Preview: Marvel Heroes is part Diablo, part MMO, all awesome
Somewhere in our brains, lies a dormant need to control characters from an overhead view, click repeatedly on screen to defeat every enemy, pick up an endless array of loot and obsess over skill points and abilities. There has to be, since action RPGs have been recycling this gameplay style ever since the original Diablo. The team over at Gazillion however didn't opt for another fantasy brawler. This time, we get to repeatedly click and kick ass as our favorite Marvel super heroes. That's f*cking awesome!
Over the course of this past weekend, I was able to participate in the Marvel Heroes closed beta, to get a taste of what's in store for the game. I was able to try out a few iconic Marvel heroes and see how they play in a persistent online world, and how they differ from one another. I also got a taste of the game's storyline, allowing me to play through the game's initial few Acts.
First and foremost, let's talk about the heroes. In the Closed Beta, I had access to a select few, which included Hawkeye, Deadpool, Storm, Hulk, Wolverine, Black Panther, Ms. Marvel, and a few more. I wanted to get a good feel for all of them but I couldn't resist playing as my personal favorite, Deadpool. It is important to note that he wasn't one of the initial characters available, so I did have to purchase him with in-game cash, which was provided to me by the PR representative. It is important to mention that new characters can be acquired as rare drops, and don't have to be purchased in the in-game store.
Although Deadpool was the only character I leveled up to 20 (which was the limit in the Closed Beta) I did play around with all of the others as well. What was surprising is how different each one played from one another. Deadpool excelled at both close and ranged combat with the use of his katanas and guns respectively. The Hulk was able to tank his way through harder enemies and use his fists to send shockwaves through the ground. Storm relied on the elements and unleashed tornadoes and bolts of lightning onto her foes. Black Panther relied on his daggers and swift movement to hop around the battlefield and behind enemies to stab them. You get where I'm going here. The fact that each of the heroes played differently from one another, assured me that Gazillion isn't just skinning various character models and reusing same attack templates.
The key to Marvel Heroes isn't necessarily to unlock every single hero, since I found that not every single one will fit each person's playstyle. For instance, I really enjoyed playing as Deadpool thanks to his unlimited supply of ammo, however my colleague Lance found that he likes more close range combat heroes like Wolverine, and actually disliked characters like Hawkeye and Iron Man. It proves that just like classes worked in Diablo games, each hero is essentially a different class that players can mess around with.
Gazillion has also captured the essence of each character quite well. Deadpool spews his hilarious one liners like "Level Up! Plus 5 points to charisma!" or "Ladies and gentlemen, this is the downside of wearing a bullseye on your forehead," referring to the villain. Even one of his later level skills which allow him to go invincible for a few seconds after his health reaches below 10% flashes a giant pixelized sign over the screen that says "God Mode Enabled" with an 8-bit Deadpool mask next to it. Other characters get the same treatment, but when it comes to pure entertainment value, Deadpool is the way to go.
Of course, as is tradition in this genre of games, you'll be doing a massive amount of clicking. What does slightly differ is how Marvel Heroes treats loot. There is a lot of loot to be found, however it doesn't change your character's appearance. All loot does is change your character's base stats, as well as boosting some of their skills. When you want variety in terms of looks, that's where costumes come in.
Costumes will be a great way for players to be able to distinguish themselves from other players who are playing as the same hero. They also serve as augments. There are two ways to acquire costumes. The first is by using the game's cash shop. While this might be the quickest way, these costumes don't offer anything aside from the new looks. The other way is to pick up crafting materials and make them yourself. Aside from requiring a recipe and some materials, they also require various Cores. These Cores have varied statistics, and when making a costume from scratch using these Cores, it will imbue them with special stats such as increased health or damage.
The environments, while not massive, looked great, and were all based on locations you'd expect to find in Marvel Comics, such as the Avengers Tower and Hell's Kitchen. Destructible environments are also prominently featured as you're able to blast a bunch of cars to create a big explosion, shoot out glass, and destroy other manners of scenery.
I won't go into much detail regarding the story, just know that the initial acts revolve around taking down some iconic bad guys such as Green Goblin, and it all somehow ties in with the Kingpin. If you're worried about the story, don't be, it's being written by Brian Michael Bendis who is one of the primary minds behind the Ultimate Marvel universe and re-launched the Avengers in 2004 with The New Avengers.
While this isn't the official next step for Marvel Ultimate Alliance or X-Men Legends, it sure feels that way and we're not complaining. Who knew that making a Diablo-styled game with Marvel super heroes would be such an awesome combination. Even after reaching the end of the beta, I couldn't help but redo it all over again. Marvel Heroes kept me coming back for more, and I loved it every single time. While the game is far from complete, we'll be sure to keep you updated with any new content updates that will hit Marvel Heroes in the coming months.