Thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Avengers are easily the most popular and iconic IP on Earth right now. So when a video game based on the team was announced, the gaming community went wild.
With Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics coming together to create this masterpiece in the making, there was nothing that could stop this game from coming out and shattering records the way the movie characters did in the box office.
Then came the trailers…and the beta…and the release…and the resulting backlash from the gaming community.
But is this game really deserving of this much vitriol?
To call the environments in Marvel’s Avengers lackluster might be an understatement.
The various mission locations are designed to allow every Avengers to maneuver through without too much difficulty. As much, they feature wide-open spaces in the exteriors and bland, identical corridors with wide-open arenas (for boss fights) in the interiors.
There are no challenges that might require some vertical mobility limited to Iron Man and Thor, no stealth sections that Black Widow could use to get an advantage, narrow gaps that Kamala Khan could squeeze through, weak points that Hulk could smash through…just no thought to making platforming an engaging part of the Avengers experience.
MISSION AND COMBAT DESIGN
Another failing of this game is how poorly the missions are designed.
It basically boils down to repetitive fetch quests to reassemble the Avengers and their assets, point captures, structural destruction with some extermination in between.
Combined with the poor environment design…the feeling evoked is ‘meh’.
The gameplay loop of Marvel’s Avengers is also very uninispired.
Every single character’s base combat is a combo of light and heavy attacks, ranged attacks, and dodging that lead up to three special attacks unique to each hero.
This arcade-lite system makes each hero feel almost identical as you play and forces you to mark time until you can get to use the special abilities. Those looking for the feel of the Batman: Arkham system or the Spider-Man PS4 combat style are going to be sorely disappointed.
Granted there are some signs of life here with Iron Man’s aerial combat with repulsor blasts, Thor’s hammer and Black Widow’s agility and adaptability but there’s so much shared between all the heroes that make them feel homogenous.
In this age of video games, the word ‘microtransactions’ is almost a curse word but it’s one that needs to be applied to Marvel’s Avengers.
The classic RPG progression system is available with each hero leveling up and gaining new skills but the addition of battle passes that ties into progression with each character is incredibly questionable.
It brings to mind another video game curse word…’pay-to-win’.
Another strange inclusion was a loot system for every hero that allows players to increase the power of their heroes.
For heroes that require technology like Iron Man and Black Widow, a loot game makes sense but for the others who rely mostly on powers and/or a single set of gear…it simply doesn’t.
There’s also the fact that the loot has no cosmetic value and is always getting replaced with better versions. A looter has to create a sense of attachment to the loot it doles out or it defeats its very purpose.
STORY AND CHARACTERS
Easily the best part of Marvel’s Avengers is the story it tells and the character interactions.
The plot follows Kamala Khan, an Avengers superfan, as she tries to prove that her heroes were set up for a disaster that happened five years earlier and take down the villainous AIM. She teams up with the Avengers who must put aside the differences that split them up and come together one more time.
Making Kamala the heart of the story works wonders as her infectious enthusiasm lights up every scenario she’s in. Her interactions with the other members of the Avengers makes some of the game’s best moments.
The villainous side may be much weaker but it still impressive in some regard. MODOK is brought to life with great results but the AIM organization isn’t the threat they need to be. The faceless horde of numerous AIM robots with the occasional super villain fight is not as gratifying as it should be.
However, the story is remarkably short, with the story-focused missions requiring only a few hours of gameplay to get through.
The beta of Marvel’s Avengers was filled to bursting with bugs and other problems that made playing through it difficult and the finished product brings more of the same.
Frame rate drops, strange textures and, odd pop-ins are just a few of the technical bugs that have been encountered in the game.
These issues are also present in the multiplayer aspect of the game with the addition of connection issues and matchmaking problems.
Ever since the game was announced, fans have been clamouring for Spider-Man’s addition to roster of Avengers. These wishes came true…in a way that angered the fan base.
Due to the Spider-Man licensing deal between Marvel and Sony, Spider-Man is going to be exclusive to the Playstation versions of the game, essentially shutting out almost half (if not more) of the player base from experiencing Peter Parker in the Avengers game.
On the heels of that announcement, it was revealed that Playstation gamers would receive 30 days of exclusive access to other content in the game that other players wouldn’t receive until the period was over.
Then came the reveals about the skins for Verizon, Virgin Media, Intel, etc that would also be exclusive to clients of those companies and…well it’s something.
Marvel’s Avengers is almost like buying a huge bag of candy and opening it up to find that there’s very little candy and a lot of gas taking up space. There are a few bright spots but it’s almost impossible for them to overcome everything else dragging the game down.