Gazillion’s Marvel MMO has finally smashed its way onto consoles and it’s an enjoyable if repetitive jaunt through comic book battles. The Finger Guns Review of Marvel Heroes Omega;
While there are many different strategies utilised by free-to-play games to make money, they can loosely grouped into 3 categories – A). Games that are entirely free to play, never ask for money but pelt you with adverts at every possible opportunity. B). Games that use “Fun Pain” to frustrate their users into paying for microtransactions and C). Games that block off some content behind paywalls. Marvel Heroes Omega falls into the latter. You can play through the entire MMO without spending a penny but if you want to get the most out of it, you’re going to need to spend some money.
When you start Marvel Heroes Omega you play as each of the Marvel movie Avengers through a tutorial section that gets you accustomed to the controls and some of the abilities. Once you’re done, the game gifts you enough in-game currency to buy yourself a character (but not all characters – many are too expensive) from the impressive gallery of Marvel Heroes. Almost every Marvel Hero you could care to mention is in this game as either a playable character or as a quest giver/store with only 4 noticeable absences (all of them “Fantastic”). Each hero has their own subtle nuances, abilities and exclusive gear set which are tailored to their character – For example, Iron Fist consumes Chi to trigger his move set which can be recharged by using a “stance” move. Scarlet Witch and many others have rechargeable “Spirit” guages which fill over time. Each character takes a little time to learn and requires a slightly different style of play.
The story then – Doctor Doom has big evil plans with the Tesseract and that’s whipping the rest of the Marvel villains into action. Venom, Living Laser, Grim Reaper, Shocker, Kingpin and 30 or so more nefarious nasties are waiting to take on your superhero across the game’s massive 9 Chapter campaign and beyond. There’s very little in terms of actual storytelling in Marvel Heroes Omega – you fight through location to location, from boss battle to boss battle, with the occasional cutscene and text box as the only narrative devices. Each character goes through the same story line (which is pretty great as far as Marvel games go) with no character specific changes.
After a pretty smooth on-boarding, Marvel Heroes Omega cuts right to the chase – the action. This game is basically Marvel Ultimate Alliance meets Diablo with an MMO spliced in. It’s heavily combat oriented which gives you customizable abilities to defeat wave after wave of nameless henchmen and the occasional boss. There are a tonne of different henchmen enemy types in this game that inhabit their own areas within each Chapter. Of course, these get more powerful and harder to kill the longer you play through the game. Unfortunately, this is where the first issue with this game arises…
You see, the combat in Marvel Heroes Omega can be either incredibly boring or overtly challenging and there is no middle ground because of the way the game is set up.
Firstly, this game is an MMO and in the hub areas, you will run into other human-controlled hero allies – lots and lots of human-controlled allies. Until the last 3 chapters of the game, the hub worlds were packed with people fighting the AI enemies. When you’ve got a Hulk and an Iceman that’re 40 levels higher than everyone else and just running around and smashing everything before you can get involved, you find yourself begging for a solo fight, just so you can get a hit in on an enemy before they’re crushed. While MMO’s are supposed to be social, I felt myself being as antisocial as possible just to enjoy some of the combat and have a bit of fun.
Secondly, the game offers you the ability to buy boosters. These can be bought by the in-game currency, earned while playing or come as part of the Founder’s Packs. These boosts can increase XP earned, game currency drop amount and S.H.I.E.L.D. loot box drop ratio. While it might seem like a good idea, these boosts take all the challenge out of the game. After starting afresh with Iron Fist, I stacked a few boosts until I was at x 200% on pretty much everything and within an hour, I was already 15 levels above where I was with my previous playthrough with Magik. I became so overpowered for the first three quarters of the game that when I left it running during a Boss battle with Taskmaster to go and answer the door, I still came back 5 minutes later to win the fight. That’s no fun and it made the game a bit of a snoozefest.
Lastly, being an MMO, most of the game’s content is built to accommodate teams who are playing through together. If you’re using a non-boosted character and playing solo, Marvel Heroes Omega can be feel like an insurmountable challenge at times.
Marvel Heroes Omega is far more fun when played with others. While you don’t share waypoints or objectives with your party members, it’s still vastly more fun taking on the Marvel world and the all the villains it contains with friends. While “classes” or “types” don’t exist in this game, mixing up your party and have close quarters heroes alongside ranged attackers does make the game far more enjoyable – there’s more of a feeling of camaraderie and teamwork rather than button mashing and you get in each other’s way less often. It’s a shame the game doesn’t incentivise this type of play in a better way. There is a “Synergy” option that helps buff your hero if they complement those in your party but they are hardly worth the effort of setting up.
Once you’ve cleared the main campaign, there’s still quite a bit to keep you and your friends busy. You can replay missions on the “Heroic” and “Superheroic” difficulty settings and customise your hero even further when you hit Level 60. Or you can patrol the streets or even take on near-impossible challenges in the X-Men Danger room (if you can find enough resources to craft a scenario first). There’s the promise of more content in the future too with the “Legendary Missions of Odin” which don’t seem to be available right now.
This game is a typical MMO in almost every sense. Shopkeepers can level up and offer better gear the more often you use them. The HQ hubs are full of people idling and others are running around them. Items and gear can be looted, traded or upgraded. It’s easy to forget you’re not playing a AAA game because it doesn’t often feel “free-to-play”. Once you’ve spent a bit of money (on a Founders Pack or on some in-game currency to buy new Heroes) the game hardly ever mentions the need for real world money again.
Visually, Marvel Heroes Omega is gorgeous and highly detailed when in stand still but when moving across a battlefield surrounded by allies and enemies fighting it out, the game slows down and it might as well be a powerpoint presentation. It’s not uncommon to see a group of heros triggering powers at each other 10 seconds after all the villains have been defeated because the visuals and effects get so muddled and slowed down.
In Summary, Gazillion have created a massive, content filled free-to-play Marvel MMO that can become repetitive if played alone and unbalanced if played on an overpopulated hub or when using XP boosts. Still, the game is great fun with friends when playing through the non-hub areas that’s let down by some visual slowdown when the screen gets congested and some uninspired storytelling techniques.
Marvel Heroes Omega is available now as an Open Beta on Xbox One and PS4 (version reviewed).
Disclaimer: We received codes for the Founder’s Packs for Marvel Heroes Omega in order to complete this review. More information on the Founder’s Packs can be found here. We played the game during the closed beta, the head-start program and during the open beta. For more information on how we review and score games, please see our review policy.