Video Game: Marvel Heroes

Marvel heroes, assemble!

Marvel Heroes (formerly known as Marvel Universe Online) is the House of Ideas's renewed attempt to enter the MMORPG fray, created by Gazillion Entertainment (also in charge of the kid-friendly Super Hero Squad Online). A previous effort under development was scrapped at the eleventh hour, and became what is now known as Champions Online.

The basic storyline, written by famed Marvel scribe Brian Michael Bendis, in summary: Doctor Doom obtains the Cosmic Cube, and wants to harness its power and conquer the world. He does so while forming alliances with various other villainous factions, such as HYDRA and Mr. Sinister. All the heroes in the Marvel Universe, from street levellers to cosmic entities, must band together to stop Doom and his legion from unleashing a catastrophe.

This new free-to-play game is spearheaded by Diablo I & II co-creator David Brevik, and his influence on the gameplay shows: Marvel Heroes can be more accurately described as Diablo in an MMO setting, utilising the Marvel Ultimate Alliance concept of a rotating roster of heroes the player can choose from in their playthroughs.

Unlike many other titles, however, players will be using existing Marvel superheroes instead of creating a character from scratch. Each hero is essentially translated into a mix of one or more classic Fantasy Character Classes, much like Mages, Thieves or, well, Rogues in other games. This is a pretty big Base Breaker amongst more seasoned MMORPG players to say the least, which place great value on extensive customisation of your own characters.

Each hero has different levels in 6 statistics, which can increase with the use of gear and when they level up:
  • Durability
  • Strength
  • Fighting
  • Speed
  • Energy
  • Intelligence

Gazillion has incorporated a range of locales and classic storylines. A huge selection of heroes (there are over 8000 characters in the Marvel universe) are being made playable, from classic favourites like Iron Man to more offbeat picks such as Squirrel Girl and her army of rodents. Customisation of heroes comes in the form of different costumes, stat enhancements and swappable powers to differentiate, say, one player's Hulk from another's. Team ups are also encouraged, allowing players to either re-enact classic comic book squads or create hilariously unlikely hero combinations.

Marvel Heroes launched in late May 2013 for those who pre-ordered the premium and ultimate packs, and officially released on June 4th, 2013.

This game provides examples of:

