Friday, 29 November 2013

Marvel Heroes Bulletin 4 (& some Marvel Avengers Alliance)

Hey there heroes & SHIELD agents! LOADS more Marvel Heroes updates as well as something new for the Marvel Avengers Alliance fans as well! MH fans do join my MH group here.

Marvel Heroes
Last week, Gazillion's Jeff Donais aka Doomsaw held an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on (my question is on page 14 of that link - njferns) to answer questions asked by Marvel Heroes fans. Quite a lot was already revealed by him during the Charity Heroes event in October, but he still took time out (1 hour & 45 minutes to be precise) to answer some of the questions he was bombarded with. He ended by saying to expect another AMA by this week.

But before I go ahead with the AMA updates, an important heads-up:
*Bonus weekend is currently going on in Marvel Heroes right up to December 2! Get a +50% boost on XP, Item Rarity & Special Item Find as a Thanksgiving reward!
*Black Friday Sale is ALSO currently on till December 2! Almost every Hero, Costume, Pet & Bundle is 25% off! The only heroes & costumes not included are Gambit, Loki, their alternate costumes & bundles. This sale also includes almost all hero packs found at the webstore.

Now onto the AMA updates. Please note that I've only included reveals that are absolute confirmations & not "maybes" (especially with regards to the new hero releases).

New Heroes
*Ghost Rider- The focus right now is on his movement power- determining whether to add acceleration, turning radius & other realistic physics to his bike or just make it smooth & “fun”. Also working on the modeling for his molten chains & his shotgun animations.
< This is an early Ghost Rider preview shared by Lead Character Designer, Tyler Fermelis, who informed that "he has chains around his chest, they are built in a different way so you don't see them here."

*X-23 will become playable by the second half of 2014.

Hero improvements
*No plans to raise the current level cap. The focus is more on end-game content & alternate means of advancing your character without making all your gear obsolete. Examples: Legendary items, Rings, Prestige mode, Synergy system

*A “Team Up” system is in the works that allows them to create heroes that may never have enough powers to be a full hero, but could make good sidekicks. This would be a new hero type & could be leveled up in some way to fight alongside your favorite hero (or for people who don’t want to run around with a sidekick, just provide some passive benefit).

*Design Reviews will happen for every hero & then once again in 6 months.
*Captain America’s review will likely be January, but his killing power will be upgraded in mid December.

*Scarlet Witch is on the list for some improvements in December (damage for most of her powers) with the design review in early 2014.

*They will be adding the most-requested “synergy” feature- an increasing bonus to all your heroes for each hero you’ve maxed.

*Considering a system that allows you to gain XP with a hero you are playing while you give a percentage of the XP to another hero on your roster, with an “Inspirational Mentor” type of flavor.

*Achievements coming in early 2014

Supergroups & Grouping
*More functionality & advancement for Supergroups & individuals coming in early 2014.

*They will upgrade the Supergroup system & then introduce rewards for guilds that accomplish things. Solo players won't feel left out either with every system added.

*They have considered a method whereby you can match the level of a group member or go to an NPC to temporarily lower your level so as to not leave a group member behind or set aside a hero for long periods of time. This function may be implemented in some capacity in early 2014.

*Few grouping improvements coming in the next two patches to make grouping easier & smoother.

*They are also working on a design to allow players to share Legendary Quests in some way so you can run around complete your quest (giving your group member some bonus XP) & then finish the member's quest (sharing in the rewards to some degree).

*Several new item types that can be advanced coming in the next couple of months
*They are working on an item trading interface to launch in early 2014.

*Ends of the Earth Spider-Man will come in December.
*They are working on 1-2 more Loki costumes but they won’t appear until at least January. Female Loki will be his next costume!

*They are determining which costume to do for Gambit next but it may not be for awhile. They are considering a Valentine or his yellow costume.

