Today, it’s my special privilege to share with you details surrounding Wolverine’s Level 52 Review. I am The Art of Rawr, a member of the design team on Marvel Heroes and the primary designer for this Hero review. We’ve been looking forward to this, and can proudly say he fully meets standards fitting of such a legendary figure of the Marvel pantheon.
Firstly, I’ll outline some of our major objectives and problems we aimed to solve for this project. These were synthesized from internal play-testing, our own design analyses, and most importantly our community’s feedback.
The Best There Is
What is always our primary goal - make sure it looks and feels like the character. A few variations notwithstanding, Wolverine’s identity is built on a focused core:Extremely Tough
Due to his healing factor and adamantium-encased skeleton, the man can weather just about any amount of punishment.Adamantium Claws
Firearms pale in comparison to a set of foot-long, impervious claws. The Wolverine is permanently armed and dangerous, and doesn’t want for any other weaponry.Bestial Berserker
Not only does he have the high-performance instincts and raging temper befitting a predator of the Canadian tundra, he has been conditioned by consecutive decades of the most brutal circumstances. He fears nothing and fights with maniacal, reckless abandon.
The design would feature charging face-first into the fray, roaring into the enemy’s terrified face as they desperately try to drop you with bullets that seemingly only make you angry. Then go about cutting a bloody swath to your primary prey, leaving henchmen with gushing wounds and missing limbs in your wake. Upon confronting the final target, you unleash all of your rage into them with a dizzying blur of adamantium evisceration.
One Build to Rule Them All
The mechanics in the previous design left something to be desired. To enumerate a few of the problems:
- Fury, his “secondary resource” as it’s called, was only featured on a few of his powers. This was a shame, given that it’s a theme we felt should pervade his entire kit in some way.
- One particular set of powers that leveraged the aforementioned mechanic overshadowed all other power configurations (a.k.a. builds). Every Hero should have a multitude of viable builds, so this would be addressed.
- His optimal play-pattern featured a set of 2-3 powers getting alternated between, too dull for our taste. This was primarily because…
- He had too many passives. These are starving his other active powers, resulting in low power count builds.
- His visuals needed an update to better fit power use-cases and our current standard of art excellence.
- His main build avenues needed reinforcing to be more balanced, clear, and interesting.
- He’d need a new Ultimate and Signature power to bring his progression up to the new standard.
With the objectives in our crosshairs, we got to work on solutions.
Design & Iteration
We’ve finally arrived at the glorious new Wolverine we’re delivering now, but it took a lot of iteration.
The Very Model of a Modern Major Berserker
Here’s a quick overview of what we did to bring him up to snuff:
- Fury replaces Spirit as his primary resource, which behaves a quite differently. This allows us to integrate a fun, interesting new dynamic to his entire kit.
- We reinforced the themes of his trees, and obliquely his builds, with new powers, mechanics and progression.
- These new mechanics engender an ecosystem of builds that utilize an entire bar of powers. Some builds feature applying and exploiting bleeding wounds, others rely on wild swings of furious blows, another uses critical strikes to annihilate the enemy.
- As always, the team delivered top-notch art and sound assets to give each power a great look and feel.
His signature, Furious Assault, was an interesting experiment. The goal for this was to provide a much desired area clear power but with the capacity for single-target application. We prototyped a power that consisted of a series of hard-hitting dashes that would go on cooldown after the series was complete.
While a few enjoyed the challenging gameplay of applying it to the dual scenarios for which it was designed, it simply didn’t excel in either of the cases. This left it in the dust, as other specialized powers got preference. We iterated and iterated, shuffling it from one side of the venn diagram to the other, trying to find the sweet spot.
When we had finally arrived at a good (read: decent) configuration, we discovered a catastrophic bug. Amusingly, it allowed for the power to be used in both single-target or area cases more directly by modifying the dash distance, so we sent it to public test to see what our community thought.
As one might predict, the signature was very divisive. Some enjoyed the gameplay, but almost everyone found it lacking for the particular combat scenario they had in mind. While we’re loathe to ship any bugs, it wasn’t the thing that finally diverted it, really. We just decided it’s better for a power to service one niche well than two niches decently. In the end, it turned into a fun, usable single-target power with cool, unique visuals. I intend to revisit this design problem again in the future (and conquer it!), but it wasn’t worth shipping a sub-par signature for Wolverine.
One of the more interesting anecdotes of this project is that of Wolverine’s new Ultimate:
The Best There Is.
Ludicrous Speed, Go!
We bandied about many ideas for Wolverine’s new Ultimate, but none really stood out. Wolverine is about on beating stuff up with his claws. The usual pyrotechnic screen-clear fare just didn’t sit well.
Then one day, Michael “Mayhem” May off-handedly proposed a kind of super-steroid power, which at the time seemed too subtle and not enough of a spectacle. Well… I can only describe my experience firing up the first prototype as a resplendent, face-melting, adamantium guitar solo of anti-hero justice. Vicious. Interactive. Unique.
That’ll do, bub
I hope you enjoyed a peek into the workings of our development process, and I’m eager to do this kind of thing again for more Heroes in the future.
We’re exceedingly excited about of how this Hero came out, and we hope you guys are too. We have our awesome community to thank for giving copious amounts of great feedback, without which we could not have reached such a positive place with one of our most beloved characters.
So get out there and get to slicin', bub!