Marvel Heroes Tips & Tricks from a Non-Diablo Player [Version 2.0]

Way back in May, I published a version of this “guide.”  I use the term liberally since it is more a collection of tips that I have learned, rather than a comprehensive new player guide.

Since then, a lot has changed in game (Eternity Splinters introduced, Asgard patch, etc.), and the old Tips & Tricks is pretty outdated.  Here is my updated version, and I hope it helps.

What is Marvel Heroes?

First off, Marvel Heroes is a blend between the Marvel Universe and Diablo set in a massively multiplayer environment.  It is not a traditional MMO, nor is it a single-player dungeon crawler.  You will select a character from over 25 pre-made established Marvel heroes and play a large part of the game alongside many others.

I came into late-Beta of MH having never played Diablo and coming from a traditional MMO background (WoW, SWTOR, CoH, CO, etc.).  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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. You can also assign powers to F1-F6 as “Hot Swap” keys.  These will on-the-fly change the power assigned to your right mouse button.  This is a great place to put toggle powers or seldom-used ones.
  4. Players and mobs are solid: 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 (really bad for ranged characters).  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 left 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.

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.

Finally, while in a group, you have an unlimited ability to teleport to any team member.  Right-click on their portrait and select Teleport.  When I say unlimited, I mean unlimited.  You can do it as many times as you want and from any point in the game world to any other point.  It is easy to lose teammates with the isometric perspective.  This is a surefire way to find them.

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 (plues Hot Swaps) 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 very infrequently as loot.  Thankfully, there is a quest in Chapter 4 to defeat the villain Bullseye that rewards a Retcon Device.  This quest can be repeated on each difficulty level for each hero, meaning you can get three free respecs for each hero that you level.  Also, if your hero gets a significant revamp, which occurs with some regularity, you will get your power points reset, so that is another way to avoid using Retcons.

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.  Getting early access to key powers is a great way to make your hero more powerful and fun.  Getting an item that lets you try out a power before you invest points in it is a great way to avoid using Retcon Devices.

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.  A recent addition was that group buffs are shared even if you are not in a group.

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, 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.   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.  It is also worth noting that 90% of the time, people will drop group after the instance is complete.  If you find a really good group and want to keep questing together, make sure to ask people before the instance is over.

Vendors/Crafting:

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).  Right now, the conventional wisdom is to level up the crafter first (Hank Pym, Forge, and Reed Richards, depending on your hub).  This will give you access to some fairly significant stat upgrades for your costume as you level.

Spend Real Money and Splinters Wisely:

Marvel Heroes is a Free to Play game.  Its primary revenue stream comes from selling you different heroes to play (and different costumes).   How you earn heroes and how much they cost has changed drastically since the first version of this guide.

You get to choose one hero from now nine free Starter Heroes .  You can spend money to get in-game currency (“Gs”) to buy new heroes immediately, or you can collect “Eternity Splinters” in game.  New heroes cost between $4.50 and $14.50, with the bulk of them around $10.00.  There are three levels of heroes costs for Eternity Splinters: 200, 400, 600.  Eternity Splinters drop slowly, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel for getting new characters.  

Costumes drop very infrequently in-game.  If you really have your heart set on a costume, you will probably need to spend real money on it.

The starting heroes currently are:  Black Panther, Black Widow, Captain America, Colossus, Hawkeye, Human Torch, Luke Cage, Punisher, and Storm.  Also, you will get a total of 200 bonus Eternity Splinters for defeating the Green Goblin in the introduction and Dr. Doom at the end of Chapter 8 (100 ES for each mission).

Here is a fantastic guide by The Brave Little Abacus on the official forums that shows the costs of all heroes in Gs and Eternity Splinters.

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.

Knowing all of this, it pays to put some thought into your “hero acquisition plan” before you jump into the game.  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.  The nine Starter Heroes you can choose from fill a variety of roles, are fun to play, and may include your favorite hero.   On the other hand, they might not.

