I expect that most people are at least familiar with the Marvel universe and the vast amount of characters, stories, history, etc, that it has built up over the years. Marvel Heroes Omega sees one of the largest gathering of material from that vast back catalogue come together in a single video game which allows you to play as your favourite comic book hero and party up with your friends for some good old fashion good vs evil action.
The game itself is an action-RPG come MMO, with the easiest thing to relate it to being Diablo. It’s fast and intense, and very much about playing the role of the super hero and just getting stuck in. You start with a basic move set, and depending on which Hero you play as these will either take the form of Melee, Ranged or a mix of both. Having a huge universe to draw upon, as you might expect their is a vast array of characters to select from. 38 will be available for the games launch later this year, with more to follow. All the favourites are there, from the more popular and well known characters such as Spiderman, Thor and Captain America all the way through to the more obscure such as Magik and Squirrel Girl.
Each character starts with 3 basic moves, but quickly you’ll unlock the full set from which you’ll need to pick 8 to equip. Beyond this, further perks and ultimate abilities become available as you hit the higher levels. The pacing I found quite clever, as the complexity of the RPG elements is steadily made available as you progress up the levels. Each builds upon the previous, so initially you’ll unlock your heroes moves and abilities and then later once you’ve settled on a set that suits your play style you’ll be granted access to a perks tree that will allow you to focus on those abilities. As a new player, I found it particularly nice to have each RPG element steadily unwrap layer by layer rather than having to muddle through it all at once, but for other more seasoned players this might prove a slight annoyance although it won’t take you very long at all to hit level 32 where the majority of things become available.
The game offers up a good selection of different game modes, the first of which that you are likely to play through being the games main story, written by Brian Michael Bendis who is responsible for a lot of other Marvel comics. The plot focuses on Doctor Doom, now in possession of the Cosmic Cube which grants him the power to reshape the world as he sees fit. The story is broken into 9 chapters, each of which sees you attempting to recapture one of the escaped villains. Each is interspersed with some nicely rendered cut scenes presented in a true to the roots comic book style which help to nudge the plot along. It’s easy enough to progress quickly through, which once complete will unlock Legendary modes allowing you to grind legendary items. But it’s worth taking your time and exploring each area as you’ll find the occasional side mission or boss battle that will reward you with additional loot, one particular highlight of which sees you defend the Gazillion development team themselves from some of Hydras goons.
Beyond the story, the game offers up other game modes designed to help you level up or get better loot. Patrols are straight forward public arenas littered with plenty of cannon fodder and bosses which allow you to quickly level up characters, try out new heroes or test new moves and abilities. They are frantically fun, and almost certainly where you’ll spend a large amount of time as you are getting started with the game.
For those seeking out better loot, there is the ‘Operations’ and ‘Trials’ modes which see you either replaying previous story chapters with greatly enhanced enemies or battling through waves of enemies and bosses. Finally there is a ‘Danger Scenerio’ mode, which are similar to the ‘Operations’ and ‘Trails’ modes with the difference being that you can craft these yourself, selecting an appropriate difficulty and theme seasoned with some of the games crafting items to create a more tailored experience. I didn’t have the time to experiment too much with the recipes and ensuing results, but it’s certainly an interesting idea.
Being online, a large part of the game is best enjoyed with friends. It’s easy enough to play by yourself, but partying up with friends or random players is very straight forward and all of the games modes are designed to work either solo or with a group of other players. For those seeking the ultimate challenge and rewards, group play is very much what you’ll be looking for and it’s very easy to party up with other players in any of the games many public areas which no doubt serve as small hubs for players at a similar stage of progression. One further aspect of the game that reinforces favouring playing with others is your heroes ‘Synergy’ abilities, which allows you to equip certain perks that activate when you group up with certain other heroes, for example gaining a small health boost should one of your party play as the Hulk. It’s a nice touch, and no-doubt these synergies will play an important part when playing the hardest game modes.
Taking all of the above into account, there is actually quite a lot here for what is a Free to Play game, although the bar has been rising rapidly in this emerging business model. All heroes are available for play up to level 10, beyond which you can purchase them using either an in-game currency you’ll need to grind or spending some of your hard earned dosh. The ability to ‘try before you buy’ is a nice touch and allows you to avoid making a disappointing purchase. Some items are solely purchasable using the games ‘G’ currency which has to be purchased using real money, however these paywall items are limited exclusively to cosmetic items such as costumes for heroes or boosters for XP.
Without opening your wallet, unlocking everything will require a large investment of your time. But it all feels very fair, and unless you’re interested in playing multiple heroes or putting your own touch on your appearance then you’ll probably never need to open your wallet at all. Compared to the approaches that many other paid games on the market are taking these days, it’s incredibly refreshing to not feel at any point that the game is trying to bleed you dry.
Overall, the game is shaping up nicely indeed. It feels very geared towards just getting you into the action and for the most part thats always frantic and fun. There is plenty of depth with the RPG elements, and things are well paced out as you level each character up. There are some nice new ideas, such as the Synergies, alongside some more tried and tested gameplay mechanics and although it doesn’t seem particularly adventurous it is fun, especially when playing with others. It’s well scaled, with plenty for those looking for some mindless fun vs those looking to take on more intense challenge.
There were some to be expected issues, but for the most part these were all minor. Some of the characters I felt just didn’t work, my particular bug bear being Iron Man whose basic move sets dependency on the energy bar meant you spent a large amount of time standing around not doing much. I also felt that the crafting system, although looking promising, felt like the time investment required to earn the prerequisite materials for some items was perhaps a little too much. Performance was over all pretty smooth, with the game only really dropping frames during some of the more intense battles. But nothing I’ve encountered so far was what I would consider game breaking, and some I would expect will hopefully be addressed as feedback is gathered from the beta. When you considering the games intended price, £0, and the vast amount of content on offer for that price it’s certainly a case of the Free to Play model done correctly. The game still doesn’t yet have a confirmed release date beyond Q2 this year, and with all the features completed Gazillion are currently focusing on refinement so there are still a few months remaining to smooth out the rough edges.
As a final closing note if you’re keen to give the game a try sooner rather than later, then you can gain immediate access to the beta by purchasing one of the games founders packages which grant you immediate access to the game alongside some boosters and currency to get you started.
Marvel Heroes: Omega was covered via download codes of the PS4 edition, provided by Gazillion.