Civil War, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Secret Wars, Flashpoint, The Infinity Gauntlet, and That One Time Peter Parker Sold His Marriage to the Devil. These are all milestone events in superhero comics that forever changed the makeup of their respective universes. Powers changed, origins were rebooted, and new readers were given an easy way to jump in to the fandom. Like these crossover events, Marvel Heroes’ big update will refresh and redesign almost every aspect of the game.
While the free-to-play superhero Diablo-like from Gazillion will remain an action slugfest, the developers intend the “biggest systems update ever” to update every single hero in one massive patch. The item system gets a thorough shuffle. The way characters move was reviewed. Even the endgame gets an overhaul with the new Infinity System. It’s like when Uncle Ben turned out to have been killed by Sandman all along. Everything you thought was wrong!
Marvel Heroes’ Biggest Update Ever will launch on Thursday, January 19th.
I’m not much of a comic book guy, so I have a hard time keeping up with the heroes in Marvel Heroes, which includes someone who summons squirrels, a member of the Black Panther movement, and an actual raccoon. Today, Marvel Heroes adds Doc Strange (pictured, foreground) to the roster. Frankly, I don’t know Doc Strange from Doc Severinsen, so I had to check the Marvel Heroes site for this helpful information:
When the injuries he sustained in a horrific accident ruined Stephen Strange’s career as a surgeon, he searched the world for a cure. In the mountains of Tibet, he found a mystic named the Ancient One. But instead of being healed, Stephen ended up as the old man’s apprentice and learned the secrets of sorcery while gaining humility and wisdom. Eventually, Stephen became the Sorcerer Supreme, dedicating his life to protecting the world from extra-dimensional enemies.
You have to admire a man who can switch careers like that late in life.
Doc Strange is available today for the low price of however many spacebucks he costs. And while you’re spending, Marvel Heroes has a “buy one, get one free” deal on all heroes this weekend. Well, all heroes except Doc Strange.
The best case scenario for any game is that it will be better than you expect. So if it’s worth calling out games that fell short of expectations on a most disappointing list, why not call out the games that exceeded expectations? Why not call out the pleasant surprises alongside the unpleasant surprises? So here is the opposite of this year’s most disappointing list.
After the jump, when expectation management goes wonderfully right. Continue reading →
Marvel Heroes gets a massive update today which adds Loki as a playable character and Asgard as a new zone.
Travel to the frozen Fjords of Norway and battle Frost Giants, Dark Elves and more! Help Reed Richards uncover the mystery of how and why these enemies from another realm are invading Earth by donating items that have been exposed to the energy of the Cosmic Cube! Doing so will unlock a brand new zone! Norway can be unlocked by bring a hero who has defeated Doctor Doom on the present difficulty mode to the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier and speaking with the transport S.H.I.E.L.D. agent near Nick Fury. Over the next 4 months, new areas of Asgard will become available, including a raid zone, PVP zone and Siege challenge.
Furthermore, Thor’s storm strike has been buffed. All this just as a new Thor movie is coming out. How fortuitous! You’d almost think it was planned!
Tom Chick and Jason McMaster announce their upcoming charity golf tournament for some sort of charity, probably having to do with sick kids. They also discuss Grand Theft Auto V, online and off; whether League of Legends is really a sport or even worth spectating; the latest in Marvel Heroes’ superheroics and eternity splinters; dogslicers and horsechoppers in Pathfinder; and the gameplay [sic] in Beyond: Two Souls.
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Among the many changes to Marvel Heroes since I last played — Why couldn’t it have been this way when it came out? — is the addition of some new heroes. One of them is Emma Frost. With a name like that, I was assuming she could shoot icicle blasts and invoke a frost aura. Stuff like that. Boy, was I wrong.
After the jump, Emma Frost is way too cool for mere ice Continue reading →
The latest update for Marvel Heroes has just gone live. This is arguably the greatest shift in basic gameplay since Marvel Heroes’ release and it’s yet another sign that Gazillion is admirably committed to figuring out how to make this thing the best it can be. And to think I’d written it off as a free-to-play boondoggle that I wouldn’t give a second glance while I played Diablo III or Guild Wars 2! Here’s the overview for the update:
This patch represents a major step forward in the combat and item system for Marvel Heroes. With a complete retuning of survivability and defense across the board.
