In about two weeks from now – June 4 to be exact – Marvel Heroes Online will go live. From what I have observed, the mere mentioning of Marvel Heroes has already got the fans excited. How not to be? You’ll get to play out your favorite heroes joining others to battle the iconic villains. Besides, to start playing this massively multiplayer online game, you don’t need to spend a single cent. The game is free-to-play. But is it really so? How would your gaming experience be affected by going free all the way?
Well, you have come to the right place. I have been playing the closed beta for months. Thanks to an account reset, I have tried out 14 heroes out of 21 using in-game currency provided during beta and have progressed pass the midway point. Here are a few thoughts to share with regards to free-versus-paid gaming experience. As a disclaimer, the game is still in beta and Gazillion may still change it as we speak.
- To start playing Marvel Heroes, you get to pick one of the characters offered free-of-charge: Daredevil, Storm, Thing, Scarlet Witch, and Hawkeye. I have tried all but Hawkeye. My conclusion is that this basic tier feels underpowered compares to the premium heroes. They are noticeable weaker and they lack some of the practical as well as fancy powers other premium heroes have.
- While I did not have fun with these basic heroes, I really enjoy playing the game with some of the premium heroes. You can keep on playing the game and hope to obtain one of these heroes for free – which could take some time (in fact, I haven’t seen one dropped yet). Or you could spend real money and buy a hero that you would love to play. I would highly recommend so since time is more valuable then money. The rest of this article helps you to make that decision.
- You are likely to stick to one hero until you have completed all the eight chapters because switching heroes reset game progress. Also, since all heroes share the same inventory and stash, you would run out of space much faster by leveling multiply heroes at the same time.
- The free edition provides you with an inventory space of 40 and a stash space of 48 shared by all your heroes. This may seem a lot but it’s barely enough to get by. Medical kits only stacks up to 10 per slot. Crafting materials – the space eater – do not stack. Also, if you plan to pass items to your other heroes, that 88 slots are going to fill up very quickly. You can however spend real money to buy space. Two more general stash of 48 slots each, three more for potions, and one stash for each of the 21 heroes. I have no idea how much that would cost you. From early levels, I have already been struggling with space. It seems to me that I would need to buy one or two extra stash once this game is live.
- Want to look different from the rest of the heroes? Costumes are available for purchase with real money too. Each costume may cost as much as the hero himself. At minimum each hero has three different costumes for sales. Iron Man has eleven costumes at beta!
- While some consumables like XP and rare item boost purchasable using real money seem optional, the ability to reset chosen skills to me is mandatory. Why? The skill trees are designed so much so that you have to go for a reset once new skills open up as you level pass a certain point. Because only 7 skills can be active at any time, I would highly recommend to put all the points to these 7 skills (as well as the passive ones) instead of spreading them across to all skill options. Rarely you need to swap skills for different fights. Fortunately, I have seen this power reset potion (or device) dropped freely from time to time. If you are desperate for a skill reset, the online store is your best friend.
- There are some companions for purchase too. In the past I used to buy them for other MMO games. Again, totally optional like costumes but they are there if you feel lonely in a villain infested world.
In summary, my suggestion is to start the game with one of the freely offered heroes and go through Chapter 1. Once you get to the point whereby you feel you may like the game, purchase a premium hero and be prepared to buy other stuffs like extra stash. If you need some advice on picking your second hero, read on! I have some insights to share. What if you want to stick with the freely offered heroes? Thing starts off good due to high durability and strength. But due to a lack of mobility and speed, some of the boss fights would be pretty hard. Storm is kind of weak and looking at the stats of Hawkeye, I am not impressed either. Scarlet Witch is OK as a caster type of hero if kiting play style is your cup of tea. Daredevil is a melee hero with range attack making it also a viable choice among the five heroes.
When it comes to picking or rather buying your heroes, I have some insights for sharing. Now, I understand that this can be a personal choice because you may have a liking towards certain Marvel Heroes. So, my insights are purely from a game play perspective. My aim is to equip you with the right information so that you can make an informed decision.
