Hard to believe it’s been a little over four and half years since buying a “Thor Starter Pack” for the release, of the then, PC based action RPG Marvel Heroes game by Gazillion. Since then the core game has undergone several changes, small and large scale, including supporting MAC, powers rework, raids being added and now gaming consoles with versions for both PS4 and XBox One. This is our review of Gazillion’s Marvel Heroes Omega for PS4.
The Lore Behind The Man
Every Wednesday I visit my Local Comic Book Shop and have a stack of Marvel comics from my “pull list” on file. I also see the movies, watch the TV shows, etc. It was because of this lore that I got into, and financially supported the game, starting back in late 2012. I’m an avid player of the PC version, I’ve bought several costumes, hero packs, etc. I own the full PC roster, but not all my heroes are at the maximum level 60. Why do I mention all of this? Because when Gazillion made the announcement to support PS4 and XBox One I was not offended in the slightest and thankfully embraced the evolution. Being a PS4 owner I looked forward to playing the PS4 version as well. Once I got in game the PS4 version seemed like a similar, but different enough experience, read on to find why.
What Is Marvel Heroes Omega?
If you’re familiar with the PC version then jump ahead to the next section, if you're new to the game then read on. Marvel Heroes Omega is a free-to-play action RPG, developed on the Unreal engine, played in a top down isometric view like Blizzard’s Diablo. You play through zones punching and slashing your way through waves of minions and bosses while watching for treasure rooms and fulfilling mission objectives. Gameplay milestones are awarded also through Playstation trophies.
All this action is set in the “classic Earth-616” Marvel comics lore with some Ultimate Universe creep. “Classic” i.e. it’s the Bruce Banner Hulk, the Tony Stark Iron Man, the Steve Rogers Captain America, etc. Heroes and villains alike spout out trash talk and quips, all of which fit perfectly into their character profiles. The voice overs and acting are well done fulfilled by famous voice actors and the dialogue is quite hysterical at times. On that front, the game does a great job of pulling you into the Marvel Universe. One downside is, due in part to licensing, dropped loot doesn’t change your hero’s appearance when you equip it. In this regard, there is no instant visual gratification that you get in other action RPGs.
You are awarded a starter hero and initially thrust into a tutorial where you get to try a few heroes before deciding on one. In fact, any hero can be played to level 10, which goes by pretty quick, and then you need to buy that hero with in game currency, a.k.a. “Eternity Splinters”. Eternity Splinters drop during normal play making this a truly free-to-play game. Eternity Splinters are also awarded as a daily login bonus. The alternative is a real currency option in the form of “Gs”. At launch, there are “only” 38 heroes which is way down from the PC’s total of 63 but enough to still offer a ton of replayability as most heroes play differently. The good news is since PS4 launch, Nightcrawler (for VIPs, free) and Black Cat has been added to the roster already.
Initial leveling is typically done through playing through the “story mode” which is nine chapters long and each chapter includes several sub-missions. It’s recommended that you play through the story mode at least once to embrace the story arcs and watching the entertaining motion comics between chapters. Other forms of play include; “Events” (special zones, typically introduced to coincide with a Marvel Movie/T.V. event), “Operations” where you play a form of a dungeon focused on beating a particular Marvel villain, “Patrols” (initially just Midtown Patrol where you run around the streets of Manhattan and defend citizens from major villains and their minions), and “Trials”, which are less gameplay and more of a test as trials are one room zones with a raised difficulty level. If you stay alive for a given amount of time you open up that increased difficulty level on that hero (e.g. Heroic, Superheroic, Cosmic). Playing at a higher difficulty level offers better loot drops. Lastly, Danger Room play which is based on the infamous X-Men training simulator. These small 1-2 room zones feature randomized missions, bosses, and hazards.
What’s So Different?
Several additions / changes have been made in the PS4 version when comparing it to it’s PC ancestor. Some of these have been well received, while others have soured the PC community. I certainly haven’t listed them all here, just the ones that have stuck in my mind.
For Duty and Humanity
Crafting has changed. The PS4 version of crafting introduces an Engineering Division Specialist where you can craft in-game items, e.g. the familiar Super-Soldier Serum artifact. You can find needed parts as drops or buy them from the Logistics Division Quartermaster. New recipes can be acquired by crafting at the Research & Development Analyst, this on its own requires specific materials. Finally, at the Science Division Specialist you can craft special items like boosts, unbind item, etc. All specialist can be level and donated to other than the R&D Analyst. Given the moderately high cost of some of these items you’re not going to worry about crafting during the early game other than donations.
Some subtle UI differences that are welcome changes are things like the direction indicator that is shown under your hero so you know what direction you’re pummeling in. Another welcome change is that the UI lets you know that loot you just picked up could benefit your hero if equipped. An additional great touch is loot drops display a defense / offense differential indicator when viewed in your inventory so that you know how your overall offense and defense numbers will be affected if you equip the item.
The PS4 version also supports local co-op play. Which means you and a friend can play together online as Player 1 and Player 2 on the same PS4. The tough news is that Player 2 is actually playing as one of the characters on Player 1’s profile. Not the best scenario but it still allows friends to sit in the same room and socialize while they play.
Sadly, the PS4 version is on a separate server from the PC players so no cross-platform play like FFXIV.
Fewer heroes, fewer zones, no raids yet. The overall content is a bit behind but there is still plenty to do while the development team catches up. There is also no supergroup, i.e. guild, support as well as no global chat. These are things that hopefully will come in due time.
The Times, They Be A Changin’
Perhaps the most controversial, business model, change that has trickled into the PC version is that costumes are no longer directly purchasable in the store but are attained mainly through “Marvelous Loot Boxes”. These are purchased with real currency and are typical available as bonus items in hero packs, bundles, etc. To alleviate this a bit free loot boxes are offered to all players for reaching levels 5, 12, 15 and 30 with a given hero. Overall, you’re still at the mercy of the RNG Gods.
Costumes are rotated through the loot boxes periodically but can also be purchased in game using “Marvelous Essence” (which is given in each loot box) from the in-game Marvelous Essence vendor. Duplicate costumes can be converted into Marvelous Essence.
While buying extra bank storage (a.k.a. S.T.A.S.H.) slots is nothing new being able to buy additional inventory slots, at 10 slots a crack, for Gs is. Additionally, consoles start at 40 slots with a maximum of 90.
If you own a PS4 don’t discount the fun and gameplay variety that can be gained by playing this free-to-play action game. For PC owners, gameplay with a PS4 controller seems looser and livelier compared to a mouse and keyboard. Don’t let the Marvel lore scare you away. I know several people that went in knowing just the basics and they still end up having a great time. Minimally, this PS4 version is a “must try”. Excelsior!