I just don’t “get” Marvel Heroes

One thing I really like about FFXIV is that it doesn’t obsolete old content the way WoW does. WoW players know what I’m talking about: there’s reams of old raids and dungeons from past expansions that are just empty wastelands now, because there’s no point in doing them. If you do, stat inflation makes everyone so powerful that mechanics hardly matter at all.

I just finished the Crystal Tower raids in FFXIV last night, and it was great to see people still doing it. We still died if we ignored mechanics or do them badly. Was it easier than when it was new? Absolutely. But the game both gives incentives to do older content, and thanks to level synching back down makes it so it’s not totally trivial. It’s a great system.

Marvel Heroes – I don’t “get” the appeal

Before anybody says it – I’m not saying it’s a bad game. Lots of people I know like it. I just for the life of me don’t understand why.

I’m a software developer, and part of my day job is taking things that employees are doing that don’t require anything but repetition, and automating them. That’s how I feel when I’m playing Marvel Heroes. The game is so mind numbingly easy that I didn’t require thought when I played it. In fact, I could automate everything I was doing with this pseudocode:

while (enemiesAlive) {

CastSpell(mana > 0 ? ChainLightning : FreeLightning);


For those who don’t read code, that simply says this: while there’s enemies alive, cast chain lightning if I have mana, or the free lightning spell if I don’t.

I spent 5.7 hours (according to Steam) in Marvel Heroes, and that was pretty much all I did, playing as Storm. Either I used the lightning that cost mana, or the one that didn’t (because I had no mana). Nothing particularly required thought, or paying attention. I spent a bunch of that time actually watching TV while playing. If the game allowed mods that can cast spells, I could automate my combat actions with a couple lines of code. Day job me sees that as a problem in need of fixing, not something fun to do in my spare time.

I’m told the difficulty goes up later, and Rhiss offered to level my character for me to that point so I’d give it another try… but almost 6 hours is quite a lot of time when I’m bored. If a game can’t get my interest by then, what’s the point?

People who do get it

Given the game’s popularity, obviously quite a lot of people do enjoy it. I asked some of them why, and I got several responses. The one I saw the most often is that it was fun precisely because it didn’t require any thought. There’s no stress. You can unwind playing it. One person said that specifically. Some people also like repetition and grinding for stuff, like Rhiss with the endgame of Disgaea (which is massive grinding for huge numbers).

I also assume it gets harder later and that people can find a challenge with some of the later content, for those that like such a thing. Plus, it has a zillion things to collect. Heroes, skills, more currencies than I can count, etc. If you have reasons that I missed, feel free to add them in comments. 🙂

I don’t get those reasons either

The reason that stood out to me was the appeal of a no stress, easy game. I don’t get that either. To me, games are finished once I feel that I’ve got the whole thing figured out and can beat it at will. That’s how Disgaea games all end for me. I get set up for the endgame grind with all the specialists and such ready to go, and the maps unlocked… and I’m done. I did the part that’s interesting to me, know I can do the rest, and thus there’s no reason to actually do it. It’s not a story game in the endgame, so unlike say Final Fantasy IX, I’m not going to keep playing just for the amazing finale. I do love story games though, which is part of the appeal of FFXIV.

Clicker Heroes
Clicker Heroes – featuring ever bigger numbers

As for getting bigger numbers and more stuff… I have Clicker Heroes for that. That’s a silly game in which you buy heroes, who kill monsters, to get you loot. You use the loot buy/upgrade more heroes to kill more monsters and get more loot. The wrinkle is that the heroes kill stuff. The game runs while you’re playing it, and while it’s closed or your computer is off. Thus, I get to buy the upgrades and figure out the best place to spend money for maximum DPS, without the actual effort of tedious grinding.

For the people I know who like the grinding part, they find this idea totally absurd. And I understand why, but I find it pretty enjoyable. It’s got the thought part and none of the grinding, which suits me perfectly. When I’m done, I go do something else and the grinding happens on its own.

In the end both things are just numbers going up, but with this one I’m freed up to go be challenged by something like XCOM or the upcoming Anno game.

