Marvel Heroes (video game)

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Marvel Heroes 2016
Marvel Heroes Key Art.jpg
The key art for Marvel Heroes.
Developer(s) Gazillion Entertainment
Secret Identity Studios
Writer(s) Brian Michael Bendis[1]
Engine Unreal Engine 3[2]
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows & OS X
Release date(s) June 4, 2013
Genre(s) Massively multiplayer online action role-playing
Mode(s) Multiplayer

Marvel Heroes 2016,[3][4] originally known as Marvel Heroes, is a free-to-play massively multiplayer online action role-playing video game developed by Gazillion Entertainment and Secret Identity Studios.[2] Characters such as Iron Man, Captain America, Deadpool and Wolverine serve as characters that players can unlock in the game. Players who pre-purchased a game pack received early access to the game on May 29, 2013. The game was then officially launched on June 4, 2013, on Microsoft Windows. An OS X version is planned to follow post-launch,[5] and in November 2014 was in an open beta.[6] The game was renamed to Marvel Heroes 2015 on June 4, 2014.[7] The game was rebranded again in January 2016 to Marvel Heroes 2016.


Marvel Heroes allows players to control iconic Marvel Comics heroes. Here Iron Man, Scarlet Witch and Wolverine battle an enemy robot.

The gameplay is an ARPG (action role playing game). Marvel Heroes is free-to-play with micro-transactions used to fund and support the game. Players can unlock most of the things that can be bought via real money with currencies earned in game.

As characters gain levels, they gain a passive stat (statistic) increase for stats that help that particular character and gain power points, allowing the player to further define the abilities of that character. Each character has three power trees in which they can spend points. Each of the trees generally focuses on a certain mechanic or play style, such as the Assault (melee), Firepower (guns), and Demolition (explosives) trees for Punisher, or the Archery (ranged), Fighting (melee), and Trick Arrows (special ranged) trees for Hawkeye. As the character gains levels the player has access to more skills to spend points on and is able to put more points into existing skills. Each skill has a level cap, so more points cannot be put in a skill until a certain level is reached. Each skill has a maximum of 20 power points and a maximum of 50 points can be reached from gear bonuses. Currently, the game has a maximum level of 60 per hero.

Several updates since launch have rebalanced many of the game's systems. Story Mode may now be used to fully level any hero, and defensive stats have been consolidated and simplified. Players may obtain any playable character using the 'Eternity Splinter' system. These timed drops can be used as currency with Adam Warlock so that players can get the heroes they want to play (faster than the previous random hero drop system) and without spending money. In addition, the splinters can be used to get a random Cosmic item, to upgrade the character's Ultimate ability, or to purchase a Team-Up companion.

The relaunched Marvel Heroes 2015 version of the game is also the first ARPG to feature a raid. In raid encounters, 10 grouped players attack a series of unique bosses. Each encounter features a timer and a death limit. Current raids allow players to take on Surtur and his minions in Muspelheim, and also Red Onslaught in Genosha.

Each location in the game is composed of several "instances" at any one time. This allows the game to run on one huge virtual server, rather than the game being split into different servers. Many missions take place within smaller instances. These instances are reset if the player leaves and returns.


In the beginning, Doctor Doom obtains the Cosmic Cube. After responding to a theft at Queens, the player travels to the Raft, where Madame Hydra and HYDRA have broken out all the supervillains. The player manages to reactivate the security system, lock down the cell blocks, and recapture Green Goblin and Living Laser, but many villains escape. When meeting with Doctor Doom, Madame Hydra is given a sort of chip. After the breakout, Daredevil manages to recapture Rhino in Hell's Kitchen, while the player recaptures Shocker in an abandoned subway. Doctor Octopus tries to steal a special tablet from the Blood Rose nightclub, but he is stopped and recaptured, and the tablet is obtained by the heroes. However, Hood appears and steals the tablet. Afterwards, the player travels to Industry City.

The supervillains try to prevent the heroes from interfering with Doctor Doom's use of the Cosmic Cube. After stopping Doctor Doom, players unlock the Bifrost Bridge to Asgard where Loki has summoned a horde of Dark Elves, Frost Giants, and other monsters in an attempt to seize Asgard's throne while Odin slumbers. The heroes defeat Loki's minions before confronting Loki himself in Odin's throne room where he reveals that he has stolen the power of Doom's Cosmic Cube only to be ultimately defeated. Before judgement can be passed on Loki, the heroes learn that the dark god Surtur has reforged the Twilight Sword and plans to use the chaos caused by Loki in order to launch his own invasion of Asgard. The heroes defeat Surtur in his home dimension of Muspelheim at which point Odin awakens, enraged at Loki's crimes. Loki claims that he simply wanted to be acknowledged as a hero, and Odin decides that his punishment shall be to prove himself as a hero by trapping him in an endless time loop covering the events of the game.

