Playable. Squirrel. Girl.
If that (and the two other new characters just announced: The Punisher and Daredevil) weren't enough to get comic book fans at Seattle's Penny Arcade Expo 2012 excited about this new free-to-play superhero MMO penned by Brian Michael Bendis, learning about the surprising gaming heritage that Marvel Heroes has to drawn upon certainly did.“It's the spiritual successor to Diablo 2,” explained Gazillion Studios Producer Matt Group, who Newsarama was able to corner amidst the cacophony of noise that was the PAX Prime expo hall, “My boss, our creative director, is David Brevik, the creator of Diablo and Diablo 2 so his influence is definitely seen in our game as well. The quote we use is that it is 'Marvel meets Diablo on steroids.'”
At this point in development it's unknown if Marvel Heroes can win seven Tour de France titles in a row, but the demo mission available to PAX Prime attendees wills out the comparison to the legendary dungeon crawler. In it, you are offered a selection of one of six heroes: Hulk, The Thing, Iron Man, Emma Frost, Scarlet Witch and Wolverine, and are set off from the Xavier school on a mission to stop The Purifiers from persecuting mutants. Little details from the non-combat areas fondly recall superhero titles like X-Men Legacy and Marvel Ultimate Alliance as the Xavier school is populated by NPC heroes you can chat with like Cyclops and Psylocke. Other heroes aid in selling in-game items or handle transportation, as Cloak (of Cloak and Dagger) handles teleportation duties.In combat, it's the classic Diablo click-fest as each hero engages in battle with standard attacks that fit the character. For instance Iron Man attacks at range, while Hulk is appropriately a melee fighter. Although this can change, as fittingly Emma Frost attacks psionicly at range, but shifting her to her diamond form makes her a melee striker. Each hero also has three powers that can be assigned to quick-keys using a a pool of 'energy' (mana), Hulk for example can buff himself up while Iron Man has his flying ground pound made very popular from the movies as well as a chargeable Unibeam attack.
In the demo, waves of Purifiers of different classes attack in bunches, from simple melee strikers to heavy chain-gun welders and even ones that have powers themselves. In one corner of the map a giant Sentinel appeared as a form of mini-boss and at the end of the quest you battled Magneto for the life of anti-mutant Senator Robert Kelly.
The true goal of the game however, like it's spiritual predecessor, is the pursuit of loot. Drops include in-game money, health packs, new powers, crafting items and pieces of costumes that buff characters stats. Upon investigation the breakdown of the attributes in Marvel Heroes is quiet different from other games of the type. To balance all the different types of heroes and what they can do, instead of the standard STR, INT, WIS, etc set up, characters are rated by Accuracy, Agility, Energy, Strength and Will and are given a primary stat to which their powers are focused through; Emma Frost = Will, Hulk = Strength, Wolverine = Agility.On the aesthetic front it's worth noting that wearing theses items will effect the character visually, as according to Matt Group costumes suit another purpose in the game, differentiating between multiple players playing as the same hero.
“We have access to all the character’s costumes, each character has appeared in many different versions [of them]; Spider-Man has had his black suit, Iron Spider, Future Foundation, you name it. So no two Spider-Men will ever be alike, you'll be able to customize how they look and with the items and powers you customize how they feel, so between the two you'll get to customize the look and feel of your Spider-Man versus my Spider-Man, so no two will be alike.”