Marvel Heroes Beta Preview
By Meticulous Meta, Traveling Superhero
I’ve been saying for the last few weeks that I would be making rounds through all the Super Hero MMOs. Well here is my first stop, Marvel Heroes. It is still deep in Closed Beta but I was lucky enough to take part in a special Press only beta. Now, I am the first to admit I love super heroes but not comic books. I especially adore all the Marvel movies recently. So getting a chance to play the heroes from the Avengers, which is in my opinion the best movie of 2012, was a chance to live the movie.
For the sake of completeness I tried out three different characters. Two of which I’m quite familiar with thanks to movies and television, Iron Man and Hulk and one I’m less familiar with, Punisher. I actually started out with Punisher because he has guns and that makes it easier to compare to other games I’ve played. And what a fantastic choice it was too. Your first abilities are mouse based, left click for one shot, right click for repeated. Where it shines though is being able to hold that button down and just blast away in an arc around you. So your attack isn’t limited to being a cone or a single target.
But while Punisher was fun there was a Hulk sized hole in my Marvel Heroes heart. So I loaded up the store and bought the loveable green beast. And that was when everything changed. As it turns out punching is a million times more satisfying than shooting. Especially when you punch the ground hard enough to blow up nearby cars! I spent hours running around punching the ground just to watch cars explode. Then one time, I stood a little too close to a car and picked it up! That moment was really the highlight of my Marvel Heroes experience. I could throw a car at a dude trying to mug me. Why anyone would try to mug a giant green rage monster is beyond me. But it taught me that Hell’s Kitchen is not a place to go to alone. And every time Hulk said his oh so famous “HULK SMASH” I saw his grin from The Avengers and knew this is where Hulk is happiest, this is where Hulk belongs. My only regret was not getting to punch the God of Thunder. Maybe in a cutscene.
Speaking of cutscenes, the ones in Marvel Heroes are fantastic. I may not enjoy comics but these make for an elegant way to set scenes, and progress the story. They are drawn by actual Marvel artists and the voices are performed by voice actors who have played the characters before in various media.
When I got around to trying out Iron Man I was more interested in my customization options than trying out his combat. Though I did do a few hand blasts just because I could. Each playable character has several outfits you can buy for them in the store. This includes outfits which reflect how the characters looked in The Avengers and more classic looks for the heroes. Iron Man may not have had the most options, that honor went to our favorite not so jolly green giant, but his were certainly reflective of how his look has changed through the years. Gear that you pick up from combat changes your stats but won’t change how you look. The gear is also character specific. So I can be on Iron Man and a pair of giant purple pants might drop off a mugger. But that’s ok! Because you can have up to 49 characters! So you can have the whole Marvel roster if you want. Each character takes part in the same story, so you don’t have to go back and repeat content just to level up a character. On the other hand though, new characters fresh out of the store start out at level one and are thus somewhat limited until you get them a few levels.
But while there are plenty of positive things to be said about the game there are also some downsides which have to be addressed. The biggest and most obvious to me is that you aren’t playing a character of your own creation. Marvel Heroes is the only MMO in the Super Hero genre that has this limitation. And I think as a result it will turn a lot of fans off the genre off the game. But anyone used to this sort of game such as the ever growing MOBA crowd, will find it quite familiar.
To defeat some bosses you MUST team. There is a big difference between making a fight difficult to solo and making it so the only way you can get past it is to team up with others. Yes, MMOs are ultimately social but when it comes to the super hero genre I’ve found it tends to attract more solo players than any other. But other than those rare moments Marvel Heroes is a fantastic solo game. I never felt so overwhelmed that I needed to team. Unless I ignored mobs and had some chasing me. In that case though it is entirely my fault and can happen in any game.
Overall Marvel Heroes was a fun experience. It wasn’t at all what I thought it would be. There were moments when I was grinning and giggling like mad and other moments where I wanted to bash my head against the keyboard. Coming from a Super Hero MMO point of view it falls short but coming from a MOBA point of view it’s freeing and exhilarating. I would recommend this game to friends when it comes out on a wider release. And if they ever made a version of the game coming from the villain’s perspective I would be there in a heartbeat. I want to thank Gazillion for the opportunity to try out Marvel Heroes. I can’t wait to give it another go later on down the road.
This is just part one of an ongoing saga to try out all the Super Hero MMOs. Next week I’ll be taking a look at Champions Online. So if you’re there be on the lookout for Meticulous Meta, I’ll be running around saving the day all week. Don’t be afraid to say hi, you might just end up in the article!