Marvel Heroes (video game)
|Marvel Heroes 2015|
The key art for Marvel Heroes.
Secret Identity Studios
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3, Havok (physics engine)|
|Release date(s)||June 4, 2013|
|Genre(s)||Massively multiplayer online action role-playing|
Marvel Heroes 2015, 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. 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, and in November 2014 was in an open beta. The game was renamed to Marvel Heroes 2015 on June 4, 2014.
The lead writer of the game is Brian Michael Bendis, who has written a number of major Marvel Comics. The plot revolves around villains, with the main antagonist as Doctor Doom, and heroes in various conflicts.
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 will not need to spend money to access the full game, though you may also earn in game credits by taking selfies and sending them to the developer dressed as your favorite Marvel character. 
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 Iron Man's shields, Hawkeye's trick arrows, or Deadpool's guns. 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. The majority of the game is dedicated to obtaining items, but there are other things you can do while in-game. There is a crafting system to upgrade gear and costumes, combine/split crafting materials, craft consumables/ artifacts and player vs. player combat (in beta).
Version 1.2 of the game, released on September 5, 2013, re-balanced the game's systems almost entirely. It features a better defense system that scales with your level, every stat is a rating, added a new item slot called a relic that can be upgraded 999 times, and added the ability to replay the story mode at levels 25 and 45 at harder difficulties. The system of playable character drops is covered by the new “Eternity Splinters” system. These rare drops can be used as currency with Adam Warlock so 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.
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.
The story of the game deals with Doctor Doom obtaining the Cosmic Cube and features other super-villains trying to prevent the heroes from interfering with Dr. Doom's use of the Cube. After stopping Doom, you can unlock the Bifrost Bridge to Asgard.
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.
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. At the game's release there were 21 and as of July 2015 there are 49 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 and Rocket Raccoon. Additional playable characters will be added in future updates like Black Cat, Blade, Iron Fist, Kitty Pryde and Magik. 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. 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.
|Team Up Characters|
|Enhanced Costume Characters|
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. 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.
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. 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".
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.” 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.
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. 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. 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. On Jan 10, 2015, Marvel Heroes 2015 was awarded "Most Improved MMO" by MMORPG.com, as decided by site visitors. 
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