With less than a month left until Crystal Dynamics and Eidos-Montreal’s lavish Marvel’s Avengers launch, the question marks are still many. After spending a weekend with a beta version, some question marks have been straightened out as exclamation marks, while others make us wonder if the online adventure will really be ready on release day.
Roberto Downs Jr
Despite the immensely popular base, there were many nasty glitches that met the developers when the long-infamous Avengers game was presented. The game itself did not look completely stupid, but what does it matter when the well-known superheroes seemed to be taken from a “direct to DVD” movie with the cool name Avongers: Superhero Heroes?
Fortunately, it does not take long before we forget that the heroes just look almost like our Hollywood fav actors. Instead, we are busy using our newfound but still familiar superpowers to mangle down nasty robots and Aim agents.
Fight Club: The Game
Because if at some point our worries quickly disappeared, it’s the battles. In the initial mission, which takes place on an unusually long Golden Gate bridge, we have to jump between Ironman, Captain America, Black Widow, Thor, the Hulk – and later the rubber-armed Ms Marvel.
Each hero has their own set of attacks and special features, where for example Thor and Ironman can fly, Captain America throws his shield and Black Widow make himself invisible. All characters have access to both melee and distance attacks and it is a wonderful force in the battles that are dealt. That Vince Napoli, who previously worked with the extraordinary God of War, among other things, has the main responsibility for the combat system is clearly noticeable.
The only part of the fight is the green candy Hulk. Slow but strong is a classic character type that should fit perfectly here, and in some ways it is. The problem is that the Hulk’s attacks are so dull and subtle that the battles become hopelessly monotonous and messy, especially compared to the other heroes. Playing as the Hulk actually reminded us of the strangely entertaining The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction from 2005, which may not be seen as a compliment like this 15 years later.
But as I said, the other characters bode well and the Hulk’s attack repertoire might be more fun further into the adventure. Each character has a unique development tree where new attacks and traits are unlocked. The development trees are limited in the beta version, but they still look promising where each new feature and attack actually affects the battles to some extent – which is much more fun than unlocking, for example, 3% extra strength.
In addition to new painful fun in the development tree, new equipment, or so-called loot, is used to make the characters stronger. However, this part leaves a lot to be desired with boring and difficult-to-interpret improvements – and above all no cosmetic change at all. Sure, the superheroes should look “right” and not wander around with neon pink rabbit ears, but for example Injustice 2 has shown that it can actually work well with more or less mismatched equipment.
Instead, it is costumes, often based on models from series, that can be used to make the superheroes more personal. The suits can be unlocked via special challenges, or with microtransactions. The latter part was turned off in the beta so we do not know how they will work in practice, but as it looks, it is costumes, emotes and other cosmetic changes that you can burn real money on.
Question mark that worries
As for the combat system, Marvel’s Avenger’s surprises positively and on that front, the adventure feels like a more advanced and lavish part of the Marvel Ultimate Alliance series. But Marvel’s Avengers do not want to be a new Ultimate Alliance. It wants to be so much more.
And this is where our question marks and fears still remain, especially when it comes to the online approach. A robust collaboration mode is only positive, but what will the gameplay and story look like?
Will the gaming world be as empty and hacked as Destiny was in the beginning? Will the gameplay fall into repetitive and unimaginative nonsense missions when the story is over? How is the story and the gaming world limited by the online focus? How well does it work to compromise with, for example, puzzles and boss fights when one’s helpers are either human or computer-controlled? The limited beta did not provide a direct answer to those questions, but we have a feeling that expectations should be kept fairly low.
Another question mark is how Marvel’s Avengers, like competing titles, will keep players’ interest up for several years to come. New missions and special events around, for example, Christmas have already been promised, but it is probably mainly future heroes such as Hawkeye and Playstation-exclusive Spider-Man who are meant to attract continued playing time. But for similar titles, it has been the rule rather than the exception that the intended content is not launched as planned.
The interest club takes notes
But despite many fears and question marks, we look forward with excitement to Marvel’s Avengers when it launches in early September. There may be many pitfalls to fall into, but in the end we are still cautiously optimistic that all the pieces will fall into place in the end. The beta gave us a bleeding tooth and we are already longing for more. At best, Crystal Dynamics and Eidos-Montreals manage to create a successful mix with the best parts from Marvel Ultimate Alliance and Destiny.
If you yourself are interested in testing the game in advance, the beta will be open August 7-14 for those who pre-booked for Playstation 4, and August 14-16 for Xbox One and PC. On 21-23 August, even those who do not want to pre-book the game can laze around with Thor and the gang.
tested: August 2020
developers: Crystal Dynamics, Eidos-Montreals
Platform: Playstation 4, Xbox One, pc
Tested platform: Playstation 4 Pro