  • A God Am I: Well, it's Doom we're talking about here...
  • Allegedly Free Game: If your favorite hero isn't one of the starting heroes, and you can't be bothered grinding until you get him/her by saving up alternate currency (Eternity Splinters), then you'd better fork up money for 'Gs'.
    • There are 3 tiers of hero pricing: 450G/200 Splinters, 900G/400 Splinters and 1350G/600 Splinters. Deadpool, Ghost Rider, Iron Man and Spider-Man are in the last category.
    • In addition, experience boosts, drop rate boosts, stash size upgrades and costumes are also bought using the same Gs. A number of costumes are also only available via Fortune Cards (less than 1% chance). These Cards cost Gs or drop ever so rarely, essentially a glorified form of gambling.
      • Costumes, Pets, Retcon Devices and Mk 1 Fortune cards all have a small chance of dropping from enemies. Also Eternity Splinters have a small chance to drop 2 at a time or, more infrequently, in groups of 10.
  • Artistic License – Law: What Jean DeWolffe is being blackmailed for in the storyline is actually not only fully within her rights and abilities as a police officer, it's something she'd get a commendation or even medal for in real life, though it's heavily implied that The Kingpin has almost every Judge, Politician and Public Official on his payroll and that DeWolffe would be up against a Kangaroo Court without SHIELD's influence.
  • Ascended Meme: Marvel Heroes player "Punchclops" set out to build Cyclops's skillset without his trademark optic blast moves, using the "Trained Punch" move as his only damage power. The history of Punchclops was so popular in the Marvel Heroes community, its creator made a web comic called "The Adventures of Punchclops." The dev team ended up creating a completely new gear called "Legacy of Punchclops," with its main buff being the ability to add +12 to the current rank of "Trained Punch." The item quotes features a reference to one of The Adventures of Punchclops' running jokes: "Coming Soon: Punchclops vs. Wolverine!"
  • Assist Character: Where do we begin?
    • Firstly, there are Team-Ups, buyable assists that can be used actively or passively to complement your hero's playstyle. These are usually less powerful or prominent characters such as Falcon or Magik.
    • A significant number of heroes also have summoning powers. These range from singular abilities, like Gambit and Daredevil, to cases where summons are an important part of the hero's playstyle, like Loki and Luke Cage.
    • An assortment of items can summon sidekicks, including cosmic gear, insignias, artifacts and uniques (which can either summon generic mooks like Sentinels and Hand ninjas, or specific characters like Cyclops for Emma Frost and Sabertooth for Squirrel Girl).
    • Finally, there are pets like the Iron Buddy and Old Lace, which can be fed items you no longer need to grant stat bonuses.
  • Big Bad: Doctor Doom, of course.
    • Along with other Chessmasters of the Marvel Universe like Green Goblin, Magneto and the Kingpin.
    • Loki was next in line after Doom's inevitable defeat at the end of the game. The next big bad after him is going to be Surtur
  • Boss Rush: Castle Doomstadt.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Deadpool, as always. In addition, S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Lee occasionally complains in a voice over how "This is my cameo!?" (He's an item vendor.)
  • Cap: Level 60.
    • You can gain up to 6 prestige levels beyond 60 for your heroes (with the 6th prestige requiring 25x as much experience as a regular playthrough), but your maximum level is still reflected as being at 60.
  • Check Point: S.H.I.E.L.D. Waypoints are placed in important areas, and allow heroes to travel between all the other Waypoints that they have unlocked. Also serves as a Respawn Point when a hero faints in-game.
  • Cloning Blues: The clones of various heroes Mister Sinister summons to assist him during his Boss Battle are capable of mimicking their source hero's powers to an extent, but are overall vastly inferior in power level and survivability.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • In terms of the overall Marvel Universe, Stan Lee is the voice of S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Lee.
    • David Brevik, who created this game, appears as the final boss Cow King Brevik in the Classified Bovine Sector.
    • Many Gazillion employees are name-checked as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in game. Ryolnir is an elite Purifier enemy.
  • Critical Hit Class: Hawkeye has some passive skills that improve critical hit chances and effects.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Cosmic Cube powered Dr. Doom does this to Uatu the Watcher in the opening cinematic. Later he does the same thing to Dormammu.
    • Facing bosses with levels vastly lower to your can lead to this.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: When the Kingpin's goons are preparing to kill Speedball. No matter if Robbie is using his Speedball or Penance powerset, being beaten to within an inch of his life with blunt force should in fact be supercharging his kinetic powers.
  • Deal with the Devil: In The Chronicles of Doom prequel videos, Doom attempts to bargain with Dormammu for more power. Dormammu declines and casts Doom out of the Dark Dimension.
  • Die, Chair! Die!: Chairs, along with computers, shelves, crates and any number of in-game objects, are entirely destructible and sometimes yield credits in return. Or they might cause a turret or bot to spawn instead...
