In the weeks leading up to E3 2019, everyone has been pretty excited to see what all the hype around Marvel’s Avengers game was about. The reception has been extremely mixed since the announcement trailer. Despite this, I’m cautiously optimistic. While the game wasn’t playable at E3, we had an opportunity to sit down and check out some of the gameplay from what we’re assuming is the first area of the single player campaign. It actually looks like a lot of fun, so why am I still so nervous about this release?
The initial announcement trailer during the Square Enix showcase was pretty mediocre. After waiting two years, I was hoping to see a chunk of gameplay. Instead, we were given a few sections of CGI story bits that was underwhelming for the reveal.
Afterwards, developers came out to talk about the release and what’s coming for it, so let’s get that out of the way first. Marvel’s Avengers is being touted as a service, something gamers fear to hear. For Avengers though, this means freshly added content, and all characters and post-launch regions will be free to all.
There is a partnership here with PlayStation, and PlayStation 4 owners will receive access to the beta first, as well as exclusive content. Unfortunately, no beta dates or details on the exclusive content were given, so it’s all speculation at this point.
Marvel’s Avengers’ story kicks off at A-Day, with the core Avengers crew showing of a new headquarters in San Francisco. An attack on the Golden Gate bridge kicks Captain America, Black Widow, Iron Man, Thor, and Hulk into action, which is where our gameplay session kicked in. The hands-off demo began with Thor, who uses his hammer Mjolnir to take down enemies through weighty combos.
It looked like a lot of fun, even if it seems like a traditional third person action game. Thor had a handful of special attacks on display, and could throw Mjolnir at enemies, and use its weight to push them away from the fray. While MCU fans had to wait until Thor: Ragnarok to really get a look at Thor’s lightning abilities, it seems like they’ll be on full display from the outset here. This isn’t a game about building up their lineage, and instead expects players to know about these characters going into the experience.
The next segment of gameplay showcased Iron Man in an aerial battle using his blasters and missiles against enemies. A lot of this Iron Man gameplay was on rails, so we didn’t get a good chance to look at what Iron Man could really do. Hulk on the other hand, looked awesome to play as.
As Bruce Banner jumps out of his transport and leaps to the ground transforming into the green giant, his moves and attacks seemed similarly weighty like Thor’s Mjolnir attacks. Hulk’s gameplay had some platforming sections too, which seem perfectly built for the character’s improvisational verticality.
Captain America also looked like a ton of fun to play as. He battles a series of enemies in a confined space using his shield and melee attacks in typical Cap fashion. His character probably looks the most faithful to his source character, and I’m excited to see what kind of shield combos he’ll be able to pull off in Marvel’s Avengers.
It’s important to note that the banter and communication between the characters is great. This is probably in part to the great voice cast that has Nolan North playing Tony Stark, Troy Baker playing Bruce Banner, Travis Willingham playing Thor, Jeff Schine playing Steve Rogers, and Laura Bailey playing Natasha Romanoff.
The last gameplay segment we saw showed Black Widow fighting against Taskmaster. Her acrobatic and melee skills play an important role during this battle. Her mixture of guns and melee combat didn’t necessarily feel like the right fit for this fight, but she seems like she’ll have a more pivotal role in Marvel’s Avengers than any of the MCU movies.
The title looks polished from what was shown, but there were some occasionally serious framerate issues during our demo. It was infrequent, but when the action really got going, the frames dropped significantly. I’m sure these issues will get solve pre-launch, but it’s important to note now.
The biggest criticisms I have right now are that the character design isn’t fantastic, and there isn’t a lot here that we haven’t seen in other games. What sets this apart from other third person action games? Is it just that there’s so much love for these characters in their cinematic counterparts? Or is it that Marvel’s Avengers isn’t doing enough to set itself apart?
To be honest, I’m excited to play. Again, weird design choices aside (also, why the Hank Pym Ant-Man instead of Scott? Makes no sense), the voice cast is stellar, but I didn’t feel like they fit the character designs. I’m a bit worried that each character section will be fun, but not feel great as a cohesive whole. How will jumping from character to character in the single player campaign flow.
The campaign is a purely single player experience, while other portions of the game will be playable in online co-op. Obviously, the co-op modes will play a bit differently as players will commit to one character.
Make no mistake, I have worries about Marvel’s Avengers, but I’m optimistic. I have a lot of love for these characters as both a comic and movie fan, but Crystal Dynamics excels at third-person action games. However, the announcements made at E3 leave gamers with more questions than answers, hopefully we have more reveals over the next year leading up to the May 15, 2020, launch of Marvel’s Avengers.