Marvel Heroes has come a long way from its less than stellar release in the summer of 2013. We re-reviewed the game earlier this year, bumping our score up from our initial 5.6 to an 8.2, reflecting all the improvements we found in the game. Still, there are a number of issues that have presented since then and today we’re offering up our list of improvements we’d like to see Gazillion make over the course of the next year.
More Repeatable Content
As much as I love the game, there isn’t anything else in the game that gets as much play as the Midtown Manhattan patrol zone in Marvel Heroes. Gazillion recently added a new patrol zone, Industry City Patrol, but while ICP has players running around it in search of some hot new items, Midtown Manhattan remains king. Normally, you’d praise a developer for creating a piece of content that players go back to over and over, but honestly, Midtown Manhattan is getting tiresome. Even though Marvel Heroes offers a bunch of formalized boss runs, a couple of one-shot missions, and raids, it’s still missing that endlessly repeatable mode that I feel it so desperately needs. Unless you’re looking for a specific item, there really isn’t anything to do where the game has a chance to completely surprise you.
This is where the ‘Danger Room’ comes in. In short, Danger Room will be Path of Exiles ‘maps’ feature. I’m not exactly sure how Marvel Heroes’ implementation will play out, but essentially it’s a way of creating somewhat randomized dungeons for players to explore, with increasing levels of challenge as they make their way through them. Not knowing what I can expect to find with every run would really help keep the experience fresh at endgame and this is something Marvel Heroes sorely needs.
This seems to have improved some over the last few months of 2014, but in general, most characters in Marvel Heroes build too similarly, particularly in the area of artifacts. There are exceptions, of course, but items such as Gem of the Kursed and Advanced Metasensory Array are most likely going to take up two of your four artifact slots. There aren’t enough sufficiently diverse items competing for the same slots in the game just yet. The best way to improve this would be to create items with similar stats that differ in terms of utility or unique effects. A decent example of this right now is Arnim Zola’s ESP Box vs. Hand of Doom. If you don’t need the spirit management or you’re getting it elsewhere, Hand of Doom is the better item. Otherwise, ESP Box is a great fit for the slot. Gazillion’s item team needs to drive on this approach towards itemization throughout 2015.
Players should really have to think a bit more about what they are equipping to a new character. As it stands, I can level up a character to 60, unbind my GOK, Metasensory Array, and a couple of other common high-end artifacts (Hand of Doom, Taskmaster Guide, ESP Box, etc) and boom, I’ve got a heavily geared character right away. Marvel Heroes will always need to be a bit gear friendly in this way since the game encourages you to level up many heroes, but I feel the current state of itemization takes this friendliness to the extreme. ARPGs live and die by their item hunts and once you’ve acquired one of each of the high-end artifacts in the game, you're practically done. Unless the character in question is chasing a perfect cosmic item roll or a specific unique boss drop, there isn’t always much of an item hunt to pursue on a character to character basis. I feel like every new hero release should also come with a suite of new items (not just hero uniques) that fit, but aren’t necessarily best-in-slot for the hero coming out. These items could give a new hero something to chase while also spicing up the pool of options for existing heroes that share similar qualities (damage type, role, etc.). It’s sort of like a card game; you want to expand the pool of options regularly to shake things up.
Typically, these new items come with new content, but let’s be honest, Gazillion has been pretty slow on delivering new content, and players consume that new content quickly once it comes out. A steady and consistent injection of new items to go along with the regular hero releases could go a long way towards making things more exciting. Again, like card games, these new items don’t always need to be aggressively competing with other items already in the game. Some of them could be more ‘for fun’, for example. These items may surprise players by having unique applications for a particular character on the roster, even if they are maybe useless for anyone else. Recently, Magneto launched with an emphasis on collecting orbs through his secondary resource, and this got players thinking about using a number of orb related artifacts that were previously considered useless. This sort of thing is healthy for the game and we should see more of it, even if it doesn’t always pan out like we hope.
I don’t know if I’m just doing it wrong or what, but I haven’t leveled a single character’s ultimate ability to 20 yet. I’ve been playing since launch and I still don’t have enough splinters to buy enough upgrade tokens to max out a single character’s ultimate ability. I buy all of my heroes and teamups with cash, so I imagine this is even worse for anyone who goes the full F2P route or somewhere in between. This makes me incredibly apprehensive about investing my splinters in a character’s ultimate, especially when I like to level up and play multiple characters, as the game encourages you to.
I feel there should be more ways to earn ultimate upgrade tokens, even if it’s something as simple as earning a certain amount of experience with a particular character eventually grants you an upgrade token. Or how about a couple of tokens for each prestige? Honestly, the particular implementation isn’t too important to me, but I feel there definitely needs to be more avenues for upgrading your hero’s ultimate ability. Splinters simply compete with too many other things (especially when team-ups can cost as much as a hero) in the game to make ultimate tokens a priority unless you’re OK with playing just a single character.
Visual Updates and Art Consistency
While Marvel Heroes has never been the most gorgeous game out there, it’s still a pretty good looking title, overall. Still, over the last few months, Gazillion’s artists managed to figure out some new tricks to take their character art to a whole new level. We’ve seen some night-and-day improvements on some newer heroes and costumes, so much so that some costumes look downright awful by comparison. These improvements are also completely inconsistent. For example, Magneto launched with three costumes, the black and white Marvel NOW! costumes and his classic red and purple. While the Marvel NOW! costumes look fine, the classic Magneto costume makes the character look like he’s from an entirely different, and much higher quality, game. If you’re going to launch a new hero with these improvements, all the costumes should reflect it, too. Basically, we’re in a League of Legends situation, where many characters and skins in the cast are of one quality while others enjoy the benefit of whatever new tricks the artists have learned to squeeze more out of the game over time.
Like Riot Games, I hope Gazillion has a plan to go back through the existing characters and costumes and improve them to the same level of the new stuff we’ve seen come out in recent months (Hulk Cancerverse, Magneto Classic, Amazing Spiderman, All New Marvel NOW! Wolverine, etc.). I understand that essentially redoing older releases may cost the studio money, but the rest of the game suffers for it. There is simply too stark a difference between many of these costumes. On the plus side, redoing older costumes may make them more attractive to purchase, and Gazillion may end up making out OK in the end.
What would you like to see Gazillion add or improve on in 2015 for Marvel Heroes? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB