What the hell was I thinking? This week, I’m taking a look at Marvel Heroes!
Seriously, Reviewing An MMO? Jesus Christ.
Well, I’ve certainly got my work cut out for me this time. I’ll be covering the game in general, as well as its new update. Sit down, grab a drink. The game is available on Steam and on its home site for free, so give it a download while you read! This is gonna take a while, folks. Oh, and this one’s going to be a bit light on the screenshots!
Marvel Heroes was released in June by its developer Gazillion Entertainment. They’re also known for Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, which I’ve only played a little of, but it’s pretty fun!
Originally the game was in development under Cryptic Studios/NCSoft, but there were some legal issues or something and Gazillion wound up getting the job. I’m glad they did because with David Brevik at the helm, it meant we were getting a soul successor to Diablo II. Did we, though? Well, let’s go see!
It’s The Little Things
With a roster of 29 characters, this game is an absolute monster in giving you options on picking a favorite hero. Gazillion is also working on putting out a character a month with November’s being the oft requested Gambit. December bringing Ghost Rider. January is bringing the hero I personally love most – Nightcrawler.
With all those characters you’d think that balance is a nightmare. Well, I imagine for the team it is, but thankfully, they have a test center where they let players try out upcoming patches so that they can see the tweaks, find bugs, and test new characters. It’s a great way for Gaz to get feedback on what’s working and what isn’t. Gaz also isn’t shy about going back and giving older characters an overhaul to bring them up to pace with the newer members of the cast and content. In some cases, looking at you Daredevil…not that you’d know, it takes awhile, but when it gets here, it’s awesome. Colossus’ rework firmly detached his metal buttcheeks from my benched roster and put him in the forefront, which is great because he was the only character I really wanted to play with Nightcrawler being missing in the beginning.
On top of that, most heroes have a nice selection of costumes to choose from in the store. You don’t have to buy them, of course, you can find them as drops, but they’re very, very rare as drops.
Gaz also does something else that you don’t see much, if at all, with other companies. They listen to their community. They actually interact with the community on the forums and in game. They’re not like most developers that show up at the office, do whatever they have listed for the day, go home, and not play. These folks actually spend time playing the game and know what someone’s talking about when they say that Daredevil isn’t as good as other characters.
Yes, it might take them awhile to get around to a rework, fix a bug, or add something, but in the end, the fact is, they listen. They’re not shy about admitting when they make a mistake and going back to fix it, either.
Remember, it’s the little things.
Better Ditch The Ruby Quartz, Cyke
I figure this time we’ll get all the usual stuff out of the way before we get into some of the more interesting stuff.
First of all, this game looks awesome.
Maybe a little too awesome in some cases as the game does have some performance issues for a decent number of people across the board, myself included. That’s not to say that you can’t do some tweaks and get it running a bit better. Marvel Heroes runs on the Unreal Engine, so it’s fairly easy to apply tweaks and get things going a bit better.
That said, Gazillion is constantly working on ways to increase the game’s stability and performance for a wider audience, so hopefully the aforementioned tweaks will be a thing of the past very, very soon. Anyway, let’s get on to some other things in the graphics department.
Things like Human Torch’s constant burning looks great, especially when he moves and the flames do what you’d expect them to. Colossus looks like a bad ass with his Osmium skin shining in the light.
The powers for the characters, in most cases, are pretty flashy as well. Human Torch has one particular skill that leaves a giant Fantastic Four logo burnt into the ground after its long burned out.
Performance issues aside, some of the characters have a tendency to dominate your view. Jean Grey in Phoenix form being the biggest culprit if the forums are anything to go by. I have to agree that her fx are a bit overwhelming, but again, this is something Gazillion is working towards trimming down by adding the ability to turn off other player’s visual fx.
That’s the beauty of Gazillion – they actually listen to the community. While they do make booboos here and there, they’re more than willing to admit they fluffed something up and go back to fix it.
Over all, the game looks awesome despite the issues the pretty face might cause.
Bamf, Zap, Thwip
I always have trouble talking about sound effects and music as they don’t really tend to register with me outside of actually playing the game. That said, they’re pretty damn good here.
As you’d expect, the sound effects are spot on. Cyclops’ optic blasts sound like you’d expect from other games, tv shows, and movies. The big guys like Colossus and Hulk have heavy, thudding foot steps, and definitely sound like they make an impact on anyone they hit. When Colossus hits someone, there’s this dull metal thunk that goes along with it. Sometimes you might catch yourself feeling sorry for anyone catching an Osmium knuckle sandwich, or steel toe kick to the head. …yep, I made that joke.
