Marvel Heroes - Gazillion Reveals Beta UI, Crafting, and Content Updates
By Darren Henderson (DizzyPW), OnRPG Editor-in-Chief
Marvel Heroes is a title that seems to be on the edge of every gamers mind the last few weeks. Heck I can't even get an answer from my company's accountant without him asking me if I have any news on Marvel Heroes these days. Well thankfully my writers will likely be getting paid on time this month because I had the pleasure of sitting in on a limited invite event with some members of Gazillion's marketing team yesterday afternoon to see what major changes the team has been working on. And much of what they are offering up seems to be steps in the right direction to increase the game's longevity and reduce a few of the headaches our writing team had in the press beta last month.
This is the biggest deal in my mind. Everything from color coding the rarity of items to a nicely built third person perspective mini-map are being pushed into the beta phase. The game looks a lot sleeker overall and a cool Skyrim style event tracker (i.e. quests, public events, and more. Also color coded because who doesn't love colors?) makes navigating the world to your objective a much simpler endeavor. If you mouse over the highlighted area on your mini-map you will also see a text display of what's going on there, preventing you from having to navigate menus and slow the game's pacing. Also once you get in close proximity to any specific event, an on-screen tracking arrow will pop-up to give you compass directions on where to go from there. And if it clutters your mini-map you can toggle it off in the heat of battle to adjust things to your liking. This along with a social menu is finally putting Marvel Heroes on par with the features a game like this needs to have prior to launch. The only real complaint I and other members of the press have currently is the lack of user customization of their UI menu placement but this is in the works as well, all but on more of a coming soonTM schedule.
Attributes and Talents
Next we were introduced to the attribute system, something now officially sponsored by Marvel! Each hero's starting stats are based on the hero's actual performance in lore. This adds a much needed layer of customization as you choose to push your character's specialization or balance their weaknesses in the areas of durability, strength, fighting skill, speed, energy, and intelligence. A simple step to be sure but one I imagine is widely important to real Marvel enthusiasts out there. What's more, they are taking a less is more approach to the RPG element of this game by making the attribute points incredibly difficult to raise, but offering vast rewards for each point you gain in each stat. For instance that extra point in strength might be the difference between being able to throw a mailbox or car at your foes. That extra point in intelligence might be needed to adorn an amulet that unlocks new psionic powers. These are some general examples but they should be enough to give you an idea. I'm excited to learn more when this is more fleshed out and see if they add any hero specific stat bonuses to the system. The talent trees as well are also being tweaked and rebalanced constantly so if you're in beta keep an eye out as your hero's build might change without warning.
For those unaware, Gazillion has some big shots on the team from the original Diablo 2 dev group, and they are more than happy to implement their influence on Marvel Heroes. As they explained, more advanced recipes are being added and crafting is receiving some big changes. For one crafting actually requires real time to complete now. And by real time I'm talking around 24 hours for the truly potent stuff. Thankfully you won't have to stand over an alchemist table for hours on end but you will have to initiate the item construction and then return a while later to pick up the result. Elements of randomness are also in place to make sure this game's system doesn't become World of Clone Crafts. But during questioning we did squeeze from the devs that they are looking at ways to curve the RNG in your favor once you acquire more advanced recipes, such as making the bonuses lean towards defensive power or other areas of specialization.
The part that made me take note was the method of acquiring said higher level recipes though. Rather than having to bash baddies till they hand over their cook book in tears, you instead have the option to donate your hard earned loot to NPCs rather than sell it. As you donate your goods the venders will eventually rank up and begin offering better items. In the current phase of development the venders have three ranks but as more recipes and items are finished they are looking to up this number to many more ranks.
There isn't a whole lot to tease here but they revealed two bits of information that dedicated fans will want to know. Once is they are adding new heroes to the game that should be a big deal. We're talking Cyclops, Colossus, Spiderman, and Thor. And while they were tight lipped when I grilled the devs on what each hero brings to the table, I did get them to mention that Spiderman will play like an agile dps character, jumping in and out of combat and using a large ground-covering web to slow enemies to keep them one step behind. Cyclops will fight with optic blasts of course but he has a wide range of different types to suit just about any situation and enemy formation. And Thor can throw his hammer as well as fly. I was not expecting the flying part but sounds like a blast to me! Now as long as Colossus turns out a bit like he did in the X-Men arcade game I'll be able to sleep easy at night.
Also if you ever wanted to have a superhero death match with dinosaurs (who am I to judge?) then they even have something for you. The iconic Antarctic based Savage Land is coming to get your heroes out of the urban streets and into some humid jungle action against some of the most vicious dinosaurs ever thrown into an online title. Now let's all cross our fingers and hope we get some sexy Savage Land themed hero skins to go with it.
That's what I'm talking about. Hot loincloth girl on dino action!
Oh and if all this feature teasing and lack of pics is driving you nuts. Good news came at the end of the meeting when the Leo the VP of Marketing stepped out of the shadows and said weekend stress tests are in our near future. Here's to testing out these improvements for ourselves!