Published on February 1st, 2013 | by Adam Lee
With a history as convoluted as any origin story, and as many guises as Mr Benn, Marvel Heroes originally began development under Cryptic Studios only to be canned in 2008. Fortunately, much of that work was salvaged to create the generally not bad Champions Online. However in 2009, like a Dark Phoenix it rose from the ashes as Gazillion Entertainment secured a ten year Marvel licence, adopting the somewhat long winded “Marvel Super Hero Squad Online” in pursuit of a younger audience.
Thankfully at this point ideas diverged, preserving the MMO proper as “Marvel Universe Online” to tie in with the pen and paper RPG of the same name. One final identity adjustment later, and we’re back where we started. Keep up the good work marketing department.
So, what do we know so far? Well firstly, that Gazillion are the type who go to every shop in the high-street only to buy the first thing they saw four hours later. But probably more importantly, the game will be free-to-play with heroes being purchased individually or in booster packs (gotta catch ‘em all) via micro-payments. Gazillion boldly claim each hero will be totally unique – almost a class in and of themselves, with unique talent trees, abilities and animations. And of course a variety of costumes and probably hats. Hats are all the rage these days.
Being originally aimed at the younger audience I fully expected cell shaded cartoons, instead we’ll get full physics, dynamic lighting and everything else you’d expect from the generally beautiful Unreal 3 engine. I do have my concerns though. Including as many characters as possible for both variety of play and steady income, they’re potentially creating a balancing nightmare. The last thing I want to see is everyone using a super expensive hero who’s dramatically superior to everyone else.
Fostering a co-op environment where some heroes are guaranteed to work out stronger than others is going to cause issues with “group LFM, No Daredevil or Thing “, which as a Daredevil fan would be soul crushing – and for the record I enjoyed the movie, so there. I’m also worried they’ll sacrifice difficulty and complexity which never makes sense – lets be fair, most young whipper snappers are better than those of us old geezers.
Ultimately, I’ve had very little experience with Gazillion Entertainment and they have in their hands a potentially volatile licence. The Marvel universe is dearly beloved by terrifyingly hardcore fans, and if this is delivered badly it could create some pretty radioactive fallout. If on the other hand, they succeed and create something balanced, interesting and comparable to genre stablemates like Torchlight 2 and Path of Exile, then it could make an absolute killing.
Till we have more, I’m off to stare at pictures of Rogue and practice my Cajun accent. For more info and the chance to get involved in beta testing, check out the main page here. Good luck heroes!