Guess which heroes you start out with – and guess which ones cost 20 Dollars to play.

Having some more free time on my hands, I decided to try out the new free to play Action-RPG Marvel Heroes.  My impression is that the game suffers from exactly what happened to The Old Republic MMO (TOR): the curse of More of the Same.  TOR took the same mechanics of the genre defining game World of Warcraft, put it into the Star Wars universe, added a neat story arc for each character class and called it a day.  TOR was supposed to be the last of the Triple A monthly subscription MMO’s, unfortunately when gamers realized that it was just WOW in space, they left in droves dooming TOR to a rickety F2P structure that other small-fry MMO’s meekly follow while firmly in WOW’s shadow.

Marvel Heroes (MH) dev team made the same decision to not change the basic formula of the genre defining game (Diablo 3 – D3) and instead, slapped some sniny new intellectual property characters onto what is essentially Diablo 2 or 3, thus they too have taken their spot in the shadow of Diablo 3.   It begs the question then, why play MH then if you can find a better experience in the game that defines the genre?  We’ll return to that question at the end :)

MH is, out of the box, a free to play(F2P) game and thus is the unhappy subject to one of the most crippling monetizing systems I’ve seen in a F2P game.  What differentiates MH from D3 is that you can play as a superhero from Marvel’s universe – as in “Wow! I could be Iron Man and fight the evil Hydra that would be cool!”, type of fun.  Unfortunately if you are looking to be your favorite hero (the big draw of the game) be prepared to spend the 20 US dollars to unlock him and another 20 dollars if you want to choose his outfit.   Errr…Ouch.

Just look at all the awesome Heroes you'll almost never get to play.

Just look at all the awesome Heroes you’ll almost never get to play.

Okay, so I don’t want to spend the $$ on a F2P game, you have to start with something right?  Starting MH you get a choice of 5 second/third tier shlubs (Storm, Dare Devil, Thing, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye) and all perform their assigned roles adequately, you can be the ranged zappy zappy of storm or the armoured tankyness of Thing.   But really, unless you’re a obscurantist comic fan with a big chubby for bland characters, the characters/power sets will quickly become boring, especially when you see the characters you want to play doing the cool stuff right beside you leaving you pining for their experience.

Oh sure it is a F2P game, but when the main distinguishing feature (the heroes) of your Action-RPG is behind a steep pay wall why would the average gamer bother?  You can find a better, far more polished experience,  in Diablo 3 or Torchlight 2 with Torchlight 2 being the better and less expensive of the two (D3 has always on DRM and micro-transaction that break the game).  Oh certainly, you can grind in game and hope that you get lucky and get a “hero-drop” so you can get taste of the fabled land of milk and honey, but then when you have to use the word “grind” in context of a playing a game…

Action RPG’s in general are about having fun killing the monsters and reviling in the “magic pants” that they drop for your character – but if you don’t like your character there will be problems. (see the attached video for more on pants),

Edit: Oh hey, Total Biscuit also agrees with me, Meh! for the win.