Missions & zones
*About 3 months dedicated to Asgard-related content, including:
-Iterating & improving on the Fire and Ice Giant PVP mode.
-A fight vs. Loki in the Asgard throne room. He will have a new medallion & several artifacts that drop from him.
-First raid encounter with a yet-to-be-announced titanic enemy. He will have a lot of interactive mechanics & choices to make about how you defeat him along with an 10-hero raid party system that can be preformed or filled with a queue system.
-A “Siege of Asgard” mode similar to Midtown + X-Defense that involves the main villain from Thor: The Dark World, Malekith.
-Several new Asgard-related terminals, including a Kurse terminal that will be added in December.
-A brand new competitive PVE mode set in the realm of the Dark Elves.
*After Asgard, we have chapters coming of various types, from the Bronx Zoo to more cosmic & galactic areas.

*Fisk Tower terminal will come in December with several more in the months after that. Terminals will also offer a bonus for players who want to clear the entire map although it will never be mandatory.

*New enemies that are basically complete but don’t have their zones complete yet include: Lizard, Mr. Hyde, Malekith, Blizzard, Loki & several “henchmen” type guys that have yet to be added.

*Expect more events in the future similar to the Asgard unlocking event. They'll design them around the competitive aspect.

Raid zones
*Raids will be 10 players. It will be extremely simple to turn your party into a raid party by just clicking a UI button. You can bring your own raid or fill in with people using the new queue system (which is currently in the final testing stages with X-Defense & the first PVP mode).

*Raids will be challenging, but not incredibly long- similar to Onyxia or the final boss of any of the best WOW dungeons. A distinct encounter will include some minor warm-up encounters to get the raid working together & then quickly start the main event.
*They won't be mandatory. Solo players will still have access to the best gear through alternate means.

*The upcoming raid fight in Asgard will have some Group Puzzle Bosses mechanics & the TBA fight in Spring 2014 will have loads of it. (Question example of a "puzzle boss": a Boss where you need to shut down energy cores which power up an shield, while 2 other players distract the boss. Something with more strategy involved than "hit him until he is defeated")

*They won't ever require any type of specific “classes” in raids. A group of 10 Spider-Man should be able to complete a raid as well as a group of 10 Gambits or Deadpools.

*Multiple PVP modes are in various stages of design & will come after the Fire & Ice mode is fully tested.

*Some of these other modes feel very similar to open world PVP, offering complex & involved maps or maps that borrow great ideas from their favorite games.

*They won't add any kind of mandatory or involuntary PVP system. Just opt-in systems that are fun for the players who enjoy PVP.

*Still deciding on the number of PVP item slots they want. It may end with the Rings. They want PVE gear to work fine in PVP & simply award PVP as rewards.

*Teams, ladders, rankings & seasons once beta testing of the mode is complete.

*The Mac version is well under way & will hopefully be released in one of the next few large patches.

Marvel Avengers Alliance
Spec Ops 14 is almost over, PVP Season 12 has 11 more days to go, but in a surprise move Playdom actually decided to release new content sooner than expected! Namely- Season 2's Chapter 3!

With Chapter 3 expect new villains (Kingpin & Sin), new heroic battles (with some great dialogues like this one < between Ms. Marvel & Moonstone) AND more importantly- new rewards including Daredevil's original costume (Tactician & Scrapper classes) as the Chapter Mastery reward! So get cracking agents!

There's also a Black Friday sale going on in MAA wherein all the 135CP heroes are on discount. [Edit: I didn't know this before since I already had all the heroes in question, but turns out that the sale is actually them being for 50 gold each. Trust Playdom to prove each time what a bunch of money grabbing douches they  can be.]

So that's all for now. Here's wishing you Happy Holidays & remember- keep them heroic.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Marvel Heroes Bulletin 3 (& some Marvel Avengers Alliance)

Attention heroes & SHIELD agents! I'm back with loads of Marvel Heroes updates & a bit of Marvel Avengers Alliance as well, so read on...Also, MH fans can join the group we have going for our very own CBNAH MH guild here.

Marvel Heroes
Patch 2.02 is out & Gambit is in the house, mes amis!

Patch 2.02 Highlights (complete patch notes here)
-Gambit! You can now play as the Ragin' Cajun! With Gambit busy saving all the damsels in distress, Domino will now be in charge of selling Fortune cards at the hubs. Check out his trailer below:

-Minor changes to Scarlet Witch, Squirrel Girl & Thor.
-Once you reach L15 you'll now get free 250G as the reward (once per account, retroactive for existing players)!
-New Item Slot: Pets- Equip your favorite cosmetic pet or reusable holo vendor on your heroes!
-PVP Ring Upgrades- The Signets of Odin, Sif, Frigga & Fandral have been slightly buffed.
-More uniques to find, particularly for heroes with no unique in certain gear slots!

