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
Like many of the heroes in Marvel Heroes, Emma Frost seems too powerful. Those of us with a casual familiarity with the game and relatively narrow focus on a few heroes might assume she should be nerfed. Incidentally, this is how I feel about all the heroes I’ve played. Wolverine, Iron Man, Jean Grey, and now Emma Frost should all totally be nerfed. This says to me that developer Gazillion is doing something right.
Emma Frost should be nerfed because she’s too versatile. She can do some relatively powerful ranged attacks, either against a single target or an area. She also has this crazy diamond skin melee form where she punches dudes with near impunity. Her diamond skin lasts until she uses a ranged attack. Why can’t the wizard in Diablo III be that way? That dude’s diamond skin lasts the blink of an eye. Emma Frost’s diamond skin lasts as long as she wants. In MMO parlance, I might describe Emma Frost as a ranged DPS tank. And that’s without getting into the part of her skill tree labeled “Hellfire Headmistress”.
(Note to Marvel’s Lore Consistency Department: Why would a superhero with the name Emma Frost have zero ice powers and a mental domination skill tree with the word “hellfire” in the title? You’re sending mixed messages.)
The default skill from Emma Frost’s Hellfire Headmistress tree is psychic domination, described as the ability to “attack an enemy’s mind, gaining control of that foe”. I’m guessing this is kind of like how rangers work in World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2 and how the English navy worked in the 18th century. You pick an enemy, you subdue it, and then it follows you around and fights for you. Later in the skill tree, Emma Frost gains the ability to boost her minion’s power and even blow it up. Fatally. Explosive living puppets. How insidious.
While running through the tutorial level, my Emma Frost snagged a Hydra soldier. She put a mind bubble around his head. He followed me around for a while. I snagged another one, hoping to enslave an army of Hydra soldiers. Unfortunately, this killed the previous soldier. Emma Frost gets only one minion at a time. So when I was fighting a sub-boss Hydra commander, I figured I’d see if I could enslave him.
Sure enough, the mind bubble appeared on his head. I could indeed psychically dominate a Hydra commander. Who’s the commander now?
So I had a Hydra commander tagging along with me. I assumed that as soon as I entered a new level or went back to town, I’d lose him. “Oh, Jean,” Emma Frost says archly as soon as Stark Tower loads, “your thoughts are even more tiresome than your voice.” Lots of the flavor text in Emma Frost’s equipment taunts Jean Grey. These two apparently have a history. It probably doesn’t help that they can read each other’s minds.
But there was the Hydra commander, still by my side. He stayed with me! I then figured that if I logged out, he’d vanish. Nope. I came back the next day and he was still there. I blame the mental trauma of playing Grand Theft Auto V and having my favorite cars vanish from my garages. Game inflicted abandonment issues.
While my Hydra commander has demonstrated a reassuring persistence and loyalty, he doesn’t seem to know his place. Oh, sure, he’s great at fighting with me. He’ll shoot his Hydra rifle and even go toe-to-toe with other bad guys. He doesn’t get stuck on walls. Much. But occasionally, after a kill, he’ll taunt defeated bad guys by hollering, “Kneel before Hydra!”
Wait, what? “Kneel before Hydra”? Dude, do you not know who you’re working for now? We’re going to have to discuss this during your employee review. No one is kneeling before Hydra when you administer a beatdown. They are kneeling before Emma Frost by proxy.
“Alert Madam Hydra!” he declares.
No, no, you’re not going to alert any Madam Hydra, whoever that is. You’re an employee of Emma Frost. If anyone is to be alerted, it’s me.
“Initiate battle plan bravo.”
I don’t even know what that is. And we’re certainly not going to initiate it. The current battle plan, which mainly involves me doing the heavy lifting while you mop up around the edges, is working just fine.
“Behold a new world order,” he announces.
Is that another Hydra thing? If so, we’re not having any of that. Any new world order involves you working for me. And I’ll be doing the announcing of it. Let me handle declarations of new world orders.
“Where’s your freedom now?” he taunts a vanquished AIM scientist.
Okay, that one’s a little better, and even appropriate considering you’re my mind slave.
Sometimes my Hydra commander shoots at something random. I once found him firing madly at a wall. Just a wall. He hated that wall. Sometimes he trips himself up by following too closely on my heels, his animation stuttering clumsily. It’s particularly funny after a pitched battle alongside other heroes has subsided and they keep shooting at my Hydra commander. Here are Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye, freaking out, chucking spell effects and arrows at him. He’s impervious to the friendly fire. “It’s okay, guys,” I tell them. “He’s with me.”
We kill some stray broodling monster.
“Initiate battle plan bravo.”
What did I tell you? We’re not initiating any battle plans. You just follow my lead.
“Heil Hydra!” my sidekick barks.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, totally inappropriate! We aren’t having any of that! Okay, look, this isn’t working out. It’s just a fact of life that many relationships have to come to an end. It’s not me; it’s you.
So now I’m with a Maggia gangster sub-boss. He wields a shotgun and applies a slow aura to all enemies in a certain radius. I love that slow aura. It’s so reassuring. I almost feel like I’m cheating. Aren’t slow auras the exclusive domain of other superheroes, or at least more advanced relics? And here I am, slow auraing everything.
The gangster is more laconic that the Hydra commander. I get the impression he knows his place. Plus, our outfits match.
That’s way better than having some dude wearing green and yellow tagging along behind me. He looked like that dopey kid from Kick-Ass.
Plus, the Maggia know how to mix a drink.
Hair of the dog that bit me, Lloyd.