We're all dealing with this in different ways. I've decided to follow the lead of @TheRavenHeart and play through the entire game from Season 1, Chapter 1, Mission 1 - The Hydra's Tail to Season 2, Chapter 12, Mission 3 - Serpent Strike. I didn't think there was a more fitting way than to take a final lap through the game, enjoy all of Alex Irvine's writing, all of the coding of the team, all of Sam Wood's, Kelly Hamilton's, Leigh Kellogg's and more's art.
I'm also leveling off my last heroes. I intend to leave the game with all heroes leveled to L15. I am considering posting all of my ISO builds for every hero. Seems a TON of work, but might be worth doing. I might spend my 23 million coins throwing ISO on every alt. I have 400+ gold, 5000+ shield points... several hundred full energies, and several thousand 2 pack energies. I might spend it all. I might not bother. Any rate, those are my plans.
As my thoughts evolve on the end of the game, I also want to maybe talk about grief and loss. I am married, have no childred, but have cats. A year and change ago, one of my cats died. Shortly after, another did. The first one was old, so, while it wasn't expected at that time, it wasn't exactly unexpected. The second one was in the prime of her life, and died terribly. While MAA is a bit like the first cat for me, I gather that for some folks, it's a lot more like my second cat. That was really hard to go through, so I think I get it. I'd like to help. The least I can do is listen. Or let you vent.
One last thing: I am happy to circulate the petition to save the game. I would like as many people to sign it as possible. Collective action is great. I don't want to circulate anything that is going to demand the firing of anyone or anything that crosses the line into harassment. These destructive actions are unlikely to be persuasive, and a business person making a business decision about a game should not be the subject of harrassment or stalking. Having been lightly stalked, I take this pretty seriously, and ask that we treat the folks at Disney with the respect that we would give someone who gave us four and a half years of enjoyment, rather than a month of depression.
I haven't played any part of Season 1 aside from Chapter 12, missions 2, 4 and 5, since I decided to farm the Custom Possessed Pistol last year. I think a month before that, I decided to do a full play through, and that fell apart after S1C1M4. Seriously.
Mission 1 Low XP. Hawkeye at L15 is way too much for Viper. I remember doing this the first time, with Hawkeye and Widow, and taking several rounds. That was 1605 days ago. Some folks liked to do this mission for CP once upon a time, but I always recommended against it. While it was theoretically good, it seemed to pay below expectation, despite code diving telling us it should pay like any other roulette in S1. Weird.
Roulette Result: 3 Command Points
More low XP. What ever happened to the RAID guys? I don't think they came back much, even though they're basically the AIM guys with short sleves and helmets instead of beekeeper heads. Iron Man Mk 42 got drained by Whiplash, but his shield popped, so he took no damage. White Tiger's Primal Fear popped, and Whiplash couldn't touch her on his counters. She's so OP they would have nerfed her to somewhere between Hellcat and Tigra if the game were continuing. As OP as she is, she's ridiculously fun to play.
Roulette Result: Quantum Elixir
I guess this is the XP. The writing slowly unfolding the ISO story is interesting. Drew you into the plot with the Pulse. I kind of wish I could rewatch the intro video about the pulse again, but I'm too lazy to look for it on YouTube, where I'm sure it exists. Any rate, White Tiger's Primal Fear, no one hits because their accuracy is nuked and Cap is enraged in a fight designed for him to be a tactician. Class alteration might've been a bit of power creep, where you could effectively circumvent the way the fights were meant to be played.
Roulette Result: 1 Command Point
I had forgotten, but deploys didn't have dialogs back in the first missions. Just a text box that told you what it was about. This mission used to be a prime command point farming spot back in the very early days when bosses and minibosses dropped CP. When the nixed that, it coincided with the second decrease in CP prices for heroes, but the top heroes were only 90 CP. The were originally 125 IIRC (Paid that for Hulk) in release, and in beta, the top price was something like 535 CP. Of course, CPs dropped from every fight like candy, so 535 wasn't so bad. When they went with 135 for PVP heroes and 200 for Spec Ops, they could have brought back the 1 CP drop per boss like they used to have, but maybe not. Didn't get a perfect score, but only because White Tiger is ready for training.