-Noir costume for Luke Cage now available in the in-game store for 950G.
-LOADS of improvements made to summoned allies.
-Work continues to optimize the currently laggy game performance. Additional details here.

-The Asgard event has been completed & the Bifrost Bridge has been unlocked, allowing you to head into Odin's Palace in Asgard. The palace is the new MH hub & it looks splendid.

-The appropriate rewards you were meant to get for participating in the Asgard event will be automatically delivered after the next patch at the most by early December.
-Once in the palace you first need to eliminate all the Dark Elves there & finally defeat Kurse.
-After that you unlock...

PVP: Fire & Ice
-This is now in open beta stage & will undergo about 6 weeks of fine tuning. Read up on the upcoming updates to PVP here & here.
-Check the 2.02 patch notes for to see the many changes that have already been implemented.
-If you haven't got a chance to check out PVP yet, you can watch the PVP livestream Gazillion held on Twitch recently.

Missions & zones
-They are working on a new target dummy in the Training Room to simulate stage 2 Doom (it will die & respawn so you can test your time to kill) & a target dummy that shoots a rifle at you to test your defensive abilities.
-The rock troll that Thor smashed at the start of The Dark World is coming soon!
-Working on a Doop level for X-Defense.

Pricing changes
The man himself, Gazillion CEO David Brevik, revealed some important pricing info:
-They are getting rid of the 1100G cost tier for heroes. All heroes at that tier currently will move to 900G. So Gambit costs 900G or 400 eternity splinters.
-They are also moving the 1450G hero level down to 1350G, resulting in 3 simple levels of 450, 900 and 1350G.
-There'll be a no-questions-asked price protection for anyone who bought the hero within the past week.

Various ETAs
*Kingpin terminal- early December
*Next Asgard chapter 10 (with Loki boss fight)- December
*Ms. Marvel DPS review- December 19 (All heroes are getting a DPS review in December)
*Expanded roles for vendors- December & January
*Captain America's rework- January
*Bronx Zoo- early 2014
*Raid zone- Q1 2014 release

Iridium Triple Boost Giveaway!
-Guys this DOES work, but I don't know for how much longer. Just follow the instructions in this link & voila! 3 units of Iridium boosts that can help you increase your active hero's chance of finding rare items, special items & XP by 50% for 2 hours each!

Marvel Avengers Alliance
Nothing much on this front except that the Unstoppable lockboxes for Juggernaut are on sale for 9 more days. I've bought 30 boxes for myself & got 2 more covers for him. 2 more left to get. :c

Anyways, that's all for now. MH fans watch out for my next post- LOADS of updates from Doomsaw himself (including an update on the Mac version)! So until then, keep things heroic!

Friday, 15 November 2013

Marvel Heroes Bulletin 2 (& some Marvel Avengers Alliance updates)

Attention heroes & SHIELD agents! I'm back with some Marvel Heroes AND Marvel Avengers Alliance news, so keep reading...Also, all you regular MH players out there can join my Marvel Heroes group here & join in our discussions!

Marvel Heroes
The first Asgard patch 2.0 is finally live in Marvel Heroes! Below I've mentioned the highlights from the patch notes, along with the highlights from the patch 2.01 notes. Check out the trailer for patch 2.0!

New Chapter 9: Norway

-Travel to the frozen Fjords of Norway and battle Frost Giants, Dark Elves and more.
-In a server-wide event of approximately 2 weeks, help Reed Richards learn how & why these other-worldly enemies are invading Earth by donating items that have been exposed to the Cosmic Cube's energy.
-Doing so will help unlock a brand new hub: Odin's Palace.
-Track the progress of this event & see what rank you stand at here (ranks are only of the top 500).
-Over the next 4 months, new areas of Asgard will become available, including a raid zone, PVP & Siege challenge.
^Now, once you defeat Doctor Doom, Chapter 9 opens up, taking you to Norway where you get to meet Dum Dum Dugan.

