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Marvel Heroes

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Online Multiplayer
Developer: Gazillion Entertainment
Release Date: June 30, 2017


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PS4 Review - 'Marvel Heroes Omega'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on July 10, 2017 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Marvel Heroes is a free-to-play MMORPG featuring characters such as Iron Man, Captain America, Deadpool and Squirrel Girl, with a story written by Marvel comics' Brian Michael Bendis revolving around super villain Doctor Doom.

Download Marvel Heroes Omega

In Marvel Heroes Omega, the malicious Dr. Doom has gotten his dastardly clutches on a Cosmic Cube, and he's using it to break space-time into pieces. The result is that every villain in the Marvel universe is out to be a pain, and heroes from across space and time have gathered together to beat the living daylights out of those villains. In short, it's a giant summer crossover event in video game form.

The plot in Omega is a thin excuse to have a who's-who of heroes and villains smashing in to one another. If you're expecting anything more than Dr. Doom being Dr. Doom, you might be disappointed. If you're expecting a ton of references, cameos and other cool bonuses for Marvel fans, you're in for a treat. Note that Omega is primarily concerned with the comics, so while there is no shortage of references to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's going to reference events both new and obscure from the comics. The game even includes in-game overviews and summaries of famous comic events.

To put it bluntly, the core gameplay in Omega is Diablo. Aside from a few minor mechanical differences, it's about as straightforward of a Diablo clone as you can get. It's an action-RPG where you beat up tons of enemies to get precious loot, and you do it again on harder difficulties with greater kinds of loot. What sets it apart is the Marvel license and the huge amount of playable comic characters.

Much like Diablo 3, Omega shows that a controller isn't a detriment to the gameplay, even if it began as a PC game. The core controls and mechanics are a breeze to pick up. Performing actions is as simple as pressing a button, and the PC-built mechanics translate almost perfectly to a console. At no point did I feel like something didn't work properly, and in a lot of ways, it seems designed for a controller rather than a mouse and keyboard. In particular, the quick dodge movements feel wonderfully natural. Most moves are bound to the face buttons or a face button and a button modifier, which gives you instant access to a lot of moves.

The core gameplay is pretty much what you'd expect from a Diablo clone. You go to a dungeon full of bad guys and beat them up, pausing occasionally to take down sub-bosses or bosses. Some dungeons have minor gimmicks, but there's nothing complex to get in the way of the baddie-smashing fun. The game supports couch co-op and multiplayer. Nothing is quite so fun as hopping in as two heroes and beating your way through a Hydra goon squad. The game is entirely playable in single-player mode, but it doesn't do well with pausing, since it's an online game.

Omega is just fun. It's not particularly complex, and at anything below the highest-tier gameplay, you're probably playing it more like Dynasty Warriors than anything else, but that isn't bad. There's something undeniably fun and satisfying about stomping through a crowd of nasties and getting the delightful satisfaction of loot drops, level dings, and cool bonuses. There's a reason Diablo is one of the most popular and successful games of all time, so it's a benefit to add a tasty Marvel chocolate coating.

As with any good Diablo clone, the goal of the game is to get loot, and there is a ton of it! The game hemorrhages loot, most of which is character-exclusive, which in turn gives you a reason to get more loot. I was pretty pleased with the character customization options. While loot drops are semi-random, there are a lot of ways to customize your character to fit your play style. I spent a lot of time as Spider-Man, who can be focused in different ways. You can go for a high-mobility style, which centers around dodging, or you can focus on your webshooters to be a ranged combatant who avoids melee. The omnipotently powerful Squirrel Girl can be built as a tanky character, a melee scrapper, or someone who focuses on overwhelming enemies with summoned squirrel pets.

A good number of characters function on traditional energy bars or ammo systems, but each character feels distinctive. Spider-Man has a webbing meter, which drains when using some moves. That means you need to balance webbing usage with non-webbing moves, so you can constantly attack and have the resources you need. In comparison, Hulk is all about building up rage to unleash more powerful attacks and special moves. Dr. Strange and the Punisher play very differently, as they should.

There is a bit of frustration, though it's minor, due to character balance being all over the place. There's no character that I tried who was actively bad, but the amount of effort necessary to smash large groups of enemies can vary wildly, especially once you start getting more moves. With so many different characters and multiple builds, it's no surprise that not everything hits the perfect balance. That probably won't satisfy someone who dished out currency to play as their favorite character, only to find the play style lags behind an army of smashing Hulks, no matter how accurate that might be to the comic canon.

The biggest flaw in Omega is that it's not great at explaining things. It seems to assume an amount of Diablo knowledge, when the licensed game is targeting newcomers who are more interested in Wolverine than Necromancers. The tutorial does a decent job of showing you the core mechanics, but a lot of the underpinnings aren't explained well, especially when it comes to shops, crafting and other gear-focused mechanics. When you first reach Avenger's Tower, it can be overwhelming to be thrown into a location with a lot of stuff that only makes sense if you connect it to Diablo gameplay mechanics. A casual player whose experience with the genre begins with Omega will likely feel overwhelmed.

Unfortunately, this also carries over to the fact that the interface wasn't designed with a controller in mind. The gameplay translates fine, but the menu-searching feels awkward, frustrating and slow. This issue is compounded by the fact that the default inventory size is minuscule, and you're expected to spend to upgrade your inventory space. You can get by with the default if you're willing to prune regularly, but considering the loot-heavy nature of the game, that can get tiresome pretty quickly. If there's one thing that makes me feel driven to spend money on Omega, it would be the inventory.

Omega is a good example of free-to-play gameplay. Just booting up the game gives you a handful of heroes that you can play for free through various promotions, and you get enough currency to pick up a favorite. If all you're looking to do is play your one favorite character, then you'll have an easy time getting into Omega. The amount of currencies and unlockables can get a little overwhelming, and the further you get, the more it becomes necessary.  The for-pay loot boxes remain one of the best ways to get anything in the game, and in some cases, it's mandatory. You can play Omega pretty easily without spending cash as long as you're willing to grind a lot or focus on a small roster of characters, but if you want to constantly switch or try new characters, be prepared to spend some money.

Omega is an decent-looking game. The character models are nice enough and have some great little touches, but they're fairly basic. Similarly, the environments do their job well enough but, they're not going to blow your mind. What elevates the game is the voice work. There's a lot of excellent voice acting from both longtime character voices and newbies and a lot of great incidental dialogue. I was particularly fond of Spider-Gwen yelling at the Green Goblin for what he did to her alternate-dimension counterpart during the boss fight against him.

All in all, Marvel Heroes Omega is a great example a free-to-play game done right. It's a shameless homage to Diablo with some great Marvel flair. The core gameplay is fun, and the free-to-play mechanics are largely unobtrusive. Some annoyances with the user interface and introduction to general mechanics drag down the game, but they're nothing too serious. Marvel fans or those looking for a fun action-RPG will be hard-pressed to find a better experience than Omega.

Score: 8.0/10

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