It is hard to believe, but there was a time when superheroes weren’t all that popular, with the genre mostly reserved for kids and those that enjoyed the comic books or animated TV shows. There were exceptions to the rule, but the movies were mostly crap and video games weren’t any better. That all changed in the late 2000s when Batman Arkham Asylum was released and the MCU was launched with Iron-Man. What followed was nearly two dozen movies culminating in one of the biggest cinematic events in history, and a fair amount of decent to great superhero-themed video games.
So when Marvel’s Avengers was announced at E3 last year, there was a fair amount of anticipation and excitement about it. I will admit though, that I wasn’t really one of those that was very excited for it, and it wasn’t that I don’t love superheroes, but rather that I felt a bit fatigued by it after the dominated my entertainment for the last decade. So I went into the game with some reservations, especially considering the live service element of it, but came out the other end rather pleasantly surprised.
Assembling the Avengers
One of the biggest surprises was that Marvel’s Avengers has a pretty good, and well thought out campaign. The story is well written with good characters and will take a while to complete. The main star of the story is Kamala Khan who becomes the shape-shifting Ms. Marvel and set out the re-assemble the Avengers after the events of A-Day, which led to the banning of superheroes and the team disbanding. The story certainly has been done before, but it has heart and Kamala has a lot of charm and likability that makes you want to root for her.
The story also has a great way of introducing you to the different heroes, as well as the myriad of game mechanics and systems. Combat is mostly melee-based and can feel a bit button mashy, especially with a lot of enemies on the screen, but it is fun and varied enough. The concept and principle are the same for all of the heroes, which revolves around light and heavy attacks, some form of ranged attack and power-ups and ultimates that work on a cooldown timer. All of the heroes feel different enough to make it exciting and fresh, and you will quickly decide which ones you prefer.
Each of the heroes has different skill trees to unlock giving them some form of customisation, as well as build options depending on the situation you might face or your play style and preference. On top of that, you have a loot-based system similar to Destiny, where the gear you equip has perks and can be upgraded to increase their power. The gear has no cosmetic effect on the hero as that is all down to the skins you can unlock, but of the gear will definitely have an impact on the game as you go into the end game content, which we’ll get to in a minute.
Overall, I was very impressed with the campaign’s presentation and what they put on the table.
We’re in the End Game now
Once you complete the campaign you are far from done with this game though, as there’s still a lot to be done here. For a start, each of the heroes has their own specific side missions, which adds to the story and lore of the game, and extends into the end game content. Some of it you need to collect some stuff or defeat a certain number of enemies in order to progress. On top of that, you have different factions that you can do Assignments for and earn more rewards such as gear or crafting material or in-game currency.
You then also have your typical Live Service game mode, such as a horde mode, and some enemy kill rooms with different objectives such as keeping targets alive or retaining certain points on the map. It becomes a bit repetitive very quickly, and more varied content is sorely needed here. But there’s a different end game content that is both engaging and entertaining. The game also has a fair amount of collectables to get such as comic book sets or intel which adds to the lore.
All of this is of course best enjoyed with friends, though online matchmaking works decent enough, and if you want to go at it alone, you do have AI companions that aren’t great, but they can help you out quite a bit in a fight. They can’t help you solve some of the puzzles though, as some of the activities require a bit of thinking and coordination. I did one mission for instance that required you to solve a pass code of a vault by running to certain platforms while enemy waves attack. It felt a bit tedious doing it alone, but can be a real treat doing it with others. There’s a lot of potential for these sort of things and that is what makes the end game of Avengers so interesting.
A fair amount of polish needed
As has become the norm for almost all the games out there, cosmetics is a huge thing in Marvel’s Avengers. And this makes sense as all of the super heroes have all sorts of different iconic looks and costumes. Unfortunately, a lot of the really cool cosmetics are locked behind a either a ton of grinding or your credit card pin. This is a bit of an issue for me, as some of it feels deliberately weighted towards you rather spending money than grind for the cool looking things. I also feel some cool element of perks associated with the different costumes is lost because of this and because you can essentially buy the costumes, it remains purely cosmetic.
Besides the microtransactions, Avengers is far from perfect. The UI needs some work, and many of the cool missions feel hidden behind an overly complex and obtuse mission select system. It doesn’t flow or keep track of what you’re doing, so losing track of what is going on, and what mission chain you want to focus on can be very easy to do. I feel that this can cause people to lose sight of the really cool content in the game, and end up just grinding the same boring horde missions over and over again, which is great for leveling up, but not so much in terms of content and variety, which I believe the game has enough of.
The game has a lot of bugs and glitches, including stuck loading screens, some strange camera issues as well as objectives not loading and you needing to reload a checkpoint in order to progress the mission. The game is very rough around the edges and the developers have their work cut out to improve on these things.
Some more assembly required
Like the lovable Kamala Khan that the story of the campaign is based on, Marvel’s Avengers isn’t perfect, and needs to improve in order to reach its full potential. The main campaign is surprisingly good and fleshed out, especially considering how little of it was mentioned during the marketing leading up to the game, and the end game content shows a lot of potential.
Unfortunately, Avengers is full of bugs and glitches and need a lot more polish to really reach that point, and I’m not a fan of the way the game encourages you towards microtransactions by gating some of the cooler cosmetics behind what seems to be a ton of grinding. Hopefully, some better balance can be achieved in this regard going forward.
Overall, I am very impressed with Marvel’s Avengers and can see myself playing it for the foreseeable future. Yes, it is by no means perfect and a lot more work needs to done to improve on it, but it has a lot of potential. I look forward to seeing what it achieves with the Avenger name.