For a highly anticipated title, the Marvel’s Avengers Beta didn’t exactly receive the warmest of welcomes. It was by no means a terrible game that should be snapped out of existence, but it also wasn’t “Endgame” levels of epic as many people were hoping it would be.
The Beta felt like a tedious grind due to the uninspired level designs and combat objectives, and the graphical fidelity of the game suffered from low quality textures from the most unlikely of places. Let’s not even talk about the amount of camera shake that was enough to make one nauseous.
Nonetheless, the game was able to showcase some pretty good dialogue and voice acting like Kamala Khan’s enthusiasm as a hardcore Avengers fan, and Bruce Banner’s calm but depressed demeanor due to the events of A-Day. The writing and storytelling proved to be a strong point, even with a few cringey lines here and there.
After a somewhat average Beta experience, you’ll be glad to know that the final launch version of the game caught us by surprise in a good way, but the overall experience has quite a number of things that need more assembly.
In our last episode…
So just for a refresher, Marvel’s Avengers is a completely new story and universe separate from the iconic Marvel Cinematic Universe we are all familiar with, hence the cast here looking slightly different.
The Avengers are celebrating the launch of their new helicarrier, the Chimera, running on a new power source called Terrigen. And like any comic book story, things don’t go smoothly due to a sudden terrorist attack led by Taskmaster.
In the aftermath of the battle, the Golden Gate Bridge is destroyed, normal humans turned into power infused beings due to exposure to Terrigen, Captain America is gone, and A-Day has become the day super heroes were outlawed, resulting in the break up of the Avengers and the rise of Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.) as the new protectors of humanity.
Five years later, A.I.M. presence has spread significantly across the United States, rounding up all these Terrigen exposed beings, now called Inhumans, to cure them of their disease. Enter Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel, an enthusiastic Avengers fan that was present during the events of A-Day and herself one of these Inhumans. And it’s her escape from A.I.M. that kickstarts this adventure of bringing back together Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and discovering the truth of what happened on A-Day.
A story with heart
Now right off the bat, story and dialogue is one of the better points of Marvel’s Avengers. Obviously, the plot didn’t make a lot of sense in the Beta since the campaign was jumping from one scene to the next. In this final release, we uncover a complete single-player campaign, and it really makes us wonder why this part of the game wasn’t marketed as much, because the campaign was fantastic.
The Avengers have fallen on hard times and it’s because of a fan’s faith in them that they’re able to pick themselves up and once again band together to save the day.
It was actually very engaging to play through the main story campaign despite some predictability because of the dialogue and the interactions between the characters. From the prologue showing Kamala attending A-Day and meeting each of her favorite Avengers in person, to listening to the Avengers not hiding exactly how much they find Tony Stark annoying, the exchange between characters was well portrayed and easily a highlight of the game.
The voice cast may not be exactly the iconic actors we know and love from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but you cannot discount the talent of the cast which includes Troy Baker, Nolan North, and Laura Bailey among others. If anything, Tony Stark’s character in the game was portrayed to be too much of a joker and one-liner machine that seemed a little off-putting, but nothing to totally derail from the overall experience.
Thor is his usual godly self, Banner is the soft spoken scientist, Natasha is all business… Of course, Captain America is the ever noble boy scout always keeping the team together and the voice of reason, particularly when Tony goes too far with his jokes. Of course, leave it to Tony Stark to always come up with a comeback.
Kamala Khan in particular was an interesting character to follow in the story, considering that she can be representative of any Avengers fan in general. Kamala’s enthusiasm is infectious and her sometimes rebellious streak is what actually made her and Iron Man get along pretty well after their initial meeting. You can definitely see her inner fan always seeping out in her spoken lines, sometimes a bit to the annoyance of Black Widow. She is a well-written heroine and while not as well known as the others, is a very relatable personality that many will learn to love and appreciate throughout the game.
If there’s anything that is a little disappointing, it’s that the main campaign wraps up itself anywhere from 10-15 hours. For a “Game as a service” title, it is quite impressive that the single player campaign can still take the spotlight. Each Avenger was given enough time to shine in terms of gameplay and story, and by the end of the main campaign, you will likely be familiar with the role of each character, finding a favorite.
Coming from the beta, its good to know that the devs have been listening to the feedback from the players. We’ve had our share of complaints that have been addressed – the addition of a camera shake toggle and the addition of a wide camera angle among others.
