“It’s not uncommon to say we didn’t have a super-stellar launch” was one of the first things Gazillion Community Manager Ryan Collins told me during our Marvel Heroes play session on Thorsday. (No, that’s not a typo.) Since its June launch, the team’s been working nonstop to improve the game experience and make it more enjoyable – and more affordable – for players.

“We’re patching every week, adding tons of new features, one or two characters per month, new game modes, new story content,” Ryan said as we explored some of the newer areas and game modes. “We’ve redone pretty much every system relating to heroes’ damage and defense.” There are new powers to be gained past level 30 – a big sticking point upon the initial launch, where heroes didn’t gain any power during the climb from 30 to 60 – and the most recent update added a new way to add power to existing items through the addition of Norse Runewords.

Runewords drop like any other loot, but Gazillion has fun with the drop rates. As the days of our week are mostly named after Norse gods – Odin’s/Wodan’s Day (Wednesday), Thor’s Day (Thursday), Freja’s Day (Friday), etc. – Runewords related to those gods drop more frequently on those days. Also, to commemorate Australia Day on Jan. 26, the devs boosted boss villain Pyro, a native of Sydney, but also buffed his loot. It’s little touches like this that will make comics fans smile.

But even if you’re not so hardcore as to know Pyro’s birthplace, there’s lots to do in Marvel Heroes. We tried out some of the game modes that have been added since the game’s launch and had a blast.

Terminals. Ryan mentioned something about the Cosmic Cube and dimension-hopping… all I could tell was that Terminals were a kind of brief procedurally generated instance that led to a boss battle. Simple and easy – unless you scale up the difficulty – and a good way to kill 10 minutes or so and get some loot.

Midtown Patrol. Midtown Patrol is what Ryan called “casual random play.” You can exit Avengers Tower and run around in an open zone in midtown Manhattan where pretty much anything happens at any time. To prove that point, as Ryan was trying to explain to me something on a subscreen, a Sentinel rudely touched down right on top of me, necessitating a quick window closure and subsequent beatdown. You’ll encounter other players and minions and bosses from all parts of the game, and get random quests you can fulfill for even more loot. It’s easy to see how you could get distracted to the point of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

X-Defense. Enemies are storming the X-Mansion, and it’s up to you and your group of five players to defend the students! It’s your fairly typical “horde mode” gameplay, with 30 waves of enemies and ascending difficulty and rewards. I think we got to level 15 or 16 before the last of the students were taken. Not bad for a team that had to carry a derpy Gambit player like me.

S.H.I.E.L.D. Holo-Sim. Going live today, the S.H.I.E.L.D. Holo-Sim is another new content type. As Ryan described it to me, it sounds like a miniature version of the X-Mansion for one or two players. You’ll fight “crazy waves of enemies,” including a boss version of the Hulk or Venom.

All of these instances are “level banded,” meaning that players close in level can play together and be adjusted so as to be on par with each other. You can’t take a level 60 and a level 40 and expect them to play nice, but 39 and 44, for instance, will be fine. There’s more in the works, naturally, including a PvP mode that’s in beta, a Bronx Zoo-based instance filled with vicious, “lizard-ified” animals, and a full-on raid, which Ryan was loath to commit to a date other than “in the next few months.” Next time, I’ll have to use Cerebro to aggressively scan his mind.

In addition to the new content modes and the usual bug fixes, there are more starter heroes now, nine in total, and it’s easier to get the heroes people want. Instead of random drops of hero tokens – a major bone of contention at the game’s launch – players get Eternity Tokens, which they can turn in to “purchase” the hero of their choosing.

ARPGs are notorious for their “million clicks a minute” gameplay, and when you have multiple players batting hordes of enemies, it only gets worse. My only real gripe while playing was that it was hard at times to distinguish friend from foe when there are non-hostile NPCs around, like the X-Mansion students. You can’t hurt them, but with all the powers and effects going off, the screen can get overcrowded and gameplay feels more spammy than strategic. Ryan told me that’s something they’re working on. “Everything we do, we’ve been doing in response to the fans.”

Still, if you haven’t given Marvel Heroes much of a look since its launch, now might be a good time to jump back in. It won’t match Path of Exile for complexity, but for the casual ARPGer who also likes superheroes, there’s plenty to do, and more is on the way. The dev team seems dedicated to listening to player feedback and improving the game based upon it, and if my time with Ryan was any indication, they have fun doing it.

By Jason Winter

17 Readers Commented

Join discussion
  1. yudakel on March 21, 2014

    Marvel heroes is amazing game…at first this game wasnt good,i deleted it,but decided to give it another chance,and oh boy,this game has changed a lot,i just love it now !

    Amazing story line,non-stop action,very cool heros to play with…the time is flying when you play this game now.

    Its a free game,its really isnt a “pay to win” game,its just amazing free to play game with tons of options to enjoy !

