Marvel Heroes Dev Update: Lots On The Way

Marvel Heroes Dev UpdateMarvel Heroes has been live for well over a month now, and in case you thought any laurels were being rested upon, Gazillion dev Doomsaw has posted an extensive update on what’s planned for the game in the near and medium term. You can read the full update below and some commentary after that. Enjoy:

Fixing the Defense System

We are almost completely reworking the defense system to scale better into the late/end game. This is taking a decent chunk of time because of the wide-ranging impact it has to powers, items and enemies, but it will get done, hopefully in time for the big July patch. Our plan is to lock down everything by next Tuesday and test, test, test until it is rock solid.

We have been talking a lot about ensuring we don’t do anything that punishes melee too much more than ranged. That’s why we pulled out Ignore Defenses from the game and tried buffing the heck out of Defense from items. But, none of that solve the issues of scaling into end game. A percent based system will fix a lot of that, along with astute use of avoidance and other mitigation powers based on the heroes’ powers.

By the time we are done, melee characters will be able to melee as expected and characters won’t get one-shotted unless they are bad at moving from the fire on the ground.

Difficulty Levels – Heroic and Superheroic

Difficulty modes are one of the highest priorities for us. There is still engineering, enemy tuning and item work to done for Heroic and Superheroic difficulty modes, so they will not be on the test server next week, but will make an appearance shortly after the big July patch.

One of the best things about Marvel Heroes compared to other games that I’ve played are the number of fun little ’discoveries‘ that occur throughout the game (like two HYDRA guys getting a crate with a dinosaur in it or killing a bunch of muggers and rescuing a civilian). The other thing I love are the ’treasure rooms‘ that are all over the game (the orange doors). Having difficulty levels means players can encounter those things and not just grind the same terminal missions or Limbo over and over. (Everything can be fun, but it’s nice to have variety.)

We wanted difficulty levels at launch, obviously, but just ran out of time and felt we should launch when we promised. My best guess is that these make it to the test server in August and release shortly after, assuming nothing gamebreaking.

Player vs Player

The goal is to make an extremely robust PVP system for Marvel Heroes. As we polish content, fix bugs and get all of the heroes and systems into solid shape, we will introduce a full tournament system for PVP with some MLG style elements, prizes, rankings and so on.

Modes in development include modes that are more casual and more serious. For each of “casual” and “serious”, there will be a quicker map and a more in-depth map. The quicker maps should always take less than 30 minutes to play and the “in-depth” maps could take up to an hour to play.

The casual PVP modes will have more adventuring and PVE content included in the maps. Think Alterac Valley from World of WarCraft as a rough example of something you’ll see for our casual in-depth map.

The serious PVP modes will place more emphasis on individual skill, hero selection, power selection and PVP tactics. The first mode is in the late stages of development and should be on the test server in a week or two. The mode is based on the ARAM mode from League of Legends, with two teams competing to get past turrets and destroy the enemy base. It’s a 5v5 map with a full queuing system built in. The map gets tested and adjusted daily. Just 10 minutes ago the team was naming and planning out the PVP rewards associated with this map. The PVP items are particularly good for PVP and won’t be needed for high-end PVE encounters but they will still be decent in PVE.

The existing PVP “Beta” map will be pulled out soon along with the team/faction system that is currently in game. It’s being replaced by a full-fledged queuing system similar to LOL/WOW. There is an engineer entirely dedicated to the system who is super smart and sitting just 15 feet away working on this system every day.

We know not all players care about PVP (maybe even less than 50%), so we are keeping PVP as a super-high priority, but also keeping PVE, difficulty modes, end-game raids, item hunting and other stuff as super-high priority as well. PVP will be an option for people who dig it, but will never be needed to get the best gear.

For people who do love PVP, there will be some items and likely an emblem system beside your name based on PVP ranks (replacing the current icons beside player names). We will likely do some kind of cosmetic rewards as well.
Note that we have technology to adjust powers while a hero is in PVP, so we will never have to nerf a power in PVE because it’s “too good in PVP”. I wish other games had that tech!


The items team is currently working on a few things:

  1. Removing or changing affixes that just aren’t fun or are actually bad (example: We are getting rid of +attack speed on a certain tree)
  2. Adding in more affixes that are fun, powerful or allow customization of your builds
  3. Adding new levels of rarity and new item types. These will sometimes just be more powerful and sometimes be powerful in certain circumstances or with certain builds. As an example, we are releasing Cosmic Items with the next patch (may even be live by the time you read this).
  4. Adjusting how items scale to make sure every level of upgrade is a noticeable upgrade. This is an extremely high priority for us.
  5. Adding new artifacts each week that will support different build options for players.
  6. Adding items to support new heroes (Human Torch items were worked on today)


We will be introducing raids into the game. Mostly just 5-man raids to start with. Doctor Doom will be retooled for level 60 players with changes to his mechanics, difficulty and rewards to support raiding. We have a ton of guys with top tier raiding experience on the team and will make sure this is as fun as possible. We haven’t done a ton of work on this, but we have discussed the strategy for these this week. This is something I’ll be creating a feedback thread on when the time comes (likely after July).