-Loki is now part of Marvel Heroes!
-Try & figure out why he is working with the heroes to defeat Doctor Doom.
-More Loki deats here & check out his trailer below:

Hero changes
-New starter hero lineup to choose from: Colossus, Human Torch, Hawkeye, Storm, Punisher, Luke Cage, Captain America, Black Widow & Black Panther.
-The hero stat page (Strength, Durability, etc.) now includes two extra points. These however, currently give very little return as a stat system revamp is planned in the future.
-Colossus Rework:
*Colossus is now fortified with 6 new powers including a new Ultimate ability (Heavy Metal), a new Signature Power (Colossal Roar) & the devastating Siberian Express!
*You can summon his sister Magik with his Bond of Bloodline skill.
*His previous Ultimate power (Fastball Special) is now a normal power.
-These heroes have had some minor changes: Black Panther, Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye, Human Torch, Jean Grey, Luke Cage, Punisher, Rocket Raccoon, Squirrel Girl, Spiderman, Storm & Thor.

Enemy changes
-Many new enemy types such as Frost Giant Ice Shaper, Shamans, Dark Elf Assassins, Fae Callers & more!
-Doop will now only flee once attacked or approached (preventing him from disappearing before you see him). Attack him quickly, he’s very slippery.
^The glorious new Asgard login screen!

Item changes
-Covered most of this in my last MH bulletin.
-Medkits now stack to 50.

-Asgard Storm & ENHANCED Beta Ray Bill costumes now available in-game for 950G & 1950G respectively.

UI changes
-Waypoints now allow players to visit any story waypoint, terminal, or challenge mode, & contains a fully-featured map of the Marvel Universe (with each location marked clearly).
-New Asgardian login screen

Patch 2.01
-Minor changes made to: Colossus, Emma Frost, Human Torch, Loki, Luke Cage, Ms. Marvel, Rocket Raccoon & Scarlet Witch.
-Unbind relics recipe is now available with your crafter. Requires: 1 Unstable Molecule, 1 Matrix of Unbinding, 300k credits & 3 pure elements. It can unbind any size stack of relics. (In a future patch, the cost will be temporarily reduced to allow players to unbind & change the relics they have on their heroes.)
-Colossus' Age of Apocalypse costume & Scarlet Witch's Ultimate costume are now available in the in-game store both for 950Gs each.

-Enemy health in certain regions has been adjusted downwards.
-Doop’s health has been reduced.
-Midtown Patrol now has a waypoint.
-In X-Defense, X-Students have been increased. If left completely undefended from the champion (blue) attackers at Wave 10, the X-Students will generally be captured in about a minute.

Marvel: Avengers Alliance 
Check out the complete Patch notes here.

PVP changes
-PVP Season 12 has begun with Domino being the PVP hero to win!

-A new 6th page is now available for research to add to your PVP armory bonus. It takes 2 days so start it now if you haven't already!
-Each armory page is now split down the middle- the left side adds offense & defense bonuses to your attacking team & the right side adds them to your defending team.
-There's an "Unsocket All" button at the bottom of the armory bonus page- For a modest price you can unsocket all  your armory items at once, enabling you to get back socketed items & resocket them as you see fit.

New Lockboxes
-Fanged lockboxes for Sabretooth can now be won from your first 5 bonus PVP fights as well as from covert PVP tasks.

So get cracking on PVP & Asgard! Until next time, keep things heroic!

Friday, 8 November 2013

My Thor: The Dark World Spoiler-free Review

When it was announced that Kenneth Branagh wouldn't be back to direct the Thor sequel I was distraught. But does director Alan Taylor's Thor: The Dark World (Thor 2 hereon) manage to do justice to it's predecessor?

This time Thor & the Asgardians face a new threat in the form of Malekith & his army of Dark Elves. Loki is imprisoned in the Asgardian prison for the havoc he caused in The Avengers, yet Thor will be forced to put his trust in his conniving step brother in order to end the menace of Malekith once & for all. Meanwhile his heart pines for Jane Foster who he has now been away from for two years due to the Bifrost Bridge being destroyed in Thor.

There's a reason why most fans' fears were alleviated on knowing that Game of Thrones director Alan Taylor would be at the helm for this film- you see the entire GoT influence in all the Asgard scenes & the family dynamics. This is what makes the film an interesting watch.

