It has been the year that many of us have needed some sort of hero or maybe even just a new game to play. Fortunately for us, Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix have managed to deliver on both. Enter, Marvel’s Avengers. Being most well known for the Legacy of Kain and recent Tomb Raider series, Crystal Dynamics took to the task of bringing a high-quality Marvel Super Hero experience to gamers everywhere for a long time to come. Let’s take a deeper look at what we experienced over our first 30 hours of gameplay.
Marvel’s Avengers follows the journey of Kamala Khan, an Avengers Fan Girl turned Inhuman in the aftermath of what happened at “A-Day”. A-Day was supposed to be a celebration for the Avengers’ new headquarters in San Francisco and the reveal of a Helicarrier, the Chimera, which is powered by a new, cleaner energy source: Terrigen. A terrorist attack causes everything to go awry, and the new energy source turns into a bio-agent, Terrigen Mist, that gives many humans new abilities.
In the wake of these events, the Avengers are deemed to be too dangerous for society after being blamed for the incident and are forced to disband. In their stead, a scientific organization called A.I.M., headed by former Avengers scientist, George Tarleton takes to the task of assisting humanity to cure the “Inhuman” disease.
The game truly begins five years after the events of A-Day. Kamala is still convinced that the Avengers meant no harm to humanity and hacks her way into the A.I.M. databases to uncover the truth. A truth that leads her down the path of reassembling the Avengers.
Without going further into the finer details and spoiling the entire story, I can honestly say that while the story was short I was truly compelled to continue as soon as I could. If you were to zip past as much as you could and “speedrun” the campaign without exploring the open spaces, you could likely finish in 10-15 hours.
At first glance, Marvel’s Avengers is a beat-em-up or hack-and-slash with loot. In a way, this opinion isn’t entirely off-base. Getting started with combat comes very easily. There are simple light, heavy, and ranged attacks that can feel very “spammy” early on, but as you progress through the skill trees, you can access more varied attacks and combos. Your move sets are rounded out by your three heroic abilities: support, assault, and ultimate. These are usually things that dramatically set apart the heroes from one another like Iron Man’s Unibeam Assault Heroic or Captain America’s Brooklyn Brawler Ultimate.
At level 10, you gain the ability to use your Specialty tree tab, where you can enhance your heroic abilities and at level 15, the Mastery page which gives you more options to fine-tune your regular attacks to better fit your style of play. While a lot of heroes seem very one dimensional in their playstyle, I was pleasantly surprised by how well all the heroes diversify from each other, have well-rounded combat kits, and can be played in a multitude of different applications.
Both during and after the campaign, the activities are selected at a central hub called the War Table, and players are then loaded into the activities. These can be as quick as 10-15 minutes for a single objective activity like a Drop Zone or upwards of an hour or more for a Threat Sector or Hive. Missions usually have objectives to complete like defending hardpoints, completing a puzzle to unlock a hidden room, or take down a large boss.
While the game offers varying difficulties, enemy types, and challenging modifiers, ultimately this is what consists of its entire gameplay loop. Fortunately, playing with friends and utilizing different heroes in the pursuit of the perfect build can help break up some of the “grind” monotony.
Room For Improvement
While I have enjoyed my time with Marvel’s Avengers in both betas and post-launch, its flaws can not go unmentioned. On top of the slew of visual bugs, I have had several crashes while playing on PC in both solo campaign missions and in multiplayer. There was also another instance where a glitch had impeded my progress about halfway through the campaign. I was supposed to have a conversation as one character in the Chimera, but it would not allow me to select that character. Thankfully, I was able to remedy this by Google searching and finding that it was something that happened relatively regularly and I was able to complete the mission correctly after closing the game and restarting it.
Going back to the multiplayer thing: it has been very difficult to group up with friends. I’ve had several instances where friends could not receive game invites to a strike team. Once in a group with friends, we often had issues where we would be disconnected from each other and would have to complete solo or quit and regroup. With a game that predicates teamwork and playing with friends, the process to get there shouldn’t be a chore nor negatively impact the overall experience.
Marvel’s Avengers has been a truly fun gaming experience. There was no better feeling than jumping into a group activity with friends and chasing down the last enemy to finish a wave and pummeling them together. That said, I do believe there are some Quality of Life fixes that could be made to improve the overall fluidity, and some systems streamlined to promote efficient navigation from activity-to-activity.
Beyond the gameplay aspects, I think Marvel’s Avengers does a great job using Kamala Khan, one of the newer Marvel Heroes, to both potentially bridge gamers and MCU movie fans into the comic universe as well as strongly represent not only a female protagonist but a Pakistani-American as well. Ms. Marvel was one of my favorite heroes to play throughout my review period. There were few things more satisfying in my playthrough than using her ranged attack to bop enemies in the face from a distance with her stretched out fist.
Despite some of the bugs and glitches I encountered, I still feel that Marvel’s Avengers is worth playing for those who are really invested in the Marvel comics or movies. I also think this game is a great fit for someone who enjoys a deep gear grind with min-maxing potential. That all said if you fall into only one of these categories and not both you may feel as if it’s not worth your $60.