As our design philosophy suggests, we concentrated on identifying the most effective powers and buffing the rest of the powers and heroes to that top-damage range.
Heroes and powers have received significant upgrades as well as items. You now have more incentive and payoff for using loot close to your level and will receive greatly increased survivability from items with defense.
The update has a few hitches, but so far it hasn’t blown up or melted down, which is a first for developer Gazillion, who still owes me for eating my Punisher in a rollback. The update is technically called version 1.2, but it’s been informally known as the “August patch”. Checking the calendar, I see that Gazillion meant the adjective and we just assumed they meant the month.
Read the full notes here.
Another month, another Marvel Heroes goat rope. Yet another rollback, yet another borked patch, yet another comedy of errors in which they try to fix one thing and break another thing, at which point the fix for the broken fix breaks two more things. Online games is hard.
The latest reason for a vote of no-confidence in developer Gazillion, whose Marvel Heroes is against all odds a game I really like, is a fumbled attempt to deploy patch whatever dot whatever dot zerozerowhatever. In addition to another rollback, everyone will have to download the entire game again. Furthermore, Gazillion admit they have absolutely no idea what happened. From the latest “Oops, We Screwed Up Again” FAQ:
How did this happen when Game Update 1.11 was on Test Center for all this time?
That’s what we’re trying to figure out ourselves. It’s a mystery right now. We were hoping it was an error in the deploy process, but we’ve been through that checklist and it’s not the case.
There are some truly admirable changes in this patch (notes here), including a move away from random hero drops to a resource called eternity splinters you can spend on whatever hero you want. The game sorely needs performance improvements, and that’s a promised part of the latest patch. Furthermore, Marvel Heroes will get options for graphics setting beyond the previous slider bar (in other words, it will finally work like every other PC game). Some overdue common sense is introduced into the interface, such as a level range for different areas. If you’re like me and you like seeing numbers pop out of your target, Marvel Heroes is finally getting that.
There’s no ETA for the patch, which was supposed to be out yesterday morning.
After the jump, exclusive transcript of the Gazillion meeting where they named eternity splinters. Continue reading →
It’s not easy to get a group going in Marvel Heroes, partly because you rarely need to get a group going. You’re mostly put into groups as needed. But there are occasions that you really want a good group, particularly for post-story content like the red terminal missions. These have really hard-hitting enemies and better loot. But it seems like many Marvel Heroes players are content to just burn through content way below their level. I guess that’s how superheroes work in real life.
So after trying to encourage random folks to stick with me — there’s no way I can do the red terminal missions alone — I finally cobbled a group together and leaped into the mission, hoping they would follow me and not be too discouraged by the difficulty level. After we got past our first encounter, hoping to offer some encouragement to my new companions, I typed in “Now we’re cookin’!” To my horror, here’s how it turned out in the chat window:
I can only imagine what they must have thought I typed.
In Marvel Heroes, my level 16 Wolverine just found a pet jawa. For some reason, he looks peeved. The jawa, not Wolverine. Wolverine just looks sullen. Now Wolverine bloodlessly eviscerates bad guys while a fretting jawa tags along behind him.
When Disney bought Marvel, I expected crossover gimmicks. But this? I just thank the maker I didn’t find an Ewok.
The problem with ragequitting is that it’s hard to sustain rage, which makes it hard to sustain the quitting part. Especially when you’re trying to quit a game you really like. For instance, I had no problem quitting SimCity. I didn’t even like it enough to ragequit it. I sadquit it. Sadquitting is easy to sustain.
