On Friday, we were finally allowed to get our hands on one of the most anticipated games of the year; Marvel Avengers. And after a weekend spent with the mightiest heroes, I had the same feelings for it as I did Age of Ultron– some good, some questionable, and mostly, was this really for the Avengers?
That last one is probably the easiest to answer because Square Enix or Marvel –not sure who is responsible– pulled off a pretty good bait and switch. Now, if you’re not a stickler for details, never read a Marvel comic, or your fandom is purely through the MCU, Netflix, and Agents of Shield, feel free to skip passed this, but this is for the comic fans or anyone who wants some additional tidbits. Now, while the title is Avengers, the focus of the campaign is really Kamala Khan. For the uninitiated, Kamala is a Pakistani American teenager who made her debut in 2013 in the Captain Marvel comic series. And while she does eventually become an Avenger, her stint is pretty short, and she ends up leaving and forming The Champions, Marvel’s answer to The Teen Titans. So calling the game The Avengers is like making a game about… well, pretty much anyone in the Marvel universe since most of them has been on the Avengers at one time or another and calling it The Avengers. But they are in there, and they play a pretty significant role, so we will go with it.
The game has three modes, if you can call it that: the campaign, the post-campaign, and the multiplayer. And while you might be tempted to jump straight to the multiplayer, we will advise against it, like the game did to us. You will be severely underpowered, underprepared, and right now underwhelmed.
The single-player campaign is taken from the comic books, so if you read Kamala’s first appearances, then you have a pretty loose idea on what the campaign is about, or if you are an Inhumans fan, not the awful TV show, but the comic. So, in short, and ironically like the first X- Men movie, after an accident Terrigen mist is released into the Earth’s atmosphere. It travels around like a huge cloud, and when you come into contact with the cloud if you have the Inhuman’s gene, you are changed into an inhuman. Just like most mutants, all get abilities, but some mutations are more severe than others. The Avengers get blamed and of course, everyone hates them so they lay low. A couple of years pass and people are coming to terms with the Inhuman problem and Kamala is coming to terms with her powers and goes to find the Avengers to help face the newest crisis. This is the story albeit with a few creative choices that we find ourselves taking part in. While it says The Avengers on the box, the story is Kamala with the Avengers playing sidekicks. Honestly, at times I felt like this was the game that was going to be made when they thought the Inhumans TV show was going to launch them into Avengers status, and then when it bombed they were like… well we aren’t going to let this go to waste. Or at the very least it should have been named Ms. Marvel, because that is what this is, the origin story of Ms. Marvel.
The gameplay of Avengers feels like a mix of the Batman, Spider-man and Destiny games. It has some great mechanics in terms of fighting and the moves are pretty easy to pick up even when switching from between characters. While for the majority you’re Kamala and using her powers there are others you can choose from depending on who has been introduced by then. Then there are other times in-game you are given a specific character to play as within their own side quest. And speaking of utilizing the various characters, this is where the game shines for fans of superhero games. Each hero has its own set of upgradeable moves that stay true to the character be it movie or comic form. So if you’re looking for that feeling of being super-powered you’re in luck. But for some gamers, that might get old fast as eventually you are just ending up fighting the same AIM minions over and over again. And like most superhero fare the minions aren’t powerful at all so they just become busy work until you get to a boss or finish a mission. This is especially true during the campaign where most of your characters feel a bit OP as you would expect from superheroes and post-game, a la Spiderman your tasks become more about hitting a quota than actual story-led endeavors. So depending on what you are expecting going into the game, it can get a bit tedious at times. But overall the campaign is fun.
It’s not fantastic. Not uncanny. Just the Avengers.
So what are you doing with these overpowered humans? Well in the campaign you fight a bunch of AIM minions, finish a mission, get to a boss, rinse and repeat. While you are beating up the villains, in comes probably the most monotonous mechanics of the game– the loot system. Unlike looter shooters where different things give you different abilities, etc., the Avengers system is pretty much how it forces you to level grind to take part in certain content. Like Destiny, where your light level manages how strong you are, and so you find yourself just slapping on anything to get near the required level to not get one shot by an enemy of a higher gear score. Similarly, with the Avengers you are given 4 slots and you are able to receive items and put them in various slots to level up the various characters. But since most already have a set of iconic tools and weapons, variation is at a minimum. So you’ll find yourself just slapping on anything just to raise your level.
As for the multiplayer or the live service as it is always on, it’s a bit underwhelming at the moment. The battles are a bit redundant: fight some enemies, find an object or blow something up, but this time you can bring friends along. Aside from that, not much else changes, including the mission locales as much of the new missions, take place in the same spot you have gone through at another time in-game. There seems to be a bit of the Destiny, we have more in the pipeline feel, and if it does I will be excited to see what’s in store because Spiderman’s DLCs added some great missions and gave the game legs that kept you interested past the end game. The times when there is a whole team and you’re fighting together does have it’s good moments, but I feel that unless they add some content to it once the initial fervor of The Avengers wears off it won’t be as engaging.
Ultimately Avengers is a pretty cool game for what it is. It’s a superhero looter brawler that is cashing in on the superhero hype of The Avengers movies. The gameplay is cool. The loot system has its uses albeit a bit forced. The cosmetics are pretty lackluster at the moment, but will probably get better. It is a bit buggy at times, but you expect that with an always-on game and honestly that’s pretty much par for the course with AAA games now. They rush them out the door and then fix any big glitches in the first patch, hopefully. And the game gives you just enough to want to see what they have in the pipeline. It’s not fantastic. Not uncanny. Just the Avengers.
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