Another look at Marvel Heroes

I’ve been playing a lot of Marvel Heroes lately so I thought I should do another post about it. A lot has changed in the game since I last posted. I looked back at all my posts with the ‘Marvel Heroes’ tag. It’s interesting to see how things have changed since my first post.

I started writing this post Thursday evening. The Marvel Heroes servers were down for a patch to implement Nightcrawler. I had been supposed to raid but wouldn’t let me login to Warcraft so I was replaced. I managed to login eventually, and I stayed logged in and afk, as I was too scared to logout in case they needed me and I couldn’t get back in. Having Warcraft open in one window to watch chat, and this post in another, at least kept me busy until the MH servers came back up.

How to play
There’s efficiency and there’s fun. Then there’s somewhere in between. When I wrote my original review back last June I complained that respecs weren’t free. I complained that changing the talents made a huge difference in power and that it wasn’t easy to know what to choose, you were then penalised for making a mistake. However, with experience comes knowledge and I’ve now changed my tune.

Looking on the forum there are a number of builds available that have all been tested, the theorycrafters have been hard at work. These builds are no doubt awesome when it comes to the hardest content in the game. However, for levelling, and just generally smashing stuff, optimal isn’t necessary. What does it matter if things die in 5 seconds or 3? So long as the mobs do die, and you don’t, or at least you don’t very often. Experimentation is not a bad thing.

I’ve been playing Captain America a lot lately trying to get him to level 60. He got his level 52 rework last week so I went on the forum and checked out what was now good, plugged it in and got playing. However, I wondered about the new powers that I didn’t pick. So I logged the test center to try them out. The test center is great for some many reasons, above and beyond helping Gaz test things obviously, being able to try out different builds without using precious live server resources is just one of them. I tried varying different builds and eventually built my own. I’m sure it’s not optimal, I’m sure the theorycrafters will hate it. However, it absolutely destroys everything I try and kill, and I don’t die very much, so I like it. It doesn’t use any basics as I noticed that I didn’t have any problems with spirit, so I figured I might as well use it.

The Build:
– Max Shield Bounce
– Max Shield Expertise
– Max Airborne Assault
– Max Torqued Shield Throw
– Max Heroic Charge
– Max Indestructible Shield
– 1 point in Aggressive Shout
– Remaining points in Combat Prowess

I was having to charge about a lot anyway so figured I might as well get some decent damage out of it. The cooldown reduction that Vibranium Bash gave wasn’t worth it, plus I was doing more damage to bosses with Airborne Assault and Shield Bounce. So my rotation is AA, TST, Shield Bounce. For any trash mobs including blue elite AA usually one shots them, if not then TST will finish them off. Shield Bounce is to finish off yellow elites or if it’s a boss. Shield Bounce has to be at the end because it places an invisible cd on the other two abilities, preventing them from being used, so it makes sense to incur that cd when the real cd is on. If the mob is a boss, and therefore not dead, then I heroic charge through it until AA is off cd and then repeat. It works a treat, highly mobile, very good aoe and good single target too.

For me the most important thing about playing a hero, is that it feels like that hero. I mean take Thor for instance. When some people think of him, they think he’s the thunder god, and therefore he should be able to throw lightning about. For me, I see him as I saw him in the movie and his hammer was his most memorable asset – “You want me to put the hammer down!” – and therefore his build has to include a lot of hammer abilities.

My first character in MH was Storm so when I see lightning powers I think of her, so seeing Thor chuck them out just feels wrong. My Thor is only level 7 but I was messing about on the test center, trying out all the different abilities, and I made a build that mainly focuses on the power of Mjolnir. The numbers looked ok in the Shield Training Room but I didn’t use it in a practical setting. I wanted Thor to feel like the Thor I thought of him as, and it’s the same with any hero. If they don’t feel like themselves then how can I be having fun? Fun is the main objective so that’s what needs to be aimed for.

What to do in game
Well have fun is number one. They are adding things like raids to the game, but they have no draw for me. If I want to play seriously like that, it’s why I keep my Warcraft subscription. MH is purely for fun and it’s a different kind of game, I just run around and smash things. There’s a few quests but the gameplay isn’t so much about the content, it’s just about the act of playing the different heroes.

As previously mentioned I’ve been trying to get Captain America to level 60. This is because level 60 is the level cap, and I do think it would be cool to have something there. It’s also because of the Hero Synergy Bonus. When you have one hero at level 60, you get a 30% xp increase, which is nothing to sniff at. The next hero at level 60 takes the xp increase to 50%, 3rd 65% and 4th 75%. After that for each subsequent level 60 there’s an additional 5% up 200% hard cap. So there is a considerable benefit to having one character at level 60.

However, that’s all about efficiency. The content doesn’t change whatever your level, true you get access to more powers and abilities, but that’s all. You smash stuff at 60 and you smash stuff at level 1. It’s not a race to the endgame as there is no endgame, the game is the game and levelling is just a byproduct of having fun. So therefore is no reason to stress the optimal path. I realised this when I was thinking that I should finish levelling Cap to 60 before I could play Nightcrawler. I had that thought and then asked myself why? what does it matter? The answer is, that it doesn’t.

