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PAX East 2013: Hands-on with Marvel Heroes

Karen Bryan

Gazillion Entertainment made a splash at PAX East, arriving with the big announcement that Marvel Heroes will be launching on June 4th. In addition, the team gave new details about endgame content, PvP, and special "ultimate powers" for each hero.

During the convention, Massively had a chance to sit down with VP of marketing Leo Olebe and CEO David Brevik to get a look at the state of the game, including some brand-new content that the devs have just added to Marvel Heroes. What did we see during our hands-on with the game? Let's just say that rampaging dinosaurs and "Hulk Smash" were but the tip of the iceberg.

Gallery: Marvel Heroes | 6 Photos

If you're wondering whether Marvel Heroes has ties with the comics and is trying to stay true to the look of the films based on the brand, the answer is yes to both. The team at Gazillion is in touch with both parts of the Marvel brand to coordinate content and the look of the game and take parts from both to put into the MMO. Their goal is to give everyone the Marvel MMO he's been looking for by developing an action RPG within an MMO space. Gazillion has brought in a talented team for the character voices, including Christopher Daniel Barnes as Spider Man, Steve Blum as Wolverine, Scott Porter as Cyclops, Keith David as Nick Fury, Lex Lang as Dr. Doom, April Stewart as Jean Grey, and Chris Cox as Colossus and Hawkeye.

Because of that close association with both the comic and the film side of the Marvel brand, there is no end to the number of costumes for each hero. So if you're a fan of the Iron Man films, for example, you can pursue many of the armor styles that you see on screen, from the early prototype to the more recent (and stylish) versions. The game combines both the action-RPG elements of Diablo with features common in MMOs like crafting, social systems, talent trees, PvP and endgame. The goal is to make a game that's easy to play and difficult to master.

Regarding PvP, the team recently announced some new information about what it will be like. PvP is faction-based; your account will be aligned with one of three factions. The three factions will battle it out in a contested area with a variety of overall objectives. As for endgame, after players finish the storyline, there are a number of challenges that players will face, many of them centering around the idea that all the characters have an ultimate power. Players who finish the storyline (usually around level 30) can unlock this ultimate power by collecting tokens that drop from various bosses. There will be some endgame content that's for smaller, coordinated groups, and then there is content that requires much larger numbers of players, although it's very inclusive in that multiple parties can all participate together and players can jump in at any point.

Players will be able to spend points through their talent trees to come up with a customized set of powers for each superhero. Some powers and attributes will be more suited for PvP, while others are better suited for PvE. You can switch specs, but you'll need a special dropped token to be able to do it. Each hero also has a set of attributes that are taken directly from Marvel and are ranked on a scale of 1 to 7. If a player does gain an increase for a particular attribute, it makes that hero much more powerful. As for loot, everything is randomized in the sense that two players can have the same cape but each one has a different set of stats and attributes. There's also a certain degree of randomness with crafting too, which gives the game real depth.

PAX East 2013  Handson with Marvel Heroes
The demo we saw showed off the Savage Land, a hidden jungle in Antarctica that's aimed at higher-level players. When players begin the game, they start with five heroes: Hawkeye, Storm, Scarlet Witch, Daredevil, and Thing. Over time, players will unlock additional heroes and unique costumes from defeating bosses and various encounters.

For our hands-on, we tried out Captain America and Hulk as we faced off against dinosaurs and the denizens of the jungle. You can switch heroes at any time as long as you're not in combat, and you level them all up independent of one another. Movement is click-to-move with special abilities mapped to a handful of keys. Captain America has the ability to fly, throw his hammer, and even smash it down to perform an AoE attack. Meanwhile, Hulk has a variety of fun "smash" abilities and a super jump that crushes enemies when he lands. We ran through a few introductory tasks but eventually joined a public event that challenged us to defeat waves of villagers and a dinosaur boss. Zones have a randomized set of objectives, so each time someone plays it through, it's a different experience. Hopefully, that'll mean more replayability.

Along the way, there were all sorts of loot drops from the encounters. Glowing orbs provide health boosts and spirit increases, which you need for the special abilities. There was also a a unique costume for the Hulk and a lootable temporary buff that increased Captain America's attacks. One interesting slot in the character window is a place for medals, which are lootable items that give special procs. Venom, for example, covers a hero in thorns and temporarily increases his attacks and defense when he's low on health. There's a wide variety of lootable items in the game, but even if you can't equip something, it still has a purpose because you can sell it, trade it, or turn it into a crafting vendor or a regular vendor to rank it up and access better items.

Marvel Heroes officially launches on June 4th, but fans can get in as early as May 28th through the founder's program. Starter packs give two days of early access, while premium and ultimate give three and seven days, respectively. Meanwhile, fans who purchase a premium or an ultimate pack will also get access to the closed beta, and there is a variety of bonuses for each pack ranging from costumes to in-game currency to special experience boosts. For more details about the packs, as well as up to date news, you can visit the official site.

Massively's on the ground in Boston during the weekend of March 22nd to 24th, bringing you all the best news from PAX East 2013. Whether you're dying to know more about WildStar, DUST 514, or any MMO in between, we aim to have it covered!

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