Marvel’s Avengers: Beta Impressions

Marvel’s Avengers went from being one of the most anticipated games of the generation to something fans were sure was going to be a failure after a single E3 reveal.  The jokes of “Dollar Store Avengers” have been repeated so many times it’s already gotten stale.  But how is the game, actually?  We’ve had the chance to actually play it now with two weekends of beta access.

The game starts the player off with a tutorial stage that will look familiar to everyone; it’s the opening part of the game, introduced as the “A-Day” trailer, where a collection of masked goons attack the Avengers on the day they’re unveiling their new headquarters. You play through the entire stage in five sections, with every section allowing control over a different one of the main characters: Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, and Black Widow. This section is unfortunately easily the worst part of the demo. It’s throwing too many different play styles at the player at once, and without the leveled up abilities provided to the player later they can easily feel generic.   There’s not much challenge to it, and even the “boss” that the stage builds to at the end where Black Widow fights Taskmaster is repetitive, with Taskmaster not feeling nearly challenging enough. He barely moves during combat, only bothering to block or occasionally engage in a set piece moment.

But for players that can push past this boring opening segment, there’s a lot to love. We’re given a brief glimpse of the story mode, where Hulk and Kamala are trying to put the Avengers back together after A-Day tore them apart. This gives us a boss battle with Hulk vs. Abomination, and allows us to control both Hulk and Ms. Marvel in larger, more varied stages. Hulk is difficult to master; he’s the most squishy tank this game could’ve had, as he needs to constantly inflict damage to recover his own health, and without that he’s no more durable than anyone else in the game. Comparatively, Kamala is much more fun to control, more nimble, and her play style generally feels more varied.

After two missions with the Hulk and Ms. Marvel, we’re finally given access to the other characters in the demo: Black Widow and Iron Man. Iron Man is given to the player in the HARM Rooms, a place where Avengers can practice to improve their skills. The HARM Room gives the player their first real tutorial, where all of a character’s moves are taught in succession. And here’s where the biggest issue comes in: Marvel’s Avengers is full of potentially deep, layered combat, but it all feels optional. The button-mashing complaints are accurate because if the player wants they can simply mash Heavy Attack the entire way through most of the demo. They can master each character’s unique combos and learn the differences between Iron Man or Ms. Marvel, but only if they care to look.

As for the rest of the demo, there’s a ton of content packed within. There’s “Drop Zones”, which feature short, ten minute bursts of gameplay, regular Warzones which can feature longer, more challenging content and even have a bit of story included as well, and an actual HARM Room that’s basically defeating multiple waves of enemies. Just how impressive this content is depends on just how interested the player is in looking deeper, same as the combat.

Ultimately, likely won’t change many players mind about the game as a whole. Those who were looking to dump on it will find plenty of reason to do so: terrible framerates when more than two heroes are on screen with a field full of enemies, the game crashing, the fact that loot doesn’t alter the appearance of characters, and a combat system that can seem far too simplistic, combined with a mediocre tutorial stage some people won’t even get past to see what else lies beneath.

Likewise, anyone looking to like the game will find their own reasons: a ton of love is put into each character. There’s no shortage of references to Marvel lore, and the combat is very clearly designed to feel as Avenger-y as possible, right down to having team attacks players can manage if they’re working together. In the end, how well this game is received is going to come down to three things: how much content is in the base game to keep the player base going, how good the story is, and how good the roadmap is for the first year. If there’s a lengthy, detailed single-player game featuring the Avengers, and the roadmap is full of content that’s free for players, then this will likely be one of the most popular games of the year.  If the single-player story is lacking or a chore, and the only good post-launch content is Hawkeye and Spider-Man, then this game will be another reason for players to avoid GaaS titles. The potential is there, but whether the game is capable of realizing it is still unknown.

Marvel’s Avengers went from being one of the most anticipated games of the generation to something fans were sure wasCOMICONRead More

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