was until I played this. Though it’s only in beta, I feel that My Hero: Ultra Rumble is on its way to being the best game in the MHA franchise, and probably my favorite battle royale game.
The Basics of My Hero: Ultra Rumble
Continuing Bandai Namco’s current trend of taking a proven formula and bolting it onto an anime property with surprising quality, My Hero: Ultra Rumble is their take on the battle royale game. If you’ve played heavy hitters of the genre like Fortnite, Player Unknown’s Battle Grounds, and Apex Legends, you’ll know what to expect: everyone beats the stuffing out of each other until a single team is left standing. There’s a shrinking play area that forces everyone into the same spot eventually.
Each character has the same basic setup: three regular Quirk abilities and one character-specific action. I’ll use Deku as an example. He has a basic ranged blast, a powerful rushing kick, and a tether attack that doubles as a grapple for movement and to pull enemies closer. With 12 characters currently available, I can’t reasonably go over all of them, but these are the five different “roles”.
- Assault characters are defense-heavy, with a focus on leading the charge into a battle. (All-Might, Deku, and Mount Lady)
- Strike characters are offensive powerhouses with attacks that cover wide areas and keep enemies away. (Bakugo, Shoto, and Shigaraki)
- Technical characters focus on laying traps and disrupting enemies. (Uraraka and Dabi)
- Rapid characters rely on diversions and confusion to change the flow of a fight. (Toga and Tsuyu)
- Support characters heal and shield their comrades. (Mr. Compress and Cementoss)
You and three others of your favorite heroes (or villains) team up to search for items to elevate your own powers through permanent and temporary upgrades. This is accomplished via two items: generic level-up cards that work on any of your three abilities, and character-specific ones that auto-level your abilities if they match your class. Any character cards you get that don’t match your class become temporary, single-use boosts such as increased attack power or a healing circle. As always with this genre, you and your team will pick where to start the round, but once everyone has picked everyone gets to see where the others started. It is absolutely harrowing to pick a spot you assume will be safe to loot, only to find that 3 other teams will be there as well, ensuring that a massive fight will break out. Teamwork is crucial and My Hero: Ultra Rumble has many ways for players to communicate without the use of voice chat.
The Combat of My Hero: Ultra Rumble
As mentioned, nearly all of the characters currently in My Hero: Ultra Rumble follow the same basic structures in their class, with two big exceptions: Shigaraki has no offensive capabilities against targets that aren’t on the ground and Cementoss creates platforms and walls with every attack. Even with those limitations, every character plays the way you would expect them to. When you inevitably lock horns with other players, battles are fast and chaotic. It’s not uncommon to see a giant Mount Lady stomping on an All-Might, as Shigaraki lays waste to the entire area in an effort to trap and kill the Deku trying desperately to save their Bakugo. It’s the best kind of chaos and feels like some of the biggest battles in the series. The melee combat is pretty basic, but it’s fun and consistent while the shooting is simple and easy to understand. Neither aspect of the combat is particularly deep, and that’s okay. This is a game focusing on fun first and foremost, and it really shows.
To illustrate my point, My Hero: Ultra Rumble does not currently have any sort of critical hits or one-hit-kills. Even when you’re losing a fight, you will get knocked off your feet for a few brief moments of invincibility to either counterattack or run away. It’s obvious that the developers wanted players to feel like they got the chance to do something instead of getting immediately deleted from the playing field because someone got lucky early.
That’s not to say skill isn’t involved in My Hero: Ultra Rumble. Characters move around very quickly, and it’s easy to lose them in the chaos. You have to track and read an enemy’s movements to secure those wins. Players that are downed after losing all their health auto-revive after 20 seconds, so you also have to make the choice of either hitting them some more to completely eliminate them or focus on other enemies around you because someone getting back up can absolutely turn the game around.
In my second win, a huge battle broke out over an item box and one of my team got downed. I was Deku and rushed to revive them, but a Dabi put several traps close to him and I got blown away and downed as well. Luckily, they were distracted by another team that came over to try and pick them off. We slowly crawled to the bushes and hid there til we got back up, hoping we didn’t get hit by a stray attack. We were able to catch the final team before they could heal their wounds and we stole the win.
In another round, it was my team and another in an all-out, max power brawl. We downed their Uraraka and, I guess, she managed to crawl away and hide. We thought we had cleared everyone out and waited for the win screen, but it never came. Our Bakugo began blowing up buildings and found her hiding, then kicked her into the middle of the field like a soccer ball, where we quickly dispatched her.
Fanservice… IS HERE!
Outside of all the battle royale stuff is, of course, a gacha system. The beta for My Hero: Ultra Rumble was incredibly generous with premium currency, to the point that I was able to collect pretty much every single unlock with every character. All of said unlocks are cosmetic items like new costumes, voice lines, and emotes. There was your usual stuff like simple recolors and school outfits, but there were also some surprising additions. This included the heroes getting villain-themed colors and those incredible costumes in the fantasy-themed ED from an earlier season. Honestly, I think many of these look better than their canon outfits! The only map currently available at this time is the USJ Training Center, and it’s lovingly recreated. It lends itself incredibly well to this style of game. The only thing that seems to be missing from My Hero: Ultra Rumble is the series’ stellar soundtrack. What’s here is fine and gets the job done, but it’s fairly generic, which is a disappointment after One’s Justice 2 had such good music on offer.
With such a varied cast in the franchise, there’s limitless potential to expand this game. Some fan favorites are obviously missing, like Tokoyami, Aizawa, Gentle, and Twice. Bandai Namco has something special with My Hero: Ultra Rumble and with the proper support, this will have a healthy player base for years to come. It’s pretty polished as-is and I encountered very few glitches in my time with the beta. Keep this one on your radar and give it a shot when it drops. This one is absolutely Plus Ultra. I give it my full recommendation.
My Hero: Ultra Rumble will be released as a free-to-play title on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 (playable on PS5), Xbox One (playable on Series X/S), and PC sometime later this year.