We reviewed Marvel Heroes when it was just released and we didn’t think it was very good at all. In fact, it was pretty awful and the released product was woefully short of what we should expect from a modern game. Such is the way of gaming now, a few months on and Gazillion have had the opportunity to build on some of the half baked and poorly implemented ideas that were present in release. Various updates have since been birthed into the world with the aim to claw back some of the goodwill that they lost at release.
For the most part the updates are very successful. Marvel Heroes is now a game worthy of your precious playtime, below we list 6 ways the game has improved:
1. The Damage Numbers Make a World of Difference
Late in the beta the developers introduced damage numbers. They were very basic (for instance, they didn’t alert the player to a critical hit) but it was at least a graphical representation of the effect gear changes had. When the game was released they took the damage numbers away, citing technical difficulties although the cynical among the players saw it as a response to the outcry they cause. See, rather than buff enemies, the game severely nerfed players when other heroes were in close proximity and the damage numbers starkly displayed this.
Black Cat appears a lot earlier in the game now so…there’s that…
Now the damage numbers are back and they are implemented really well. They look nice on the screen and have a very clear font, they are responsive to the damage you are dishing out and critical hits form little explosions. Furthermore, exactly what is and isn’t displayed can be customized via the options menu. It seems like a small thing but those numbers represent the sum total of your gearing efforts. To see the physical effect of your gear changes is important and…well, it’s just damn satisfying seeing things go boom because of your mighty attacks.
2. Enemies Are More of a Challenge
Despite having the traditional trash/champion/boss enemy archetypes, the release games was very easy. Champion enemies (signified by glowing golden auras) weren’t much of a concern beyond thinking about the delicious yellow orbs of experience they drop. The ease with which the player dispatched even these supposedly tough enemies was a significant factor in how cripplingly dull the game felt to be play, especially at higher levels when trash mobs are an inconsequential loot giving mist.
Seriously, I wasn’t lying. There she is. All coloured in and what not.
This has now been addressed with Champion enemies having much more health than their trashy counterparts. They’ve also had a damage increase and when a group of Champions appear, it’s something that the player has to be wary of in their approach. Furthermore, the Champions have a much greater range of ability affixes including some particularly nasty ones like healing every time they hit or ignoring characters defense.
3. Loot is More Interesting
We’ve all had it in ARPGs. You reach a point in the game when you just fucking bored of picking everything up. The game continues to throw crappy vendor gear at you as you plunge towards your final confrontation with the Big Bad Boss. The Marvel Heroes release product approach loot distribution in a very haphazard manner. It was common to recieve green items way, way below the current level of the hero which rendered them all but useless. Bags would slowly fill up with the detritus of your journey and the player became increasingly apathetic about what was dropping. This problem was exacerbated with the rarer, purple items. Nothing says ‘fuck you’ like getting a purple weapon 7 levels below you.
The Human Torch has been added post release and is by far one of the most interesting heroes.
Loot level tiers are now a lot more restrictive, meaning that it should be very unlikely that the player will be inundated by items that are useless to them. This isn’t merely reflected in the level banding of the items but in the stat bonuses they deliver as well. Items offer a better range of useful bonuses that allow the player to target certain play styles with a greater consistency that was possible before. It is actually worth grinding enemies for items and you can be reasonably confident of getting something useful. Progress!
4. Difficulty Levels Are Awesome
Once the player reached the end of the release product and defeated Dr Doom, there wasn’t an awful lot else to do. Yes, you could go on ahead and start the daily mission grinds but these were mostly levels that you had already completed with a slightly tougher boss at the boss. Most games of this type have an extra difficulty mode to do at the end of the game and now Marvel Heroes does too.
The XP curve is a lot smoother. Check out my orbs bro
When a player defeats Dr. Doom or reaches level 30, they can then replay the entire game on a Heroic difficulty level. This means harder enemies, harder bosses and much better loot. in fact the enemies have a built in modifier to drop rarer and more desirable items. Added to the difficulty, if the player dies they are cursed with a debuff that is only cleared on defeating 50 enemies. Once the player completes the Heroic mode, there is another mode waiting for them (cunningly titled Super Heroic Mode) where everything is turned up to 11. It is a much more interesting way to get to level 60 than grinding the Abandoned Subway.
5. Inventory Management Isn’t So Annoying
A lot of the problems with Marvel Heroes originally were less game breaking bugs and more quality of life issues. One in particular made me very angry all the way through beta and when the game was released – crafting materials didn’t stack. This meant that every time the player picked up a crafting mat (and crafting has become an even bigger part of the game since launch) it took up a slot that could be used for an important item or health pack.
Not exactly Pacific Rim is it?
When the game was actually released this was an even bigger problem because the prices for extra inventory space were (and still are) ludicrous. Thankfully, crafting materials no stack in piles of 10 so managing the inventory and bank screens is a lot easier. With the space this locks up, the player can even indulge in some of the more luxurious items such as pets, crafter/vendor summons and quest items. It is difficult to praise this change too much because it was insane that it wasn’t in the game in the first place, but the effect on game play is huge.
6. The Game Runs a Lot Better
I’m lucky enough to enjoy a powerful gaming PC. I run games with all sorts of things maxed and my gigahertz are off the fucking chain. It was a surprise then when running Marvel Heroes my PC started making noises like it was trying to give birth to lots of little PCs. Marvel Heroes runs on the Unreal engine and throughout the beta and launch periods an observant player could be forgiven for questioning just how comfortable Gazillion were with it. It was optimized very poorly and people with less able units were reporting issues with lag, artifacts and overheating.
The game is a lot better now. Loading times are still on the long side but the program no longer feels like one designed to melt innocent motherboards across the world. I personally haven’t witnessed any of the lag or slowdown that plagued the release product and even in high traffic areas, such as the open world villain battles, the game runs smoothly and quietly.
Marvel Heroes still isn’t perfect. The pricing model is still on the sheer side of ‘fucking retarded’ and the game doesn’t really have the complexity of Path of Exile and Torchlight. Having said that though, the effort that Gazilion have put in since launch has to be commended and it is already a much better game than it was. It is sad really, as if the bean counters had waited just a little longer the game could have avoided the torrent of negative press they received. Patch 1.2 may not quite be the miracle patch that people were waiting for in beta, but it isn’t far off.