Roulette Result: Gene Inoculation
Not really much to report here. Bit tired at this time and never a memorable mission. Loki + Destroyer not a match for Mod Thor, Low level Warlock and Agent in Gen Battle Suit with Scrappy whatever and Tactical tendencies.
Roulette Result: 1 Command Point
Ran it with Hulk and Red Hulk as Adam Warlock is ready for level. White Tiger is training, Ronan and Warlock are waiting for a bay, and Phyla is in until tomorrow. Funny thing. When the game launched, the first Hulk and his gladiator alt used the original posture that was somewhat crouched, and had Hulk shorter than Abomination. That's how it is supposed to be. I run Age of Ultron Hulk, who has a much more erect posture, and is actually larger than default Hulk. He towers over Abomination, which is wrong. Power creep as well. If I want to do this again, I might do it only with heroes who were available when the chapter was released. Base Hulk would make this an interesting three bird, paired with another original 28, one who wasn't modified... oh wait, pretty much all of them were.
Roulette Result: 3 Command Points
Mission 1 Ran with White Tiger and Phyla, while Ronan trains to 15 and Adam Warlock trains to 5. Worthy She-Hulk is too much for the bosses, as the power creep was huge on her. Storywise, still building the ISO-8 understanding. Chasing a pack from point to point.
Roulette Result: 3 Command Points
Tracking Vulture, more RAID. I know these guys went to the dustbin at some point, in favor of regular Hydra goons and AIM beekeepers. Did not notice later. Vulture is no match for a fully iso'ed, L15 Spidey, especially with his L6 boosted with Finest Hour from the generalist flight suit. When you can pump 60K from that, not much in the game can stand.
Roulette Result: ISO Crystal
A few firsts here. First deploy dialog. First mention of the Circle of 8. I think the first Hand appearance. And the first epic boss. I have to wax sentimental about the group boss. Back at the start of the game, when bosses dropped CP, the epic bosses seemed to drop them most readily. This was before I got into heavy data analysis on the game, so didn't have the numbers to back running 1.1 for this style of CP drop. But the key to this farming was getting to a GB, pounding it with light crits until it dropped the CP, and then letting it kill you. I let Elektra and her two Hand ninjas kill me several hundred times. I suspect, even with all the messed up heroic battles that are dice rolls, I've still died more to Elektra than any other boss in the game. Once PD got wind of that strategy (which was slow as we discussed the hell out of it on their forum), they ended that. Of course, they lowered prices to their current formal of 15-23-33-48-90... 135 would come much later, and 200 much later still.
Roulettes Results: ISO Crystal - ISO Crystal
White Hot Iron Fist is a wee bit OP for this two bird, despite facing class disadvantage from Jack O'Lantern. Not a very interesting mission, though Bendis favorite The Hood talks about the unfathomable potential of Iso-8. As Iso-8 is now a solid part of the Marvel gaming universe, beyond Playdom games, if Disney gets out of game making, will the mandate that licensees use Iso-8? One wonders.
In the exit text of this mission, Dr. Voodoo is mentioned as Jericho, someone in SHIELD's rolodex of talent. Interesting, as he wouldn't appear as a hero for several years.
Roulette Result: S.A. "Ambush"
Phoenix, unless you're dealing with people who can kill her, which is unlikely, is still pretty much the same as she ever was. I have White Crown P, and I have the thing that makes her do Soulfire with her L1, and the only real changes are psychic energy attacks (which are very useful against the likes of Jugs and Mags), making her protection action a QA (which let me run blaster 'Nix with Adam Warlock against Maggie with no extra turns). Still meh damage, still marginal utility. It's funny that everyone else has been made massively stronger, and 'Nix is about where she started, even with Eiso, Aiso, Reactive ISO, L15 bonus and an alt.
