Last week Marvel dropped the bombshell announcement that a new Marvel MMO was on the way, but wouldn’t shed even the slightest hint as to what the game would be about, who’s making it, when it would come, etc. So many questions and so few answers. At least, that was the case until today.

Marvel held their first press event for the Marvel Universe MMO today to reveal the first details of the game, including who’s behind it. While they kept tight lipped about actual gameplay elements, we were able to nab a few interesting tidbits during the livestream session.

The Lowdown

Let’s get the big news out of the way first:

  • Secret Identity Studios is teaming with Gazillion Entertainment and Marvel in developing Marvel Universe.
  • Brian Michael Bendis is the game’s head writer.
  • The game is a free-to-play MMO.
  • PC is the only platform they’re speaking about so far.
  • Dr. Doom is the game’s primary villain.
  • Players actually play as their favorite superhero characters.
  • The game will launch with more playable characters than any other Marvel game to date.
  • You can play primary heroes like Spider-Man, Captain America, Thor as well as more obscure characters like Nova and Squirrel Girl.
  • Where Super Hero Squad Online targeted young kids and families, Marvel Universe is aimed at the “hardcore” gamers and comic fans.

So, right off the bat you can see how Marvel is stepping up to the plate to compete with DC Universe Online. Marvel’s MMO won’t charge users a monthly subscription fee and will actually let them play as their favorite heroes rather than just take orders from them. That’s already two big selling features it has on the competition.

It was back in 2009 when Gazillion and Marvel signed an exclusive 10-year deal to develop multiplayer games, just one year after Microsoft canned the Marvel Universe Online MMO that Cryptic Studios was working on. Since then, we’ve already seen Super Hero Squad Online enter its playable public beta and it’s gratifying to know that they’ve also been working away at an MMO for mainsteam gamers as well.

Marvel Universe Online MMO

More Marvel MMO Details

After the panel and initial announcements, Marvel’s Marc Strom (Strommy) and Ryan Penagos (Agent_M) spent a few hours taking questions from fans and did a very good job of answering what they could, despite being severely restricted on what they could reveal at this point. Here are the nitty gritty details I got from listening and and asking a few questions myself:

  • The Marvel Universe MMO will likely be monetized through DLC (more characters!) and microtransactions.
  • Target audience described as “Core MMO,” meaning the MMO audience, movie watchers, comic, readers, etc.
  • Stories from the comics definitely involved, key locations and events more than exact retellings of stories from a particular Marvel Universe. Also draws from Films, anime, etc. – “not constrained by 30 or 40 years of continuity.”
  • That allows writers (and potentially, the players) to offer their own spin on stories and create new ones.
  • In terms of characters, all of the “big families” are involved, so you can insert the Fantastic Four roster and hopefully many of the X-Men characters.
  • Game will feature “cool MMO stuff” that we haven’t seen before.
  • Can “mix and match” characters, creating parties/guids on the fly.
  • They’re a fan of the concept of achievements. Take that for what you will.

Throughout the livestream, Agent_M and Strommy brought some of the panelests over to chat, starting with TQ Jefferson, VP of Games Production at Marvel, who talked a little about how they brought Brian Michael Bendis on board. It was a rather easy task as you can imagine and if you remember, he was heavily involved with the first Marvel Universe Online.

Jefferson explains that he called Bendis and left the following short and sweet voicemail for him:

“Marvel… MMO. Call me”

Bendis called back 2 hours later asking, “you say what I think you said?” and the rest is history. He’s been working on it in secret for 2 years ever since.

Later, Bendis came over to chat about his excitement about the game, and he let slip an interesting quote:

“You can be squirrel girl, you friend can be doom, and you can beat the s*** out of each other.”

I guess that answers the question of what sorts of characters you’d be playing. He later re-iterated that you play AS the heroes, the key difference between this and DC Universe Online. It seems you can also play as the villains, hence the hints about players being bale to alter the course of Marvel history, potentially in PvP style play.

Continue to page 2 for info on the Marvel Universe MMO release date, character customization and possible Diablo-style gameplay.

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