While we already had stellar comic book to video game adaptations like the Batman Arkham franchise, and Insomniac’s Marvel’s Spider-Man, we haven’t seen one for the Avengers yet, which is suprising given how the superhero team is the biggest draw in cinemas today. Is that all about to change in Marvel’s Avengers? Read on to find out in our Marvel’s Avengers beta impressions piece.
First off, it’s been pretty evident just from the trailers alone, but this isn’t connected to the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) in any way, shape or form. This is Crystal Dynamics’ take on the Avengers — for better or for worse. That said, there are familiar nuances that gives a nod or two to the iconic movies. But just know that if you’re expecting to see and hear the MCU versions of these heroes, you will be very disappointed.
The Marvel’s Avengers beta starts the same way as the game does (based on the trailers released), and that’s with the Avengers battling what seems to be an army trying to overrun the city. This is the tutorial section of the game, and it gives us a good grasp of how the different character plays.
You’ll start the skirmish playing as Thor, before moving on to each Avenger, and it’s a nice taster of sorts for what each character brings to the table, and hints at how much variety the game has in terms of combat. This tutorial level is also the start of the end of the Avengers. Something happens, the Avengers are blamed for it, and the world government bans superheroes from being heroes. It’s a tale we’ve heard before and explains why the Avengers have disbanded when the game officially starts.
The story itself is compelling enough, though a wee bit on the predictable side. Thankfully, this is just a beta impressions piece and we don’t need to really factor that in, as we’re here to talk about the combat, gameplay experience, and what we see up ahead — and boy, is there a lot to talk about.
I Can Do This All Day
Marvel’s Avengers starts the tutorial section by thrusting players into a ton of enemies, and lets you go wild in how you handle them. It’s a wise move, as the combat is clearly the title’s greatest strength. Once you’re done with the introductory sections where you get to control every core member of the Avengers, you’re then pushed to the game’s real beginning where everything has gone to shit for the Avengers, and you’re back at square one as Kamala Khan (aka Ms. Marvel).
The rest of the game’s story missions involve you finding Jarvis to locate where Tony Stark is, and so on. In terms of missions, we’re given a taste of the HARM missions (think of the X-Men’s Danger Room training sims), story-related assaults, and more.
It’s a nice slice of the Marvel’s Avengers pie, and as mentioned before, the combat isn’t perfect, but it does the job adequately enough. There are multiple skill trees to progress from and each one adds to the combat experience in different ways. One example is Iron Man’s skill tree where we can level up his lasers, or his photon beams, or his missile attacks. That’s on top of the regular combat also being part of the progression tree. It’s quite a sight to see how each new move adds to the combat loop, and I’m excited to try out more.
On top of the character’s individual moves list, there are also specials and an ultimate which are also unique to each character. These offer area-clearing supers, or support-oriented ones, and will be important for when an entire squad takes on bigger missions.
While the combat itself is satisfying, the beta exposed a lot of holes.
Marvel’s Avengers is a an action game that seems to be Crystal Dynamics’ take on the looter shooter, live services game popularized by The Division and Destiny franchises. While it’s not really fair to compare a beta to an established game released years ago, there are noticeable missteps in the beta that we’re unsure can be fixed — or will be — fixed in time.
One of the biggest is not being able to see your character’s upgrades in your character itself. With Marvel’s Avengers offering a myriad of character skins as part of the gameplay reward (or with other marketing tie-ins), this translated to your character not looking any different from having stronger gear. Say, you pick up a chest piece that offers a power level of 10, equipping it doesn’t change your look at all, which is a bummer since this is one of the major draws of looter shooters and games similar to this.
I do get that they can’t have the Hulk wearing armor (or they can?), but there’s a compromise here, and even if it’s just a cosmetic thing, it’s one that’s very noticeable. Another thing tied to this is in games like Destiny, Anthem, etc., you pick up loot off the ground, but in Avengers, it feels “empty.” It doesn’t feel rewarding getting higher tier equipment since you didn’t even know you did. It’s just confusing at this point, and one that I hope Crystal Dynamics can change in the full game.
On top of the issues with loot, Marvel’s Avengers has a currency problem as well. In the short time I’ve played the beta, I’ve seen countless in-game currency that can be used for upgrades and the like, and it’s confusing to keep track of what each thing does. It feels like an unnecessary problem to have to deal with, but it’s there.
Another thing I’d like to point out is for a game that’s focused on co-op and multiplayer the game lacks any sort of social space (think: Destiny’s Tower). In games like The Division, you can run around the open world with your friends and go on specific missions, or just clown around whereever you are. You can’t do that in Avengers. There is the War Table where you select missions, and once you choose one, you’ll then be transported to that specific mission with your co-op buddies (or AI teammates if you so wish). Is this efficient? Yes it is, but it takes away the essence of being in the same virtual area with your friends where you can just check each character and move freely. This might seem like a minor quibble for some, I’d be surprised if other multiplayer-centric gamers don’t complain about this. When you’re in an online PvE game, you want to be in the same virtual place as your friends even if you’re not doing a mission; it’s as simple as that.
We have a separate post going up on what changes we want to see based on the beta, but so far, those are the main ones we noticed off the bat.
One Swole Hero
What possibly surprised me the most with the beta is how much content the game has. While there seems to be some lack of variety in some of the stuff that you do, there’s no denying that there is a TON of stuff to do. I don’t know how big of a chunk the beta was in relation to the full game, but if it’s a small sliver of the overall pie, then expect a gme bursting at the seams with content.
When people load this weekend, they might be shocked at how much content there is to chew on and this is just a beta. I’m hoping that we get more mission variety, but in terms of missions and how long the game will take to finish, I expect players won’t have anything to complain about here.
While Marvel’s Avengers managed to beat my expectations when it comes to the overall gameplay, one thing it didn’t manage to break free from is its connection to the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) — at least in my mind. Going into the beta, I already knew that this was Crystal Dynamics’ take on the Avengers, and how it has no connection to the MCU, but playing it, the feeling of you’re playing the “fake” or “discount” Avengers lingered.
I was thinking of how much more “authentic” the experience would have been if we got see each character’s MCU design, or hell, even voice actors that sounded similar to the iconic characters we know. While the Avengers have been around since forever, there’s no denying that for a lot of people (even for those who grew up reading the comics), the MCU’s Avengers are the de-facto standard and what people are expecting. It’s a gift that anything with “Marvel” and “Avengers” in it will be noticed, and will most likely sell a ton, but it’s also a curse, as people will have expectations.
There’s a lot to love in Marvel’s Avengers, and some stuff that are a cause for concern. Having said that, I’m optimistic that some of the problems the game has can or will be patched in due time, but at the same time, it’s worrying that we’re less than a month from launch, and parts of the game feels like it’s not ready to be consumed by the gaming masses just yet.
I had fun playing the Marvel’s Avengers beta, but there are glaring holes that need to be filled up. Time will tell if Crystal Dynamics can do that, and I’m hopeful they can.
Marvel’s Avengers beta code provided by Square Enix.