Marvel Heroes is a weird mix between archaic action RPG systems and MMORPG sensibilities that blend from mission to mission until you're funneled in a straight line to daily repetitive quests that aren't very fun and might even require you to pay money to play them.
Launching the game, I'm presented with this screen. I don't care much about any heroes they are giving away for free and I don't know much about them besides vague concepts and the blurb of text shown below their image. The blind choice here is pretty bad if you're going to spend 20h+ playing that game with one character, why not at least show you the skill trees? Or small videos of that character using their skills? Of course, you can always buy new heroes (again on blind faith) as you play along or find them (with very low odds), but doing so leaves you with level 1 heroes and a prompt to reset your story progress pops out. Why not save each heroes's story progress separately?
The game's progression is pretty bad. You start off from a hub world with vendors and crafters and quest givers, then you warp automatically to the place you need to go, kill a supervillain and then come back to get your quest rewards. There are some side areas that aren't useful to the story and some sidequests that will require you to go do different things like break computers or kill certain enemies. I was in a city-type map and it was really big, I just walked into a straight line to the top of the map, fought a boss and left, my minimap was empty, bar that line. The game feels too huge and straightforward at the same time, the maps are really big but there's no exploration; You get all the quests from the same people and then you're launched directly near your destination, why not make the maps smaller but packed with more interesting stuff?
But then the game gets difficult, you don't see what level you should be when fighting, you only see a color next to the enemy's name to tell you if you're in the right range. Even against "yellow" enemies I had some difficulty to kill them in a timely fashion and some bosses gave me endless annoyance. This trio of Kingpin, Elektra and some other dude I fought earlier must've killed me ten times before I got them. There are no penalties for dying, maybe there should be, because dying, respawning and plinking away at boss's hp is a valid strategy, and it shouldn't be. Their names were in yellow and green so I was in the right level range and yet they were horribly difficult.
This game plays like an Action RPG but is also an MMO. You'll see other people running around in the same maps as you, fighting the same enemies and getting to the same boss instancied boss dungeons where you'll be paired with people that get there around the same time as you do. This means that enemies always respawn and there's a huge enemy density to accomodate multiple players. It also means that you'll sometimes get overwhelmed by enemies while walking around,maybe the respawn rate and density should scale with the number of players nearby. The game throws a bunch of miniature quests your way, enemies that will grant you extra experience for no reason and time-based challenges that everyone works together to accomplish. I would've loved if the map showed the zone where these things could be done, like a circle around the area in which there are mortars, I never found them.
Each character has three skill trees and you can place skill points in multiple skills like in games like Diablo 2. This system is flawed because it promotes hoarding skill points until you can dump them all in the best skills and discourages trying random skills to see what they do. Let's take Hawkeye for instance; He has three basic attack (left mouse button) skills. Shooting one arrow, shooting two arrows and shooting three arrows. I hoarded all my points until I could level up the third one, of course. Why waste points in the other ones? Why skill points? A talent system where you can boost your skills to suit the way you play would've been better. Unlock all skills through leveling, upgrade them with talents that you can change and mix as you want. At least the game gives you items that increase your skill levels. I never put any points into explosive arrow, frozen arrow, taser arrow nor tear gas arrow but I used them all for a while because I got items that allowed me to use them.
Stats are also weird, you don't place points and items don't increase your 'basic' stats. They seem to go up from time to time as you level and their effects isn't always clear, so you can mouse-over the stat bars and see what they would do if they got any higher. It's not fun to be unable to see when or how you can raise your stats, any indication would've been great. Such as "At level 20 you get +1 fighting" and the character panel is lacking in information. Why show the level and defense that big? How about my DPS for my current attack? Experience required? You can see some stats in the second tab, but why that much space for these two things?
The vendors and crafting systems are weird because you need to donate gear for them to level-up and each vendor type/crafting levels up separately. And you need tons of items to get them to an appreciable level. I dumped everything I got into crafting until I realized I didn't care much for it and went on to level weapons before realizing that I could never buy anything better than the gear I was looting. What's the point? Show me what I'll unlock and even tell me how many items I need to dump in for the level to go up .
Crafting is too cumbersome for no reason. There are a bunch of component types and levels and you need to drag em to a box and then a bar fills up and then you need to pick up the result. Why not just take the required materials, fill the bar, and give me the result when I click the button? No need for me to drag things in and out.
I completed the story way too abruptly, I defeated a boss and the whole thing was over; and I was only about level 22 out of 60. Afterwards, the game said, you need to do daily challenges which consist of beating harder versions of the story's dungeon and then beat a tougher boss. Some of these harder dungeons need keys to access them and they keys of course, can be bought with real money. I tried beating these dungeons to see if the game would stop letting me play for the day after I've completed them all but I was stopped way faster when a boss kept one-hit killing me and I had to walk the whole dungeon over. Why not put the respawn point closer to the boss room? I did walk the whole thing twice but after that I was done.