Chris Hemsworth, as he has before, perfectly embodies Thor not just in stature but also his acting & especially his dialogue delivery which really struck me in some scenes. He was truly born to play this part.

Tom Hiddleston's Loki is awesome as always. Almost every line of his manages to get a smile from you, if not a laugh & Hiddleston is just perfect for the role, having the ability to make a villainous character so loved that it's popularity even outshines that of the title character. It was good to see Natalie Portman's Jane help out in the end in her own way rather than just run here & there or wait in the sidelines.

I think Sif had more to do in Thor but Jaimie Alexander competently play the part of the tough female warrior yearning for Thor's attention. Anthony Hopkins as Odin is great as always, but thank God Rene Russo at least had something to do in this film as Frigga & have some significance! Idris Elba as Heimdall is also great to watch & to listen to his dialogue delivery as well.
Christopher Eccleston as the lead villain Malekith is menacing & he plays his part well but as a villain on the whole the character felt very forgettable- no fault of Eccleston, it's just that we've seen better villains in other Marvel movies.

Character interactions are a real joy to watch here- the amusing banter between Thor & Loki, the always-funny Darcy bringing the much-needed comedic relief & this time, with a new character Ian Boothby to join the fun. Even Jane Foster is likeable in this film! She manages to bring quite a few laughs in scenes with other characters where you'd expect it to be all serious. Also appreciable to see characters like Frigga & Heimdall, that weren't given much importance in Thor, have their own chance to shine here. My only disappointment in this regard is that the Warriors Three were more like the Warriors Free- the trio is hardly ever together in the film for much time & Hogun is practically discarded away for the entire movie.

The action is really good right from the beginning with the introduction of Thor, Sif & the Warriors Three. A main highlight for me would be an aerial action sequence which definitely has a very Star Wars vibe to it. The climactic battle could have been forgettable if not for the converging realms that add another dimension (see what I did there?) to the whole sequence that not only make it very unique & engrossing to watch but also amusing. It was GREAT seeing Frigga & Heimdall get a piece of the action, but next time it would be nice for Jane to kick at least some ass. Don't go Pepper Potts crazy a la Iron Man 3 but don't just make her a nerdy damsel in distress either.

The Visual Effects. Splendid job on Asgard, though it felt a bit repetitive of Thor. This time the VFX to watch was on Kurse, Malekith's right hand monster & all the large airships (don't feel like calling them spaceships or aircrafts) used by the Dark Elves. Overall great job on the effects- they didn't take away or distract from the story but helped make the surreal seem more real.

What about those gorgeous costumes! Thor's costume doesn't look much different from his Thor or Avengers garb, but then again, he hasn't really had a wide range of costumes in the comics either. Maybe for the next film the costume department could weave their magic & do something with his Marvel NOW! costume so that it looks different but less underwhelming than his already awesome-looking movie costume.
All the Asgardian finery just looks brilliant as always, standouts for me being the costumes for Heimdall, Loki (though it's simply his Avengers costume), Sif & Frigga (& then Jane's Asgardian garb that looks borrowed from Frigga). Special mention for the costume adaptations of Malekith & Kurse because the looks of their comic book counterparts would have no place in this film.

Though I wouldn't call Thor: The Dark World "awesome", it's definitely entertaining & fun to watch. It manages to satisfy all the nerdy needs that may have been left wanting more with Thor: 80% of Thor 2 takes place in Asgard or the other realms besides Midgard (Earth), characters that were blink-&-miss in Thor get some good action here, Jane Foster is not annoying & an awesome cameo that's a joy to watch! You should definitely catch it in the theater, especially if you're a Marvel or Marvel movie fan. I'd rate this film a 7/10.

The 3D didn't add anything much to it though, so you could catch the 2D version & enjoy it all the same. AND don't forget to stay right till the very end of the film (do you Marvel fans even need to be told this anymore?) for the mid AND end credits scenes! The end-credits scene has a neat ending & is hilarious as well!

So how did you like the film & what would you rate it? And what are you looking forward to in Thor 3? For me it's definitely Valkyrie, & Enchantress SO needs to be the lead villain for Thor 3 accompanied by her Executioner of course! 
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