    Give it a try guys,i know that the main problem is the lack of custimization,but you can buy for small amount of “G’s” a custom “skin” to your hero and make it uniqe…just try it now and see 🙂

  2. Jeremy S on February 23, 2014

    I played this back when it was released on Steam and it was just horrible. I hated everything about it. For some reason I recently downloaded it and started playing it and I can’t seem to stay away. I love everything Marvel, though I much prefer 3D super hero games like DCUO and CoH/CoV. And this is point to click which still ticks me off. It’s a fun game to kill time and it’s extremely easy to play by yourself. Well, until you have to fight a quest boss, some of them are really tough. But, yeah.. This game has changed a lot. It’s nothing I’d play long-term, especially since EQNL and ESO are coming out soon. But it sure kills time. I played for a few hours today, felt like half the time.

  3. Kalitko on February 23, 2014

    Guys Guys I play this game in closed beta it suck a lot so I stopped. After that I buy diablo 3 play It like 1 week most BORING game ever ! made. And now I see the new changes in marvel heroes guys there is TONS of thing you can do in this game now . The other think is if you have 1 champ lvl 60 and you level up another char to lvl 60 the main champ get bonuses. This game is 5 steps ahead from Diablo 3-RoS. PoE what is the good think about this game you use 2 spell and 15 buffs xD are you kidding me. And all players use this projectile think and this is fun ???. I also didn’t think that marvel is good now but I download the game to try it NOW I cant stop playing it its unbelievably good. You just have to try it for like 1h and you will not stop playing it .. trust me. And about the unbalanced heroes every week the game have patch with balances so I think soon will be the most balanced game.

    • Arieswar on February 23, 2014

      Still doh the custimization sucks sorry bro its just a fact, i whanna see the things i equip not wear bought or random dropped outfits. its a fact.

  4. Randyblythe on February 23, 2014

    If you absolutely have to play a super hero game, DCUO is pretty good.

    Marvel heroes requires the purchase of at the very least – stash tabs.

    Is it pay to win? Other than the stash tabs, no. Is it boring compared to PoE and even D3? God yes. It is horribly optimized and has too many bugs to count, the heroes are super imbalanced as well (want to win the game? pick Storm).

    I wouldn’t recommend this game to anyone, and while it has improved since release, it is still absolutely awful – play Path of Exile if you’re looking for an intelligent in-depth difficult ARPG with a complexity rarely seen in gaming – or D3 if you want a brainless hack and slash experience (nothing wrong with that) – there’s no room for a game like Marvel Heroes with it’s imbalance and bugs.

    • dude on February 23, 2014

      DCUO is pretty good.(played it when it 1st came out)

      bugs? cant think of any bad bugs(only good one)

      imbalance ? there 30 heroes……. most if not all mmo or arpg are imbalance …..D3 and Path of Exile too

      there a few heroes are just as good as storm. Iron man deadpool and jean(top of my head)

  5. Anonymous on February 22, 2014

    All I could think of while playing this game during beta was that DC universe online is leaps and bounds a better game. I don’t think new game modes and skill past level 30 will change that.

    Good luck to the devs behind this game, you may need it 🙂

  6. Arieswar on February 22, 2014

    Hey guys 🙂
    I aswell agree with what your saying after a terrible launch and all this game went from bad to worse but i hope that they can indeed fix this game, however my biggest concern in this game was and stands that when you equip something new you dont change ur looks at all and frankly that killed the feeling totally without proper customization i dont stick long.

    ATM im playing DC universe as a subbed player and i must say that game has all of the above and more, as the voice overs for all quest ect is spot on im staying for quite some time i belive 🙂

    I must say i wish marvel the best doh and i hope that they realize one day what a gem of a game this could be instead of going totally blind and I strongly suggest that they start listen to the community (Even the trolls) because frankly if you painted a room in the same colour for so long you go blind.

  7. Name (Required) on February 22, 2014

    I played the closed beta version of this and was put off by just… everything. I didn’t give time for the company to fix the game, why would they release it in such a horrible state? And because of that reason I have never gone back and really just don’t care about the game at all.

    Initial impressions stick a long time game companies.

    • Sabin on February 22, 2014

      Same, but i decided to give them a second choice cause I really love marvel comic books, and guess what, It feels like another game worth my time and maybe money.

      I haven’t payed anything yet but I managed to get a Iron man, Scarlet witch and a Gambit for free!

    • ZED_pt on February 23, 2014

      Dont apply to closed betas then.
      Agreeing to play a game that is not in his final form and complaining about it,just doesnt make sense

    • Armored on February 23, 2014

      First impressions stick on a beta? Hmmm seems like you should do some homework before getting involved in something you know nothing about. As well as making ignorant posts.

  8. Tech on February 22, 2014

    This looks like a fun game but sadly I can’t run it because it requires 2.1 Ghz and I only have 2.0.

  9. fromhelll on February 21, 2014

    You said Thorsday in the second line XD

    Something about this game just never fully got my attention, I keep saying i’m gonna download it but I never do, also when Iron Man runs he looks like he’s about to shit himself.

    • Rama on February 22, 2014

      It says Thorsday (not a typo)

    • Axiom9 on February 22, 2014

      Yeah…and I just dont like the fact that you cant make your own character so there are 600 Wolverines running around and 500 things and so on and so on 🙁

HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY?