Some four years after its launch on PC, comic book flavoured dungeon crawler Marvel Heroes finally makes its way to PS4, boasting a shiny new Omega subtitle along with a boatload of Marvel’s most recognisable superheroes and supervillains to boot. Sure, we’ve had Activision’s Marvel Ultimate Alliance games which attempted to hybridise the hack and slash sensibilities of Diablo with the highly recognisable Marvel brand, but neither of those efforts match what developer Gazillion Entertainment has wrought with Marvel Heroes Omega.
Indeed for many, Marvel Heroes Omega will be akin to crack covered chocolate; it has a who’s who of the immensely popular Marvel universe, packs in more killing and loot than you can shake a hairy Groot at and, most crucially, costs absolutely nothing to play. Now, before that free-to-play klaxon starts sounding off in your head, let me preface by saying that, surprisingly, the model in Marvel Heroes Omega actually works pretty fairly and lets you pump in a whole heap of hours without having to pay a penny.
Of the nearly forty strong superhero roster that Marvel Heroes Omega lets the player choose from, the game lets you try out any character for free by allowing you to reach the tenth level before requesting that you purchase them. When that time comes, you can either purchase these characters with real world money, or, by scooping up Eternity Splinters which occasionally drop from fallen enemies throughout the game.
Though pursuit of the Eternity Splinters do lend themselves to a bit of grinding, the developers haven’t left you twisting in the wind, as not only do you receive over 500 of the things for completing the game’s tutorial (enough to easily buy a decent character from the beginning), but PlayStation owners get Daredevil and his special ‘Man Without Fear’ costume free of charge too.
Basically, Marvel Heroes Omega is not a game that will hold your wallet hostage for enjoyment; quite the opposite, since unless you’re planning to purchase a great many characters (don’t forget, you’ll essentially have two fully capable characters from the get-go in Daredevil and whoever you spend your tutorial Eternity Splinter allowance on) or buy up all of the premium costumes, there is no reason at all you shouldn’t have a bucketload of enjoyment at zero expense. Conversely, real world money can also be used to expand your inventory space, but if you’re frugal with your clutter this really won’t prove to be a problem at all. Also to be clear, Marvel Heroes Omega is an online only title, so if you were hoping to play this bad boy offline, you simply won’t be able to.
Into the game proper, Marvel Heroes Omega has an overarching story campaign split up into multiple chapters and acts. Centred around the nefarious Doctor Doom and the recent Cosmic Cube that has fallen into his possession, players will find themselves tangling with a pantheon of Marvel villains as they seek to wrest control of the Cube from the bad doctor and restore order to the Earth. With storylines written by an actual Marvel author in Brian Michael Bendis (he who has worked on such fare as Daredevil and Ultimate Spider-Man), the various sorties and missions in Marvel Heroes Omega take on a sort of authenticity that they might not have had in a pair of less practiced narrative hands.
In addition to such a sense of authenticity, it’s also an unexpectedly humorous experience too – not only do you get the banter between the heroes themselves (Deadpool’s Karate Kid ribbing of the Iron Fist is hilarious), but the legions of idle rent-a-goons you come across have some of the cracking lines of their own; everything from thoughtful meditations on what it means to be a henchman through to spirited squabbles about Game of Thrones to name just two of the topics that come up. So before you just wade in there and kill the poor fools, you might want to eavesdrop on their banter first.
At present, the PS4 version of Marvel Heroes Omega boasts 38 playable characters. Split broadly into characters that excel at tanking, damage dealing or can do a bit of both (healing in Marvel Heroes Omega is done by collecting red orbs, doing special attacks, or, unleashing a special cool down ability), players can choose between, and team up with, a wide range of characters to get the job done. Whether you’re overwhelming enemies with the shock and awe of War Machine’s ridiculously overstuffed arsenal of weaponry, or carving folk up into neat meat cubes as Old Man Logan, Marvel Heroes Omega certainly brings plenty of choice for fans of the comics and the movies.
In regards to content, Marvel Heroes Omega is a game that certainly has some Hulk-sized, tree-trunk legs underneath it. In addition to the main campaign that takes the fight everywhere from the dank streets of Hell’s Kitchen through to the shining utopia of Asgard, Marvel Heroes Omega also boasts a number of patrols, trials, danger room missions and operations that allow players to tackle difficult bosses and varying levels of challenge for greatly improved loot. Put simply, there is literally hundreds of hours of game here, and doing it with a friend or group of friends certainly rekindles that same feeling of fun that the best cooperative dungeon crawlers are able to elicit.
One thing to bear in mind however, is that the PS4 version of Marvel Heroes Omega is lacking a fair amount of the content seen in the PC version of the game. With the PS4 version boasting 38 playable heroes versus the 61 characters seen in the PC version, not to mention the latter having many more missions, extra items and more besides, it’s fair to say that Marvel Heroes Omega on Sony’s console doesn’t match up quite so favourably with the PC version in the content stakes. However, Gazillion Entertainment has confirmed to PlayStation Universe that it’ll “be adding new heroes, enemies, gear, and systems in the future”, so it shouldn’t be too long before the PS4 content catches up.
Equally, in its current form, Marvel Heroes Omega has a small handful of shortcomings. While well-designed for the most part, the UI seems to be missing some basic elements that you’d expect from any dungeon crawler worth its salt. Take the equipment side of things for example; instead of your character automatically equipping any better gear that they come across, you have to go into the inventory each and every time to equip whatever item it is that you’ve picked up. Naturally, this is hardly an ideal thing to do in a such a fast-paced game where you want to spend your time tearing through foes and collecting loot, rather than having to spend nearly as long trying to equip it all.
Another problem at this stage is one concerned with performance. Even on PS4 Pro, Marvel Heroes Omega fails to demonstrate a willingness to stick to a rock solid 60 fps in less than chaotic scenes; a mildly disappointing fact given how rigidly the now nearly three-year old Diablo III manages to accomplish this technical feat. Again though, much like the absent content, I expect such issues to be addressed by the folks at Gazillion as Marvel Heroes Omega grows and matures on PS4.*
Ultimately, there’s so much to get stuck into here, and with the rich, substantive and ever expanding offering of Marvel’s lore to draw upon, it looks like Marvel Heroes Omega will keep both dungeon crawlers and superhero fans alike blissfully engaged for a very long time indeed. I mean, it’s basically all of your favourite Marvel characters battering villainous folk for progression and loot, for free; so what’s not to like?
*Gazillion Entertainment has confirmed to PSU that it is looking to address the minor performance issues in future updates.