Marvel Heroes is a game I’ve been anticipating for quite a while now, both because it’s a Marvel game and because it is completely free to play. Yep, that’s right. Marvel Heroes is 100% free to download and play from beginning to end. It is also possible to unlock every hero and a vast majority of the costumes and other items for free in-game through loot drops. We’ll talk about that in more detail in a moment. MH is a game by David Brevik, the mind behind Diablo and Diablo II…maybe you’ve heard of them. Marvel Heroes is basically what you get when Diablo II and Marvel Ultimate Alliance have a love child and the results are…mostly great.
MH plays just like Diablo and Torchlight (they’ve often said that Marvel Heroes is the spiritual successor to Diablo II). Point and click, kill and loot. If you don’t like those types of games or that type of gameplay, you probably won’t like this one either. As of right now keyboard and mouse/click and loot is the only gameplay/control type the devs plan on having available.
The heroes are all well represented, and having played the game for a few months before launch as a beta tester, I can tell you that a lot of time and effort went into trying to make each hero work and play the way you would expect them to. The powers are all pretty much like the powers that were in the Ultimate Alliance games. Each hero will have three trees with a specific focus, and each time your character levels up you’re given two points to spend in skills however you like. Many skills will have a synergy, which means putting points into one will have a direct impact on another. This generally works well, as it allows you to spend points in basic skills early without feeling like those points were “wasted” later.
There are currently 20 heroes available with an additional 5 (Human Torch, Luke Cage, Emma Frost, Squirrel Girl, & Nova) set to be available “soon”. Everyone has a choice of 5 characters to start with- Daredevil, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Storm, and Thing. Not exactly A-Tier characters, but I can tell you from experience that they are all fun to play and can be just as powerful ( and in some cases more so) as the better known or popular characters. After the prologue/tutorial mission everyone will get another of the starting heroes as a random drop. You’ll get a third after defeating Dr. Doom in the Chapter 8 finale, for a total of 3 free characters. All of the other characters (and most of the stuff you can buy in the store, including potions and costumes) are available through loot drops. They are, however, very rare, though there are several things you can do to increase your chances (taken from what has been said on the forums and confirmed by devs):
- Equip gear that gives you a +% Special Item chance
- The first boss you defeat each day (20 hour timer) has a natural higher drop % to drop a hero or costume. There’s always a chance for a hero drop on mobs, chests, and other bosses, but the chances are higher for that first boss of the day.
- Characters that have a lot of rested time (ones you haven’t used in a while) also have a higher chance of getting a rare/hero drop.
- % of Hero and Costume drops go up “significantly” after you’ve played through all 8 chapters of the story, during endgame content.
For me, a lot of the fun is the chance that you may get a “special” drop, but if there are some characters you just can’t wait to play you can always purchase them in the store for “G”s. G’s are Gazillion’s special currency, and the exchange rate is basically $1=100 Gs. If you buy in the higher packages of G’s you’re given a little extra as a bonus. The heroes are priced along tiers- 600 Gs ($6), 900 Gs ($9), 1200 G ($12), and 2000 G ($20). Only three characters currently cost 2000Gs- Spider-Man, Deadpool, & Iron Man. The costumes can be a bit pricy as well, as they range from 900Gs-2000Gs. Or you can gamble with 100Gs and buy a ticket, which could be a costume, potion, pet, a 100% XP or Rare boost, or a “rare special”.
Now, Gazillion has been taking a lot of flack on the forums and game sites for their admittedly expensive pricing. However, I feel that there are a few things that need to be kept in mind before freaking out about it:
- The game is completely free to play. You aren’t gimped or restricted from game play content by not paying money.
- All of the heroes and 99% of everything else is available, for free, as drops in the game.
- The game is completely free. I know I already said that once, but apparently it needs to be emphasized for the self-entitled, hard headed people. These games take tons of money to produce and keep running. They have staff they have to pay. They have to make their money somehow, people. No one is forcing you to spend a dime. If you REALLY want to play as Spidey but you think $20 is too expensive to unlock him (and I would agree) play the game with someone else and try all the things above to increase your chances of getting him as a drop, or wait for an inevitable sale (a month ago they were selling “founders packs” that included specific characters and all their costumes, or groups of characters with an additional costume, for $20-$50 depending on the package you chose), or for the prices to drop- which they will as they add more content.
All in all, Marvel Heroes is a lot of fun to play and can become a huge time-sync. It’s not perfect, and they’re still working out some kinks and refining things, just like most MMOs do just after launch, but for the bargain price of free, you’re not out anything giving it a try.
J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1-, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here. Check back each Saturday for a new chapter in the ongoing serial Moving On!