Marvel’s Avengers consumed my entire weekend as I battled hordes (and I mean hordes) of A.I.M henchmen. I was left with an all-too-familiar feeling that I felt on the 22nd of February 2019. For those unaware, that was the release of Anthem, and while many showed resentment at the finished product, I was left disappointed. Not in the derogatory sense, but as a parent who just watched their child waste all that glorious potential. That's not exactly where I find myself with Marvel's Avengers, but I've walked this path before and I’m worried about what could potentially happen with this game.
Jumping right into the beta, we are greeted with the Golden Gate Bridge demo, which is something Crystal Dynamics have showcased in the past. The well-polished tutorial is an entertaining representation of what it’s like to be in the ever-chaotic life of an Avenger. It’s only after this action-packed sequence do you see the campaign coming to life. The interactions are genuinely fun and full of that Marvel humour that is present in the MCU. The little of the campaign we were given, was brimming with potential, with Crystal Dynamic’s flexing their narrative muscle gained from the recent Tomb Raider games.
Kamala Khan has been given the spotlight in Marvel’s Avengers, but I feel like the real shine comes from the charisma between voice actors. The dynamic between Bruce Banner and Kamala (voiced by Troy Baker and Sandra Saad, respectively) was excellent. Bruce’s soft and awkward demeanour contrasted by Kamala’s overzealous approach to anything regarding the Avengers instantly hooked me. In many regards, Crystal Dynamics managed to meld the cinematic universe and the comic universe rather well. One notable scene after all the action is when Bruce clumsily attempted to comfort Kamala, giving the characters a greater sense of depth. It's refreshing, considering we were just rampaging through hordes of enemies earlier.
The story paired well with the gameplay, but I do have my reservations. There's a slight learning curve as to how each character works, but if you have no idea what you're doing, it can be awfully clunky. Give it about 10 minutes, and you'll be pulling off fluid combos in no time. Crystal Dynamics chose a rather odd route for tackling gameplay. Every character follows a basic structure - light attacks (square), heavy attacks (triangle), special abilities (L1 and R1, respectively), and their ultimate attack (holding R1 and L1 together). Characters like the Hulk and Ms Marvel also received special buffs when holding the R2 button, which depleted a special bar at the top of the screen.
Despite each character feeling vastly different from the other, they all have a similar button layout. This made it easier to just pick your next hero and simply go about bashing A.I.M minions, but that's when the flaws started to shine through. On the first day of the beta, things went rather well. The story had some punch to it, and learning the mechanics of the game was rather fun. I had a great time, from unlocking comics, to seeing just how embedded the Marvel lore is.
While I got to play as the Hulk, Ms Marvel, Black Widow, and Iron Man, I found myself favouring Iron Man the most. Hulk was the definition of brute force, Ms Marvel served as a way to learn the game a bit better with her healing ability, Black Widow made herself and allies invisible, and Iron Man basically ran around stacked full of gadgets until he can call his Hulkbuster in. They all had a level of diversity and had some iconic moves that will leave Marvel fans with a smile on their face.
Sadly, there are some concerns for this game that I just can't gloss over with the same level of euphoria. While moment-to-moment gameplay is rather fun, the gameplay loop is tedious and can feel very repetitive after some time. Simply put, once the story is not in the picture, the fundamentals of gameplay is just beating up hordes of enemies, solving a few puzzles, holding a point while beating on A.I.M minions, and then waiting for the "Mission Complete" screen that appears at its own time. I went from enjoying the game to playing multiplayer and going, "Is that it?"
There is no denying that playing with friends makes the game infinitely better, but even after some time, there is a silence in Party Chat as everyone awkwardly waits for something exciting to happen. That isn't helped by the fact that loot seems to lack the necessary impact. Unlike games such as Warframe and Monster Hunter, where your loot can drastically change how the game plays. My maxed out Iron Man did Pim Partical damage, which made enemies smaller after they took a certain amount of damage from the specific attack. I would love to see more of this in the full game, but minor adjustments to how much damage I can do doesn't translate as well into gameplay. The full game may differ drastically, as Crystal Dynamics says there's a difference in the way you'll be able to progress through the game. But I feel like the issues at hand will take more than a few minor updates to fix. Perhaps there is a gameplan that will address the bland multiplayer experience, and the loot system that just isn't quite there yet. That all depends on whether Crystal Dynamics will be willing to support the game over time and give it the necessary attention it deserves.
It would be sad to see this game’s potential wasted in the long run. There’s definitely a lot of fun to be had, but I can also see players losing interest in the reskinned missions rather quickly. The game releases on September 3rd, which means Crystal Dynamics still has some time to finetune its game. However, the concerns go beyond just finetuning. It would be great to see the game double down on its strengths, rather than being a jack of all trades. There is a lot of material the team can pull from, and there is potential in how creative they can get with it. Sadly, that wasn’t present in every aspect of the beta.
The beta also included a few cosmetic options for players, that take direct inspiration from the comics. You will wait for the ful review before hearing comments on the rest of the game, as we will have to see just what Crystal Dynamics have in store for us.
Will defend anything Dragon Ball. Occasionally has two-way conversations with himself. Has sleepless nights about Half-Life 3 confirmed.
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