Marvel Heroes has changed significantly over the years, transforming from a rather lackluster launch title to a popular free-to-play superhero action-RPG playground where players blast and slam their way through sackfuls of loot with their favorite Marvel characters. With Marvel Heroes 2015 bringing the game into the spotlight with its myriad changes and improvements, the title is looking ahead to the next giant update, full of new characters, content, and systems.
Marvel Heroes 2016 picks up the original story, which has essentially been abandoned the last two years. The new chapter explores Secret Invasion, where an alien shapeshifting race threatens to take over. The story does not follow the comics on a strict basis, but fans should recognize some similarities.
New bosses and zones flesh out the story content. Raids are an unusual addition to an action roleplaying game, but Marvel Heroes is nonetheless adding a gigantic one with the update – players must face off with Thanos.
A new zone type, the Savage Land, allows players to sort of combine tower defense and dungeon crawling as they set up special towers to square off with waves of dinosaurs and bosses. Since it’s drop-in, dropout, you can pop in for some action anytime you want and leave if you feel like doing something else.
Leaderboards and seasons are also coming in Marvel Heroes 2016. “We’re going to do leaderboards in a variety of ways,” says Gazillion CEO David Brevik. “Some leaderboards you have to grind 24/7 to even think about competing; you can’t have any kind of life and hit the top. We’re going to try to change things up and have some leaderboards be real short sessions, like maybe three or four hours, and you’ll be competing during that session only. You can get exclusive items and prizes from these leaderboards and we’ll be able to change things up by selecting the activities, characters, and other variables. It will basically be a new cool thing to do every night.”
Controller support is coming to Marvel Heroes 2016 as well. “It’s an often-requested feature and the game plays naturally with it,” Brevik says. “It should be a great addition. You’ll be able to customize and map the buttons to your liking.” Whether or not this portents the game coming to console, Gazillion won’t say, but this functionality could lead to the game gracing current-gen consoles.
The 2016 update also brings a visual update to vastly improve many of the models, especially the heroes. One can scarcely recognize the barebones originals next to the updated versions. Other updates include a new and improved inventory/bank stashmanagement system to help better organize those massive piles of loot, Steam achievements, and the Mac client leaving beta status behind.
Marvel Heroes 2016 continues the practice of pushing out one, sometimes even two new heroes each month (along with the occasional playable villain). So how does Gazillion balance the new hero entering every month? “Some would question whether we do or not, but we have a lot of tools that help with this process,” Brevik says. “Through testing and iteration to tune things to balance fairly well. We get them as close as possible while trying to keep their flavor; you know in the Marvel universe itself, Hulk and Thor are sort of in a different league than Daredevil and Punisher – and that’s okay – but we don’t want that disparity in the game. We want everyone to have fun. Each hero plays differently from each other; they all have 25 different skills and we get a new one each month.”
Events are a big part of the game now and will continue to be so in Marvel Heroes 2016, from movie tieins to standard weekly events, these dynamic events keep things fresh. Things like item boosts or experience bonuses are always going on, but special events for holidays like “X-giving” for Thanksgiving also help bolster the content roster.
With this new arsenal of promising changes, Gazillion is putting Marvel’s cast of superheroes in position to keep succeeding. Look for the update to hit this fall