If you’re playing alone, the companion AI is more than capable of taking care of themselves in an encounter. They will be definitely fighting and defeating enemies like they supposed to and should you get knocked down, they will do their best to go and revive you. During our playthrough, it was rare that we got knocked out because our companion AI didn’t revive us on time.
Each Avenger has the same set of general attacks but the team at Crystal Dynamics have done quite well to differentiate their playstyles from each other, giving them defining traits like flight for Thor and Iron Man, wall grapples and long jumps by the Hulk, wall running by Captain America, and “swinging” traversal options for both Black Widow and Ms. Marvel.
In terms of offense, each Avenger has melee and long range attacks. They each also have their Support, Assault, and Ultimate abilities that can be used after a cooldown period. And all of these are diversified among the Avengers, making sure at least that no two fighting styles are the same. Thor’s Mjolnir, for example, can be thrown at enemies and it can pin a certain number of them down leaving enemies defenseless until Thor recalls it. On the other hand, Captain America’s Ultimate Ability, Brooklyn Brawler, is not a damaging super move in itself but it temporarily grants Cap a boost in damage and gives access to new Light Attacks, fitting, considering his exceptional combat prowess.
The Skills Trees for each Avenger, while similar in structure, is also diverse and fitting of each character’s fighting style. Skills Points will expand the moves you can do, like adding a strong finisher to your Light Attacks or, in Iron Man’s case, a burst of repulsor that blows away nearby surrounding enemies. There is also the matter of changeable moves like Iron Man being able to switch from lasers to missiles, and Black Widow being able to use either automatic or semi-automatic pistols.
It is this diversity in moves and fighting styles that helped make the game less monotonous in terms of combat. You’ll also be able to mix up these moves, allowing you to form your own combos to use against A.I.M. and the different villains in the game.
Enemies in the game will mainly be A.I.M. and their army of soldiers, synthoids, and robots that range from the basic grunts to more formidable foes. Compared to the Beta, there’s a bit more variety in the final game but at the end of the day, save for a few handful of bosses and some familiar villains, the selection is not as wide as we’d like it to be, leading to some monotony towards the later parts of the game.
The parry and dodge system helped make combat a bit more strategic, elevating it to more than just a button mash fest. Enemy attacks will often be accompanied by a colored glow, with blue and yellow meaning the attack can be parried, or red which means they’re unblockable and can only be dodged. If anything, it actually feels like the Freeflow system that you may have seen in other superhero games like the Batman Arkham series. It is not, however, as rhythmic compared to that with how chaotic it can be on the battlefield.
If there’s anything that Marvel’s Avengers can be compared to, it’s very much like a traditional Role-Playing Game minus a vast open world to explore. The RPG DNA is noticeable because of the presence of a level-up system, status ailments, and wide variety of gears to equip. Just don’t expect to freely go around as missions are tackled mainly from the game’s War Tables.
The endgame loop of Marvel’s Avengers revolves around repeating missions that reward you with gear, ever increasing in power level, which is the criteria that measures your overall capability to take on tougher assignments.
Gear, along with other stuff in the game, is divided into rarity tiers, with better gear having more attributes and powerful effects. The amount of gear you’ll be able to collect can be overwhelming and you may probably spend more time optimizing and just dismantling every other gear in your inventory instead of actually playing, which says a lot about how gear attributes really work, as they’re not as effective or noticeable to actually take notice of, except for the Pym Particle effect which was our favorite.
A missed opportunity for personalization is that the gear you pick up doesn’t really affect your Avenger’s appearance. Cosmetics, on the other hand, do, but it would have been nice to have that option to see your character wear different sets of armor, similar to titles like Destiny.
An alternative way of obtaining gear is from Factions, which provide you with some assignments in exchange for rewards and reputation, allowing you access to powerful gear. It’s a nice touch that the assignments, while lacking in variety, can be accomplished simply by going through missions and not by going out of the way. Sometimes, you’ll just accept all assignments at once without even looking at the conditions for success, and after a couple of missions, they’ll be ticked off from your list.
As far as mission structures go, what we experienced during the Beta is pretty much the same here. Mission objectives have you going from point A to B, beating up heaps of enemies along the way. As to what you do in the end, it’s not as diverse either. You will be either defending objective points from A.I.M. troops or destroying certain objects or defeating all enemies in a room to complete your missions. Transitions also felt repetitive as it was a matter of your Strike team gathering in a room, you accessing a terminal, and waiting to get to the next area of your mission.