- Price Tag: Each hero comes with a price tag: 600, 900, 1200, and 2000 in-game currency. Heroes with the lowest price tag are usually basic. Their general stats are usually low or they are crippled with some aspects such as mobility. At 900 and 1200, heroes often come with extra resources to manage. Like Jean Grey being able to turn into a phoenix, Ms. Marvel fights better as she takes on punishment, or Thor gets more powerful as he is overwhelmed by enemies. At 2000 price tag, some heroes can be real fun to play. Like Spider-man’s ability to swing across enemies with his web and look striking too. While a high price tag does not necessarily mean that the hero is for you, it is a good indication on where you should start looking. I would start from 1200 up.
- Hero Stats: Each hero comes with 6 stats. They are durability, strength, fighting, speed, energy, and intelligence. A detail explanation can be found at the bottom of this entry. In a nutshell, the higher overall stats your hero has, the better the game play. Higher durability and fighting increases survivability and damage output. Speed affects both move and attack speed. There should be a balance between strength (physical damage) and energy + intelligence (energy damage and mental a.k.a. DoT damage). My preference is physical damage output because there is a certain edge to be at the front of the battle, collecting health and spirit globes before others do. Or simply, progress ahead of the group.
- Hybrid Build: Normally, in other online games, you may choose to pick a tank class or range damage class or melee damage class and be merry with whatever game play that suits you. However, in Marvel Heroes, I enjoy hybrid builds much better. Because tank classes such as Thing or Hulk aren’t that tough. There isn’t a dedicated healer class therefore making a tank class less attractive. Range damage classes such as Jean Grey may be powerful from a distance, she would need to do a fair bit of kiting against melee enemies. Some melee classes like Black Panther is pretty fun to play being able to leap onto the back of the enemies and deliver melee damage. But against bosses that require space may be a challenge. Hence, from my experience, those heroes who are excel in both melee and range and with a decent amount of durability are the most enjoyable ones to play. Such as Ms. Marvel, Thor, and Captain America. All of them are able to deliver respectable damage up close and decent damage at range. They are pretty high in durability too.
- Escape Skills: While stats and builds may give a good indicator on how enticing a hero is, you have got to spend some time reading up on the shortlisted heroes utility abilities as well. Take Ms. Marvel as an example, she is able to lunge forward knocking off enemies along the way and get behind them (Spider-Man has similar ability too). She also gets to fly over enemies and obstacles (like Jean Grey in phoenix form). That versus Storm’s leaping backward and still facing the enemies, I would much prefer lunging forward instead. You would need sufficient escape skills to get you out of sticky situations, especially so during boss fights.
- The Fun Factor: Sometimes, we play a character because it is fun. Being able to fly around, turn into a phoenix, or swing around like Spider-Man does can be fun. Having a high intelligence level hero like Iron Man and hence speeds up the leveling experience can also be fun.
Now that you know how to pick your hero, where shall you start? First, visit the official Marvel Heroes website and check out the heroes’ stats as well as some story write-up. Then, visit the official wiki website and look through the skills available for your shortlisted heroes. Pay attention to hybrid build and the escape skills and pick one that suits you.
What about me? My favorite hero has got to be Ms. Marvel. She has a set of well rounded stats. As a hybrid build, Ms. Marvel is able to neutralize enemies up close, from afar, and in a group at ease. She also has the right sort of escape skills to get out of sticky situations. Thor and Captain America both rank high on my list too due to their well rounded hybrid builds. Looking at the fun factor, Spider-Man and Jean Grey score high. Iron Man is another viable option though the game play seems a bit less exciting compares to say Ms. Marvel and Spider-Man. But being able to gain experience points faster, that alone is quite a plus point. Oh yes, did I mention that fun looking Mark I or Mark II costume for Iron Man?
Here is a little bit extra for those who want to know what the attributes mean.
- Reduces incoming damage
- Improves health regeneration
- Reduces stun duraction on you
- Increases your physical damage
- Allows you to throw objects of increasing size
- May add stun to your melee powers
- Increases damage with fighting powers
- Reduces incoming damage from fighting powers
- Reduces spirit cost for fighting powers
- Increases attack speed with fighting powers
- Increases move speed
- Increases fly speed
- Increases attack speed
- Reduces slow durations on you
- Increases energy damage
- Increases mental damage (a.k.a. DoT)
- Improves spirit regeneration
- Reduces spirit cost for energy powers and mental powers
- Increases experience point gain
- Increases mental defense
- Increases attack speed with mental powers