Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr This message greeted thousands of players last November, sending shockwaves of disappointment through our ranks. With the game abruptly and permanently shut down, what did the future of Marvel video games look like for fans? “We regret to inform our MARVEL HEROES fans that we have ended our relationship with Gazillion Entertainment, and that the MARVEL HEROES games will be shut down.” Let me back up a bit. MARVEL HEROES released for PC in 2013, touted as Marvel’s free-to-play DIABLO-style MMO. From the start, it featured dozens of heroes to play: Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, Wolverine, and even the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl! Throughout its run, it consistently added new costumes, levels, features, and characters, consistently keeping players engaged. I dabbled with it a little bit on PC. As a console player, I didn’t truly catch on until a version was released for PS4 and Xbox One last summer. And man, it hooked me BIG TIME. I put dozens of hours into the game. When my Jean Grey Main leveled up to the level of an unbeatable fiery goddess, I had tons of fun experimenting with some of the lesser-known characters. I couldn’t put it down. Occasionally, I even broke my own rule of never spending real cash for loot boxes (which is another discussion entirely). But then, suddenly and with little warning, it vanished. All of those hours spent collecting characters and loot – poof, gone. I’ll ignore the potential philosophical discussions it raises about the ephemeral nature of life, and ask a much simpler question: what Marvel video games am I supposed to play now? Here’s what we know about what’s on the horizon: SPIDER-MAN PS4 (WORKING TITLE) Insomniac — creators of the RATCHET & CLANK franchise and the mega fun SUNSET OVERDRIVE — plans to release this PS4 exclusive later this year. The promising open-world adventure follows a new story in an original Spidey universe. Insomniac made a smart move by not tying it to any existing continuity. It lets them experiment with the story without consequence. So far, the released gameplay videos look incredible. I’m not 100% sold on Spidey’s redesigned look, but I’m sure unlockable costumes will solve that problem. Other than that, there’s not much to go on besides vague promises like “traversal with parkour” and “new combat.” (Hopefully not analogous to New Coke). Still, I adored SUNSET OVERDRIVE and I trust Insomniac to deliver something decent… even special. Best case scenario? It challenges 2004’s SPIDER-MAN 2 for the throne of best Spidey game. KINGDOM HEARTS 3: Will An AVENGERS World Appear? AVENGERS PROJECT (WORKING TITLE) But what about those who prefer their Marvel games a little more large scale? Last year, the Big M announced a multi-year partnership with Square Enix. Their first announced project: an Avengers game from developer Crystal Dynamics, who made the recent successful TOMB RAIDER reboot and its sequel. (Soon to be a major motion picture starring Ava the android!) Unfortunately, very few details exist at this point, including any official gameplay details. Open-world exploration? Story-driven linear adventure? Japanese dating sim? No one knows, so every little crumb of info helps. Last month, Marvel.com dropped us a small bone about the ongoing venture. They noted, “The Avengers project, featuring a completely new and original story, will introduce a universe gamers can play in for years to come. The project will be jammed pack with characters, environments, and iconic moments that will thrill Marvelites.” Sounds promising… but let’s not ignore the fact that this also exactly described the now-dead MARVEL HEROES. Which begs the question: will Crystal Dynamics deliver another short-sighted cash grab meant to be dumped the moment it becomes unprofitable? Or can we expect something truly innovative and enduring? The project has attracted some top-notch talent, including former Naughty Dog creative director Shaun Escayg, which feels like a positive step. I look forward to hearing more details and choose to take a stance of cautious optimism. Why OVERWATCH Is Still Successful WHAT ABOUT OTHER MARVEL VIDEO GAMES? … as far as confirmed titles go — nothing. *sound of crickets chirping.* However, Marvel’s deal with Square Enix is a multi-game licensing agreement, so it’s a safe bet that there will be more to come. Let’s speculate, shall we? These are a few Marvel video games that I’d like to see in the future: A turned-based strategy Marvel video game … in the style of something like X-COM. (Or even a much-expanded version of the old AVENGERS ALLIANCE Facebook game). You’d build a small party of heroes from a wide roster and send them on missions throughout the Marvel universe. These missions would consist of tactics-style battles, and you’d level up your characters’ powers and abilities as you progress. Maybe you could even send different parties on different missions, and if captured you’d have to launch rescue missions to use them again. Think of how many characters and storylines they could utilize! AVENGERS ALLIANCE Sequel to X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE Oh man, remember this incredible beat-em-up from the Xbox 360 / PS3 generation? It was fast-paced, violent as hell, and controlled like a dream. (Not to mention leagues better than the movie it mirrored). My favorite detail was that you’d lose skin and muscle tissue as you took damage — all the way down to the adamantium skeleton — and then regenerate it slowly over time. Imagine how cool an updated version would be, with a new story that could incorporate badass characters like X-23. Imagine that co-op experience? X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE X-MEN LEGENDS / ULTIMATE ALLIANCE Sequel The X-MEN LEGENDS series of action RPGs, from way back in the PS2 / GameCube era, remains one of my all-time favorites. It’s spiritual successors, the ULTIMATE ALLIANCE games, rocked as well! My vote for a sequel goes to the former, as I’m a huge X-Men fan and pine for another game with a solely mutant focus. But I’ll take either at this point. X-MEN LEGENDS 2 NEW MUTANTS Survival Horror I keep forgetting that this exists. 20th Century Fox plans to release a straight-up horror movie featuring the NEW MUTANTS. This sounds to me like one of those “so bonkers, it just might work” ideas. Why not just totally lean into it with a survival horror game in the style of RESIDENT EVIL or SILENT HILL? Competitive MOBA. They’re all the rage these days! They make money! Come on, developers, do I have to think of everything? Why The Winter Soldier Deserves His Own Video Game Again, I’m completely speculating here. None of these Marvel video games exist outside of my own imagination. But a guy can dream, can’t he? (By the way, if in the future any of these become a reality, I’m totally claiming bragging rights and a piece of the action). In the meantime, keep your eyes open for further developments on the confirmed Marvel video games in the pipeline.