First Marvel Universe details revealed: You play as Marvel characters, it's free to play, and more!
Gazillion held an event in San Francisco this evening to reveal the writer for it's upcoming MMO Marvel Universe, and ended up revealing a whole lot more. Details about the game have been very scarce before today, and even though they didn't show the game and replied to a lot of questions with "we're not ready to talk about that yet," we can piece together a pretty good guess at the direction the game is heading in based on the confirmations and the hints they did give.
What we know for sure:
- Marvel Universe will be free-to-play, and was planned that way from its inception.
- It's being developed by Secret Identity, a sub-group of Gazillion that was formed in late 2009 specifically to build Marvel Universe.
- You can play as Marvel characters, and other players can be the same hero as you at the same time, which the devs believe creates "lots of problems and lots of opportunities."
- You won't have to choose only one character, but will be able to play as all of them.
- Some of the characters you will play as are: Captain America, Iron Man, Wolverine, Hulk, Thor, Spiderman, Nova, and Squirrel Girl.
- Doctor Doom will be the game's main villain (at least at launch).
- Brian Michael Bendis is writing for the game
- According to Brian, "no corner of the Marvel Universe will be left unturned," although he was likely referring to over the game's lifetime, not necessarily all at launch.
- You will play through existing stories that are told in the comic books.
- The game world exists within the canon Marvel Universe--this is not an alternate reality scenario.
- Marvel Universe is being made primarily for adults (as opposed to Gazillion's other kid-focused Marvel MMO, Marvel Superhero Squad). They want to target core gamers first, and also make it accessible for everyone else.
What we suspect (not confirmed, but hinted at):
- There has to be lots of content that isn't based on existing comic book stories.
- It will likely be released on consoles after it's on PC. When asked about a console release, one of the developers said that it would come to PC first, but that they want as many people as possible to play it and other platform releases were "TBD, no wait, TBA!" That he felt the urge to clarify it was going to be announced, not decided, makes me think it will be coming to consoles.
- The game should have some open world environments: references were made to "hundreds of Wolverines" running around, which the developers feel is less of a problem than no one getting to play as recognizable characters.
- When asked if it would be browser-based, the developers insisted that accessibility was a crucial part of their game design, but they also stressed that they would be delivering a AAA-quality game. We'll have to wait to find out this one for sure.
What we will rampantly speculate on (not even close to confirmed; pure guesses):
- You might be able to play as a villain. It's true that Doctor Doom was described as "the main villain" for the game's main story--not just for heroes--but it's possible that he's gone rogue, and both sides have reasons for wanting to stop him. (confidence in prediction: 50%)
- It seems like the best way to keep the whole "everyone can be Wolverine" problem contained is to provide a heavily-instanced experience. I would not be surprised if they follow a similar route to Guild Wars, and Gazillion's own Marvel Superhero Squad: centralized hubs for chatting/hanging/crafting and instanced missions. (confidence: 60%)
- If it is a browser game, they're likely using the Unity engine. No other engine that we know of could come close to providing the experience they want to deliver in a browser. They would not confirm if they're building a new engine or using an existing one, but it seems likely that they're using an existing one since the game has only been in development for a little over a year. (confidence: 20%)
- A major form of monetization in Gazillion's Marvel Superhero Squad is purchasing new heroes to play as. In Marvel Universe, you might have to buy/earn the many heroes that you want to play as and to experience their stories. (confidence: 60%)
- I'd be surprised if you could "swap" between Marvel heroes on the fly like you do in Gazillion's other Marvel MMO, Marvel Superhero Squad, that would feel very weird in story-driven missions where you're playing out a specific character's story from the comic books. (confidence: 30%)
- I'd guess that the game should be in open beta in mid-to-late 2012. It was specifically said that the game is "still a ways out," but open betas usually come quickly for free-to-play games. (confidence: 50%)