Luckily, a few icebreakers in between missions are optional objectives that JARVIS will inform you of. These can range from unlocking safehouses with better gear, or saving captured Inhumans from Quarantine Cells. It’s good to know that some safe houses will require a bit of work to open, like finding certain buttons to step on or hitting switches from long range. They’re not the most well thought out “side missions”, but at least they provided a little bit of variety to the otherwise straightforward missions.
There are also Iconic Missions, which serve as optional quests in the game. Iconic Mission will each have a side story focusing on a certain Avenger, whether it be Bruce Banner looking into A.I.M. research on his Gamma technology or Thor investigating an emerging cult of fanatical Asgard worshipers.
The Iconic Missions were a decent distraction from the main campaign, though there were some factors that made them more tedious than usual. First, some of the missions in these side quests have relatively high power levels so if you haven’t been grinding, expect to restart a lot, unless you’re very confident in your dodge and parry skills.
Also, unlocking the next mission in the chain may require you to fulfill certain conditions first. In Thor’s case, to get to the second mission, one of two requirements has you dealing 50,000 worth of damage using his Ultimate Ability, Bifrost, which takes quite a bit to do.
Having to lock missions behind certain conditions before advancing was a little frustrating. If it wasn’t for the curiosity of finding out what happened in the end, these sidequests wouldn’t actually be worth doing, and even then, some of the story bits felt ho hum.
Didn’t we destroy this place last time?
One thing about games like Marvel’s Avengers is the amount of repetition you’ll have to go through. Whether to farm resources or grind for equipment, you’ll be doing stuff a lot of times over to get yourself ready for the endgame. Sadly, it doesn’t make it pleasing enough to make the grind worthwhile.
While there are a quite a number of missions and dungeons you’ll have to go through, there isn’t enough variety to ease the tedium. Facilities and labs looked just slightly different from each other and at the end of it all, feels just a little too similar to our liking. There was also quite a bit of frame drops even when using the performance mode over resolution, which is not a good sign.
It was also a little frustrating as to how, on certain cutscenes, the game actually skipped, both the dialogue and audio. There was one instance where the game completely froze and we had to restart. For a launch title, the amount of times our game crashed was absurd, and although issues like this may be patched out soon after, it left a bit of a bad taste in our mouth.
There was also a noticeable lack of memorable music from the game’s soundtrack. There’s quite a number of orchestral music here and there, though none really stuck. If anything what you may enjoy are the sound effects because they were satisfying to listen to, like when Thor’s Mjolnir hits and the build-up of Iron Man’s repulsors. There is a saving grace, however, in the form of some licensed music, but we’ll keep that to your discovery.
For the long time Marvel Fans, there are some Easter Eggs and appearances in the game that will get your attention. It was already revealed from way back, so despite his absence in main campaign, Clint Barton aka Hawkeye will be in the game as he has a dedicated door in the Avengers’ quarters in the Chimera. There are also collectibles in the form of comics. Not to mention audio recordings of the Avengers hearings where they defend themselves from what happened on A-Day. It’s a decent form of world building in this case. And there will be more stories to be told, which of course brings us to the reminder that this is a game as a service, and can only get better in time.
What we liked:
- Engaging campaign
- Diverse fighting styles
- Witty and funny dialogue
- Easter Eggs for fans
- Fun Multiplayer that really encourages teamwork
What we didn’t like:
- Tedious and monotonous grinding
- Really bad case of low quality textures in some scenes
- Absurd amount of bugs
- Loading times
We wanted to like and love the game. Marvel’s Avengers was a highly anticipated title that was supposed to be the premiere Avengers game that should have done the source material proud. While the game was able to improve some of its aspects in terms of gameplay and combat, unfortunately, it’s still far from being considered polished and final on account of lingering issues. A lot of issues.
The thing about Marvel’s Avengers is that it will be a great game, eventually. Crystal Dynamics have shown that they listen to feedback and have acted upon making the game better from beta to launch. Down the line, maybe 4, 5, 6 months from now, the game could be spectacular. The only issue is that will there still be a community that long down the road?
Don’t get us wrong, the game is fun when it all comes together but between the bugs, crashes, and the tedium, it’s hard to find the fun.
Coming from our beta impressions, Marvel’s Avengers shifts the bar a bit towards being the game people may want to play but doesn’t completely fall into the level of a must have title on Day 1. Hopefully, future content will be satisfying enough for players to find it worth coming back to this universe featuring Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
Marvel’s Avengers was reviewed on a PlayStation 4 Pro through a review code provided by the publishers.