We got the chance to talk with Dave Brevik of Gazillion Entertainment about the MMO Action-RPG Marvel Heroes this past weekend. Dave has an incredible vision for the game that stems from what he’d once hoped to accomplish with Diablo 3 before Blizzard North was shut down. Now many years gone from Blizzard, David’s bringing the Marvel Universe to your PC in a way that should excite fans of action RPGs and MMOs in general. We have seen a lot of hybrid MMO models in the past, but Marvel Heroes may truly be an experiment to watch as it steps away from traditional character creation and instead puts thousands of players in control of traditional Marvel characters.
At its core, Marvel Heroes is very much an action RPG with MMO elements. Dave is one of the founders of the Diablo series from defunct Blizzard North, and has put together a fast-paced game similar in style to his past work. The thing about Marvel Heroes is that you play as many of the top Marvel characters in the game world. You build up a group of heroes that you can level and customize like Iron Man, Hulk, or Thor. Also, David was quick to point out that they have access to all 8000 plus Marvel characters for the game. So there will be a lot of room for growth as the game grows.
In terms of how the characters play, David explained that each hero really is its own class. They stepped away from old school class mechanics to try and bring as much to the characters in gameplay as they could. Iron man runs around with his blasters, Hulk smashes, Wolverine jumps and moves and rips things to shreds. Deadpool shoots from afar, and slices and dices when up close.
Once you enter the game there are several layers of play. There are towns which are open areas for players to meet and are considered safe zones. These are open hubs which can host lots of players in the same zone. The next layer of game is the Public Combat. These are areas with large events and quests for groups of players. You can enter solo and join in the battle however you like, as they’re always ongoing. We played through one at New York Comic Con that had Electro as the main villain. However, David also mentioned the Sentinal Invasion as a public content zone.
The final layer of game is the Private Instanced Areas. These will be for smaller groups and solo game play as well as being used to drive a lot of the story in the game. These three pieces of the puzzle will give players a lot to do and spans the scope from large group content to smaller and more personal quests. There are also a lot of Discoveries in the game which are events and mini-quests that happen as you explore. These can be found all over the game world. Marvel Heroes has a full story to play through involving Dr. Doom and the Cosmic Cube. It is enhanced by motion comics in the game similar to cut scenes, and may be familiar to those of you who played through DC Universe Online.
Playing with a group of heroes to choose from is a lot to think about. I asked David, “How you can switch from one to another, and more importantly can you do it in combat?” David said that it is a channeled power, it can be done throughout most of the game. However, you cannot switch in the middle of a fight from one hero to another. The example he gave was running around like Iron Man using blasters at range and then switching to Hulk to move in on melee. This was not an option, so once a fight starts you cannot switch. You can only switch while you are out of combat.
In terms of social interaction this is where David mentioned a lot of the MMO elements to the game. The towns will be the major part of the social hub but it will also allow players to meet up and go into the large battle areas. The main fear is how you can determine one Iron Man from another and David’s team is putting in a lot of customization and costume choices for players to make their teams and their characters look unique. Also the building of character skills can be branhced out as well so two Wolverines will likely not play alike. Another area that sets characters apart is gear. The gear drops are plentiful and allow you to spec out how you want with any of your characters. There are definitely power levels in the game so players will know just by looking at each other who the higher level and stronger players are.
Someone in the interview asked why the character Rocket Raccoon was one of the choices. Dave explained that as a fan favorite, Rocket gave them a way to expand the Marvel Universe into characters some people may not be familiar with. People love the character and it was a good chance to grow the game into something more than the typical Avengers and X-Men characters everyone knows.
Marvel Heroes has entered closed beta and the feedback is something Dave and his team are taking very seriously. They are now at a point where they can begin to respond to some of the feedback and get solid data from fans in the game. We asked with our final question about the potential of PvP and Villain characters being added to the game at some point in the future and David laughed and coyly said, “Those are both very good ideas.” We look forward to Marvel Heroes and hope we can get you lot some beta keys soon.
What do you think? Do you believe the mix of Diablo and traditional Marvel Heroes are a good match? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below.