When SquareEnix first announced the Avengers game and that it would be online, I’ve gone through quite the journey on my feelings towards it. As a long time Final Fantasy fan who got his start on Final Fantasy VII and felt the merger with Enix has negatively impacted the franchise, I didn’t have a lot of faith early on. Even with Crystal Dynamics, the developers behind the amazing Tomb Raider reboot, handling the development I wasn’t very optimistic.
When SquareEnix released the trailer at E3 showcasing the Golden Gate Bridge battle, I had made up my mind then. The demo looked like it was designed around large set pieces that weren’t open to exploration. The game-play consisted of quick-time events and not much else. When some buzz words like “Looter shooter” were thrown in I was out.
However, I’m here to tell you that I was wrong on all accounts. After being drawn back in by the War Table streams. After pre-purchasing the PlayStation version to get my hands on the beta, I am beyond excited for this game and you should be too.
What Makes a Good Superhero Game?
Let’s start with the basics, this is a video game after all so how does it play? Since Rocksteady first released Batman: Arkham Asylum, we’ve entered into a golden age of superhero video games. It’s not just about beating up bad guys and running through levels. Rocksteady showed us that a truly great super game encompasses and elevates the strengths of the star hero. Arkham was about beating up bad guys, sure, but Batman is also the world’s greatest detective. Similarly, Spider-Man on the PS4 nailed the most important part of being Spidey, the web-slinging and combat.
What makes both of these games amazing is that they only had to develop for one hero, one power set. It allows the developers to focus entirely on making the best possible experience for the hero in question. This is also the reason you haven’t seen many team-up games that do it right. Injustice is a great game that features the cast of DC’s Best Heroes and Villains. But it doesn’t really do justice to their powers and characters. So how well does Marvel’s Avengers do with making the heroes feel unique?
In the beta, you get to play as Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel, The Hulk, Iron Man, and Black Widow. The gameplay and mechanics aren’t anything new to the industry. They don’t break any new molds but instead find a way to make tried and true gameplay work for them. Each hero has a series of combos and special moves. Some characters are very similar, like Hulk smashing or Kamala walloping foes with her embiggened fists.
Where the game does shine is in the way it makes these mechanics feel unique from character to character. Iron Man can upgrade his ranged attacks to get micro-missiles that can lock onto targets all at once. That’s a move taken right out of the first Iron Man movie. Black Widow uses dual pistols, Hulk throws chunks of earth and Kamala has the world’s deadliest high five.
At its worst, you can mash buttons and probably succeed in a few attempts on the lowest difficulty. But as I found out during one of my streams, if you up the difficulty or are taking on harder missions you need to pay attention to what you’re pressing. Those who just want a casual experience can play without focusing too much. However, when you actually commit to understanding the combat and the combos you feel rewarded with much easier fights and an earned victory.
Take this next bit with a grain of salt as this was still a beta. The amount of content is very limited in scope to the final product. There is a lot of repetition to the gameplay. As you level your characters, you gain more powerful and complex abilities that open up the strategies available to you. But, in the end, you are still taking on missions to beat up bad guys, so you can get to more missions to beat up more bad guys.
I know some gamers who get tired of that grind very fast. It’s the nature of online games as a service, so is this game for you if you’re not a fan of the repetition? I have good news, I think it is.
A New Avengers Universe
When Spider-Man for the PS4 came out it was an instant hit and it had fans clamoring for a shared universe in the same way the MCU has done for films. But, with Sony only owning the rights for Spider-Man, this was probably a long shot. If Disney and Marvel were going to cash in on an entire shared universe for gaming, they’d want it to span all platforms and not just the PlayStation.
Enter Marvel’s Avengers, which is setting the groundwork to do just that. In the beta the thing that most captured my attention was how invested I was in the opening Golden Gate Bridge battle. Someone I had seen before and wasn’t impressed by. But suddenly, when I’m actually in control playing through the entire thing I notice I’m more drawn into the conflict. I know a lot of fans were upset about the new designs of the characters, a departure from what we know from the MCU. But it’s a necessary step in order to allow this new universe to build its own mythos.
Marvel’s Avengers is going to be an online game that Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics continue to develop for. It’s the best model in gaming right now for making money, to keep your players coming back. What’s great about Marvel’s Avengers being online is that once you drop the $60 for the base game, any additional content and story that is released in the future you will get for free. So, if you’re not someone who is into repetitive, grinding content, wait a few months for the story content to pile up and then jump in. Get the story to keep you playing and when it’s done, you take a break and come back later when there’s more.
A Promising Start
There’s so much more to look forward to with Marvel’s Avengers game, from being able to play online with friends to take down the biggest and baddest in the Marvel Universe, to upgrade the Helicarrier throughout your adventure. Even if you don’t think the game is worth it at the launch, as time goes on the content will grow and improve through fan feedback. So, whether you do so on September 4th at launch or later down the road, at some point any Marvel fan should look forward to Assembling for this game.
Want to hear more on Marvel’s Avengers? Check out the last episode of The Other Identity where Robbie and Ben talk about the game.
Feature Image Credit: Marvel’s Avengers Logo by Square Enix\Crystal Dynamics