For those who weren't there in the begining, there was a point when people complained that the game was becoming Marvel's X-men Alliance... man, I hated that whine, as Avengers have always outnumbered X-Men in this game. Always. But considering they haven't released a bonafide X-man in way over a year, this seems like a nostalgic memory of a better time.
Roulette Result: Didn't notice... sorry. When you don't really need anything, sometimes you don't pay attention. I'll try to do better.
This premium mission remains an actual challenge. When the game first launched, this was one of the hardest, partially because Iron Man kind of sucked and partially because the servobots could get tons of extra turns. Better ISO, better heroes and better gear make this much easier than it was the first time I did it, but it's still got potential.
Storywise, this remains one of the few season 1 missions they changed. They added the Warriors Three first heroic battle, which remains amusing writing by Alex, but really doesn't fit into the flow of the mission. I don't know if it's retrospect, but I find it funny that they dismiss Doom as the master architect of their problems this early. Tony says that Doom is no hacker, and yet, in the most recent horrible adaptation of the Fantastic Four, what is Doom but a hacker. Ha! And I'm sorry, but it's painfully obvious to me at this point that Doom is being setup as the big bad of the season. Funny, but you can actually run Doom as a hero on most of this mission. Things changed a lot.
Roulette Results: Got a regular ISO from the heroic, and 3 CP from the mission roulette.
Mission 1 Okay, now they're back onto Doom. And are diverted by the mastermind duo of Vapor and Whiplash. This mission used to require a teamup with Luke Cage. It's funny to see well written Luke Cage with Nul's dialog image. Luke was, on initial release, one of the two or three suckiest characters in the game, with Nightcrawler and Sif. Luke got a massive buff, which brought him roughly in line, and then got Nul, which made him a regular feature of the PVP meta for every season after he got the chapter mastery alt. He is simply too strong for this mission now.
If I could reach out to the leaders of SHIELD at this point in the story, I want to shake them and say, "It's Doom, fools. Doom! Victor von Doom is the big bad... take him out now."
Roulette Result: Five CP
A Thing teamup here. At release, he was down with Luke Cage, Nightcrawler and Sif for most useless. Low damage, kind of dopey tank style, and so on. His Future Foundation suit and his revamp did not take him to the top tier, but it has made him surprisingly useful when I've been forced to use him. More useful tanking skill, more robust damage. Storywise, this is a marking time chapter. No real progress. I think this is the first one with an emergent event that doesn't really tie back.
There's an amusing deploy dialog here, where Tony Stark sends someone on a mission. I always like to send Iron Man when Tony assigns the mission. It gives Tony a bit of a Deadpool feel. In this one, Tony sends a hero to the rockies to deliver some parts for the Vault. I used to like to send Hulk on any diplomatic or transit deploy, but having Tony send himself 3/4ths of the way across the country, and then congratulate himself... priceless.
Roulette Result: 1 Command Point
First mention of the Wrecking Crew, the group I voted as the first in need of retirement due to overuse. And it's only the bruiser one in the ugly yellow suit... whatever his moron name is. There's a mention of the Mandarin in a deploy in this mission that lays him as a red herring to Doom for the title of Big Bad of Season 1. Or is he a red herring... at the time when I first played this, I don't think I even read the deploy dialog. At any rate, I know what I know, so the idea that Mandarin is the nefarious force behind the Pulse fails.
War Machine is the teamup, and he's been nerfed and buffed multiple times since they first released this mission. At the start of the game, he was one of the best, along with Spider-Man (really) and Hulk. At the dawn of time, the most effective PVP team (when it didn't matter at all), was War Machine and Hulk. And I counter programmed with Ms. Marvel and Spider-Man. Any rate, in his Iron Patsy suit, he's not quite too much for the two bird, but he's basically enough to make everyone else just mop up duty.
Roulette Result: D.A.R.S. Suppressor
More mutants... Brotherhood... weird that Magneto is mentioned as a big bad, and yet, he, and Sabertooth are now members of the team. Also, one of those weird missions where, for lack of mutant footsoldiers, they use Sentinels, hunting Brotherhood bosses, resulting in SHIELD fighting one set of bads to protect an arguably worse set of bads... weird.