I went on the forums Friday morning and there were several threads about people having level 60 Nightcrawlers. One guy claimed world first, it had taken him just over three hours. Another guy said that he was done, as he was level 60, had all the uniques, it had taken him just over four hours. See you next month he said, for when the next hero came out. I just don’t understand. True I would like to get Nightcrawler to a higher level to unlock some more powers, he feels very weak right now. Most of that is me, as I don’t want to put the points in the sword powers, he’s a teleporter and those are the powers I want to use. Unfortunately those aren’t available that much at level 10. I tested Nightcrawler on the test center, actually found some bugs, but I also tried out all of his powers. He will be fine when he unlocks them. Until then at least I can dance about with teleport.

There’s the story mode which is done on normal, heroic and superheroic. I don’t get all the levels I need from doing the story, I look at the guide and see what level I should be for the next chapter. I then go to Midtown or X-Defence and level up to match it. After level 20 when legendary quests are introduced I use those as they give good xp. The legendary quests also take you to many different zones so it’s nice variety of things to smash.

Other useful things
There are a number of vendors in the game and in order to access all of their stuff, they have to be levelled. The crafter is the first one to level as you can do cool things with it. You can put a costume core on, which is cheap and worth doing, the cores themselves drop like candy at higher levels. Crafters can also upgrade uniques for a boatload of credits. Uniques are the top tier of hero armor right now. So if you get a unique at low level, no worries as if you want to deck that hero out in the best gear, you can for a large fee, upgrade that unique with the crafter.

Marvel Heroes answer to wowhead is the compendium. Data mining isn’t possible in MH so it’s just player collected data, so it’s incomplete. However, it’s a good starting point in working out whether the gear is good or not. Take artifacts, I didn’t understand them at all. On the compendium it lists what the max roll is. Max roll is apparently what the max number variable for that stat can be, so you can see whether it’s a good example of that kind of artifact or not. That doesn’t say whether the artifact itself is any good or not. For that I went to the forums and scrolled through the hero guides people had put up and made a list. Some artifacts are very popular and listed as good for lots of heroes, other artifacts aren’t listed at all. Which is good to know because even keeping one of every kind of artifact I find, is eating up a lot of stash space.

There are things called blessings which are like enchants for artifacts. These can be accessed from another vendor (the enchanter), which also needs to be levelled but not for these, for things that haven’t been added yet. The blessings cost 100 odin marks each. However, the legendary weapon costs 300 odin marks. Odin marks are obtained by completely legendary quests. According to the person I asked the legendary should be bought first and then blessings. This of course is only if you want to deck out one hero in the best stuff. For just smashing stuff, having fun with lots of heroes, it’s the kind of min/maxing that isn’t necessary.

I now have a little over 600 eternity splinters. Splinters are an in game currency and their primary purpose is to allow people to buy heroes for free. 600 splinters buys one of the top-tier heroes, Iron Man, Deadpool, Spiderman or Ghost Rider. I already have Iron Man and Spiderman so I could buy one of the others, or one of the 400 splinter heroes or both of the 200 splinter ones I’m missing. I’ve decided not to buy anything right now. Part of me is itching to, it’s like the splinters are burning a hole in my pocket. However, I have heroes I haven’t touched yet from the various sales, I’m going to get some playtime in on those. Then I can make the jump and get something with the splinters.

When I first started playing Marvel Heroes it was amazing, love at first sight I suppose. It was Marvel and I loved it. I then wrote a post called “the honeymoon is over” and I really did feel that way. I completed the story and thought that I’d likely never play it again. At the time there was no way to get heroes for free, the store prices were double what they are now, there was no midtown, no x-defence, no legendary quests, no higher difficulty story mode. The game just felt like it had no legs. I accused Gaz of cash grabbing, of intending MH to only be around for a short time and giving the game no depth.

Over the last several months the game has become unrecognisable from what it once was. Yes there are still a fair few problems with it. However, there are problems in any game, I’m certainly feeling very disenchanted with Warcraft right now. Gaz took every complaint of mine and acted on it, the game has gone from strength to strength. It makes me wonder, if they’ve come this far in barely just over six months, where will they be next year?

Six months go I would have said that MH was worth a brief look, maybe completing the story once. Now I would say that it’s worth playing, and worth playing a lot. It’s a dungeon crawler, it’s the same type of game as Diablo which I hated. Clearly I just didn’t like Diablo as I do love this game, it’s a ton of fun. People say that the Warcraft devs interact more with the community than the devs do in any other game. I disagree because Gaz’s staff take that award. The patch last week did not go as planned, they kept us up to date, ran an unscheduled Q&A session to keep people entertained, and then put on a 200% bonus xp/item find buff over the weekend as an apology. If something is bugged then it gets fixed in a matter of days.

I do disagree with some actions they have taken obviously. A common complaint on the forums right now is that the heroes aren’t feeling very heroic and are perhaps a bit weak. Also, that the heroes don’t feel very distinctive anymore. Gaz tried to make all heroes have the same TTK (time to kill) which when you think of how they are in the comics, well some heroes are more powerful than others. Therefore from a balance perspective then Gaz is doing what they can, but I guess it feels like the game should be fundamentally unbalanced.

I think I said previously that the heroes I’d played felt overpowered which was right, they should feel like that as they were heroes. I don’t get the same feeling now, in fact some heroes feel downright weak. It’s a rock and a hard place for Gaz, as game balance and hero balance are two different things. Still for the most part the heroes feel like themselves. If I don’t take the game too seriously, which I don’t I just have fun smashing things, then I’m not worried about balance or how my hero does compared to another. I’m playing that hero at that time, that is enough.

Seriously, definitely, recommended. If you haven’t checked out Marvel Heroes yet, then do. It’s worth it.