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Games of 2013: Marvel Heroes08:22 PM -- Wed January 15, 2014

Marvel Heroes

Yo! Let me start right out saying that Marvel Heroes is free-to-play (and quite playable for free), and so everybody should play it. It is a Diablo clone, only instead of Warriors and Wizards, you play as Wolverines, Captains America, Squirrel Girls, and Spidermen. It's got all the Diablo stuff, with the random loot (why superheroes collect random gear and wear it is not important, because it is fun), the skill trees and leveling up, and even a story you are supposed to repeat 3 times on your way to maximum level. It's actually made by the guys who made Diablo 2, and it shows. It really is more like Diablo 2 than Diablo 3 is (I won't complain about Diablo 3 too much, I like it quite a bit, and I have high hopes for the big flaws it has to be resolved with the expansion... most of them). Technically, it's an MMO rather than just an ARPG, but it's not super MMOey, you mostly just Diablo along smashing things by yourself or in small groups (they do say raids are coming soon, though).

Like any "Free to play" game such as the awe-inspiringly great Growtopia, you can play this game for free, but you can also dump endless hundreds of dollars into it to buy your way into everything. Unlike Growtopia, there are some things in this game that can only be obtained by paying real money. I have spent $10 total on this game, buying 2 extra pages of stash for all my hoarded items. I felt like that was worthwhile, given the 158 hours of play I've put into the game. You can also of course buy heroes, special costumes, experience boosts, rare-item-finding boosts, cosmetic pets, and so on.

Some of those things can be obtained for free as well. There's a system in the game where you find Eternity Splinters as you play (they drop randomly with incredible rarity, but a hidden timer guarantees at least one every 8 minutes or so), and you can spend those on getting heroes (and a couple other things). The cheapest option is to buy a Random Hero Box (poor guys, there aren't even air holes), but all heroes are equally likely in the box, including ones you already have. My very first random box, when I owned 2 of the 25 or so heroes available at the time, gave me one of the two I already had. It was quite demoralizing, but I'm now about 5 random boxes past that with no more repeats and lots of cool people I was excited to get. A repeat is not technically wasted, it gives you +1 rank to your "Ultimate Power", but that is pretty close to worthless. It's a gamble for sure! You can also just buy the hero you want, for many more Splinters, but I honestly prefer the random box, despite the horrible risk of failure. I don't even know which one I'd buy if I had to choose. If they offered random boxes for real money, I'd be awfully tempted to buy some!

This is the most updated game I've ever played. Every week there's a big update for it, which often includes a new hero (about one of those a month), a complete revamp of an existing hero (they're going through every character one by one, updating their skills and adding new ones to make them more fun), a new section to the story, a new gameplay mode like one week they added PvP battles (bleh), or just a total overhaul to a game system. If you tried this game when it first came out, I highly recommend you check it out again, because it literally doesn't even look like the same game anymore. The interface has been all redone, and they just constantly polish and refine. Now, to be fair, this is happening because the game was released in a very broken beta-like state, but I enjoyed it then, and I enjoy it a lot more now. They really do keep improving it dramatically, and that's a really nice thing to see instead of the usual fire-and-forget that most games have.

If you like Diabloey stuff, this is a great game for you. It's ridiculous how packed with enemies the areas are, and almost every ability of almost every hero is some kind of big AOE explosion, so you can easily be mowing down 50 guys in the space of 5 seconds. This is not a complex strategic battle simulation, it's just an endless slaughter of poor innocent mafia guys. That's a lot of fun, and has yet to get old for me (though it's the kind of mindless thing I listen to podcasts while doing, of course). I am just really addicted to slowly building up my team of heroes in this game. It's truly a game for altoholics and I am the most anonymous of altoholics. I gotta catch em all.

So, highly recommended, totally free, so come hang out with me, "Hamumu", in the game! It is only on PC right now (through Steam or on their website), though they say a Mac version is coming around March or so.
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