Hands On Lenovo Mirage AR with Marvel Dimension of Heroes

This AR headgear and controller set can turn you into an Avenger

Lance Ulanoff trying out the Lenovo Mirage AR
Lenovo Mirage AR with Marvel Dimension of Heroes.

 Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

I always feel a little ridiculous using virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) when there are other people around, especially when they’re watching me intensely with expectant looks.

“Did you like it?” They ask hopefully. I did but this was only after 5 minutes of play, and I was just getting used to the controllers.

Lenovo Mirage AR controller
One of the Lenovo Mirage AR controllers.  Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

Designed like the hilt of a swashbuckler’s sword, those controllers are the newest addition to Lenovo’s Mirage AR system. Inside the AR headset and married to the motion of those controllers is a new game experience from Disney called Marvel Dimension of Heroes.

You Can Be an Avenger

Like their last collaboration, Star Wars: Jedi Challenge, Marvel Dimension of Heroes seeks to put you inside your favorite Avengers’ skin, complete with access to each hero's particular set of skills. If you’re Iron Man, you can shoot power blasts from your hands. If you’re Captain America, you wield his iconic shield. And if you’re Thor, you get the hammer.

Lenovo Mirage AR
Lenovo Mirage AR headset.  Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

None of this would be half as interesting without Lenovo’s Mirage AR headgear. It’s reminiscent of Microsoft’s HoloLens, but where that headset is a self-contained Windows 10 PC, Mirage AR uses your smartphone’s processing power and display. The device includes a special holder that can accommodate virtually any smartphone. Once seated inside the headset, the phone projects its image on a translucent mirror in front on your eyes. This allows you to play a semi-immersive game without bumping into furniture and walls.

Learn to Hold it Right

I grabbed a pair of controllers; they work with an included tracking beacon that you place on the floor. Each controller is equipped with a tracking light covered in pliable rubber. This is a good thing since the game asks you to use your fists as a hero would.

In my demo game, I played as Guardians of the Galaxy’s Star Lord. Through the headset, it looked like I was holding a pair of blasters. To make sure they were oriented properly, I had to look down at the beacon, aim the guns at it, and press the joystick button on top of the controller.

Holding the Lenovo Mirage AR controllers
Holding the Lenovo Mirage AR controllers.  Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

Initially, I had some trouble with the controllers. They slide over your fingers but have to sit in the palm of your hand. Initially, it felt like I was reaching awkwardly to touch the trigger and shield buttons. Fortunately, this feeling faded after the first few frenzied minute of battle.

With my joystick and weapons calibrated, I began shooting at the onslaught of attackers and drones. Some put up special shields that I learned I could shatter by holding the trigger down longer to build up extra blast power.

The beacons track the controller and headset position (essentially your body’s position). However, at first, I forgot to move my body out of the way of incoming blasts. Soon, though, I was shifting about and occasionally pressing a controller button to raise my own shield. And when an attacker got closer, I released a fusillade of punches. This was also when I was most self-conscious because I knew I looked ridiculous.

After a few minutes of battle, Captain Marvel appeared. Aside from the costume, though, she looked nothing like Brie Larson. In fact, none of the characters resembled their movie counterparts.

My guide in all this was supposed to be Dr. Strange, as he sets the story in motion after reversing time to undo a disastrous and deadly battle with Strange’s chief nemesis, Dormammu. I never saw Strange. Instead, after 5 minutes of battle, I was declared the victor.

Play This Way or That

When the game ships next month, you’ll have the option of three styles of play:

  • Story Mode
  • Survival
  • Co-op

You can also earn achievements or trophies that come in the form of giant in-game character statues that you can virtually walk around in the AR environment. I did not see them in my demo.

I played in Survival mode, which lets you share your score on a global leaderboard. Co-op lets you play in some of the iconic hero pairings. If you’re Thor, your best friend, who would need his own Lenovo Mirage AR, would be Captain America.

If you’re together, you can look over and through your Mirage AR headgear to watch Cap throw and retrieve his shield. I do wish I could’ve seen this, but I was playing alone.

Lenovo Mirage AR Dimensions of Heroes
Lenovo Mirage AR Dimensions of Heroes. Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff 

Overall, the gameplay experience was pretty good, though I noticed we used a darkened room, which I believe helps with the AR image quality. I even had a couple of good moments during my battle. If this headset were mine, I could’ve used the share button to record a short GIF on the phone and then upload it to the platform of my choice.

The whole thing, including the Marvel game, headgear, two controllers, and single beacon costs $249. You just have to supply the phone.