Newsarama Note: Above, see an exclusive first video reveal of Emma Frost in Marvel Heroes!
The rebooting of a comic book universe is a familiar tactic to draw in new fans and fix lingering issues with any four-color continuity, so can't a virtual comic book universe try virtually the same thing and meet with success? That's the goal of the upcoming version 1.2 patch to the free-to-play action MMO Marvel Heroes as it was detailed to select members of the media at the Penny Arcade Expo 2013 in Seattle.
In order to keep the game's regular updates on schedule, a separate development team has been working for months on the patch while the work on the game's regular updates of characters and content has been proceeding simultaneously. Players can now look forward to six new characters over the next few months as well as a host of gameplay changes to make the overall experience more enjoyable.
The 1.2 patch will start rewarding players who have been or will be dedicated to collecting items and playing all different kinds of heroes. The boosts given from relic-type items will begin to stack and if a character on your bench reaches certain threshold levels, they will bestow a passive bonus to your active hero.
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Taking a page from the fantastic “Legends” series of console superhero games, heroes allied with an established Marvel Universe superhero organization like The Avengers, The X-Men, S.H.I.E.L.D. and the like can equip a team insignia that displayed the group's logo under their character in-game, bestow a bonus and in special circumstances either summon an NPC ally (a mind blasting Professor X was teased) or unleash a special AoE attack.
More meta-game elements will be introduced in a new Prestige style system that challenges players to reset their heroes in exchange for special colors for their in-game name display and perhaps other bonuses and two new difficultly levels, Heroic and Superheroic, that will up the challenge just as Nightmare and Hell mode did for Marvel Heroes' designer’s David Brevik's most popular game: Diablo 2.
Heading more under the hood of the game, version 1.2 will rebalance the game's internal math almost entirely. Absorbing feedback from the game's first few months, the experience has been tuned to better implement the defense system and spawn mobs with the right balance of normal and special enemy types. The system of playable character drops will be revised with a new “Eternity Splinters” system. These rare drops can be used in a character unlocking store so players can get the heroes they want to play faster and more directly (without spending real cash).
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Speaking of new characters, the Gazillion team announced the order of release of the next six characters and for a few of them, how they will play in game. First up is Emma Frost, whose skill trees are spread across her two power-sets. Her telepathy allows her to charm her enemies and even take control of almost any enemy with an 'AI brain' short of boss-level characters or she can cause all the on-screen enemies to kneel before her (using a custom animation placed in for just this purpose) before she wipes all their minds at one. Her diamond form powers on the other hand make the snappy dressing mutant a melee tank. It comes back to her brain powers for her ultimate attack, Grand Illusion which spawns the worst mobs in the game to attack foes on her behalf
After Emma comes Luke Cage, whose skill trees allow him to use classic comic book weapons (like Wrecker's crowbar) in battle, summon members of the Heroes for Hire to fight at his side for short time, or just engage in some old-school street brawling that implements a combo system that might recall certain builds from Diablo 2 and will include an attack that uses his great strength and unbreakable skin to perform a shock-wave generating ground pound that leaves the “CAGE” imprint from his brass knuckles in the pavement.
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Following Emma and Luke will be fan favorite Squirrel Girl, the ragin' Cajun Gambit, Nightcrawler, and Ghost Rider. The developers then leaked that they have received approval to create Halloween and Holiday costumes for all the heroes from Marvel.
Gazillion insist that they have heard their fans and critics and are dedicated to making the best game they can, concluding that the 1.2 patch is not just an update but almost an entirely new game.