The music itself doesn’t strike me as incredibly memorable as I can’t think of much to say about it aside from “It’s there.” I tend to keep the music itself pretty low. I think most of the players do this as well while they listen to their own music.
One thing that really makes Marvel Heroes feel alive is the interaction between characters when they pass each other. You might hear Jean Grey tell Deadpool that she won’t read his mind, not after the last time, or Cyclops telling people that they don’t have to like him to respect him. The idle banter is a very minor thing that tends to add a lot to the background noise. I mean that in a good way, too.
On the flip side, some of the characters need a volume slider specifically for them, like Deadpool. I love Deadpool as a character in the comics, but whoever wrote his dialogue needs to just stop. I don’t know if it was the voice actor, which is Nolan North so I doubt it’s on him, or the writer, but Deadpool just sounds like he’s constantly trying far too hard to be funny and random and just winds up coming off as a dipshit. I know there are people that find it funny, I found a line or two of his funny myself, but I really can’t fathom how people find humor in most of his lines. I guess it takes all kinds, right?
A Point And Click Adventure
Like any ARPG worth its salt, Marvel Heroes controls mostly by the mouse, utilizing hotkeys for powers. A lot of people seemed, in the beginning, to be under the impression that the game needs WASD and a third person view, but this really doesn’t come up much anymore, now people are whinging about how the game needs to come to consoles but that’s a story for another time. To the WASD/3rd person people I say – Can you navigate your desktop? Yes? Stop whining.
There are a few issues on occasion, like target lock breaking, causing you to run around instead of attack or the cursor showing red, which means you should be attacking, but not actually functioning. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen too often, and is probably the result of a bug that Gaz will squash with all the fury of an angry god.
Basic controls aside, you get a nice little hotbar that you can customize to your liking with your most important active skills. Some characters would definitely benefit from a larger bar, though, like Rocket Raccoon. He’s got more tricks up hit sleeve than he does fur. If you’re not a fan of the default set up, the customization options for the hotbar, UI, and other keys is pretty good. Far better than it was back in beta.
Like most games of the genre, Marvel Heroes makes like a little easier for the ranged folks by making Shift your “stand here and don’t even think of moving” button. I generally don’t play the ranged people, aside from Cyclops, but I make very good use of this on melee heroes as well.
No, Chimichangas Are Not Armor, Deadpool…
Now we come to the itemization and all things related to it. Since the game’s release, Gazillion has added a few tiers of items, such as: Cosmic, Unique, and Legendary.
They’ve also added a few other little things to help boost the hunt and make it more interesting. Things like Insignias that can only be worn by certain members of certain teams. An example would be Colossus being able to wear an X-Men insignia, but not a Guardians of The Galaxy one like Rocket Raccoon.
Rings are one of the newer additions that came right before Asgaard, and for the most part, they’re pretty good. They give you some nice bonuses and seem to drop pretty regularly, so there’s always a chance of upgrading. As for the aforemetioned Cosmic, Unique, and Legendary items:
Cosmics rank above epics, giving more bonuses and even grant special procs.
Uniques are hero specific items like Iron Man’s Prototype Repuslors or Cyclops’ Phoenix Five visor. These generally give hefty stat and power bonuses.
Legendaries, which were added with the Asgaard update, give you the option to choose an item that best fits your playstyle and level it up, unlocking even more bonuses.
In most cases, you might find a mixture of Epics, which are purple and give roughly five different bonuses unless you get a double roll which makes the stat or bonuses much better, Cosmics, and Uniques. The real key to getting the most out of your character is, of course, finding gear that really boosts the skills your build focuses on. This can be very easy, or very hard, depending on what you’re going for.
My old Luke Cage (for those of you still waiting for the update, don’t worry, it’s coming) build is a good example. Getting artifacts and medallions to boost summon duration was easy. The hard part was finding gear with really good rolls on power duration. In other cases, you might want to stack up critical chance, which is much, much easier.
One thing that makes keeping a good piece of gear easy, is the ability to upgrade. You can upgrade Rares, which are blue, to Epic, and Epic to Cosmic if you find a piece of gear that you really just can’t let go of. While it’s a very expensive process, it’s something I haven’t really seen before. I mean, we’ve all seen the add +1, +2, and so on before, but this is something very new to me.
Given that the loot hunt is the main part of any ARPG, and that’s no different here, be prepared to spend a lot of time hunting down things like Cosmics and Uniques as they’re very rare. Don’t get to downhearted if you don’t find a ton of them.
