Marvel Heroes holds the distinction of being the only game I have reviewed twice. The first review, written for its original release, told the story of a low to mid tier free to play action RPG, struggling to find an identity while staying true to its super hero license. The second, done for its official rebranding as Marvel Heroes 2015, fared far better, as the year between allowed them to develop their free to play systems to better serve their audience, while they continued to expand their roster.
So why are we here again? Well, obviously not content to let their game only live only on PC’s, Marvel Heroes Omega is Gazillion’s push to bring their style of Marvel action to the console market. I was given the chance to preview Omega on the PS4, along with a sizeable contingent of Heroes to try out, and was left both impressed by the scale of changes made in bringing it to consoles, and baffled by what feels like missteps in their expansion.
For those not familiar, Marvel Heroes Omega is an action RPG in the vein of Diablo or Torchlight. Played from an isometric angle, your character adventures through a series of different open world areas, killing enemies and collecting loot. You control one of Marvel’s famous comic book superheroes, with a full compliment of their super powers available for you to flip, kick, swing, fly or roll over, under or through anything that stands in your way. Characters range from mainstays, like the Avengers, those brought to prominence by the Marvel Cinematic Universe, like Star-Lord or Rocket from the Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as fan favorites like Squirrel Girl and Captain Marvel. Each character also has a few different costumes that you can purchase either using Eternium Shards, a form of in game currency that drops during normal play, or real money.
Right off the bat, Omega throws you into a small tutorial to explain the control scheme and show off a few of the heroes before dropping you into the normal “Raft Breakout” prologue. Having gone through the Raft so many times with new heroes, the map differences immediately standout, with the console version feeling a bit more constricted. There are also less enemies milling about, which leads to some more focused encounters, especially when you work in the gold aura'd elite units. These fights feel more like minibosses than just tougher henchmen.
With movement being controlled by thumbsticks instead of a mouse, I found ranged heroes to be far more fun to play then melee, a big change given that my favorites on PC were bruisers like Hulk and Thor. This was especially true for Rocket, whose use of “pets” like Groot and turrets really let me control the field while keeping out of danger. It was weird not being able to be precise with turret placements, as they spawned a set distance from Rocket in whatever direction he was facing. In fact, most abilities which would had a variable distance determined by the mouse either worked in a “set” manner or simply locked on to enemies. None of this is bad, mind you, but it led to some awkward moments where a lackey had moved out of range of Spider-Man’s basic melee attack and Ole Spidey just kept swinging and kicking like someone was still there, some silent shadow enemy taking the beat down of his life.
While I had little doubt that the action would carry over just fine, I think there’s still a lot of work needed on the UI. RPGs routinely have a lot of menus and inventories to sort through, and Marvel Heroes Omega handles them in about the most awkward way possible. Armor is broken down in a circular menu that does a poor job in helping you figure out if you have looted a better item or not. There is a green arrow/red arrow system in place on the item icon, but with all of the bonuses shoehorned onto a Heroes item, applying a simple yes/no just on the terms of one stat does a disservice to players. Skills open up in their own window, which is fine, but the quick button assigned to the d-pad shares double duty with the inventory screen whenever you pick up a new item. On top of that, everything is slow to scroll through, and a little buggy, with skills randomly swapping spots on the face buttons. All of this can be fixed before the game is widely released, but it made previewing more of a chore than it should have been.
The big elephant in the room when it comes to Omega, though, is the way it handles the F2P portion of the game. To put it simply, there is NO carryover between Marvel Heroes and Omega. Anything you have bought, whether it be heroes, bank slots, costumes, or consumables, stays on the PC. For someone like me, having put a ton of time and even some real money into the PC version, no carry over means I have ZERO incentive to leave. The thought of having to replay a ton of content to either unlock or re-level my favorite heroes kind of makes my skin crawl, despite the overall gameplay being enjoyable.
With this being only a closed beta, Marvel Heroes Omega will hopefully allow console users to enjoy a great game in a way consistent with what I enjoyed on PC. While the action looks to remain consistent and fun, even if a little different, the UI needs work, and the announced separation from PC accounts leaves some doubts as to how successfully Gazillion will be in its rollout. Hopefully, Marvel Heroes Omega will not need a MHO2019 release to fix its issues.
Reviewer and Editor for Darkstation by day, probably not the best superhero by night. I mean, look at that costume. EEK!