What do you get when you mix the gameplay of Diablo with an MMO and the Marvel Comics universe?
You get Marvel Heroes Omega, the free to play MMO that has just launched on Xbox One. Despite a few bugs at launch, this game is a real treat for Marvel fans.
A sprawling superhero adventure
Marvel Heroes Omega opens with a cinematic in which Doctor Doom acquires the Cosmic Cube (known as the Tesseract in the films) as uses it to kill the Watcher (whose race recently appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy 2). Working under Doom, Hydra then releases a horde of supervillains from SHIELD’s top prison the Raft. It’s up to our favorite Marvel heroes to stop them and save the day!
The story plays out over nine chapters, each featuring a unique assortment of well-known and lesser Marvel villains such as Ultron, Loki, Green Goblin, Shocker, Rhino, and many more. The cinematics that bring this story to life are uninspiring, featuring cheap hand-drawn artwork and less than stellar dialog (particularly Spider-Man’s lame quips). But the story feels authentic enough.
After completing the story with one character you’ll unlock Legendary missions that provide a unique resource called Legendary Marks that can be used to buy and upgrade endgame gear. The Danger Room will also open, bringing even more missions to play. Other missions include patrols, operations, and hero-specific missions.
Marvel Heroes Omega looks a lot like the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games, but it plays more like Diablo. Players can equip and use up to eight attack skills, with four assigned to the face buttons and four more accessible by holding the left trigger.
Upon reaching level 10, you also unlock a travel skill that allows for faster movement. The ground-based characters dash at high speeds, but some characters get to fly or swing around. This can be used to cross gaps that you’d otherwise have to walk across. Most Diablo-style games don’t have flight, and zipping around here is a blast.
The combat feels the same as in most games of this type, although some of the character’s super powers are much flashier than average, covering the screen in particle effects. You can also zoom in the camera for added visual punch. But for the most part, the fun comes from collecting and equipping new loot on your characters. At higher levels, you’ll also be able to create better loot through a robust crafting system.
Heroes and costumes
As a free to play game, Marvel Heroes Omega makes money by selling characters, boosts, and lockboxes. You do get a total of two free characters right out of the gate, though.
Daredevil can be snagged for free from the Xbox Store, and then you get to pick your second character from a decent pool of heroes: Angela, Black Widow, Captain Marvel, Hawkeye, Hulk, Kitty Pryde, Nova, and Squirrel Girl. Since Squirrel Girl is one of my favorite characters, I started with her. But Captain Marvel is probably the best starting character.
The rest of the playable roster of 38 launch characters can be sampled for free, but you can only level them up to 10. To continue progressing after that, you’ll need to buy the character. They can be purchased with either Eternity Splinters (a currency dropped by enemies at timed intervals) or G, the game’s premium currency. If you save up Eternity Splinters long enough, you can actually get almost anybody for free that way. But mostly, the characters will cost about $5-10 each. They also come in bundles that offer a better value.
Whether you stick to your two free starting characters or support the developers by buying more, each character’s progress through the story is separate from other characters. Each character is voiced and reacts to other player characters they meet in hubs and other areas.
Most costumes must be won from premium loot boxes. Omega offers purely cosmetic costumes such as movie-themed outfits as well as enhanced costumes that convert existing characters into new ones (much as in Injustice 2). For instance, the Spider-Man Loot Box has a chance of dropping a Spider-Gwen enhanced skin.
38 characters and an array of costumes to win is a fair launch lineup, but the console game is missing a lot of characters and especially costumes from the PC version. Hopefully developer Gazillion Entertainment will continue to add characters and costumes at regular intervals until the console game catches up. A big part of the fun here is running across players using rare heroes and outfits, after all.
Marvel Heroes Omega is a rare hybrid of both a Diablo-style action-RPG and an MMO. Two local players can play online with others, and online parties can consist of up to four players. That said, you’ll visit environments that support many more players. Bumping into large numbers of varied heroes, all fellow players like yourself, is a really cool addition to the action-RPG genre.
Local play has its up and downs. The second player can join in or drop out at any time. But they can only play on the primary player’s account, using that player’s heroes and gear. This can be a plus if you want to level two of your characters simultaneously. But the guest player can’t use their own account, which might not be very satisfying in the long run.
This being an MMO, partying up with other online players is of course the most fun way to play. But the interface for inviting and joining other players leaves much to be desired. First you have to press, the View/Back button and select Social. From there, you can create a session and then invite nearby players or friends. It’d be so much easier if we could invite via the Xbox One friends and party lists, but other players can only be invited from the in-game interface.
Teaming up with friends makes the game easier, especially since party members can revive each other. But you probably won’t want to play with random players. First, there’s no in-game text chat on Xbox One, which is inexcusable for an MMORPG. Nor is there a trade system. Hopefully Gazillion will add those important features before long.
Second, the game doesn’t prompt members of a party when someone travels to a new area. Thus, you really have to follow each other around in order to avoid getting lost. And with no easy way to communicate other than party chat, random players will have trouble staying on the same page as each other.
Quality Marvel games are few and far between (unless you’re into fighting games like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3), so Marvel Heroes Omega is a godsend. The gameplay isn’t that much different from other games in the genre, but the addition of dozens of Marvel heroes and villains adds tons of appeal for True Believers like yours truly. And getting to play online with so many more players is great, too – let’s just hope Gazillion Entertainment makes it easier to team up and communicate with other players.
Marvel Heroes Omega is free to play. Want to grab a relatively affordable Founders Pack while they’re still available? We recommend the Spider-Man Homecoming Founders Pack, which includes Spider-Man, two movie costumes, and other bonuses; or the Deadpool Founder’s Pack with Deadpool, an extra costume, $5 of currency, and an XP boost. Both packs are $19.99 each.
- Play as all kinds of iconic Marvel characters, including Spider-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men, and more!
- The first MMO Diablo-style game on Xbox One.
- Inviting players to your party is clunky and unintuitive.
- No text-chat and no way to communicate with palyers who aren’t in your Xbox Live party limits the game’s potential as an MMO.
Xbox One Founder’s packs and currency provided by the publisher for review.
Source: xbox one – Google News