The beta program for Marvel Heroes, the action RPG MMO being developed by David Brevik (of Diablo and Diablo II fame), has been chugging along over at Gazillion Entertainment, but the latest update to hit the game’s beta servers is a significant milestone. Fortunately, we were invited along to for a presentation of the update’s highlights by none other than David Brevik himself and we were even able to sneak in a few questions.
Characters and Progression
This latest update adds four new playable characters to the roster: Colossus, Cyclops, Spiderman, and Thor. You might’ve seen a few of these guys in a video dev diary recently released by the studio, so I suppose this was a bit of a hint to beta participants.
In addition to the new heroes, Gazillion also significantly expanded the available powers for each existing hero (at least 18 per hero), and we even learned that there are plans to incorporate the Synergy system featured in Diablo II into the game. For the uninitiated, the Synergy feature created interactions between separate powers in a tree. For example, you may learn the ability to Cleave later on, but the Cleave’s damage would be based on the points dumped into a skill from earlier in a tree, while points spent in Cleave itself may increase the Cleave’s radius or other effects.
Attributes also received an overhaul. The array of attributes available to each hero now reflects the official (formerly community created) attribute system you’ll see on the official Marvel character database. You’ll notice attributes such as Durability, Strength, Intelligence, Energy, and the like, and each point in an attribute confers significant bonuses in the game. Gaining one point in any particular attribute will grant your hero a series of passive bonuses. For example, an extra point in Strength may give you enough strength to pick up larger objects, such as cars. The reasoning behind this decision seems to be based in the lore. Characters such as Captain America don’t get significantly stronger over time on a permanent basis, so each increase should feel significant for your hero.
The iconic Savage Land, a remote jungle in the middle of Antarctica filled with prehistoric life (including dinosaurs!), has made its debut in the latest content chapter added to Marvel Heroes. We didn’t learn much more about the story going on here as the team may be keeping these elements close to their chests, but anyone familiar with the Marvel universe would probably be excited at the possibility of being able to visit the Savage Land.
The placeholder UI you may have seen in screenshots or game demos on various show floors has been overhauled significantly. One of the surefire hits for testers (and future players) is the new color coded inventory. You’ll now be able to tell, at a glance, the item rarity of each item in your inventory. The UI windows are also a lot more vibrant and colorful than previously seen and the minimap has been revamped to be in perspective allowing for additional depth when navigating through the game world. Players will also find new arrows that appear on the corners of the screen to direct them towards nearby quests or events. This should ensure that players will always have an idea of what they can do nearby and make their own decisions on which activities to pursue. Finally, the first bits of social functionality have been added with the introduction of the friends list. The friends list will also show you nearby players you can invite to groups or add to friends, which should help reinforce a sense of the game being an MMORPG.
Crafting along the same vein of Diablo’s ‘Horadric Cube’ has made its way into Marvel Heroes, as well. Players drop recipe components into a box at an NPC and hit create. You can either wait for the item to finish crafting or return to the NPC once the item has completed (you’ll receive a notification). Unlike the Horadric Cube, the recipes are all listed at the NPC, so experimentation isn’t required here. However, recipes are unlocked by ‘ranking up’ this NPC and this is done by donating items to it (instead of selling them). Each new rank will make available additional recipes for crafting and there are currently three ranks available in the beta, though there may be more later. David Brevik also added that this rank up feature is available at all of the game’s various vendors. Similar to the aforementioned crafting NPC, ranking up vendors will allow for the purchase of newer, more powerful items.
That’s about all we’ve got on the update, but be sure to stay tuned right here at MMORPG.com for all the latest Marvel Heroes news and developments!