I really want to like Disney Mirrorverse. When I heard about the dark fantasy that reinvents Disney characters in a shared universe, my Kingdom Heart was flustered. In Mirrorvese, Belle is a sorceress with a magic staff, Sully wears a mechanical suit, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has a demon arm. Need I say more? Between that and the surprisingly engaging combat, Mirrorverse is a game I could see myself sinking into for a long time. Unfortunately, Mirrorverse is a pretty standard mobile game full of microtransactions, so time isn’t the kind of investment you’re looking for.
If you’ve played other free Kabam games like Marvel Contest of Champions of Shop Titans, you already have a pretty good idea of what the Mirrorverse is like. It uses many underhand tactics to encourage incremental spending and hide the real price of things. At its core, the Mirrorverse is a collector of characters like Fire Emblem Heroes or Genshin Impact, but getting and upgrading those characters is incredibly difficult unless you’re willing to spend.
Characters come from loot boxes called Crystals. Some crystals can be obtained through daily logins, completing objectives, and completing limited game modes such as Events and Dungeons. These are complementary ways to earn crystals that are quite limited. The main way to acquire crystals is by buying them with orbs. A crystal costs 280 orbs, but of course, you can’t buy 280 orbs. You can buy 350 orbs for $10, which leaves you with 70 left over. You can buy two packs of 350 and one pack of 175 for $5 to get three crystals with 35 orbs left over, or you can just get the pack of 1,055 orbs for $30, of course you will still be short of 65 orbs for four crystals. . The math never really works out in your favor, and that’s by design.
Opening a Crystal will give you a character from a pool of 35-40 with a random rarity of two to five stars. Each crystal has a featured character that has a slightly higher chance of dropping than the rest, but generally speaking, the chance of getting a particular character is around 2.5 percent. The rarity rating increases the odds even more. There is about a 95 percent chance that your character will have three stars or less. The chances of attracting any particular character with a five-star rating is around 0.003 percent. Mirrorverse is a Disney slot machine disguised as a video game.
Crystal’s economy is just the tip of the Mirrorverse’s exploitative design. Orbs are just one of many items you can buy, though it doesn’t tell you that at first. As you progress through the story, you’ll unlock the ability to purchase limited-time packs filled with crystals, upgrade materials, orbs, and other currencies. Packages start out cheap and get more expensive the more you spend. The first round of packs is only $3, but soon you’ll have the opportunity to spend $7, $10, or even $30 on these packs. Sometimes when you buy one, they replace it with one that offers even better value than the one you just bought, so you feel like your first investment is a waste if you don’t invest in the second. By the end of the second chapter, I had 11 different packs available along with messages from the game team in my inbox reminding me that my time was running out. The game gives you a mailbox and fills it with spam.
Of all the schemes in play in the Mirrorverse, the one that frustrates me the most is Cards. These are paid daily login bonuses that seem like a good up-front offer, but force you to log in every day for maximum value. I can buy the starter crystal card for $3 and earn a star crystal every day for a week, which seems like good value for money. Since I’m logging in anyway, I might as well buy the beginner orb cards and collect 200 orbs every day. Now that I have $7 and already committed to logging in every day, the $25 card filled with two weeks of three-star Crystals sounds like a pretty good idea too. Of course, if you lose all the items you paid for on any given day, you forget to log in.
There’s a lot more to hate about the way the Mirrorverse is monetized. Every time you win a Crystal, you have to scroll through the store, past all the paid options, to get to the one you already have. There are nine types of coins and upgrade items, including energy, that you need to spend in order to play. There is no easy way to earn any of these coins. There’s a tab in the shop called the Bazaar that offers eight random items in exchange for orbs or gold, the most common currency earned, but you have to check it constantly if there’s a specific resource you’re looking for, or you can spend orbs to upgrade the shop. There is another tab that offers specific three and four star characters for sale. Like the Bazaar, there are always eight and they rotate daily. They cost a different currency (called Stardust) which is incredibly rare. The best way to get Stardust is to buy Crystals, because each character you mine comes with a small Stardust reward that matches their class type.
It’s a shame all of this has to weigh down the Mirrorverse, but it’s a pretty solid game at heart. The story is basically Disney Secret Wars: a raid event that is causing the multiverse to implode and evil crystal copies of Disney heroes and villains to invade through a mysterious broken mirror. Events are little subplots within that story that build the world. In one, you help Tron and Buzz Lightyear reset time to stop Zurg from taking over the Mirrorverse in the midst of all the chaos. It’s a wonderful world of comics that deserves to be explored further. It also has great combat that is simple to pick up and endlessly complex once you start factoring in all of your team’s abilities and passive bonuses. There’s a lot of depth to team building and a decent amount of skill in the game, but it’s all in the service of flashing neon signs constantly reminding you to spend more money.
There’s a lot of disdain for mobile gaming right now, and the Mirrorverse is guilty of using many of the same tactics Diablo Immortal exploits to separate players from their money, but I don’t think we should accept that this is the mobile way. games are. While they’re not perfect, neither Wild Rift nor Pokemon Unite are casinos disguised as video games, and popular games like PUBG, Fortnite, and Apex Legends Mobile are more or less the same experience you get on PC and console. There is no reason other than greed why mobile games should be lowered to this level, especially one featuring Disney characters. I’m still trying to figure out how to explain to my nephew that he can’t play as Stitch until he pulls the lever on this slot machine a hundred times. His allowance is only $20 a week, so it could take a while.
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