Just as a quick reminder, this series is about me highlighting games that I think are well worth the look. This is by no means a complete list of games, and there are still a bunch more that I just have not gotten around to talking about. These are largely titles that I feel like everyone should probably at least give a try once. I am largely focused on games that don’t necessarily get the press or hype that some of the more prevalent titles like World of Warcraft do. I figured in honor of Halloween I would talk about a game that is entirely about dressing up in costume and taking out bad guys.
A Tale of Improvement
In 2013 when Marvel Heroes launched… it was plagued with problems. Not the least of which was the fact that it was pretty much universally reviewed as a massive cash grab. The game itself was not that terribly fun, and any heroes or costumes purchased on the store were oppressively over priced. You can look at any of the reviews from 2013 and they all pretty much say the same thing, that the gameplay is lackluster at best… and that it is ridiculous to have to pay $20 to play as an A list hero like Ironman. The game has since re-invented itself and gone through a number of changes… before eventually rebooting itself as Marvel Heroes 2015. Rebranding is one of those fiddly things, but in this case the game that exists now is a very different gameplay experience than the one that launched.
During my time playing the game they have made constant incremental changes to the experience. Originally the game asked you to essentially pick your free champion blindly, and now you can play any number of champions all to level 10 before finally choosing one to unlock all of the way to 60. This gives you time to get in and experience the way a champion performs before finally committing to it. In my case I have found that many of my favorite Comic Book heroes and anti-heroes… are not necessarily something that I want to play. For example I have always loved the Punisher, but the game play felt a little lacking since I am not a huge fan of ranged combat. On the other side of the coin… I have never really liked Captain America as a comic book… but playing as him is freaking amazing. He is this massive shield slinging badass that I love playing, and my friend Grace has a similar experience with Iceman ending up being the character that she stuck with.
True to the Source
Another thing I love about the game is just how integrated it is into the Marvel Universe. There are so many characters, costumes and team-ups that come from the deep bowels of comic history. Remember that one time Punisher was a Frankenstein-like monster? Well Marvel Heroes does… and offers the costume as an option during Halloween. Remember that time Wolverine was infected by the Brood? Yup Marvel Heroes also offers that costume. If there is a movie released, or a big comic event… you can fully expect Marvel Heroes to roll out a special event to mark it. During the Avengers Age of Ultron release… you got bonus experience anytime you played an Avengers character or grouped with one for example. Obviously at this same time they offered a brand new pack of costumes representing the way the characters looked in the movie at a “priced to own” value… but none of it feels like something you have to have to keep playing the game.
My favorite aspect of the game is the way it handles gender swaps for characters. For an increasing number of the champions in this game, they offer an alternate gender version. What makes this awesome is the fact that they are once again mining the rich Marvel history to make it happen. For example if you want to play a female Punisher, you instead end up playing Rachel Cole-Alves a character that has allied with the in comic Punisher a few times and even wore the costume. Granted this is not the case for every character in the game… like Lady Loki is just that… a female version of Loki. However it is absolutely comic book canon that there was one time when Loki was brought back as a woman, so even then… it absolutely fits. This works both ways… so in addition to Scarlet Witch and her many female costumes… you can play as Wiccan, or among the many Captain Marvel Carol Danvers costumes… you also have an old school male Captain Marvel as well.
Cost of Being a Hero
I realize I am not actually talking about the game-play much but really… if playing a Diablo style game with Marvel Heroes is not enough of a hook for you… then you probably should play something else. This game is all about the fantasy fulfillment of running around as a super hero and beating up cartoon bad guys to make the street explode into a shower of bright colored loot. The challenge of the game should be mentioned… because if its default state that challenge is next to non-existent. They have essentially started calling this base difficulty “Story Mode” and you play through it while finishing the main story. After finishing the story you can ratchet up the difficulty as you see fit and visit any of the previous areas for leveling purposes. These later difficulties feel more akin to the harder difficulties in Diablo 3, but it is somewhat sad that unlike D3 you cannot simply play on hard all of the time. You have to finish the normal mode before you can start anything more aggressive.
The biggest change since the 2013 incarnation is the fact that the game really is “free” or can be pending you don’t just fall in love with anything in particular. What I love the most about the game is that you can collect these items while roaming in the world called Eternity Splinters, and with them you can purchase specific champions… or do what I end up doing and simply gamble on one of the 100 spliter random hero boxes. I’ve managed to pull several of the big name heroes that I have like Star Lord and X-23 through these random boxes, and it gives you the feeling of making some forward momentum without a ton of grinding. When talking about the price of things, that too has changed significantly. The blade pre-sale for example is happening right now and its $16.19 for the champion and an alternate costume, with a normal price around $20. Still not the cheapest thing in the world… but not that insane either considering there are fairly easy in game ways to get all of the champions as well.
Honestly I stayed away from this game for years… because of the bad press surrounding it’s launch. It was only after seeing a good friend of mine playing it every single night on steam, that I finally decided to give it a chance. I am extremely happy that I did, and even though I don’t play it all that often it is yet another in a long line of games that has re-invented itself for the better. I seriously feel like the era of big AAA games is past us… or at least the era of “American” AAA MMOs that is. I qualify that because it seems like South Korean is going through the same sort of period that we did during the big MMO boom. In the meantime I am really enjoying watching these older titles figure out how to make their games work, and more than happy to support them finding a new niche. The awesome thing about Marvel Heroes is the barrier of entry is non-existent. If you are looking for a fun Diablo style game… head to steam and install it. If you do, let me know what you think.