Maybe I’m a bit biased. I am a big Marvel nerd after all, and I have wanted an Avengers game for the last decade and a half. At the same time, I’m a critic which makes me skeptical by nature. When Avengers was first unveiled, I wasn’t sold. The war tables made me hopeful, however, but that hope was dimmed any time I read anything Avengers related online.
The internet hate squad really latched on to the game from the outset. Skepticism is healthy, especially when your wallet is involved. But there is a fine line between skepticism and hate bandwagoning, and I feel Avengers has firmly landed in the latter. Seriously, a common complaint is the in-game characters look like stunt doubles of the actors.
They are modeled after the characters in the comic books, you know, the things that existed long before Robert Downey Jr wore the suit. The game isn’t based on the MCU, they are separate entities. Where was this outcry when Peter Parker didn’t look like Tom Holland in Insomniacs Spider-Man?
After playing the Avengers Beta I’m amazed how much criticism still exists. At times I’m wondering if folks played the same beta as I did. It’s pretty much everything I could have asked for in an Avengers game. It left me eagerly awaiting the full version.
The Avengers beta has a ton of content and starts you off with the famous opening bridge section on A-Day. It’s neat jumping from hero to hero and very cinematic, but the beta does a poor job of actually teaching you how to play. There is quite a bit of depth that isn’t apparent right away.
At the same time. The opening bridge sequence does a great job of giving you a taste of five of the heroes, sadly Thor and Captain America aren’t playable past this point in the beta. From there you play a couple of story missions as Hulk and Ms. Marvel, a much-needed tutorial as Iron Man, and then you are given an array of replayable missions.
From here the Avenger’s Beta allows you to play as Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, Black Widow, and the Hulk online with other players or offline with AI companions. The companions can be your version of those heroes too, with the gear and skills you gave them.
The AI was great, maybe a little bit too good actually. Simply standing near a fallen friend revives them and they had my back 100% of the time and held their own on higher difficulties better than I did! I can’t really complain about good partner AI though, and this is good news for single players. It’s going to be really neat to play with your own personalized team.
Crystal Dynamics nailed the feel of each hero. It really feels like you’re stepping into Iron Man’s boots or Hulking out as the big green guy himself. Each hero also felt distinct from each other. Iron Man can fly and had a variety of ranged attacks he could switch between. Black Widow felt like a nimble rogue type character, and the Hulk smashed.
The combat felt stellar. There is actual weight to the attacks, and you could send baddies flying with the stronger characters. If you are creative like the folks over at the Play Avengers Subreddit, you can pull off some wild combinations too.
It’s the little things that can truly matter in a combat system. Pieces of robotic armor would burst and fly off of mechanized enemies. I could send a rocket into a foe as Iron Man that would stick to them and send them soaring wildly. Ms. Marvel could slam the biggest foes against the walls with her giant hands. The player feedback is engaging and stylish. It really feels like playing out awesome fight scenes.
Every hero has three heroic skills that charge up while you fight, these are separate from your unlockable move-sets. Iron Man, for example, could use his chest blaster Uni Beam, overload his Arc reactor or, summon the Hulk Buster Armor, yes, I squealed.
Each character could dodge, but some also could counter certain attacks, and they had their own type of ranged attacks. Black Widow fires her pistols, while Hulk can rip up a chunk of the ground and throw it. The combat really felt like a glorious melding of God of War, the Arkham games, and yes, even Anthem (in the best way I swear).
The variety of missions mostly boiled down to a lot of fighting, but they had some twists. A few had boss fights, or an area control type objective to shake things up. The enemies were varied enough that it stayed pretty fresh, and most enemies in the game have alternate variations, which were cool. The reality of it is, I’m playing an Avengers game to kick butt as the Avengers, not plant a garden, or solve puzzles. I don’t expect much from missions beyond that.
As you play, you are rewarded with loot, and I found the system really interesting. Sure there are some generic stats, but some gear also had a variety of neat perks. For example, one type utilized Pym particles, and if you attacked an enemy with enough of it, they shrank!
Not everyone wants a Destiny style grind fest in the Avengers, and the great thing is, they don’t have to have one. The game has a bunch of per-mission difficulty settings. If you play on easy or normal, you can probably just auto-equip the loot and live out your superhero fantasy, beat the game and move on.
But the loot system is there for people like me to dig into, the ones that want to play Avengers for the long haul. Everybody wins, options are a good thing. The Hero Signal did a great video on gear and status effects. Stuff like that gets players like me really excited, but the way the game is built means you can ignore it if you don’t want to deal with it. It’s as simple as playing a lower difficulty, and there is no shame in that.
My mind’s already racing with builds. Cosmic Hulk for a life stealing brute? Maybe Graviton Iron Man, make foes float and blast them! I feel that this is an absolute win. Casual fans get to play as the Avengers and the hardcore crowd can really fine tune the system.
Future content, such as heroes are said to be free. They are going to be funded through microtransactions. I got to preview some of it in the beta and honestly? I can’t imagine a better vessel. It’s all cosmetic, and I’m someone that never buys cosmetics in games.
Yet, it’s a third-person superhero game. I’m totally down to pick up a couple of iconic outfits for my dream team in exchange for more heroes and content coming free. (Give me Doctor Strange please!). At the same time, there is a bunch of outfits that you can unlock just by playing, which is nice.
Overall the Avengers beta sold me on the game, big time. I’m definitely fanboying out a bit, but if it doesn’t please Marvel fans like me, who is it for? Each hero only had one skill tree in the beta. They have three in the full game, and I can’t wait to play as Thor and Captain America.
I’m not trying to invalidate anyone’s criticism, I just don’t see the game in the same light at all. I don’t really get the complaints. The combat is great, the heroes feel like they should, each individual hero has an equal or greater number of skills than Spider-Man got in his solo game.
The mission structure isn’t innovative but it gives you a fine platform to fight bad guys. I could see the loot system being divisive, but its implemented in a way that should please everyone. Ignore it, or play a harder difficulty and dive in. Your choice.
Here’s hoping the full game allows me to keep riding this high because right now, I’m totally ready for the Avengers to assemble.
You might be interested in checking out my review of Marvel Champions. It’s a super cool real-life card game!