That said, if you happen to have an abundance of said items, or anything else you can carry that you don’t want, you can donate them to your vendors to level them up. Most important of your vendors, is your crafter as you won’t really be able to get by without him. I mean, you can, but you’ll have a tough go of it. Leveling your weapons and armor vendors gives you a wider variety of items to get a hold of, and at higher levels, they can offer artifacts to help you out.
You can also grind out some Eternity Splinters that can be used to buy cosmics, heroes, hero ultimate upgrades, as well as other things!
A New Day Dawns
So, with that stuff out of the way, let’s get into what sparked this review – the 2.0 patch!
2.0 came in with all kinds of insanity attached. Loki was a surprise hero. We had to unlock Asgaard as a community, which had its own share of insanity. A rework of the starting hero choices. Finally, there was Asgaard itself after unlocking it.
How do these three things stack up?
Well, Loki is a lot of fun. If you liked Diablo II Necromancers, you’ll feel very much at home with Loki’s Illusion spawning at every turn. It’s a very powerful tree, and will be even more powerful once his Illusions get their crit, damage, brutal and other bonuses back. His ice tree is very good if you’re looking to get tanky and stay on your feet, which he doesn’t really seem to have a problem doing to begin with. I’m still not sure where I stand with his Sorcery tree. It’s got a lot of really fun skills, though, like Enthrall, which is exactly what you see him do to people in Avengers with his staff.
Over all, Loki’s a lot of fun to play.
The choices for new starter heroes aren’t too shabby either, honestly. The new line up consists of Luke Cage, Captain America, Black Widow, Punisher, and a few others. The only thing to note is that they’re tiered, meaning that a few of them don’t cost as much as the others, which gives you 100 Eternity Splinters for finishing the tutorial and another 100 for finishing the main story line. It’s also worth noting that price does NOT equal power. A lot of people might think that at first “Oh, this is a low tier free hero, he must suck.” If you’re under that impression, I suggest you find another one to be under.
Now, the unlocking of Asgaard. I’m sure almost anyone who hangs out in the forums for Marvel Heroes is tired of hearing about this by now. There was a lot of controversy and whatnot over the event having a leaderboard, prizes that changed part-way through, and people still getting points for the leaderboard after the event ended. Personally, I largely ignored the event unless I was donating stuff to a friend to help him out. I didn’t really take direct action until the last day or so.
With all that work, all those tears, all that drama, how did Asgaard come out? Well, Bifrost is fucking gorgeous for starters.
Asgaard itself is rather small, it’s only the beginning part of a new hub and chapter. The new chapters are going to be added steadily to help flesh it out. There isn’t much there at the moment, but being able to work towards getting a Legendary makes the lack of what’s there right now fine with me. Gaz has a lot going on at the moment.
In the end, I like update 2.0. I don’t see it as half finished, but more as doorway to new adventures that will come in time.
Ok, so what do I think of Marvel Heroes over all? I love it, honestly. Despite bugs, characters that need tuning and reworks, and some limited, but fun, things to do at end game, I really enjoy my time on there. The huge roster makes is awesome, giving you different flavors of typically standard archetypes.
The community itself, as you can see from previous posts on this blog, is one of the best around. Yes, we’ve got some trolls and asshats, but every community does. It’s very unique community in that you’ll actually see more than just someone’s circle of friends show them support and offer to help out, the Social Chat’s lackluster impression of the Barrens Chat withstanding.
Some of the store prices are a bit high when it comes to costumes, but the amount of work that goes into them, not to mention that the artists are sometimes allowed to go back and touch up said costumes, makes it alright in my book. Gazillion staff’s gotta eat, y’know.
All in all, the game is a lot of fun. It looks great, it sounds great, it plays great. It does have some hang ups and bugs, but they’re getting to those as fast as they can. I’m really hoping Marvel Heroes can help shake the ignorance people have that “Free to play games aren’t as good as ones you pay for.” I’ve spent most of my time with MMOs playing those free to play games, and in most cases, they’re a hell of a lot more entertaining that paid ones. Marvel Heroes happens to be one of them.
That’s all for now.
You folks have fun, take care, and I’ll see you next time.
Some other notes – This will probably be the last review for a while. As you can see it was a monstrous one. With the whole voicing thing getting speed and entertaining me a lot, I’m just gravitating towards that right now ,so I’m going to be on hiatus until I’m ready to come back. I already have the game in mind for when I do come back, too.