Confession: I love Marvel Heroes. I am a pretty big Marvel nerd, but I never played a Diablo game (or one of its many clones) prior to Marvel Heroes and a handful of games in the genre that I dabbled in to get ready for Marvel Heroes. Whether it is being new to the genre, the overwhelming amount of Marvel lore, or a combination of both, I love it.
So, Marvel Heroes is a blend between the Marvel Universe and Diablo set in a massively multiplayer environment. Not having played Diablo before, a lot of things were not immediately obvious to me and the blend of genres also creates some challenges. Here is my highly incomplete and subjective selection of tips and tricks for making your first couple of hours in Marvel Heroes more user-friendly and hopefully more enjoyable:
Movement and Control:
Having not played Diablo, the lack of WASD controls took some getting used to. Everything here is click-to-move and click-to-attack, in an isometric perspective. Here are some tips to make movement and control easier:
- Force Stop and Force Move: Holding Shift will root you in place while you attack. This is especially useful for ranged characters, as your left mouse button will move you and also activate your primary attack. Hold Shift to ensure that you attack and don’t accidentally move. On the other end of the spectrum, Control forces you to move. If you are trying to get out of the way of an attack, hold Control to ensure you are actually moving and not accidentally attacking. Particularly useful for a melee character trying to dodge a big attack.
- Remap you keys: Other than the left and right mouse buttons, your powers are hotkeyed to A, S, D, F, G, and H. Being a Razor Naga user, I immediately remapped them to 1-6, and have every attack on my mouse.
- Players and mobs are solid: I think this is standard in ARPGs, but I have not seen it much in traditional MMOs. There is collision detection in Marvel Heroes, and it is easy to get trapped in a large group of bad guys and lose the ability to move. Most characters have a dash or a roll ability that will ignore collision detection and get you out of a jam. Depending on character, these powers can often be acquired at early levels. Make sure you spend at least one point on these powers to acquire your escape button. Early on, it can also serve as a ghetto travel power.
UI Elements and Slash Commands
Most of your menus are selectable at the bottom of the screen. They are the character panel/inventory, powers (skill trees), cash shop, team roster (where you switch characters), mission log, and option menu. There is a social panel button at the top-left of the chatbox, which gives you a friends list, ignore list, guild roster, and “nearby” list. This nearby list is another helpful way to find people to invite to a group who are close to you.
Most importantly from a UI perspective, is the “Bodyslider” button at the top-right of the screen (looks like a house). It functions as your hearth stone. Clicking it in the field will take you back to the town area to sell crap, craft, access your bank, etc. While at the town, clicking bodyslide will bring you right back to where you left off. The cooldown is very short, around 7.5 minutes.
Those familiar with slash commands will pick them up very quickly. For talking, /p = party chat, /s = say, /g = guild chat, /w = whisper. For social, /invite = group invite, /friend adds a friend. Pretty standard stuff.
Power Selection and Growth:
At first glance, the talent trees and power progression look similar to those in traditional MMOs (pre-Panda WoW, TOR). In many ways they are. You put points into a skill, it gets stronger. Other than your starting powers, you don’t get a power unless you put a point into it, and most powers have a level requirement before they are unlocked.
One major change from WoW or TOR is that, unless there is a direct prerequisite for a higher-tier skill, however, you do not need to put a certain number of points into a tree to access it. Select and invest points into those powers that you are most interested in. Plus, don’t forget that you will only get seven active powers at a time. If a power is not going to be active on your bar at some point (or it’s a passive boost), it is not worth putting any points in the power. The system gives you tremendous choice in whether to completely min-max or to have several skills that you may swap out depending on the situation.
Also, if you want to respec your powers, Retcon Devices can be purchased from the Cash Shop or drop with some frequency from World Bosses.
Two other points worth making: 1) There are many powers that people refer to as “One Point Wonders” meaning that investing one point in them gets you a large benefit, with pretty steep diminishing returns thereafter. Some control powers, travel powers, and defensive powers may fall into this category. Investing only one point in some powers will free up more points to strengthen key powers. 2) Many pieces of gear will give you extra ranks to powers or make them available at earlier levels. When vendors first open up, visit them to see what they have, and hit the refresh button to change things up. This is a great way to expand power selection early on and helps put a little more super in your superhero. This is especially true on your second and third run-throughs, when you will have more credits to spend and higher-level vendors.
