Filler versus Fuller

I remember in the vanilla version of World of Warcraft, green gear was awesome and each class had a preference for a given set.  You either used Strength, Agility or Intellect for damage and you picked up Stamina if you needed an HP boost.  This made Rogues happy with Monkey (AGI/STA) or Tiger (STR/AGI) gear.  Still, that left over half the combinations sub-optimal and I can’t remember anyone who ever wore a piece of the Boar on purpose.

People would should “but this is green gear, it should be at least useful“.  And their laments were ignored for many a year.  Burning Crusade took a first pass at fixing this making it much more complex but forgiving at the same time.  There simply was no more bad gear for you, simply sub-optimal.  MMOs since then have learned this lesson.  Rift, GW2, Neverwinter all have a logical set of stats on gear.  If it isn’t clearly marked as vendor trash, it should be useful.

Blizzard also learned something from this when they launched Diablo 3, since all the stats were harmonized.  You just couldn’t equip a piece of gear with stats that made you bad (say strength on a Wizard piece).  And the world rejoiced!  Well, when they could log in that is.

And now we get to the meat of it all, Marvel Heroes.  I finished the last boss, Doctor Doom at about level 25 (of 60).  You replay individual missions past that – sort of. It’s a long slog.  Anyways, the gear issue.

There are certain types of bonuses on gear, right?  You can have offensive stats, defensive stats and power stats.  Offensive you have simple +damage, crit and attack speed.  There are others but those are the only ones that really count.  Offensive stats are cool and mostly practical.  Some skills don’t crit and +damage works weird with some skills but that’s tweaking.

Defensively you have dodge, defense and health regeneration.  Defense is broken after you finish the main quest line, it caps at a numerical number rather than a % number.  So you block 1000 damage let’s say but the enemy does more and more each time, like 5000 on one boss attack.  Right now, defensive stats other than dodge are pretty useless.

Power stats are the really cool part.  Just like Diablo 2, you can get power boosts – like +2 fireball – or you can get power tree boosts – like 5% attack speed for fire tree.  Some stats only work until a certain rank, others add to your existing rank.  Some trees have no attacks, which makes bonuses to those trees, other than a flat +1, useless.  In the end, you’ll be aiming for 2-3 powers being boosted and the rest sort of falls into place.

All this combined to say that gear can have a lot of variables on it.  Unfortunately, due to balancing/design, some of these stat groups are useless.  100 defense + 5% attack speed to a passive tree are examples.  It’s not that they are sub-optimal, it’s that they provide no bonus at all and are more or less the same as not wearing any gear in the first place.

While the game officially launched a few days ago, there is still missing what I call a “final beta balance patch”.  Neverwinter is also missing this but they have recently posted that a a “kitchen sink” patch for their open beta is forthcoming.

Marvel Heroes is fun.  Still, it is in dire need of a core systems patch to make their “end game” viable.