Free Retcons When Needed

Our policy is to give a free respec (retcon) to every hero whenever any of their powers has increased or decreased in power. We manually set this for each hero when the Hero Design team adjusts anything significant. This was not as clear at launch of the game, but is super clear now.

Hero Reviews

We have a hero design team that is continually reviewing heroes nonstop for improvements. We take the feedback from the forums, from internal sources and add our internal plans for how these heroes will be awesome.

Right now, we are mainly concerned with keeping everyone fun and powerful. As you know, our philosophy is not to nerf unless there is something truly gamebreaking. Nerfing a person’s fun is the opposite of what game design is intended to do.

Today the team worked on some Wolverine adjustments, Storm and Black Widow along with some adjustments of other characters. Every character will continue to have iteration passes and get better and better each time.

The new hero design team (tasked with working on new heroes!) has done a lot of work on Human Torch this week. The old Ultimate Power was moved to a regular power and an epic new Ultimate was created. Four other new powers were created to support multiple build options and playstyles for Torch. That gives Human Torch 25 powers, more than any other hero. (Note that other heroes will have new powers added periodically as we determine they are missing important options).

The animation team has some insane Torch animations which you’ll see on test server soon. He is always flying and always on fire and looks smooth and fun.

Test Server

Next week we are opening the test server to the public. This is huge for us and will speed up our development time pretty significantly. Everyone will be allowed to play.

When the server launches, you will see hundreds of bugs all over the place and may even have trouble getting your accounts set up. Be patient for the first few days as things get ironed out.

Hero Synergy System

We have done some work on a new system that rewards players for having other leveled heroes. This system would reward you for having a hero of level 25, 50 and eventually 75 and 100 (if/when we go there). The reward would be a small bonus to every other hero you own. Example: Leveling Spider-Man gives all your heroes a small boost to dodge. Leveling Deadpool gives all your heroes a small boost to rarity find. This list of buffs isn’t finalized yet, so feel free to suggest which bonuses should be associated with each hero, especially if you have something creative in mind.

Hero Prestige System

Once the endgame has a lot more content, we will allow players to restart their characters if they wish. Like Call of Duty, there will be a cosmetic indicator if you are doing one of 5 prestige levels.

Many DOTs

The engineering team is working on the tech to make Damage Over Time (DOT) crit and also get rid of the bug that has DOT damage not being reduced in groups.

Limbo and Groups

We are updating the design for Limbo to make it more fun and less of a slideshow. We may end up reducing the number of players at the same time as we improve the flare and threat scaling system. If we actually make the zone challenging and appropriate for 5 people, we could put special unique zone rewards on the zone. This is something we really need to think about and iterate until it’s fun and actually interactive. We intend to keep buffing other zones until they are equal or slightly higher exp than Limbo, since Limbo is not really how the game is intended to be played.


We spend a big chunk of our evenings reading and digesting feedback. Keep it coming. I personally read almost every post in every forum. I love the feedback, whether it’s polite, rude, angry or happy. Everything is fair and everything matters. If someone is unhappy, we figure out why and figure out what we can do to improve their player experience. We have a big group of smart, experienced people here in every department, so we can solve almost anything with a little time. The company is a real gaming company and not a corporation. Because of the quality and dedication of the people here, I know this game will be around for a long, long time and will get better every week.

I am constantly impressed by the quality of the engineers, artists, animators, producers and designers. Even the management team is top notch. It doesn’t matter if they are in marketing, development, finance – they are all gamers who care about the game more than anything. Not to mention we are lucky to have Brevik as the president. He is a real gamer and a smart man. I’ve never had a company where even the president has smart lists of game improvements after playing a hero over an evening or over the weekend. He is constantly pushing every department to do the right thing and make Marvel Heroes solid and fun.

Next Blogs

We’ll try to get other folks in the company to write blogs. Most days are nonstop working, but we will find some time. There are many issues I didn’t cover, but rest assured we know about them. Our list of priorities is long and it gets done. If there is anything you want me to cover, let me know. I will keep answering stuff on the forums and doing an occasional blog to cover big stuff.

Other Quick Hits and Teasers:

  • We just had a playtest for a new patrol mode that was great. I think it will be set in Manhattan and feels very heroic.

  • We are working on a new mode called “The Breach” (AKA the Kobayashi Maru mode!)