Kitty with her EISO is too friggin strong for those guys. On release, doing this battle, she'd be at a class disadvantage to Sabertooth, and start out tangible, so, easy meat with poor turnover... now, as Shadowcat, with her EISO, it's a vacation for her, and she has class advantage over Toad. Another example of where class switching turns these fights around.
I used Kitty for a PVP tournament or two with Phoenix. I think I did great on defense, but couldn't really get over the hump on offense with it. This, obviously from the days before split offense and defense PVP teams. That was a big change, and debateable as to whether it was a good one. It enabled a lot of variety on offense, but it made doing defense a bit of a black box, as you had no idea what people were running. For the analytical player like me, this was bad. For the average joe, probably gave him a bigger sense of control.
Roulette Result: ISO Crystal
Another day, another Epic Boss. Dialogs push you back to the Doom mastermind hypothesis, without any real evidence in that direction. Where's Doom? Any rate, Doing a third bird of Sandy, Gobby and Vulture with Trick Shot Hawkeye... no problem. He's not top tier, but he's a blaster I use very often due to his "Go First" ability, and his followup potential. I've had him kill whole waves on the first turn. This is not the Hawkeye the game launched with, but he's about the same in terms of utility as when first launched.
Once upon a time, this was a tricky Epic boss fight, with the three Dooms. I don't remember the tricks, but I remember it was tricky. Not so now. Hawkeye and White Tiger made it simple.
Roulettes Results: Sex Toy Stamina Consumable - The Doombringer (guess I won't have to run that again... jeje)
Mister Fantastic against Every Doom That Exists. Six Dr. Dooms in one three bird fight. Mr. F would be more capable of doing this fight if I used him as a tactician, but I've gotten very very lazy about changing classes for heroes, and I think I needed him Inf for some heroic battle a few chapters ago. Any rate, that made him a bit weaker here, but not a problem. If you can guarantee crits, he can wipe the floor with folks in a way very few AOE attacks can do. Now, imagine it boosted with Finest Hour!. Yep, I love that Generalist Flight Suit. That thing is pretty broken, but I say that about anything that gives teams Finest Hour!, a full set of FH! buffs, on any move, AOE or single... that's broken as all get out. I didn't notice during the previous PVP because my first move was always to hit any Flight Suit agent with Downgrade using Vision. I dunno how popular Vision was on offense, but he shut down flight suit agents hard.
Any rate, at the end of chapter 3, the Syndicate is rolled up and done with the defeat of Doom. I seem to recall that this is essentially the end of chapter 12, as well.
Roulette Result: 1 CP
Jailbreak on the Raft. I'd guess the Syndicate isn't as dead as Chapter 3 made it seem. A second Thing teamup. Man, they must have hated us... Thing with a first round blaster thug for class disadvantage... ugly. Any rate, Thing is a lot better now than he was then, so not a problem. Finest Hour on his ground attack is amusing.
The end of mission references Atlanteans. I believe it used to mention Namor, but they changed it in the first year of the game. Many of us took that to mean that Namor was unlikely to come, due to some unknown rights issue. We were right. If they couldn't use him for flavor text, they certainly weren't going to release him.
Roulette Result: Shawarma
When you have a jail break, the next thing that happens is you round em up. Doom has sent his Doombots, which don't really look like Doom at all, to run interference. I ran it with Warlock and Bishop (everyone else who needs levels was training), and Bishop just kind of owns non-blaster robots. Bishop was a bit of an odd hero, being a bruiser, who got off on energy attacks, but with no real counter blaster skills. Blasters have been overrated, underrated, properly rated, all over the map, but they have ALWAYS owned bruisers. So, having a bruiser who gets off on energy, but with no way to limit crits or channel energy attacks other than into stacks... poor planning. Of course, his EISO kind of makes him broken, as he can charge on his mode changing. But he has to get a charge to change mode, and he still has a bit of a clunky progression. And yet, he kinda owns techies.
