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Looking Beyond Age of Ultron

Michael Bitton Posted:
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Gazillion’s relationship with Marvel is sometimes both a blessing and a curse. On the plus side, we do get some really cool tie-ins with Marvel’s upcoming films or comic story arcs, such as the Chapter 9 release tie-in with Thor: The Dark World, the new AXIS themed raid, and more recently, the Age of Ultron game mode and other associated goodies.

What’s the problem, then? Well, it does appear that these tie-ins often eat up a significant amount of developer bandwidth at Gazillion and this means that other more pressing issues or content needs can end up on the backburner while the team is heads-down working on getting certain things out in time for a new film release or other Marvel event.  Gazillion does try to tackle as much as it can get done on the side even when the developers are focused on these demanding tasks, don’t get me wrong, but there are more critical updates or features that would impact players in their daily play that often feel pushed off due to a cramped schedule. Thankfully, the massive package of new costumes and content themed around Age of Ultron is now out of the way and we can get back to some of these things throughout the rest of 2015.

Just in time for talking about the rest of the year and perhaps beyond, Gazillion was recently on hand at C2E2 to discuss future plans for the game.

New Game Modes

Limbo, a chaotic game mode from the game’s initial release that has since been shelved, will be making an overhauled comeback at some point. While Gaz didn’t say too much about it at the show, I’m curious to see how it turns out. Especially when the realm in which this mode takes place is associated with one of my most anticipated hero releases: Magik. Will we be surprised with a Magik + Limbo release this year? I sure hope so!

The real meat of the game mode reveals came from the discussion of the Danger Room mode. I’ve been talking about wanting to see this mode in for some time now and it’s likely an example of a much more impactful game feature that got pushed out due to stuff like the AXIS raid and Ultron content, but it at least sounds like it’s coming along well. Basically, think of the Danger Room like Path of Exile’s maps. You find “simulation chips” that let you go into a randomly generated dungeon with different affixes for each level of the dungeon. I can’t emphasize enough how important getting this thing out the door is to the health of the game. I love playing Marvel Heroes, but keeping the game fresh with static content releases will never work given how fast players tend to consume it. Having a mode like Danger Room spicing things up on a day to day basis while the team works on various content pieces and game modes should keep players engaged the same way similar modes do for players of Diablo III and Path of Exile. Danger Room should be priority one for 2015 now that Ultron is out of the way.

Team Ups

There wasn’t really much new said on the upcoming overhaul of Team Ups, but it sounds like the release of ‘phase one’ is coming soon. If you’re unfamiliar with what’s coming, Gazillion is basically overhauling Team Ups to be more than what they are now – a selection of passive bonuses for your character. Sure, you can technically field them and I see some people do it, but it’s not an efficient way to use them and they die pretty much instantly in any challenging content. The new system will allow for team ups to level up, spec out their own skill trees, utilize better and more meaningful itemization, and so on.

Personally, I don’t mind the current situation because I’m more afraid that the overhaul will end up with active Team Ups being the preferred use over passive and I don’t always want to have another dude or dudette following me around. Sure, I’d love to run terminals as Psylocke with Archangel actively backing me up or as Colossus with Magik beside me, but other than that? Not a huge fan of active Team Ups. Still, if you like the idea of having these guys running around with you, there’s a lot to be excited for when the overhaul eventually releases.

What’s Left?

There were things that weren’t talked about at the panel (as far as I know) that I feel are critical items Gazillion should address sooner rather than later with a clear plan of action. What’s become apparent over the last few months is that full hero reviews, or QoLs, aren’t entirely necessary to bring an unviable character into at least usable territory. There are a ton of characters waiting for all sorts of love from the developers. It’s a long list. Currently, Gazillion is working on what’s left of their 52 reviews for characters and they’ve also got a queue of QoLs for characters that need help but have already had their full reviews.

Unfortunately, these QoLs are just taking too long. Players who love certain characters are basically just having to deal with their situation until Gazillion works their way to them for the next QoL. Captain America, who up until a couple of months ago was one of the worst characters in the game, changed overnight from one of the worst to top five with something as simple as what was primarily a review of his unique items.  There may be deficiencies in hero kits for many characters in the game, but really what most of these older characters suffer from is poor itemization.

Gaz has figured out how to really squeeze the most out of hero uniques over the last eight or so months and it can often be just that simple in significantly improving the playability of a character. To me, it looks like there are potentially some easy wins here for Gaz in lining up as many characters as they can and knocking out some unique reviews ahead of their QoLs. Why wait until a QoL to do the whole package when you can give players a fix me up to tide them over until the rest is sorted out? Hint hint: Ms. Marvel needs help.


Michael Bitton

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