Coming into the fall launch season of 2020, Marvel’s Avengers was primed to make a pretty substantial splash in the gaming space. After a somewhat buggy release and an overly repetitive gameplay loop, Avengers has seen a pretty dramatic reduction in player base since September. This week, Crystal Dynamics showcased the game’s next hero as well as outlined its first season of content with Operation: Taking Aim as well as what to expect beyond this year.
Enter: Kate Bishop
Before launch, Crystal Dynamics told us that Hawkeye would be the first post-launch character. While they had shown images of Clint Barton at the time, they have since adjusted to releasing his protégé, Kate Bishop. The story lead-in of Kate attempting to save Clint in a quest across time actually plays very well into what Crystal Dynamics has already done with Avengers in using fresh Marvel faces to unite us with who movie watchers of the MCU are already familiar with.
Kate Bishop is voiced by a gaming industry favorite: Ashly Burch. If you’re unfamiliar with her work, she voices Tiny Tina from Borderlands, Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn, and Failsafe from Destiny 2. Personally, I’ve really enjoyed Ashly’s work in the past and I think having her in Avengers will bring a greater sense of familiarity to the players.
Kate’s kit is pretty much what you would expect from someone like Hawkeye, but with some cool tweaks to it. At first glance, she’s an archer with a slew of arrow abilities, but she also has access to a sword for fighting up close. She also has the use of Quantum abilities. After repurposing some AIM-tech, Kate can use Quantum energy for things like blink, which helps her with traversal, as her support ability, decoy, which places a quantum clone on the field. This allows her to change position or get up close for a sneak attack while the enemy is distracted.
What’s an Operation?
Operations are how Crystal Dynamics plan on delivering new heroes and story content in the future. They very deliberately call them “seasons” as well. In these operations, each new hero will have their own set of cosmetics to earn or purchase, but they will only be available during the operation.
Operation: Taking Aim is the first season and will set a new arc of the story into motion. This season, we will follow Kate Bishop as we seek to rescue Clint Barton from a disaster in time. Taking Aim will launch on December 8, 2020.
They’ve also revealed that the following season will be Operation: Future Imperfect and will follow Clint Barton as he hopes to prevent a dark, post-apocalyptic future. This will be coming in early 2021 and we’ll get another Deep Dive to showcase Clint and preview Future Imperfect in greater depth.
While it wasn’t a major focus, they did mention some things that pertain to the future of the game. New consoles are currently available, but the “next-gen” versions of the game won’t be ready until early 2021. That said, the upgrades will be free for those who already own the game. Those who are already playing on new consoles will be able to take advantage of the hardware enhancements with improved load times and graphical fidelity in the meantime.
They also spoke very quickly about taking in player feedback. One of the biggest things they’ve heard is the demand for crossplay. While it hasn’t been announced, it’s something they’re currently looking into. With the player base dwindling the way it has, crossplay could help dramatically with improving matchmaking and overall player experience. In my opinion, it’s something that should be prioritized now over some of the content updates.
As someone who has played a bunch of Avengers, but hasn’t played much recently, I think this will be a nice infusion of fresh content to the game. That said, I don’t think this will be the means to bring a wholesale surge of players back to the game long-term. I feel initial impressions of Avengers being a loot-driven game that could be played endlessly should have been self-tempered early. Avengers, as it is now, plays best as a story game that can be consumed when the content is fresh and that can be played with friends. Either way, I’m actually very excited to check out Kate Bishop and Operation: Taking Aim when it launches on December 8, 2020.