Nothing really noteworthy here, other than Warlock is ready for level, but blocked for 13 hours by Phyla and White Tiger. Life goes on. Exit task hints at more engineers joining the team, and the "Initiative" sending plenty of talent their way... Seems like a bit of a dropped story thread. I'll be honest...I LOVED Avengers: The Initiative, and many of the characters... Trauma, Slapstick, Cloud 9, Gauntlet... so many interesting characters in Initiative. And yet, pretty much no one from AtI got into the game, with Slapstick being particularly dissed by developers in a chat. Bastards.
Roulette Result: Fang-L13
More U-Foes... It seems quaint but this is practically a whole chapter about the Fantastic Four. Way before the Fox Ban, which was arguable, but pretty clear if you looked. They didn't dial back the U-Foes, shamefully, because they joined the Wrecking Crew as the group that I was most sick of seeing used over and over again. But, otherwise, the FF were basically banished along with the mutants from getting much in the way of new content. The only thing that saved a few mutants was the fact that Bendis was writing them and the GOTG in the comics, so lots of cross overs, leading to things like Kitty and Star-Lord fighting the evil mirror.
Fun bit of dialog here, where Human Torch can't wait to get steamy with Hydroman. I knew he was a player, but I didn't know he played that way.
More U-Foes and Fixer... Ewww... what's the smell? It's Vapor. Lady in green... no not Viper. Vapor. The U-Foes Invisible Woman. And she's gassy. I remember the early days of the game, when I ran this mission maybe 50 times to get the Magnetic Field Generator. That thing was incredible at the time. And man, did Vapor suck as a two bird, even as useless as Fixer is. It was running Inf IW, then if you ran a scrapper for Vapor, you got wiped by her bruiser thug, and if you ran a tactician to stop Fixer before he did something useful, she got all nasty. Very hard fight for a lot of players, and then came Quicksilver. All problems solved.
I expected the Magneto fight to be a tricky pain, especially as I was running Blaster Sue, but oddly, White Tiger just clawed right through his shield despite being negatively charged, and killed him with an L9-2-9. Oh well. The challenge of the game's early problems is completely lost now. When they said they weren't going to raise the level cap, it was because they were struggling to create challenging content for the L300s. No kidding.
Storywise, more Circle of 8 early mentions, more Doom centric thinking, but they're getting nervous that Doom associates are working with Zemo associates and then poof, hello Magneto. They hijack a fortune teller who might know something about the Circle. Why? I got no idea.
Roulette Results: 3 CP and Single-Shot Hobbler
More Reed on Doom violence. Guess what, Doom is behind this chapter also. I think that's at least a quarter of season 1, including the finale. The sad truth of it is that Doom is kind of a suck in the game. Certainly villain Doom is a suck. Definitely in the face of a combat reflexed, Finest Hour! enhanced, guaranteed crit Reed Richards. Pumping 30K to each enemy, very few villains who could stand up to that. If I had a way of making Warlock go first everytime, I would run Reed, Generalist Flight Suit and Warlock in PVP until someone figured a way to beat it.
Otherwise, boring chapter, though Fury has a nice one liner to end a back and forth between Hill and Stark.
Roulette Result: Brutal Claw
Wolverine vs Sabretooth. First time in this game, unless you had him for the previous fight. As Wolverine and Kitty Pryde was the first limited series that I read, I've always had a special place in my heart for that pairing. Certainly was disappointed when they nearly killed Kitty in the Morlock Massacre/Inferno, and then shipped her off to England to be replaced by Jubilee... Not that there was anything wrong with Jubes, just wasn't gonna learn to be a demon ninja is all... of course, she'd become a vampire, but long after I quit comics the first time.
Any rate, Magneto's done a terrible horrible unforgiveable thing, turning a bunch of New Yorkers into mindless mutants... The Alphas were tough, if I recall correctly, but nothing in PVE is a match for the new heroes. White Tiger doesn't care for robots, but Warlock has no problems with anyone. Easy fight with Wolverine and White Tiger against the Brotherhood boys... if Toad were actually a problem, I would probably be as sick of Toad as I am of the Wrecking Crew and the U-Foes.
Roulette Result: 5 CP