Superhero games are in a weird place. While we’ve had many attempts to create a superhero genre in videogames, they haven’t found as much success as they would in movies. Marvel’s Avengers is the most ambitious attempt at this to date, with mixed levels of success.
While the game looks amazing, how does it actually play? Is needing to equip pants for The Hulk incredibly immersion-breaking? Read on to find out.
Tales of Suspense
The campaign for Marvel’s Avengers is fairly short, clocking in at about 10 hours. It’s a really sweet story about Kamala Khan reuniting the Avengers after the disastrous events of A-Day. The backdrop of a splintered Avengers is a great setup for the game, as Khan picks up more Avengers, coincidentally increasing your roster of playable heroes.
The stakes feel a lot heavier in this game, too, thanks to the fact they weren’t simply aping the Civil War plot. Rather, in Marvel’s Avengers, the team disbands after being made to testify to Senate about whether or not the Avengers are creating more threats with their presence.
The art style is really pretty, with the characters all clearly meant to evoke their MCU counterparts. The problem with this is that ultimately, the game is a looter, and long cutscenes don’t really suit this genre well.
Outside of the game’s cutscenes, though, the story has a nice feel of progression to it. Throughout the game’s storyline, you go from a rundown base to fully functioning helicarrier, and even slowly fill it up with SHIELD personnel. Knowing where you started, it’s a great feel to sit there in a functioning Helicarrier for a change.
A Small Rogues Gallery
A big gripe with the game’s campaign is also its boss selection. Due to the brief nature of the game, there are only a handful of bosses you fight during it. Fans of the MCU might also take issue with the fact that many of the franchise’s heavy hitting villains are absent from this game. While the boss roster doesn’t have to be filled to the brim with A-Listers, just having one would have been nice.
On the other hand though, the game’s lack of mainstream Marvel villains also work to its strength. This game will be many fans’ introduction to MODOK- an iconic, if not a little underrated, villain. Compared to how often Marvel games brazenly tie in to the latest movie, it’s nice to see a game do its own thing.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Marvel title without a teaser for things to come. With the confirmation that future characters like Kate Bishop and Spider-Man would also add story missions, there’s probably more Avengers content on the horizon. Even the game’s lack of bosses may be fixed with future updates, although there’s no confirmation on that yet.
Combat That Takes You For A Ride
Marvel’s Avengers plays like a typical action game, but with elements mixed in from the looter genre. When you get down to brass tacks, the moment-to-moment gameplay is quite fun. Your melee attacks can be comboed into each other, and your wide range of skills allows you multiple options for dealing with problems.
There’s also a lot of opportunity for more advanced techniques, revolving around using attacks with a cinematic, such as finishers and certain skills, that makes you invulnerable. While not a necessary skill, this can make the game’s combat more bearable.
On top of that, the game goes to lengths to make sure the combat feels responsive. All attacks can be canceled out by dodging, meaning you can respond to threats appropriately. I feel like this was especially important for multiplayer, since over-committing to a move is a common occurrence in co-op games.
The game’s skill trees also give you plenty of room to increase your moveset. These moves are pretty cool, and have some serious utility. These include vaults to get you behind shielded enemies, as well as powerful grabs for characters like The Hulk.
Good Combat, Questionable Combat Encounters
The actual encounter design, however, can leave a player wanting. While the game’s combat is fun, they didn’t really do as much with the actual enemy encounters. The game suffers from a problem most looter-games have- enemies don’t really have much going for them other than numbers and health. Doing combos is fun, but not when every enemy needs to be hit 4-5 times to be taken out. Similarly, swarming the screen with flying drones isn’t really engaging as an encounter.
Failing to deal with these mobs can also be tedious, as the enemies can do big damage when left unchecked. Like many looters, enemies can have different types. These different types all punish you for not paying attention, with Cryo damage freezing you in place or Gamma acting as this game’s equivalent for poison.
This problem can also bleed into the game’s bossfights. Many of these are simple, yet can feel like they go on forever. Bosses can take quite a bit of punishment before going down, which gives you plenty of time to focus on things like the game’s underwhelming hit sounds. Despite being Earth’s Mightiest heroes, somehow every impact in the game just sounds off.
On the opposite end though, multiplayer can trivialize these bosses. Having your friends gang up on a boss will reduce these boss fights clear time drastically, especially once you start optimizing your gear.
Gear, Loot And Other Things
If you enjoyed the bosses though, good news: several of them show up in the post game, so you can re-experience these fights.
The game’s missions are also full of side content, such as puzzles to access loot chests. While they can be a fun detour at first they can often be tedious if you’re just trying to grind for loot. These puzzles aren’t involved enough to be difficult, but just enough to take up your attention.
Marvel’s Avengers is a game that absolutely wants you to keep playing it. Each of the characters can have different tech trees, allowing you to spec into different playstyles. The build variety is a nice touch here, since everyone has different ideas on how they want their favorite heroes to play.
This is further enhanced by the game’s Gear system. The system borrows from looter games like Borderlands, where certain manufacturers of the game’s gear will always lean into certain stats. This can alleviate the grind slightly, as you know what type of gear you’re after to enhance your build. While early on the lower tier gear is inoffensive, the game’s post-campaign experience will have you realizing that you want to be focusing on Epic and Legendary gear. These tend to offer better stats, as well as special perks for minmaxing to the playstyle you want.
It doesn’t stop at Legendary, though, as the game has a special tier of loot that only appears late into the endgame. This Exotic tier offers the best perks, many of which synergize well with each other.
Your New Live Service
The game’s live service aspects are pretty good, as the game insists you check in on it regularly with refreshing vendors. The game also has a battle pass, with plenty of daily and weekly quests for your heroes. Once you’re done with the game’s campaign, you and your friends will have plenty of reasons to keep playing the game to get more gear.
There’s also faction quests, allowing you to gain favor with two of the game’s factions, SHIELD and Anthill. Getting the top rewards from these factions can be a good source of entertainment, since it’s a little more directed than just mindless farming.
Thankfully, the game leans into its live service role so well that hopping into quests is quite easy. Matchmaking is a little more complex, however, since the game limits the number of Avengers in a session. That is to say, you can’t have four Iron Mans wreaking havoc on AIM.
As a looter, you could probably do a lot worse than Marvel’s Avengers. Compared to other looters it has a much more engaging combat system, and the high level of polish put into its story makes it a lot better than its contemporaries.
At the end of the day, you’re collecting loot to make your Avenger the way you want to. A lot of time can be sunk into this game trying out different builds, and the game’s made sure to provide interesting outlets to do this.
As an Avengers fan , many super fantasies are going to be fulfilled as you have a blast flying around as Iron Man and Thor, or smashing things with the Hulk. The fact that the combat is good absolutely redeems many of the game’s flaws, and the ability to do co-op with friends means many opportunities for fun afternoons.
The game’s also promised lots of future content, complete with new heroes. With that in mind, there’s a good chance this game will have much more content than it currently does.
|Combat is fun…||…But enemy encounters are boring|
|Lots of postgame content||Lack of Interesting Bosses|
Game reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review Copy provided by Bandai Namco Entertainment, who published the game in the SEA region.