To make your dollar or Eternity Splinters go further, think about which hero you want to acquire 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.  On the other hand, if you only like to play tanks, you are going to take Colossus as a starter, even though you might pick up Thing later.  Combining your knowledge of who you want to play with who fits in your playstyle will maximize your enjoyment of the game.

One tip from Green Armadillo in the comments that is very valuable is that players also have the option of buying a “random hero box” for 175 Splinters, less than the cost of buying any specific hero.  The downside is, you don’t have control over who you get, and you could get a duplicate hero token.  The upside is that it is the quickest way to gain new heroes outside of spending money.  When you are just starting out, and the chances of pulling a dupe are smallest, this upside is pretty huge.

Another point – don’t spend money until you are sure that you actually like your Starter Hero.  You only get to choose one starter for free with your account .  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).

Finally, there is no in-game method of testing out heroes before you buy.  Thankfully, however, the development team puts up a Test Center a week or two before a new patch to test things out.  On the Test Center, they give you free Gs, so you can use this as a trial before you lay out real money or Eternity Splinters.  Keep your eyes on the official forums to see when the Test Center will be open.

Reserve Judgment:

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.  Recently, they added a new Intro mission ending in a fight with the Black Cat.  This is a little more indicative of the bulk of the game, but things still ramp up over time.

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.

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2 thoughts on “Marvel Heroes Tips & Tricks from a Non-Diablo Player [Version 2.0]

  1. Great work on this! I need to setup F-key toggles, probably the only reason I’ve gotten so far without them is because I’m playing Ricochet shot spam Cyclops. A few additions:

    – Some or all heroes will likely go on sale sometimes during the holidays. You’ll still likely pay about the same dollars since G’s are sold in bundles, but you could get an extra character with your savings.
    – Definitely recommend the Test Center even though this means a second 12 GB client install (grumble grumble). I tried six heroes last round and liked only one.
    – Be cautious about the “packs” with real world dollar price tags on the game’s website. These are NOT the pre-launch founder’s packs, which returned at least their price tag in hero unlocks plus “bonus” currency. Unless you were definitely going to pay cash to purchase the included costumes, the current packs will cost more than buying G’s and using them to unlock your desired heroes directly.

    Having given that rational advice, if there is a “non-Starter Hero who you absolutely must play as” you should pay the $10-20 ASAP. When the game’s launch roster was announced, the three characters I was most interested in were Cyclops, Wolverine, and Thing. Having tried ten heroes including the test center, the three characters I want to play are Cyclops, Wolverine, and Thing. There’s nothing rational about it, the point of playing this game rather than another action RPG is to play the heroes you want to play. You’ll be playing probably beyond a full playthrough of the campaign to get the splinters to unlock your next hero (unless you want a non-starter 200 splinter hero, in which case the real world cost is only $5) and then you’ll have to start over from level one on the character you actually wanted to play.

    P.S. one minor update you missed from version 1.0 of your guide – the Raft is now after the new tutorial area. This actually seems like it might not have been the best idea – the new starter zone is a public area which means it’s easy to get through without earning much EXP or loot and then get stomped by the boss.

    1. All excellent points. This game does as good a job as I have seen (although it took a little while) at catering to people’s individual tolerance for spending money on a game. Those who want to play strictly for free are not terribly disadvantaged over those that spend a ton of cash, except for maybe some XP boosts and loot find boosts, but that is true of almost every F2P game.

      Our character preferences seem to be pretty much in line, although I dropped a little more cash on the game up front. My most played heroes are Wolverine (level 55) and Cyclops (level 28). I have been playing Cyke a bit more lately, because he is my only hero in the right level range for Norway. I just unlocked Optic Devastation early through a piece of gear, and it is very cool, from the animation to the, um, devastation it causes.

      While the game would still be fun, there is no way I would enjoy it nearly as much if I wasn’t playing as these characters or some of the others I have in my stable.

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