    • Some optional quests require you to break a certain number of destructibles in a certain level, usually along with defeating a number of mooks and a boss.
  • Difficulty Levels: After beating the main story, you unlock a series of daily missions which include the final area and boss encounters of each chapter. The easiest daily missions are in Avengers' Tower, which unlock harder missions at The X-Mansion, which then unlock the hardest missions at the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. This is arguably comparable to the Nightmare, Hell and Inferno difficulty levels in Diablo.
    • As of a patch in July 2013, these missions are no longer unlocked in sequence, but now have a recommended level.
    • As of a patch in September 2013, the normal story mode now has also comes in much tougher flavors: Heroic and Superheroic.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Theme wise to many other superhero MMO games, gameplay wise to Diablo and Marvel Ultimate Alliance.
    • If a hero has their own in universe Distaff Counterpart chances are it is or will soon become an Enhanced costume for them. Current examples include Hawkeye, Deadpool, Loki, and Ghost Rider.
  • Enemy Civil War: Madripoor is the setting of a war between HYDRA and The Hand, both of whom are after The Tablet of Life and Time.
    • The setting of the one-shot mission "March to AXIS" consists on the return of the Red Skull having caused a civil war inside HYDRA, where the regular green-vested HYDRA (loyal to the Mandarin) fights a new red-vested HYDRA (loyal to the Red Skull).
  • Enemy Mine: Ghost helps the heroes when entering Doom's castle.
    • Loki offers to team up with the heroes shortly after you defeat his Cosmic Cube-powered self, with Surtur's forces intent on wreaking havoc and the Asgardian forces in shambles after Loki's attempted coup. As he puts it, he was 'merely' intent on claiming the Asgardian throne while Surtur wants everything destroyed.
  • Enemy Summoner: As of the September 2013 patch, bosses and elite mobs can have affixes like "A.I.M. Support", "Hail Hydra!", "Moloid Menace" and "Brood Infested" which would periodically summon different groups of mooks to aid the boss.
    • Mr. Sinister's gimmick besides blasting you with energy bolts, is to summon Mook Makers that spawn clones of the X-Men. This ends up being his Chekhov's Skill. After Sinister survives your boss battle, he goes over to Dr. Doom to give the latter a frozen clone of Bishop.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Magneto gets one in a cutscene where he's strangling Stryker with a piece of metal, giving this speech which tells you everything you need to know about the master of magnetism.
    "You want us at war with the humans, and now you have it. I take no joy in that. I take no pleasure in it. But we either chose to win this war and live free, or lie down and let you enslave us. Torture us. Kill us. Humans and mutants cannot live together in peace. Your God has selected the Mutant as the dominant species on the planet. I am Magneto. I am mutant. And you will not take this world from me."
  • Familiar: Heroes can have pets that tag along wherever they go, but only serve a cosmetic purpose. They include Spider-Ham, Old Lace and H.E.R.B.I.E..
  • Foreshadowing: In X-defense missions, defeating the Kingpin reveals that he's actually a Skrull imposter. At C 2 E 2 2014, Gazillion revealed that after Asgard, the next major storyline will be Secret Invasion
    • Spencer Smite appears in a side mission in Hell's Kitchen, enraged at the heroes when they stop the symbiote infestation before he could regain control of the situation and save his reputation. He vows to make the heroes pay. In the first "One-shot" mission he aids in the invasion of Wakanda to use the Vibranium mines to upgrade his Spider Slayers, and throughout Midtown Manhattan Patrol, Spider Slayers will spawn to face the heroes.
  • Freudian Excuse: In The Chronicles of Doom prequel videos, Dormammu taunts Doom by questioning if his desperate grabs for power were the result of his gypsy mother's soul trapped in hell.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Loki becomes a playable character (before his boss fight was released, in fact) after he is defeated and Asgard requires his help to stop Surtur's advance, although he's only required in the first place because of all the devastation he's already caused to the Asgardian forces. Juggernaut, Magneto and Venom, who were all bosses, were released as playables in 2014, so far, no in-game story justified their inclusion.
  • Hero Ball: Given that Stryker is immeasurably worse than Magneto, Professor X telling the player to save the former from the latter reminds you why he's the father figure to the X-Men.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Dr. Doom is behind ALL of the events and villains (except Magneto) in the original main story
    • In the original story's ending, all of Doom's cosmic energy is stolen by Loki.
  • Homing Lasers: Several enemies have energy attacks that can follow heroes around for a distance, including traveling in a curved trajectory.
  • Improvised Weapon: Heroes with superhuman strength or abilities that simulate telekinesis can lift environmental objects and throw them at enemies.
  • Ironic Echo: When Doom attacks Dormammu in the Dark Dimension in the prologue videos, Dormammu gives Doom a "The Reason You Suck" Speech and casts him out of the Dark Dimension, telling him to learn his place. After obtaining the Cosmic Cube, Doom delivers the same line to Uatu in the opening cutscene.