Fundamentally, the friends in question and I just want different things out of games. As it turns out, Marvel Heroes provides what they want and just doesn’t provide it to me. I can look at it dispassionately and see that it’s well put together and does a lot of things that I could like, but it just doesn’t work for me.

For those that it does? Great! Have fun!

5 thoughts on “I just don’t “get” Marvel Heroes”

  1. While I absolutely get your points, for me Marvel Heroes simply is the best Diablo-like right now. (Plus the difficulty only goes up at max-level in Cosmic content or if I use some heroes that feel really week to me – e.g. not Storm for example)
    So I’d be interested if you liked any of the Diablo games or did feel the same?

    But I also think the “mindless” part fits most (if not all) MMORPGs I played. Levelling in WoW, GW2, Ragnarok Online plays out exactly the same if you’ve already done the quests and know what to do – or a bit more if you haven’t. Most fit the scheme quite well – WildStar was a bit better, but more in the sense of having to jump around and some quests indeed being harder.

    1. I do like Diablo, but I hated Diablo 3 in it’s 1.x incarnation. It was only with Reaper of Souls that I started liking it, and one of the reasons why is that I can adjust the difficulty so effectively. To me, Marvel Heroes is like Diablo 3 on hard. The trouble is that I play Diablo 3 on T6 (soon to be T7 or T8 when the patch comes out). If you force Diablo 3 back to hard and lock it there, I get bored extremely fast.

      It’s also true a lot of MMOs have leveling that’s equally mindless… but I also don’t find leveling in MMOs particularly interesting. In fact, I’m of the mind that the genre would be better if it ditched levels entirely. Endgame doesn’t have levels, and players spend a majority of their time at endgame. Why have this other, different experience where you have to grind out largely trivial solo content to get to the other part of the game? Considering how expensive leveling content is and how quickly players burn through it, it makes no sense to me that the genre is so fixated on it.

      In FFXIV, for my second class (White Mage) I did as much leveling as possible in dungeons. Once I unlocked dungeon roulette on that class, I only ever did the outdoor leveling content for class quests where I had to.

      1. argh, this FFXIV thing keeps popping up all the time – but I just looked up where on Twitter I found this post, so no surprise I guess 😀

        Thanks for the D3 explanation, that makes a lot more sense now – but to Marvel Heroes’ defense I have to say cosmic terminals on level 60 are probably the equivalent of T1 or T2 – unless my scale is totally off.
        I haven’t played D3 for a while and only ever progressed to T2-T3 I think. That’s where the fun in “no levels, just loot” ended for me, and I tend to classify myself as not a very hardcore gamer these games. So if I can manage to do it, it’s maybe “hard” and not “very hard” or a big achievement at all.

        With all the newer game modes of D3 you could say it’s a bit more diverse (rifts, seasons, etc) but I’ve never tried raids in MH either…

        1. Yep, we have a big circle of FFXIV players. 😀

          It wouldn’t surprise me if Marvel Heroes has that kind of more difficult content at all. But the amount of time it takes to get to it is a lot more than I want to put in when I’m not having fun. So that’s where I like the D3 model better, as I can tune the difficulty pretty much immediately. (FFXIV actually had similar difficulty issues early on, but the story and world kept me engaged for long enough for the difficulty to increase.)

          The true “hardcore” D3 players are so far ahead of everyone else that it’s goofy. I look at them doing stuff like Greater Rift 60 and it’s like a feat of wizardry to me. But a lot of the difficulty comes in spec, gear, and paragon levels. You will get a lot farther simply by having a gear set that compliments your abilities well, especially if it’s one of the class armor sets that are big power boosts. In that sense it’s still got some flaws as a game, but every time I get better, the greater rift difficulty can go up to match, so I never run out of challenges.

          That’s where I think they succeeded – no matter how good or bad you are at it, you can set the challenge level to suit how hard you want the game to be.

          It’s probably not workable in a true MMO, but WoW’s different raid difficulty tiers are a reasonable attempt at it. It’s really the outdoor stuff for me where it falls apart, as that is just aimed too low for me to enjoy it. It’s a thing to endure, rather than enjoy.

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