On Saturday of the recent New York Comic Con, Gazillion Entertainment, working with Marvel Games, held a panel to talk about the upcoming Marvel Heroes Action MMO. They stated that there was no current release date, and that the game would be released when it was ready; however the closed beta is currently running on schedule. The panel was lead by such names as Steven Reid (SWTOR’s former Community Lead) and Dave Brevik (project and design lead for Diablo 2). From sitting in on the question and answer, it seems that Gazillion Entertainment is developing quite an interesting game, one that has the potential to quell the many fans upset by Blizzard's changes made between Diablo 2 and 3. Marvel Heroes is currently designed to be launched on both PC and Mac platforms, and the creators stated that they did not have intentions of making console versions of the game. From covering basics of the game and core views maintained during creation to joking about a guild full of Wolverines and announcing a new character as part of the panel, it was definitely an informative session. Read on for more details.
Right from the beginning, the panel speakers made it abundantly obvious that while they were going to be heavily discussing their game, they were also going to be having a good time with it and poking fun at themselves. Starting off with a parody of top executive level slide presentations, they called themselves a Triple-A Action MMORPG, going on to explain that the Triple-A means either absolutely nothing, whatever they want it to mean at any given time, or that the game will contain "Triple Action." They also insisted, quite a few times, that the game will be completely free to play. This means that Marvel Heroes has no purchase price and is available through download, there is no subscription, and anything that can be purchased through the in-game shop can also be found as loot within the world.
Heroes has placed itself within the Action RPG genre, to classify it more specifically than just an MMORPG. An Action RPG usually plays more intensely and at a faster pace than other games. Marvel Heroes is going to contain this fast-paced action and integrate it into randomized zone construction, a style seen most prominently in the Diablo series, and this tends to give this style of game extremely high replay value, as no two areas are the same. Monster placement is much more randomized, preventing the player from being able to memorize exactly where everything will spawn and allow them to waltz through the game knowing exactly how to move and when to attack. Public zones will also exist, where you can interact with other players running around as the other heroes from the Marvel universe.
Throughout the course of the game, the players will run into any number of iconic villains from the Marvel universe, such as the Sentinels, Venom, and Magneto. In addition to a large number of easily-recognizable enemies, the players will be taking control of a wide range of heroes that already exist within the Marvel cadre. There are currently around 25 heroes for the game that have been announced, such as Wolverine, Deadpool, the Hulk, Thing, and even Rocket Raccoon. Every one of these characters is also intended to have an extremely high number of different costumes to wear, giving the player a solid array of options on what version of their favorite heroes they want to play as they go through the world.
This will help to reduce giant packs of identical characters running around on the screen at the same time in the same area, as well (though obviously you will still see multiple Wolverines and such). These costumes will be found in the game through real-money purchases, but in keeping with the "really completely free" motif, they will also be craftable by the player, and found as item drops. One point the panel was also very clear on is that this will not be a "pay to win" type of free game, where all of the best gear is immediately available through purchase if you give them enough of your money. Gear however, will not be gear in the traditional sense of most RPG games. The acquisition and wearing of gear will only have a statistical effect on the character, leaving the costumes as the only way to change the appearance of the heroes.
The Gazillion team has gone to great lengths in the design of this game to give every character their own unique role, so that even heroes that seem extremely similar have vastly different abilities. For example, let's take a look at Deadpool and Wolverine. Within the Marvel world, both characters are violent melee combatants with bad attitudes. Within Marvel Heroes, Wolverine is intended to fill a melee-only, area of effect DPS role. Deadpool, on the other hand, is designed as both a melee and ranged combatant, specializing in single-target damage.
This also helps Marvel characters act exactly like you would expect them to, with Deadpool running toward an enemy and shooting them, switching to melee and taking out enemies one at a time, while Wolverine just charges into the fight, claws flashing, cleaving through enemies. This is compounded further by implementing a system very familiar to players of Diablo 2, in which character skills can be applied across different paths as they level up. This means that identical characters can still differ from each other in skill set, and thus be suited to slightly different roles, with different particular strengths and weaknesses. In addition to the varying role of individual and multiple characters, Marvel Heroes is being designed in such a way to help continue to break the mold of "power trio" games. You won’t have to worry so much about the “trinity” in MH, because that’s just not how the game is designed.
This idea allows players to really play whoever and however they want, not boxing anyone into playing specific roles, or a specific character who is "the best healer" or "does the most damage." Medals will also be obtainable through gameplay, possibly representing something akin to an achievement system, but this was not discussed at great length. One very particular gameplay point they talked about was the function of flight for characters that have that ability. Flight, they claim, will be "true flight" allowing you to go over and around things, and not just some cheesy "hovering" nonsense.
One feature attendees were very curious about was the possible appearance of PvP activity in the game. While the speakers stated that there was currently no PvP system in place, they did seem to react positively to the idea, mentioning that it would definitely be something they would look into, possibly hinting that it was already something they were working on. Along a similar vein, they gave a suspiciously vague answer when it was asked if players could eventually take on the role of villains within the game. While no actual information was given on these topics, it almost seems likely that these two ideas could be related. An individual in the panel was also quite curious about how the endgame would work, to which it was replied that it was being designed in such a way where it could be compared directly to the endgame of Diablo 2. This is not surprising, given Dave Brevik's involvement in both games.
As a special bonus to those that did make time to attend the panel, closed beta key codes were given out, as well as knowledge of the most recent character to be designed and input into the game - Jean Grey. Undoubtedly, over the coming months, more and more characters, information, and maybe even gameplay previews will be released to the general public. Until then however, potential interested players will have to hope for entry into the closed beta and remain patient until a more widely available source of information, and the game itself, is released by the masterminds at Gazillion.