I didn't play any of the betas for Marvel's Avengers, but I followed all of the controversies surrounding its development. Insults were flung at the game that ranged from MCU fans claiming the character designs were knock offs or others upset that the Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics decided to go the Games as a Service route. Like many gamers viewing the situation from the outside, I didn't exactly have high hopes for Marvel's Avengers. I honestly expected it to crash and burn upon release. After finally getting my hands on a copy of the game though I was pleasantly surprised with the final product, even though there are many issues that need to be rectified soon.
Marvel's Avengers is essentially two different games in one package that use the same mechanics. The first game is the single-player campaign that tasks players with taking control of Ms. Marvel as she attempts to reunite the Avengers. The other game is the multiplayer component that works much in the same way as other live service games like Destiny 2. Players can drop into the game as their favorite Avenger and participate in a series of different missions with friends as they rack up loot and skill points. Lets talk about the single-player mode first though.
Kamala Khan Steals the Show
The best thing for players to do is to hop right into the single-player missions as quickly as possible, as it alone is more than worth the price of admission. It tells the story of a young Inhuman, Kamala Khan (AKA Ms. Marvel), as she fights against the injustices people like her face. This leads her to track down the now separated Avengers and try to bring them back together to help save Inhumans from the very evil AIM. This storyline itself is pretty simple and wouldn't be out of place as a movie in the MCU or as a comic book, but it is still a lot of fun and full of surprises.
The best aspect of this single-player storyline is that Kamala Khan is one of the most wonderful superheroes featured in any piece of media. She is constantly excited and curious about the world around her. She operates as something of a stand-in for the audience of the game, as she is just as ecstatic about gaining superpowers and being an Avenger as any Marvel fan would be. On top of this, no special attention is drawn to the fact that she is a female Muslim superhero. Her diverse background is treated respectfully and it is portrayed as a very normal aspect of the world. It is a breath of fresh air to see such a character be the main focus of a triple-A video game.
Stark Versus Banner
Another great aspect of this is the fact that there are a lot of surprises in store for Marvel characters that fans already know well. Characters like Tony Stark and Bruce Banner are very similar in nature to their MCU counterparts but have been radically changed by the events of the game. Bruce's experiences have made him much more somber and a little scatter-brained due to being stuck as The Hulk for a long time. Stark on the other hand is much angrier than RDJ's version of the character and Tony's sarcastic remarks seem to hold a little more bite than usual. We also get to see the conflict that has brewed and festered between both Banner and Stark over the last five years, which adds an incredible layer to an already great story.
This single-player story only took me about twelve hours to complete, and I was engrossed for the entire run time. The story may not be as dark as the ones in the Arkham games or as impactful as Spider-Man for the PS4, but it is still a very realistic take on the most famous superheroes in the world. Throughout the campaign as well, you are given the chance to play as each of the characters and get a feel for them before hopping into the multiplayer portion of Marvel's Avengers.
Combat and Loot Collecting is Fun
In both modes of gameplay, the combat is incredibly tight, and players will be able to mix things up depending on what character they are playing as and which skills they have unlocked. Hulk can deal huge amounts of damage and clear out large groups of enemies, whereas Iron Man is great for moving quickly around the map and picking off enemies from afar as a support character. These aren't hard and fast rules though, because players can unlock specific skills to make each character better at combat. You have the choice of only focusing on Cap's shield skills which makes him a very effective ranged combatant, rather than an up-close brawler.
Once players start playing the multiplayer section though there is a much bigger emphasis on collecting loot and boosting each character's power level. This actually is a great way to extend the game further because collecting loot is fun, and pretty easy to do. The larger issue though is that there currently isn't much strategy to assigning loot to a character, despite the gear having special stats. Instead, players will wind up just collecting whatever pieces of gear have the highest level available and then scrapping the rest. This may change as multiplayer evolves in the coming months, but as of now, most gear is useless.
Repetition and Performance Issues Drag Things Down
The multiplayer portion of Marvel's Avengers has the potential to be a lot of fun, but at the moment it is fairly repetitive. Most of the missions are pretty much the same and you don't get the chance to face off against enemies that are any different from the ones faced in the campaign. Even when a mission seems different at first, most of the time players will wind up doing the same actions like killing waves of enemies or securing a specific location from enemies. This repetitive nature is nothing new for a live service game, but it is made all the worse by a lack of interesting gear and no new locations to explore.
There were also several bugs and performance issues that I encountered during my time with Marvel's Avengers. The frame rate on my PlayStation 4 bounced all over the place. Most of the time it looked great and crystal clear, but during several cutscenes, I could barely see what was happening due to the low frame rate. There were also many times that enemies would disappear or refuse to spawn which made completing missions fairly difficult.
Multiplayer Feels Tacked on To a Great Campaign
The largest issue of all that I encountered while playing though was the very spotty matchmaking system. Whenever I attempted to play multiplayer sessions, I was only able to join up with another player once or twice. I never managed to build a full team of Avengers even when I used the quick play option. This meant that the majority of my online play was spent with AI companions, which is obviously not the way this game is meant to be played. Those who have friends to play with will have a blast, but matchmaking with strangers is a pretty serious issue so far.
At the end of the day though Marvel's Avengers is loads better than it was given credit for during the beta. It definitely has its issues and it may not be what everyone wants, but it is still a decent game. The storyline is heartwarming and exciting, and will more than satisfy fans of Marvel Comics and the MCU. Combat as well is terrific, so if the issues surround matchmaking and repetition are fixed Marvel's Avengers can be well on its way to greatness.
TechRaptor reviewed Marvel's Avengers on PlayStation 4 using a code provided by the developer. The game is also available on PC and Xbox One, and is coming to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.
- Stellar Storyline
- Kamala Khan's Character Arc
- Fun Combat Encounters
- New Takes on Familiar Characters
- Frame Rate Drops
- Repetitive Levels
- Poor Matchmaking System