I ragequit Marvel Heroes because of an ill-timed server rollback (ill-timed in that I lost a rare drop). But two things brought me back in last night, both announced in an email insidiously sent to those of us who’ve played the game. The first thing is the beginning of rebalancing for almost all the characters’ skill trees. Initially, this means boosting defensive powers so characters bear up longer under attack. I’m playing Iron Man and it’s like I’m tanking. Which, frankly, feels kind of right. The patch notes include plenty of details, but since the rebalancing is an ongoing thing in its early stages, the notes convey a slightly insipid “pardon our dust/work in progress” vibe with “design notes” such as:
The Punisher has many improvements this patch and will continue to get improvements until he is extremely fun, has multiple builds and is the ultimate killing machine!
Wolverine has been training in the Danger Room and has come out much stronger. He will continue to train until he has reached the max level of fun and powerful.
Also, speaking of tanking with Iron Man, he went on sale. That was the second thing mentioned in the email. All the characters in this free-to-play game are on sale to varying degrees. It’s about time. The only thing more ridiculous than Gazillion charging $20 for Iron Man is some sucker paying $20 for Iron Man. But now that he’s on sale for $15? Heck, I spent that much seeing Iron Man 2, and I didn’t even like that movie! So now, as the owner of a level 12 Iron Man who sits inside an energy shield and lets rip with a repulsor barrage that gratifyingly melts away the bad guys, I’m keenly aware ragequitting and sheepishreturning often go hand-in-hand.
Sometimes a rollback happens in an online game and it’s no big deal because you weren’t playing and didn’t lose anything. Most times, it’s one of those things that happens to other people.
After the jump, this isn’t one of those times Continue reading →
Diablo III gets it. Torchlight gets it. Marvel Ultimate Alliance gets it. Titan Quest gets it. Borderlands gets it. Path of Exile doesn’t get it. Van Helsing doesn’t get it. Krater doesn’t get it. Dungeon Siege doesn’t get it. Sacred doesn’t get it. Hellgate: London didn’t get it. Try as they might, many RPGs don’t get it, including some of the good ones.
Marvel Heroes totally gets it. Totally.
After the jump, gets what? Continue reading →
Everyone knows Jean Grey died after being possessed by Apocalypse. What Marvel Heroes presupposes is maybe she didn’t. We discuss whether Marvel’s superheroes are suited to a free-to-play Diablo style action RPG called Marvel Heroes. Is it good? Does it cost too much? Is there enough variety? What is the endgame? And when can we play as Batman? We also consider games of the week, which include iOS titles Puzzle & Dragons and Agricola, but not The Last of Us.
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So I’m running around an instanced mission with a Hawkeye, a Thing, and two Storms. I’m Jean Grey, of course. I’m morphed into my Phoenix form, wings splayed out bigger than any of the other character models, marvelous flames a-flicker all over my body, flinging fireballs, emanating waves of deadly fire. I’m a flame-based scrubbing bubble, scouring this lair of bad guys, picking off the distant ones with my fireballs, debuffing the attacking mobs with my telepathic lethargy. My Phoenix power is supposed to drain slowly, but for whatever reason, that’s not happening now. I can Phoenix as long as I want. If you’re going to have launch issues, this isn’t a bad one to have.
My teammates are playing free characters. You get to choose The Thing, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Daredevil, or Black Widow when you sign up. I’m pretty sure you get Storm as a mission reward early on. At least I did. That would explain the pair of Storms firing lightning vainly into my maelstrom of fire. How cute. You can play the free dudes to your heart’s content, up to the level cap and beyond. Of course, along the way, you’ll get loot for characters who aren’t free. You might sell it. You’ll more likely put it in your stash at Stark Tower. Every time you open your stash, you’ll consider a Captain America for that shield, a Wolverine for those claws, and how nifty Thor might look in those boots. Furthermore, you’ll see folks like me playing resplendent superheroes like Jean Grey in her Phoenix form and you’ll want them. It’s not pushy. It’s far more effective than being pushy. It’s in your face, on your shoulder, whispering in your ear. It’s actually pretty darn clever. I suspect I’ll end up with an Iron Man on my roster by the end of the day.
Marvel Heroes is live today. Jump in without paying a nickel. Pick The Thing, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Daredevil, or Black Widow. Jean Grey and Iron Man, however, cost $12 each.