  • Level Up Fill Up: Health and Spirit (mana) are replenished to full each time a character levels up.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The developers' aim, and one of the game's main draws. In fact, while the producers were tracking down previous voice actors for in-game characters to add a touch of familiarity, they realised that some characters had never appeared or been voiced before. Such is the breadth of the character library the game draws from.
  • Nerf: The developers repeatedly state in their patch notes that they are avoiding nerfing any heroes and items if at all possible. The result is that most patch notes, aside from the requisite bug fixes, seem to be never-ending waves of buffs, with the rare nerf.
  • Micro Transactions: As with all free-to-play games, there is a cash shop. Aside from heroes, all items on sale are purely cosmetic, such as costumes and pets.
  • New Game+: Levelling up your character allows you to play through the story again at higher difficulty levels with your gear and skill points intact, as well as opening new difficulty modes.
  • Non-Player Companion: The game introduced 'Team-Ups' in April 2014, side heroes that can be bought with either Eternity Splinters or cash to complement the main playable characters. Team-Ups can either take the form of a persistent Sidekick, a short-term summon with a cooldown or provide passive benefits but be absent from actual gameplay.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: A rare example that benefits the player. The 'Ignores Defenses' monster and boss affix was gradually and completely removed from the game in June and July patches, because it made Mighty Glacier characters like Thing or Hulk next to useless fighting these enemies, completely invalidating their role as meat shields for less durable heroes.
    • The "Heals When Injured" affix was later removed as it made certain bosses nigh impossible for some heroes to defeat.
  • Oh, Crap: Everyone's reaction when Dr. Doom shows how powerful the Cosmic Cube has made him when he takes down Dormammu, who easily beat Dr. Doom in the prologue videos, and for that matter, hopelessly outclasses most physical (and non-physical) gods.
  • One-Hit Kill: Rhino and Juggernaut's charge atacks. However, they will shout "Out of the way," and "Here I come," respectively, while a red arrow will point out the direction they'll take, giving a chance to escape. At lower levels, one of Bullseye's moves becomes this. However, a warning will flash over your character saying 'Take Cover,' giving you time to escape. At higher levels, Bullseye's attack no longer consumes all your character's health, but still deals impressive damage.
  • Pinball Projectile: Captain America's shield and Daredevil's billy clubs can bounce off multiple enemies.
  • Ragdoll Physics: The bodies of defeated enemies can fly about when impacted upon, and it is glorious.
  • Randomly Drops: Their system averts Loot Drama. Each player upon defeating an enemy or boss has their own money piles, experience orbs and loot drops that only they can see. (On the other hand, life and energy orbs can be seen and picked up by anyone. The only time an item can be seen by everyone is if it was dropped from inventory.)
  • Rare Random Drop: Heroes and costumes for the heroes drop very, very rarely. (And they are bound on pickup so no trading it to your buddy either.)
    • Eternity Splinter are a new rare currency item added as of August 2013. Save enough and you can finally pick and unlock your favorite hero if you're unwilling to spend real money.
  • Retcon: Lampshaded as the explanation for how heroes are able to reset their skill tree with an item.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Rocket Raccoon's entrance quotes.
  • Reflecting Laser: A number of heroes have energy attacks that bounce off hordes of enemies, albeit doing less damage after each bounce. They include Cyclops, Loki and Storm.
  • Role Reprisal:
  • Save the Princess: Averted. From a cutscene in Chapter 3, it appears that Sharon Carter/Agent 13 might be in serious trouble whilst going undercover, and your character is tasked with locating her. It turns out that she simply lost contact because she was busy tracking the Table of Life and Time to the Hand.
  • Sequel Hook: After Doom's defeat, a large portion of the Cosmic Cube's power is taken by Loki.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: Several powers and artifacts in-game can cause enemies to attack each other in confusion.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: Emma Frost in her stripperiffic White Queen attire, dating back to her Hellfire Club days.
    • Almost all of Emma's outfits, really.
    • Storm has a few outfits that qualify also.
    • Rogue's Savage Land costume, which is her classic costume extremely torn.
  • Shout-Out
    • The artifact "Edge of Infinity", a rather transparent Expy of League of Legends's "Infinity Edge". Like its inspiration, it is the best raw damage item. They also both increase damage, critical hit chance and critical hit damage bonus.
    • The "Classified Bovine Sector".
    • The rank names for the various stats (Remarkable, etc) are a direct shout out to the 1980's Marvel tabletop RPG
    • Spider-Man's ultimate, Maximum Spider shares a name with one of his super moves from the Marvel Vs. series.
      • Psylocke's ultimate, Psionic Maelstrom, has the same name and general effect as one of her supers from the same series of games.
      • Gambit's Signature, 52 Pickup, is literally the Royal Flush from X-Men Vs. Street Fighter, right down to the staff toss.
      • Colossus' Signature, Colossal Roar, is lifted from the Konami X-Men arcade game.