  • There is a new level of costume cores being made

  • It’s not my department, but there are some very cool new costumes underway

  • The engineering team is working on some very promising improvements to performance

  • A big upgrade to crafting will roll out after defenses and heroes have been all fixed

  • Scarlet Witch is getting a new resource system and Ultimate

  • We are allowing people to use “U” to use their Utimate (Social will be moved to “O”)

  • Legendary items, Relics, Superteam items

  • Halloween stuff

  • Christmas stuff

  • Ragnarok

There’s lots to digest there, but the highlights for me are the commitment to a good PvP experience, the focus on ongoing small improvements like the Ultimate key-bind, and the longer-term view on a much bigger game than you see today. It’s encouraging, but as always the proof is in the delivery.

Are you playing Marvel Heroes and if so, how are you finding it? If you’ve played since launch we’d love to know how you’re finding it from a longevity viewpoint.

Review: Marvel Heroes


Event boss Venom gets a thrashing

It’s been a while in the making, but Gazillion have released Marvel Heroes into the wild. I’ve spent about a dozen hours playing this game at time of writing this review, and I can tell you I’ll be playing more, but I’m not sure for how long.

A disclaimer before you read on: I’ve been a Marvel Comics fan for over 35 years, so I expect a lot from a Marvel MMO and as a show of faith I forked out $200 for the Ultimate Pack months before launch.

How Does Marvel Heroes Work?

MH is a Free-To-Play MMO, and the very obvious (and valid) comparison that can be made is in relation to Diablo, particularly in its style of gameplay. It’s an isometric game navigated by clicking the mouse in the direction you want your character to move. None of this is surprising given Gazillion Entertainment’s President is David Brevik, former Blizzard North co-founder who worked heavily on Diablo and Diablo 2. The similarities with Diablo move much beyond that though – as a D3 player, the whole interface is essentially the same, power-ups are similar, as is gear and inventory. None of this is a bad thing in any way – it’s all tried and tested stuff that works well and ensures you get into the action without spending too long orientating yourself to the interface. It just takes some of the excitement out of that initial hour or so although some will say it’s usually more frustration than excitement learning a new interface.

Getting Started

Once you’ve downloaded the client from, you choose the hero you’d like to start with. There are a decent number to choose from, with a good mix between the genders and types of powers. If you’ve bought one of the more expensive packs then you have even more to choose from. For each character you can also buy alternate costumes from the in-game store. There is no cost to play unless you’re unhappy with the base set of heroes or you want to change costumes or buy some cosmetic items or experience boosts on the store. I was amused to find that although I’d purchased an Ultimate pack giving me access to all heroes, my absolute preference was Daredevil, who is one of the basic roster ones anyway.

Playing The Game

Once you’ve got your character it’s time for the first cut-scene explaining the story-line. The cut-scenes are lo-fi, comic styled ones and I actually like them a lot. As you progress through the story there’s some great scenes – I love the Taskmaster Institute video – that’s definitely been a highlight for me so far. Like a lot of isometric games you use your mouse to move and the same goes for fighting, with your left and right mouse buttons getting plenty of love. You live and die by your health and spirit levels. Your spirit is used when deploying any non-basic fight moves and your health bar declines with every hit you take and doesn’t replenish in any way unless you use a Med Kit, you pick up some gear with health regeneration or one of your foes drops a health blob to pick up . Sound familiar?

The mini-map does well to ensure you know which direction you’re going whilst still giving you plenty of scope to explore. Fights are fairly fluid and there’s enough different animations to keep it pretty interesting. There’s some good spontaneous comments by NPCs to add to the atmosphere, and graphically I like a lot of the areas I’ve seen so far though like any isometric game there’s always a little bit of same-same feel in areas.

Boss fights are fun but generally challenging as the dozen or so I’ve done all have some unique fight mechanics that take some working out. That said, I’ve only died once in total fighting bosses (with a healthy reliance on med kits), so it’s not too arduous either. Any MMO also depends to a large extent on social features and Marvel Heroes has the bases covered. The event bosses (like Venom as pictured above) are good fun though once you get more than half a dozen heroes fighting it all becomes a clicking blur with your enemy very difficult to pick out.

Beyond the main storyline there’s a few other play options, once you’ve completed eight chapters of the story. There’s repeatable missions and end-game PvP  is in development to name two. Crafting is also a key component, allowing you create a range of items from materials you pick up when fighting. None of it is particularly innovative but they’re all key components of an MMO hoping to have some longevity. Which leads me to…


Hmmm what shall I wear today?

Is It A Keeper?

