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A Mild-Mannered Reporter: A super month in super news

Eliot Lefebvre

Having spent the last couple of weeks systematically irritating the makers of every superheroic MMO currently on the market, I think now seems like a perfect time to go trawling for recent news and views. Especially since I am writing this on April 1st to meet my deadline, so there's a day-long moratorium on any real news being posted. (That Kickstarter of ours is very real, though. You need to give us money right now.)

Of course, the big news was a completely unexpected announcement that came out right after PAX East concluded: Another challenger is entering the arena, and it's something no one could have seen coming without insider information. Meanwhile, Marvel Heroes announced its launch date days after I had speculated on what that might be, and Champions Online is gearing up to kick off another event. So let's get talking about all the superhero news that's been going down since the last roundup.

I guess it was always going to be Hal here.Crisis what, now? Whoa!

When I ran into former Massively staffer and friend to all people Seraphina Brennan at PAX East, she was not there in any sort of official capacity for Turbine, but she was able to tell me that I should be paying attention on Monday. Lo and behold, Infinite Crisis was announced, surprising pretty much everyone who had been planning/hoping for Asheron's Call 3 as well as everyone who was expecting anything but a DC Universe MOBA.

Anyone who did expect Infinite Crisis should probably be purged from the gene pool because precognition isn't fun for anyone.

I'd say that I'm not a big fan of the MOBA genre, but that's not really fair. I enjoyed Defense of the Ancients back when I was still playing Warcraft III with some regularity. I have no interest in playing most of the games that recreate that mod with slightly different mechanics. And I find there's a high slant toward toxic overcompetitiveness in the genre, which makes me less than inclined to play the games. But I'm still cautiously optimistic about Infinite Crisis, since I can see how this could be excellent.

One of the reasons I was initially excited about Marvel Heroes was the simple idea of stripping out some amount of fluff and focusing on really good mechanics for straight superhero combat. I'm not certain that we'll get that from IC, but I'm hopeful. We'll know more once people start getting more time to put their hands on it.

As an aside, I encourage everyone to campaign for your favorite versions of characters for the future. Me, I'm pushing for Red Son variants. Anti-Soviet Batman would be the greatest thing ever.

Marvel Heroes on June 4th

Yes, the launch is actually happening. I applaud the decision to go straight into launch rather than mucking about with a not-really-testing open beta; too many games go that route and it cheapens the terminology. Early access will be there for people who have pre-ordered the Founders Packs.

Do I think the game is ready for launch? I may be in the minority in terms of people stunning underwhelmed by the game thus far, and certainly I don't think that there's a huge amount of space left to improve the game without revisions that would put it back in the can for another year. So I'll go with "as ready as it's going to get."

The game will also apparently have PvP at launch. That's... odd, since you don't have access to villainous characters, but it does fall under the header of features that you don't see everywhere. So bully for MH there.

I'm going to hope everyone gets the reference.An extremely violent thing happened on the way to the forum

Champions Online is apparently in love with running events. The next major content drop will be all about the Forum Malvanum, bringing in straight-up old-school gladiatorial combat and associated challenges. As I've said elsewhere, I'm a little leery of the game's focus on events, since players need some things to do besides chasing the temporary carrot. I'll also admit to not being hyped about gladiators.

At the same time, this is certainly a novel approach to keeping the game moving forward, and depending on the staff's operating budget, this might be all we've got right now. So while I might prefer something else, I'll take this over nothing.

As for what the actual event will contain, I'm not hyped about new lockboxes, which are already the most irritating part of the game in my opinion. I'm aware that this battle has been lost, so I'll not press the point. The idea of having a contest centered around a race strikes me as wonderfully appropriate, cheeky, and novel; any content that requires skills other than the usual damage-durability-healing setup gets my approval. And for better or worse, it keeps the feel of a game world in motion.

I would urge my more bitter readers to give the event a try before you condemn it out of hand. Obviously I'm aware that some of you are angry, but this could be a lot of fun in actual play. Let's not jump to conclusions before we're sure of the landing point.

Is that really everything?

There are assorted loose ends I could trim up hither and yon, but that's all from me for today. As always, comments can be left in the appropriate field down below or mailed to Next week? I want to talk about tone. Tone is part of what makes a superhero game work, and it's something that's naturally going to be divisive, but there's more range there than you might think.

By day a mild-mannered reporter, Eliot Lefebvre spent years in City of Heroes before the world-shattering event that destroyed his home world. But he remains as intrepid as ever, traveling to other superheroic games and dispensing his unique brand of justice... or lack thereof.

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