    • Three of Iron Man's moves are shout outs to each of the character's movies.
      • Jericho Bombarment is named after the missile of the same name Tony Stark was demostrating in Afghanistan during Iron Man, and the Ten Rings later attempted to force him build it for them.
      • Iron Man's signature the One-Off is the identical move to the one Iron Man used in Iron Man 2 to finish off the Hammer Droids, and is named after the description Tony gave to it: "I can only use it once. It's a one-off."
      • Iron Man's ultimate power House Party Protocol consists of having J.A.R.V.I.S. remotelly control numerous Iron Man suits to help him in combat, similar to Iron Man 3.
    • The item quote for the gear Starktech Portal Reactor describes how an infomercial actor was stating that "Tony Stark built this in a cave... and now, you can wear it around you-" before he was interrupted by Iron Man crashing through the wall to reclaim his stolen tech.
    • The Cube Shard Collector sells a Neuralyzer. It makes the current character forget the story so they can do it again.
    Item quote: A gift from some friends from out of town.
    Deadpool: A heart, a heart, my kingdom for a heart.
    • Shortly after Diablo III's Reaper of Souls expansion, Gazillion launched an event called Don't Fear the Reaper.
    • One of Hawkeye's gear is the "Hawkguy Shades," a reference to Matt Fraction's Comic Book/Hawkeye series. Additionally, the gear allows you to summon Kate Bishop's Hawkeye to assist you for 30 seconds (or regular Hawkeye if you're paying as Kate Bishop), recreating the team-up forged in said series.
  • Skill Scores and Perks: Besides the classic Diablo-style skill trees, each hero also has a rating for various attributes like Strength and Intelligence (for example, Intelligence affects the rate of XP gain). Both can be increased with the use of gear.
  • Summon Magic: Aside from a number of artifacts and gear that have a chance to summon allies upon use, some heroes have summon powers built into their skills. Several have a full skill tree dedicated to summons, such as Loki, Luke Cage and Squirrel Girl, although all these characters and their summons play very differently.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Inverted; Deadpool's Ultimate skill allows him to replicate the notorious video game phenomenon of "server lag" and use it on the AI instead. Watch as helpless, "disconnected" mooks jog in place while you lay on the smackdown! The awesome thing is, it also works on bosses! (Though they recover faster than any affected mooks.)
    • Played straight with certain ranged enemies like Doctor Octopus and the frequently recurring A.I.M Bots. They will often target ranged, "glass cannon" heroes with their projectiles rather than the tanks in front of them. This also applies to bosses with Foe Tossing Charges and Flash Steps as they seem to heavily favor weaker targets when aiming their Crosshair Aware attacks.
      • Combine with Interface Screw in a large "raid" like Limbo Survival or Midtown Patrol, where it's extremely hard to see where the boss is aiming due to the number of players filling the screen (and sometimes lag itself), making dodging these moves that will One-Hit Kill a glass cannon hero almost impossible.
    • Certain monster affixes on Bosses can make for unexpected and deadly combos.
      • The Freezing affix on Magneto allows him to trap players in place while his incredibly powerful area affect spell crushes them in seconds.
      • The Kinetic Vortex ability is frustrating to play against; Bosses frequently invoke it in order to interrupt the revival of incapacitated heroes. And it's also normally used to put less durable heroes right next to the Boss where they'll be promptly one or two-shotted.
      • Since higher level bosses can roll more than one affix, it's perfectly possible to face Freezing, Kinetic Vortex Magneto at which point most of the party will simply give up.
      • The Power Cosmic affix creates two large circles of energy that move along the floor and causes great damage over time when stepped on. Melee heroes are usually forced to step on it just to deal damage to the boss, making them mostly useless unless the party knows how to re-position the boss. They also make it nearly impossible to revive anyone if they decide to hover over the downed person.
      • The Quick ability on bosses. As if dodging their attacks is hard enough, making them faster probably isn't gonna help. And Quick on Magneto? Better hope you have split-second reactions and no lag.
      • None of this was as awful as bosses having the ability to heal themselves on top of all these abilities, which made some bosses nigh invincible. Thankfully this ability was removed.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Various heroes' ultimate skills take a long time to recharge, up to 20 minutes. You aren't just gonna use it to annihilate this group of mooks right? Definitely not even on this sub-boss, roaming boss or elite mob. Maybe not even against this stage's boss, what if you'll need it on the next one?
    • The cooldown on Ultimates has been reduced to 10 minutes. By ranking up an Ultimate, the cooldown can be reduced up to 7 minutes.
  • Trash Talk: Par for the course, given that it's a game based on comic book characters. Heroes and villains will taunt each other, and even heroes on less-than-friendly terms with each other will spout hostile lines.
  • Unexpected Character: Ka-Zar, Rocket Raccoon and Squirrel Girl, the least obscure 'obscure comic book character' ever. Then again, it's Brian Michael Bendis we're talking about here.