I’m not so convinced that Marvel Heroes has the ‘replayability’ to keep me engaged over a long period of time, unless Gazillion are going to release some fairly regular content updates. For me, and I can’t emphasise strongly enough that this is probably very specific to me, I really struggle with how similar everything is to Diablo 3. I played the whole D3 storyline through (on normal mode only though) and really, really enjoyed it. And since then I’ve never been back – and so the similarities being so strong with Marvel Heroes I’ve fallen into the mindset that I may do the same here. That said, I’m very much hoping to be proven wrong.

Other Bouquets and Brickbats

– The game seems to run fine of relatively low-spec machines i.e. I’m running the game on a 3+ year old iMac with Boot Camp and aside from the odd stutter in the cut scenes and entry into new zones, it’s been fine.

– On launch you will get driver error messages if your drivers are up to date – this can be a good thing in some ways but some will find it frustrating.

– I do like the option to donate loot to a vendor to gain vendor experience that leads to them offering more gear for sale.

– I know it couldn’t easily be avoided but I dislike the immersion-breaking aspect of picking up gear and it not changing your appearance. It’s a unique challenge for a game involving costumed superheroes, but it still grated on me nonetheless.

– It’s early days but there’s been some serious issues with frequency of server maintenance periods and the patch updates are still large so those on broadband plans with lower data allowances may get annoyed.

– You can’t log out anywhere and expect that’s where you’ll be when you join the game next. Like Diablo 3, you’ll become obsessed about waypoints so you don’t have to replay huge tracts of the game to continue your progression.

– I’d like better enemy targeting options – flame away in comments if I’ve missed something but I’d like to be able to hit a key to target the enemy rather than having to click – particularly event bosses.

– The Marvel Heroes forums seem one of the better MMO communities out there. So far.

The Verdict

If you’re a comics fan or an isometric gaming fan looking for something new to play, then Marvel Heroes is well worth checking out given it’s free to play. If you’re an MMO player looking for something innovative to devote the majority of your gaming time to, I’m not sure Marvel Heroes will fit the bill but again it won’t cost you anything to give it a go.  For casual players looking for some Marvel-tinged gameplay that sticks well to the comics universe, then you’ll definitely want to spend some time with this game. The cutscenes alone are fun enough in parts to make it worthwhile.

Plus, I always wanted to kick Venom’s butt.

Now it’s your turn: have you played Marvel Heroes yet and if so what do you think? As alwaysI’m also more than happy for people to rip me a new one if I’ve got something factually wrong.

Finally – we do discuss Marvel Heroes on our fortnightly MMO podcast, called Flash Point – we’d love to have you on board.




Marvel Heroes Launch Date Announced

Marvel Heroes Launch Date Gazillion Entertainment have just announced the launch date for the Marvel Heroes MMO, an isometric game with access to quite a stable of Marvel superheroes.

June 4th 2013 is when things go live, with those who purchase a Founder’s pack getting in from the 28th May:

Early Game Access Begins on May 28th! – Anyone who is part of the Marvel Heroes Founders Program gets to play in Early Game Access, beginning May 28th for Ultimate Pack purchasers! Starter, Premium and Ultimate Packs all get you into the game early, as well as giving you great value on your favorite heroes and costumes! Here are Early Game Access dates for each Founders Pack:

Starter Pack purchasers will receive 2 days of Early Access beginning on June 2nd.
Premium Pack purchasers will receive 4 days of Early Access beginning on May 31st.
Ultimate Pack purchasers will receive 7 days of Early Access beginning on May 28th.

So there’s still a couple of months to wait, but it’s good to finally have a launch date to plan some significant gaming time around. Over to you: will you be playing this game?

Marvel Heroes: New Trailer

We’re pretty excited here at TOG about Marvel Heroes, as regular listeners of our podcast will know. So it’s great to see a new trailer for the game released by Gazillion, albeit a very short one.

The focus of the trailer is on the activity you spend the most time on in Marvel Heroes: beating the crap out of your enemies.


So what do you think of what you see so far?

Marvel Heroes Developer Diary: Story

You may or may not know that we follow the development of the Marvel Heroes MMO pretty closely as yours truly is a rabid Marvel fan (albeit a pre-2000’s Marvel fan as a general rule), as is my podcast co-host and contributing writer Simon. So it was great to see another Marvel Heroes update released giving some detail on the story behind the game.

There’s quite a few snippets in there that you can discover for yourself but I for one like the fact Doctor Doom is the key villain. The vid / diary was put together by IGN:

After watching this, it’s hard not be be excited about this game. That said, all developer diaries are designed to do just that and the proof is always in the final product. If I was going to make a criticism it’d be that some of the dialogue sounds a little bit cheesy – yes it’s based on the comics but even so there’s some rough spots there.

Overall though, I’m very very optimistic for Marvel Heroes: what about you?