It has been a long road to reach where we are today. Back in January 2017 a teaser trailer of “The Avengers Project” was released and from that point in time, the hype built. Developer Crystal Dynamics and publisher Square Enix then had the world wait over two more years in anticipation for more information on this project. Fast Forward to E3 2019 and while most of the world has been celebrating the culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU’s) cinematic triumph, Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix finally unveiled “Marvel’s Avengers” in an epic 14-minute showcase featuring a full trailer along with the original release date of 15 May 2020. This changed due to COVID-19 related delays and we now see ourselves at the actual launch of 4 September 2020.
Thanks to the MCU’s dominance over the last ten years more people on earth are aware of who The Avengers are and this title has come at the best of times. The year 2020 has yet to see a Marvel movie come to the cinema due to the worldwide lockdowns and with the delay of the Black Widow movie, Marvel fans have been craving something to get their hero fix. This is where Marvel’s Avengers step in to fill that gap.
Marvel’s Avengers is a third-person action-adventure game playable in single-player and online co-op, in which players take on the roles of some of the more well-known Avengers including Ironman, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, Thor and one of the youngest Avengers Ms Marvel, also known as Kamala Khan.
The Marvel’s Avengers story revolves primarily around the young Kamala Khan after the disastrous events of A-Day exposing her to Terrigen. This exposure sees Kamala develop the inhuman ability of a Poly-Morph, someone whose limbs become elasticised and “embiggened”.
“I can make my arms and legs stretch and make my hands larger, just trying to make it look less dorky” – Kamala Khan to Dante in Ant Hill.
The prologue presents a young Kamala as an uber Avengers fan on-board the Chimera due to her winning an Avengers short story competition. This prologue works as a tutorial level to introduce the player to the main mechanics of the game as well as the world the player is soon to operate in. From the prologue the game skips this is where the main story begins, five years after the events of A-Day where Advanced Idea Mechanic (A.I.M.) has risen to take place as the top Technological, Medical and Security Organisation. Kamala is reintroduced to players at this time she is in her late teens, believes the Avengers are innocent and that there is more to the events of A-Day than was reported. Her inquisitive nature leads players on her adventures to find the Avengers.
The gameplay of Marvel’s Avengers is very similar to that of Tomb Raider Series, also produced and developed by Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix. The level designs are large and spacious, not quite open world, but also not just a linear point A to point B either. This expansive play space provides ample opportunity for the player to explore and locate hidden enemies, loot, collectables and more. The level design right across the play space is amazing, albeit currently restricted to several repeating biomes including the forest, desert, city and snowy tundra all of which have several hidden areas underneath to explore. As presented at the recent Avengers War Table event on the 1stSeptember, the variety and number of the levels will be increasing.
The usual path each level takes issimilar to that of the previously mentioned Tomb Raider games. The player progresses towards each objective while clearing out waves of enemiesand solving puzzles on the way to the final objective. Asa side to the main objective,each map has several hidden crates or allies to find.Thesecratesreward the player with loot and collectables including comics,artefactsand gear. The wholepurposeof this lootis to increaseyour hero’s power level andimprove four areas of each hero (Ranged, Melee, Defensive and Heroic). All loot collectedis unique to the hero the player is using at the timeand cannot be swapped or mapped to another hero.
Throughout the game, players will cross paths with numerous enemies that A.I.M has under their command. They range from the standard A.I.M Keepers (the soldiers who wearBee Keeper outfits to protect themselves from the outside world), Synthoids, Mechs and Exo’s. It is not until around a third of the way into the game that thedifficulty is upped on these enemies who become enhanced with elemental abilities includingfrost, fire and the more damaging Gammabased power-ups. An addition challengepresented to the playerfurther into the gamearea new enemy many Marvel Comic book fans will knowin the Adaptoids. These beings can use harvested inhuman powers and if not careful will overwhelm players very quickly.
In Story Mode, the player can take up to three additional heroes into the fight with them, provided that the player has them unlocked. Players are able to customise their own squad or allow the game to automatically add them. Unlikeother titles, the heroes that join you are not random A.I.but those that have levelled throughout the game. Eachhero comes into battle with the skills and loot added to them. The developershave stated thatthey did this so that the player feels like this is their story and their Avengers Team. Also, something else that some other titles drop the ball on when including A.I teammates are their ability to be helpful. InMarvel’s Avengers the teammates pull their weight, helpingthe squad takeoutenemies and even reviveother squad memberswhendowned during a fight. A big part of this title is forming the player’s own Avengers squad and each of the characters bring their own strengths to the battle. While each of the heroes has a unique playstyle and work well solo, complementary skills are a big part of this. Below is a brief understanding of how each character plays to help with squad formation.
Kamala Khan – The main protagonist in the story whoreceives significant playtime thathelps the player get used to how she plays. She is versatile in her attacks, allowing players to knock back large numbers of foes with her embiggened inhuman powers. Thiscoupled with her ability to traverse the map quickly makes her a mixture of Spider-Man and the Hulk.