Shortly after Surtur's defeat, Professor X suddenly goes missing. While investigating his disappearance, the heroes discover that Red Skull has merged himself with Onslaught, becoming Red Onslaught, and has launched a genocidal campaign of destruction against the sovereign mutant nation of Genosha. In order to combat Red Onslaught, the heroes are forced to enlist the aid of supervillains through the Thunderbolts program, including Magneto and Green Goblin. The hero and super-villain alliance are able to defeat Red Onslaught and save Genosha. Red Skull is imprisoned and Onslaught is destroyed.

Sometime later after dealing with an invasion of New York by Ultron, the heroes are confronted by Doctor Doom who explains that he had been captured by Thanos following his initial defeat. He reveals that the Skrulls are planning a massive invasion of Earth. The heroes are summoned by Nick Fury to the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier only to discover that its a trap and the entire base has been infiltrated by Skrulls. After defeating the Skrulls, the heroes meet up with S.H.I.E.L.D.'s counterpart S.W.O.R.D. who escort them to the real Nick Fury's base in an abandoned toolshed in Madripoor. From there, the heroes combat Skrull activity throughout the world until discovering that the leader of the invasion, Super-Skrull has established his base in Madripoor's Hightown. The heroes confront Super-Skrull and defeat him. As he is taken into custody, his ship manages to escape where Super-Skrull claims that the heroes should be thankful that it has due to its cargo. Sure enough, the ships is revealed to be carrying several Infinity Gems which has caught the attention of Thanos.


The game takes place in several well known Marvel locations, including the Raft, Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan, Madripoor, the Savage Land, Mutant Town, Doomstadt, Latveria and Asgard. Additional locations will be added in the future updates. The Avengers Tower, the X-Mansion, the Helicarrier, and Odin's Palace serves as the game's main hubs. Additional locations with missions, known as One-Shots are also available. It includes the Vibranium Mines in which players must battle Man-Ape in Wakanda, the Bronx Zoo where players battle Kraven the Hunter, Lizard, and Mister Hyde, and March to Axis in which players battle the Red Skull and Hydra. More One-Shots will be added in the future.


Each location can be fully explored. There are often citizens with special missions and side objectives. There are often clusters of enemies scattered around the map. Enemies include A.I.M. soldiers, HYDRA soldiers, Hand Ninjas, Maggia gangsters, Brood hybrids, Demons, and more. If the player defeats a group of a certain type of enemy, XP is spawned. Occasionally, a Sentinel will spawn on the map and can be destroyed for XP and items. Each location has its own resident bosses like Black Cat in Hell's Kitchen or Venom in Industry City, who can be taken down for XP and items, although they respawn often. Every few minutes, there is an event, which often spawns special bosses and/or has a certain objective, which can also often lead to a boss. Special bosses often come in groups, such as the Frightful Four or Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants. Manholes, which occur often, can sometimes be lifted, which will spawn a group of Hand Ninjas who can be taken down for XP.


Marvel Heroes features more than 100 characters from the Marvel Universe. Players can choose from a large and diverse cast of superheroes and villains. Each playable character is a different archetype, either Melee or Ranged with each having unique sets of attributes and talent tree.[8] At the game's release, there were 21 playable characters. As of February 2016 there are 55 playable characters. These characters range from well-known and iconic such as Iron Man and Spider-Man to lesser-known and obscure such as Squirrel Girl. Several villains, such as Loki and Venom, also appear as playable characters. Additional playable characters will be added in future updates like Beast. The game adds an average of one new character every month.

Every player can play all heroes at the start, up to level 10, with the exception of the latest added hero. Players may continue to level up the heroes of their choice by spending in-game dropped items called Eternity Splinters or by purchasing them with real currency via the game's store. Players can also unlock Team Up characters, a concept based on the Marvel Team-Up comic book series. These characters are not playable, but act as sidekicks or bodyguards, providing assistance and passive boosts to the playable character. They can also be acquired through Eternity Splinters or via the game's online store.

Costumes to change the character's appearance can also be purchase in the game's web store or can be acquired through drops from enemies. Four costumes (consisting of Iron Man 3-inspired Iron Man armor, a Weapon X outfit for Wolverine, Hulk's future form Maestro, and Spider-Man's black symbiote costume) are exclusive to players who purchased the limited edition character Ultimate Pack for nearly two hundred American dollars, under Gazillion's Founder's Program. The packs were released prior to the game's launch and also included beta access, early game access for the final game, immediate access to additional characters and added in-game currency.[9] An "enhanced costume" is an iteration of a playable character, but is based on a completely different (though usually related) character. For example, Beta Ray Bill is an enhanced costume for Thor; although he has his own unique appearance and voice work, he has the same exact powers, talents and abilities as Thor.

Enhanced costumes may also be a variant of the same character, but requiring significant extra animation or voice over work, such as Thing's Angir: Breaker of Souls form from the Fear Itself storyline.


