Marvel Heroes has been in the pipeline for a long time but as it nears completion, and a release date Ready Up have been chatting to CEO and President of Gazillion, David Brevik and getting a hands on with the game to see what it’s all about.
The first thing that strikes you when you play Marvel Heroes is that it isn’t simply DC Universe with Marvel characters instead. The game has obvious comparisons but feels more complete, and more thought about than its counterpart. Each character has its own style and set of powers, making them each individuals and not just re-skins of each other as the case is in some other games of this genre. This variety, and depth was a conscious decision by Brevik and the team.
David: “That’s been an important tenet of mine, from design, for all my projects I’ve ever done. With Diablo 2 every single one of the character classes plays differently, the necromancer plays differently, the barbarian plays differently, etc etc. We wanted that same kind of feeling when you were playing this product. Playing Deadpool versus playing Thor versus playing Ms Marvel will be a very, very different experience between each one.
Playing Deadpool verses playing Thor verses playing Ms Marvel will be a very, very different experience between each one.
It really promotes replayability and a lot of depth in the game, we’ve done a careful job of designing skills that work well with other heroes and making sure those combinations work really well, so there’s a lot of deep strategy involved in that. So not only is there different play styles, but you’ll find unusual combinations through play of ways to make yourself even more powerful.”
The echoes of Diablo can certainly be felt in Marvel Heroes, and not just in the classes and customisation. The fight system feels far more like that of an MMORPG like the Diablo or Guild Wars games, than that of a free to play one. The interface is more detailed, but by no means overly complicated, and the moves and powers of each character are so varied that you aren’t simply left spamming the same key during a fight.
Brevik isn’t the only big name working on the project, though, the storyline has been written by a Marvel writer whose name any fan will recognise: Brian Michael Bendis.
David: “The project has existed a few times with other licensers and I’m not really sure why but it hasn’t worked out a couple of times before this. In one of those iterations Bendis was doing the writing for the project because he’s very interested in it, so when we started development, went to Marvel and said we’re looking for a writer to help us out, possibly a known comics writer who would be interested in doing this, they said Bendis wants to do this badly. This sounded great to us and we contacted him and he said yes he’d love to do this project.
[The storyline] was a collaborative effort between us and Bendis. We knew that we wanted there to be the Cosmic Cube involved, he chose Dr Doom and set the story from there. It’s a great story, I like it a lot.”
The storyline for Marvel Heroes is another of its plus points. It isn’t a loose thread that holds together the pieces of the game, it’s the backbone of everything. The Cosmic Cube has been used a lot in the Marvel Universe and it acts as link to many characters, making it the perfect plot device for a game involving so many characters. There are also side missions and other smaller plots that you can undertake along the way, however the main plot to stop Dr Doom is an ongoing motif.
You can choose to play the storyline as any of the 22 different characters available, but you don’t have to stay as that character. At any point in the game, when not in combat, you can change to any of the other characters available, meaning you can tailor your play to the current situation or another player’s character selection. You can build up and customise your characters to fight in the style you prefer, choosing to focus on certain traits and powers rather than others. When swapping a character over they remain in the state you left them, so you don’t loose any progress.
The range of available characters is interesting too, varying from the super famous and popular Iron Man, to the Marvel veteran Scarlet Witch to the lesser known Squirrel Girl. There’s certainly something that will appeal to everyone and more should be in the pipeline, too.
There’s certainly something that will appeal to everyone and more should be in the pipeline, too.
David: “There are some characters that we announced that we were going to have and they just aren’t going to make the cut. Late last Summer, early Fall, we decided to double the amount of powers that the heroes have to offer more variety and customisation with them, and the price of that was that we could do all of them that we wanted to. We have plans on what we’d like to do… we’ve announced some characters that are for sure going to be available after launch and those will probably be the first ones that we focus on. We may also do something with the community where we say ‘Here’s five heroes that we could do next; which ones do you guys want?’ and so appeal to our customers and to our fans and community.”
Overall Marvel Heroes is looking like it could be a real fan favourite with all ages of players. Real attention has been paid to even the smallest details and this is hopefully going to give the game a longer lifespan than other Free to Play models. But is there a release date yet?
David: “There is not right now, we;re saying Spring and that’s our best guess. We have a checklist of things we’re trying to accomplish in the Beta and once we’ve got our CCU up as high as we want and the server infrastructure isn’t laggy as we’ve had some problems and things like that. When we’ve fixed these problems we’ll say ‘ok, we’re over these hurdles and now we feel confident about releasing the game.’ We’re not going to release before it’s done.”