Hulk – The powerhouse of the Avengers. I expected Hulk to be sluggish and apain for maptraversal due to his sheer size, however I was pleasantly surprised by the movement speed of this character. As most players would assume, the Hulk is capable of mass damagebut he does feel a little weak. As the character progresses the Hulk becomes more powerful, however the enemies also increasein strengthso there was never any real ‘Hulk-style’ poweron display. The one show of true strength for the Hulk is his “Thunderclap” ultimate. I found his large jump the easiest and fastest to get around the maps, only second to Ironmanin speed. Hulks ranged attacksalsofelt the easiest to use and caused significant damage, especially when overwhelmed.
Ironman – The former “Mr Money Bags” of the Avengers. Ironman brings all the toys including Hulk Buster as his ultimate, which makes Ironman the best allrounder in the team. The melee attacks allow for some fun combos through the use of his repulsers and rocket boots, whilethe same technology gives him some of the best-ranged attacks. Ironman also has access to rockets and lasers first seen in Ironman 2 thatcan be unlockedas the player progresses. The only negative I found playing as Ironman, was thatflying was not as fast as I expected and I often found myself disorientated.
Black Widow – Natasha is quick and agile, allowing for fast and punishing combos and takedowns. Thanks to her gun combat skills she is both a ranged and melee fighter. Mostplayers willlikelyopt for the up close and personal attacks, as they are more punishing. Black Widow can also use a grapple claw to reach higher than normal areas and to pull enemies closer to deal some damage. Widow’s attacks also include the “Widow’s Bite”, an overcharged electric dart great for slowing down the A.I.M Mechsand an invisibility skill that hides her for a small amount of time and if timed correctly can also mask some of the fellow heroes.
Thor – the God of Thunder. Personally, one of my favourite heroes and one of the more enjoyable characters to play. Thorand Mjolnir make for a formidable pairing and even more so once you have unlocked further skills. Thor can useMjolnir to take out foes from a distance or to pin more troublesome enemy to a surfacewhile taking out the enemies surrounding the player. Thor’s ultimate attack calls forth the Bifrost to clear out enemies from an area of the battle spacevery quickly.
Captain America – The leader of the Avengers,Steve Rogers plays just as you think a super solider would. He is a brawlerandbest used up close and personal. When coupled with his Shield, he is nearly unstoppable. The rapid attack speed combined with the right skill upgrades make Steve and his shield capable of some great combos. He moves around the battlefield very fast and with his ability to wall run and double jump, nothing is out of bounds.
While each of the heroes is independently strong, having a strong and balanced squad is important also. This is where the balancing act of the player comes in, as characters do not receive experience for coming along for the ride. Only the active character receives this experience. Therefore the player must consider the squad required for each mission and then rotate each character through to level up equally. This is extremely important for those solo players looking to take on the more difficult challenges unless you bring in a friend via the companion multiplayer option. This allows another player to join in on your story, bringing their unique character into your game. Via this option the titles current build balances the enemies level to that of the lowest levelled non A.I. player on the team, which can make this actually very enjoyable if you are the higher levelled character because this is where you truly feel like an Avenger, especially playing as Hulk or Thor and belting the enemies away in a single hit.
Each player has different attacks and abilities but they are all based of the same control scheme. This being a light and heavy attack, special powers and defensive abilities. Theplayers will have to be proficient in both the attacking anddefensive (dodge and parry) options to ensure victory. Failure to master them both will see the playerfailing or being revived a lot. Sadly one thing that I was hoping we’d see in this titlewas team-up attacks. It has been such a staple in titles like Marvel’s Ultimate Alliance that not including it in the game feels like a missed opportunity.
For those playerslooking to power through the story campaign on easy, they can expect to finish this in around 10 hours and around 15 hours on Normal. There is no difference in how the game plays or what you can unlock for each difficulty, it is just the enemies’ attack and defence that make the difference. For those looking to get the most out of their purchaseyouwill be happy to know that there is an abundance of postgamecontent to experiencewhich is unrelated to the endgame “Warzone” experience.
Marvel’s Avengers is Rated M in Australia, however this is a title that I feel confident in allowing younger kids to watch or play this while supervised, during my play through there was nothing that stood out to me that was too shocking or scary, understandably this is a violent video game however its nothing that hasn’t been seen in the movies or cartoons series over the past ten years.
The potential of this title is endlessand we have already seen new characters announced including Kate Bishop and Hawkeye, as well as everyone’s favourite neighbourhood Spider-Man (PlayStation only to this Xbox fan’s disappointment). Eachof these characters will have their own story missions, battle passesand expanded content for players to explore and unlock. There are also a tonne of cosmetics that are unlockable in this title. These can be purchased via the marketplace using real money while some are earned via unlocking challenge points in game and redeeming them via the challenge card option.
Marvel’s Avengers is a title that has a lot of positives and very few negativesbutthe title is not without its issues.I encountered a couple over my playtimeandwhile both of theseweren’t game breaking,theydid force me to have to restart the level a few times. There is a chancethey may have been patched by the time that this review is published but I feel that this title will be serviced regularly for a very long time to come.
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Marvel’s Avengers was reviewed on an Xbox One X and is available on PlayStation 4 and PC.
The publisher provided code for this review. Our thoughts on this game are ours and ours alone.