Marvel Heroes NYCC 2012 Hands-On Preview

Iron Man was my guy in this demo.

When a major property jumps into the MMO realm, it normally goes the route of the open-world RPG. Players create their own personal avatar, interact with the major characters in the universe, learn a massive number of skills, and run around the giant map picking up quests. Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Star Wars, Star Trek, and even DC Comics have done it to varying degrees of success. Marvel, however, has decided to go in a different direction, making Marvel Heroes an interesting product that I wanted to make sure I got some hands-on time for at this year’s New York Comic Con.

One of the biggest differences players will notice right away in this addition to the Marvel Universe is that the heroes who fans have grown to know and love don’t just have cameos, they are the players. Instead of playing the role of the sidekick, everyone in Marvel Heroes will be Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and at least 23 other heroes from under the brand’s banner. That number also isn’t the cap, as Gazillion Entertainment informed me that they will indeed continue to add more characters to the game post-launch.

Unfortunately, that full roster wasn’t available in my playable version of the game. With access to just a handful, I decided to take on goons and super villains as Tony Stark himself. I was thrust into Hell’s Kitchen, one of the game’s open world zones and home to Matt Murdock a.k.a. Daredevil. It’s one of three different zone types, the others being instanced dungeons and social town hubs. Bad guys aplenty roamed the streets. Controls eschewed the traditional WASD for point-and-click.

The Avengers take on goons in Daredevil's home.

The camera showed a top-down view, not the traditional behind-the-back of most MMOs. During combat, enemies would have loot burst out of them as they lay sprawled upon the ground (instead of just popping up on their corpses). Skills were also relegated differently. Players only have access to a low number, but can put additional points into them later to make them stronger. These abilities can then be used by assigning them to either the left mouse button, right mouse button, A, S, D, or F.

With my surroundings and controls understood, I took off through the streets. I made quick work of the mere muggers and mafiosos that challenged me, like a true superhero. I found destructible boxes that would drop health kits and chests that would gift me a random item. These are scattered throughout all maps and can help with getting decent loot for stat boosts or sale to merchants in the hub zones.

While making my way to the instanced subway for my dungeon quest, I was instructed to wait on the road I roamed. Soon after, Electro dropped from the skies and began assaulting any hero within sight. This served as an example of how in the open world, certain bosses act on a timed-spawn period to allow for some spontaneous action. Unlike previous MMOs that might grant all goodies to whoever hit first, everyone who assisted in taking down Electro got their own drops and experience.

As the electric menace lay beaten on the concrete, waiting for S.H.I.E.L.D. to take him away, I pushed onwards and into the subway to find another member of the Sinister Six: Shocker. Going into the subway I found a more traditional dungeon-crawl map. Since I went into the zone alone I was on my own, but had I partied up with some of the other heroes back in Hell’s Kitchen we would have taken on this classic Spider-Man foe together.

This Iron Man had Cap's help.

The dungeon was rather straight forward, with no side paths for exploration or goodies. It was, however, filled with plenty of lowlifes for my repulsor blasts to lay into. At the end, Shocker appeared in the dungeon’s big boss showdown. He used strong, charged up punches while up close and shockwaves to break rubble from the ceiling. Getting used to his tactics, I adjusted by keeping my distance, throwing up Iron Man’s shield ability to reduce damage, and blasted away. Had he gotten close, I utilized a rush skill that would throw Shocker off-balance and interrupt whatever ability he hoped to use upon me.

After a decent struggle, my final energy-filled blast put Shocker down, who then told us that he would give S.H.I.E.L.D. whatever information they needed so long as they gave him back his old cell at the Raft. I then proceeded to pick up my loot, which included a medal that can be worn as gear and is dropped by every boss in the game regardless of location. With the deed finished, I returned to Daredevil, Shocker’s initial pursuer, who thanked me for my efforts.

Once I walked away from the demo station, I realized that I hadn’t just played a typical MMO. Marvel Heroes didn’t feel like World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, or even The Old Republic. In fact, it reminded me a lot of Diablo, which makes perfect sense given that Gazillion’s president is none other than David Brevik, creator of the classic series. The game also felt similar to other popular Marvel game franchises that have come before and featured Diablo-like mechanics, X-Men Legends and Marvel Ultimate Alliance. It will be interesting to see if Gazillion can take that winning formula from titles past and translate it successfully into the MMO scene. From what I played, it’s assembling quite well.


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Author: Mike Murphy View all posts by
Mike has been playing games for over two decades. His earliest memories are of shooting ducks and stomping goombas on NES, and over the years, the hobby became one of his biggest passions. Mike has worked with GamerNode as a writer and editor since 2009, giving you news, reviews, previews, a voice on the VS Node Podcast, and much more.

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