To Group or not to Group:
In public areas, it pays to fight alongside other heroes. Even if you are not grouped, experience is shared, regardless of who tags or kills an enemy, and loot is instanced. There is no loot stealing in this game and no need to camp. You can travel though public areas on your own, but the experience will be smoother, faster, and generally more enjoyable if you fight in the area of others.
There are times when you may want to group however. Some instanced bosses can be tough and will be much easier with another hero or two. Control+Right Click on a hero in game will give you the option to invite that hero to your party. If you are working with some other heroes to get to an instance door, throw out a couple of invites to people, and you will likely find yourself with at least a small group for that instance.
Also, as of the last major patch, Marvel Heroes added an Auto-Party option for private instances. It is a check-box in the Gameplay section of the Options menu. Basically, it attempts to group up people who have entered the same instance. They are still tweaking this to make it work properly, and I have heard mixed reviews of how well it currently works. If you are having difficulty with a particular instance or want to try group play without having to look for a party, definitely check out this option.
You can sell unwanted gear to vendors for credits to buy other gear just like in any other game. In addition Alt+Right Click will trade in your gear for “Vendor XP.” Through these trade-ins, you level up the vendors and get access to better gear or crafting recipes. All vendors of a similar type are linked, so if you level up one weapons vendor, all weapons vendors will be similarly leveled (there are also gear vendors and crafters).
Spend Real Money Wisely:
Marvel Heroes is a Free to Play game. Its primary revenue stream comes from selling you different heroes to play (and different costumes). You get to choose one hero from five free Starter Heroes and, assuming the build does not change before launch, you will get a second random Starter Hero as quest reward early on (so one free by choice, one free random). Any hero has a chance of dropping in game, but the drop rates are pretty low. Apparently, you will also get a random hero drop (not limited to Starter Heroes) for beating Dr. Doom. Outside of drops, 16 of the 21 heroes in the game must be purchased through the store.
Another quick issue, each character really plays as a different class. You have tanks, melee dps, ranged dps, stronger support, etc. While there is some overlap in heroes’ abilities, the designers have done a good job of making the heroes different and true to their roots. Read up on the heroes you might buy before you drop money on them.
Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Whether you have only a passing knowledge of the Marvel Universe or have been reading comics since the 1970s, there is probably a character (or two, or six) that you want to play more than any other character. You may, however, want to see what the game has to offer before laying down real money. The five Starter Heroes you can choose from (Thing, Hawkeye, Daredevil, Storm, Scarlet Witch), while filling a variety of roles, are probably not the heroes you dreamed of being when you were a kid. Don’t get me wrong, each of those heroes can be great in the game, but deep down, you probably have your heart set on somebody else.
To make your dollar go further, think about who you want to buy before you select your free Starter Hero, that way, you can have characters that fill multiple roles. If I know I will buy Wolverine if I enjoy the game, then I would want my free Starter Hero to be a ranged character (Hawkeye, Storm, Scarlet Witch). If you only like to play tanks, you are going to take Thing as a starter, even though you might pick up Colossus or Thor later.
Finally, don’t spend your money until you are sure that you actually like your Starter Hero(es). You only get to choose one starter for free with your account (you can always buy other starter heroes from the cash shop and you get that second random one from a quest). If you get to level 10, and you absolutely hate your Starter Hero (but still want to play the game), you can fairly easily create another account to try out another character. I only recommend doing this if you hate the character, as there are advantages to maintaining all of your characters on one account (leveling vendors and crafters + shared inventory and credits).
There are a couple of different jumps in awesomeness early on in the game. Do not let your level 1 play through of the Raft (the tutorial) color your judgment of the game. You will start to get a better idea of the game when you get into Hell’s Kitchen and start fighting alongside other heroes, when you kill Electro, and when you find your first mini-dungeon door (hint: go through it). World Boss events and these side missions are completely optional, but they can be very fun and very rewarding.
The second big jump in enjoyment will likely happen at level 4, 6, or 10, depending on the hero you pick. Every even level, you will gain access to new powers. You will not start to get a feel for how awesome many of the heroes can be until you gain some of these powers. For example, Scarlet Witch becomes an AoE powerhouse, but you wouldn’t know that at level 5. Similar story with Cyclops, who gets very key powers around levels 6 and 10. (Note: these illustrations are from an earlier build, but still illustrate the point) Some characters start slower, and the slowness lasts longer, than others. If you are concerned about this issue (which is present in many games), read up on the various heroes.
Bottom line: Marvel Heroes is fun, free, and different from most other games currently on the market. I hope you check it out when it goes live on June 4th (or after the servers stabilize following launch), and I hope that these tips help make the game more enjoyable for you.