Cryptic Studios[edit]

Marvel Heroes was originally known as Marvel Universe Online and later Marvel Universe. Marvel Universe Online was the original working title of Champions Online. The massively-multiplayer online (MMO) game was developed by Cryptic Studios and was to be published by Microsoft Game Studios exclusively for Microsoft Windows using a license from Marvel.[10] The project was changed on February 11, 2008 due to what a Microsoft spokesperson referred to as "an inability to compete" with the current MMO marketplace. Less than a week later, Cryptic Studios announced that development would continue using a new IP license related to Champions, a superhero role playing game.[11]

Confirmation of the project's cancellation arrived on February 11, 2008, although rumors of the possible cancellation had existed since November of the previous year.[12] Shane Kim, the head of Microsoft Games Studios, stated in an interview that the cancellation was primarily due to the competitive market for subscription-based MMOs, and that while one current MMO was successful, "everything else wouldn't meet our level or definition of commercial success".

Gazillion Entertainment[edit]

On Tuesday, March 17, 2009, it was revealed that Gazillion Entertainment had signed an exclusive 10-year deal to develop Marvel Entertainment games, of which Marvel Universe is one. The first title released was Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, which targets younger audiences. Marvel Universe was eventually renamed Marvel Heroes and started being developed as a massively multiplayer online-action role-playing game rather than a massively multiplayer online role-playing game like Cryptic's canceled version of Marvel Universe had been. Gazillion Entertainment has chosen to use Epic Games's Unreal Engine 3, instead of the Unity 3D engine used for Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, with studio director Jeff Lind stating "We love Unreal Engine 3's streaming system. It's made our entire technical approach possible and is easy to work with. We also love the flexibility we get from the actor components, which have empowered us to make all kinds of customizations without sacrificing the built-in features of the engine.”[2] During a live stream session David Brevik, the President/CEO of Gazillion, further detailed the game's engine. He noted that while Unreal Engine 3 powers the game's front end visuals and audio, much of the components that make a massively multiplayer game were written using entirely new code that interfaced with Unreal Engine 3.[13]

During development, Gazillion used an internal team of 75 people working for three and a half years, with others assisting with support and marketing. Gazillion has raised more than $80 million to fund the game's development, but it hasn't disclosed exactly how much was spent.[14] In contrast to other MMO developers, Gazillion always planned to use the free-to-play model.


Marvel Heroes originally received mixed reviews; on the aggregate review website Metacritic the game attains an overall score of 59 out of 100 based on 38 critic reviews.[15] IGN gave the game a 5.7/10, praising the story but criticizing the combat and limited customization. The game was relaunched later with the title "Marvel Heroes 2015", following various improvements and new content implemented over time. On Metacritic, the game attains a score of 81 out of 100 based on 10 critic reviews and 8.1 out of 10 user score based on 506 user ratings.[16] On Jan 10, 2015, Marvel Heroes 2015 was awarded "Most Improved MMO" by, as decided by site visitors.[17]


  1. ^ "Marvel Universe Written by Bendis". joystiq. 2011-04-29. 
  2. ^ a b c "Gazillion Supercharges Marvel Heroes With Unreal Engine 3". 2012-01-18. Retrieved 2012-01-20. 
  3. ^ Will (2011-12-20). "Marvel Universe MMO Officially Dubbed Marvel Heroes". MMO Site. Retrieved 2012-01-13. 
  4. ^ Webb, Charles (2011-12-20). "Marvel's MMO Reveals Official Name And New Spider-Man Image". MTV. Retrieved 2012-01-13. 
  5. ^ Gera, Emily (March 26, 2013). "Marvel Heroes coming to PC June 4, Mac launch to follow". Polygon. Polygon. Retrieved June 15, 2013. 
  6. ^ "MAC OPEN BETA NOW LIVE!". Retrieved 5 November 2014. 
  7. ^ Tach, Dave (30 May 2014). "Marvel Heroes 2015 launches June 4, open beta headed to Mac". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  8. ^ "Types of Heroes". Marvel Heroes official website. Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  9. ^ Guthrie, MJ (January 9, 2013). "Marvel Heroes introduces Founders Program in preparation of spring 2013 launch". Retrieved April 28, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Marvel Entertainment and Cryptic Studios Unveil 'Marvel Universe Online'". Business Wire. 2006-09-27. 
  11. ^ Tor Thorsen (2008-02-13). "Cryptic bringing Champions Online to PCs, consoles". GameSpot. 
  12. ^ Fear, Ed (November 15, 2007). "Marvel Universe canned?". Develop. 
  13. ^ "Marvel Heroes Athene Livestream Preview". Marvel Heroes official website. January 15, 2013. Retrieved February 6, 2013. 
  14. ^ "After 4 years in development, online game Marvel Heroes debuts | GamesBeat". 2013-06-04. Retrieved 2013-08-28. 
  15. ^ "Marvel Heroes Review". Metacritic. Retrieved September 12, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Marvel Heroes 2015 Review". Metacritic. Retrieved October 18, 2014. 
  17. ^ "General: Player's Choice Round 1 Winners". Retrieved July 18, 2015. 

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