With the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it was only a matter of time before one of the big studios created an Avengers game. Back in early 2017 Marvel Entertainment announced that they had assembled Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics to do just that. After a long development and an understandable delay the game is finally here. Over the past few weeks I’ve put over 20 hours into Marvel’s Avengers to see if it’s worth your time.
Marvel’s Avengers is divided up into two different components – a single player campaign and online multiplayer missions. The game recommends you tackle the single player portion first, as the multiplayer contains spoilers, so that’s where I began. I found the campaign to be a lot of fun and it kept me entertained for a good 15 hours or so. The multiplayer has so far taken less of my time but I’ll come back to that later.
Surprisingly, the focus of the campaign isn’t actually the Avengers. Instead it’s a teenage Pakistani American girl named Kamala Khan. While I’m a big fan of the Marvel films, Kamala is a character I wasn’t really aware of before playing. She’s actually been part of the Marvel Universe for about 7 years and made her debut in the comics. If you are aware of her then you probably already know that she’s better known as Ms. Marvel.
Watch the Marvel’s Avengers launch trailer below:
In the game we first meet her as a young girl who is attending an Avengers fan convention. There she gets to meet her heroes such as Captain America and Thor. Things soon go wrong and the Avengers spring into action. If you played the beta then you’ll already be familiar with this part. It’s a thrilling opening where you get to control each of the Avengers team in turn and it acts as a bit of a tutorial too.
The Avengers are unable to save the day and they are blamed for the tragedy that follows. This forces them to disband and a substance known as Terrigen infects many people, giving them special powers and turning them Inhuman. The action shifts five years into the future and an evil corporation called A.I.M (Advanced Idea Mechanics) has outlawed Inhumans.
You’ve probably already guessed that Kamala is one of the Inhumans. Her powers allow her to shapeshift, which allows her to do things like leap large distances, turn giant, swing a bit like Spider-Man and punch and kick enemies from a distance. Predictably, Kamala tasks herself to try and bring the Avengers back together. She goes off in search of them and the story is kept moving with consistently brilliant cutscenes.
The story is well written and wouldn’t feel out of place in an Avengers film or comic. A lot of thought and development has gone into the characters and they aren’t just a copy of the heroes we’ve seen at the cinema. Initially I was disappointed that the characters weren’t using the film cast but it didn’t take long to adjust to the game versions. Most seem to have used the film versions as a starting point so they do look and sound similar. This helped them feel familiar and is a smart move should the game continue for years as planned.
The voicecast is absolutely stellar and Sandra Saad is standout as Kamala. Alongside her starring role the cast also features big names including Troy Baker, Nolan North, Laura Bailey, Jeff Schine and Travis Willingham.
As the different Avengers are recruited the action shifts between you controlling Kamala to controlling each of them. Some missions let you to take AI companions along for the ride so you can choose which Avengers are with you in support. The different Avengers all have different abilities and special powers but the developers have managed to come up with a common control scheme that fits them all. Impressively this still allows them all to feel instantly familiar to control but very unique.
Each character can use a mix of light and heavy attacks. Some such as the Hulk can also grapple. Thor and Iron Man can fly. Iron Man and Black Widow can shoot projectiles. Thor can throw his trusty hammer, Mjölnir, and recall it at will. Well timed taps of the B button allow you to dodge. It’s also possible to block and parry. The system is actually rather deep and just works really well. While it’s possible to get by with button mashing, to really get to grips with each character there are optional training missions.
In addition to standard attacks, each character comes with three powerful special attacks. These specials build up during combat and can unleashed with devastating effect. As you progress, each character earns experience and levels up. When they gain a level they obtain a skill point which can be spent in a variety of skill trees based on your preferences.
Much of your time in Avengers is spent collecting loot. These items increase the power of each character and there’s a constant loop of finding and improving your gear. Loot can be broken down into components and these can be used to boost the levels of your gear until you find better gear and the loop starts again. The biggest issue with the loot is that it’s essentially just a hidden number that makes your character more powerful. There’s no cosmetic change to how your character actually looks.
Once you’re done with the main campaign there’s still plenty of content to keep you busy. Each Avenger has their own iconic mission chain to pursue. Each can also be leveled separately to the level and power caps. There’s a seemingly endless amount of collectibles to find from intel to comics. In-game currency can be spent on unlocking the many new costumes for each character. There’s also the option of spending your hard-earned cash on microtransactions should you not fancy the grind.
Beyond the single player game the developers seem to have modelled the end game on Destiny. Players can get together with up to 3 friends to take on various missions. After such a long campaign these feel quite repetitive but this is an area of the game that should continue to improve.
As good as the game is I did have some issues. Many of the earliest problems I had were fixed in a recent patch that had over 1,000 fixes included. It’s great to see the developers are working hard to fix things but I do wonder if maybe it would have benefited from a longer delay. My biggest problem at the moment is the clunky UI which is just painful to use and demands you spend far too long in there messing with your gear.
Another area that I was disappointed with was the really long load times between missions. This is also really bad during a mission if you miss a simple jump you can be thrown back to a load screen for ages. However, with PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X around the corner this problem should disappear for players who upgrade. Square Enix have promised that Marvel’s Avengers will give players a free upgrade to next-gen. This means you can continue your game as soon as you upgrade. Best of all the game will take advantage of super fast load times, higher resolutions, better textures and many other graphical improvements.
Marvel’s Avengers is an ambitious game that does a lot of things right. The campaign is excellent and filled with entertaining moments. Getting to play as your favourite Avengers is quite the treat and it’s even better with friends. Right now the multiplayer needs some work but with plenty of updates on the way it’s easy to recommend and should only get better.
Marvel’s Avengers was reviewed using a digital code provided by the publisher.
Publisher: Square Enix Developer: Crystal Dynamics Release Date: 4th September 2020 Reviewed On: Xbox One Also Available On: PC/Steam, PS4