Monday, September 16, 2013

Marvel Heroes is finally ready for you to play

When Marvel Heroes launched back in June, it had the same predicament as most MMOs when released. It was done and out of beta, but barebones. It lacked any features and systems that made players want to play beyond just the story. Gazillion Entertainment took that starting point and ran with it, growing and adding more in the months since to now finally make Marvel Heroes feel like a complete game.

Beyond those playable at launch, the Human Torch and Emma Frost are now part of the roster, which totals 25 heroes in all. The Human Torch plays great solo, burning enemies as a means to regain health and spirit. Emma Frost can play as a ranged or tank hero, with the added ability to mind control enemies permanently, gaining both an ally as well as any beneficial effects they may have.

In addition, Gazillion added a new way to acquire heroes through Eternity Splinters. These items can drop from any enemy at a high drop rate, and once enough are collected, you can buy new heroes, ultimate power upgrades, along with other items without having to use real money in the in game store. Playing through the story campaign will award 200 Eternity Shards, enough to buy another starter hero, or you can take your chance for a random hero.

But like most action RPGs, playing beyond the story isn’t much fun unless there is loot to find. In addition to the variety of costumes and fortune cards already available, the patches since launch added two new types of items: Cosmic items and relics. Cosmic items are weapons and armor pieces just one-step above the now classic epic purple items. In addition to providing more stats than most pieces of gear, cosmic items also increase skills by one level with an added benefit of a random effect. This can range from increasing the hero’s damage for a short time, summoning a demon to help attack foes, or bursting in an explosion of cosmic power around your hero.

Relics offer a new item slot that increases health and a different stat depending on which relic is used. While there are currently only eight types of relics to use, their benefits can apply to different heroes in different situations such as adding to movement speed, critical hit damage, melee or ranged damage, or increasing spirit. Relics can stack up to 1000, with each additional relic increasing the amount of health and particular stat that relic uses.

For me, grouping up with others and taking on endgame challenges is the most fun in any MMO type game. Marvel Heroes strikes a balance between the small and large group settings with Midtown Manhattan, a 10 player endless dungeon that provides experience, bosses, and loot to players starting at level one. For those more interested in challenging solo content, the latest patch added Heroic and Superheroic difficulties, opening up once you finish the story campaign. Similar to the Hell and Inferno difficulties found in Diablo, Heroic and Superheroic allow you to go through the story again but with higher-level enemies that have more health and hit harder, while also rewarding more experience and better loot.

Since release, I’ve clocked over 210 hours in Marvel Heroes, and I’m just coming up on enough Eternity Splinters to buy Emma Frost soon, so I know more hours are in my future. Along with a future hero-synergy system, team-up items, and an expansion to the number of artifact slots scheduled, Gazillion is making it easy to keep playing.

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