Since its reveal back at E3 in June, I keep flip flopping on whether or not I am excited to play Marvel’s Avengers. The initial reveal looked really cool, but the realistic faces not matching those of the movie actors was a little jarring. I wasn’t super jazzed about the game being a live service, with content added over time post launch, but I did like the idea of a big budget game with Ms Marvel as its protagonist. There were a lot of aspects on paper that sound like my jam, and plenty that were putting me off. After getting to play roughly 30 minutes of the game, that all sort of faded away. Marvel’s Avengers is real fun to play.
The demo I got to play took place near the start of the game, in a section which has been heavily shown off in trailers. The San Francisco Bridge is under attack on a day which was meant to celebrate the achievements of The Avengers, and I was able to play through a large continuous action sequence involving playing as Thor, Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America, and Black Widow.
At its core, Avengers is a pretty simple character action game. each character has face buttons dedicated to light and heavy attacks which can be combo’d together, a dodge, at least one projectile move, and a handful of special abilities which can be activated if you have enough meter. Each character followed this same basic control template, but with variations helping them feel unique.
Thor wields Mjolnir, using mainly light and heavy melee attacks in short range, slow but with solid enemy stunning ability. Holding down the heavy attack button does a charged attack unleashing a wave of lightning, and you can throw Mjolnir at enemies like a projectile, then pull it back to hit enemies on its return similar to Kratos in the PS4 God of War. While Thor can fly in the game’s universe, he is not able to fly in combat, instead engaging in large jumps into aerial combat.
By comparison, Iron Man has a lot more aerial control in battle, with two buttons on the controller dedicated to allowing him to fly higher or descent back to the ground. Iron man has a single light melee attack, with the heavy button used for quick fire projectiles, and another dedicated projectile button for more precise aiming. He can also fire a huge laser out of his chest, which feels pretty cool.
In a sequence transitioning to playing as Iron Man, the game briefly became an areal combat game, flying across the bridge aiming your reticule to fire at flying enemies. It felt reasonably responsive, and seems to hint at additional gameplay mechanics outside of standard combat.
Next up was playing as The Hulk, who probably best caught the sense of size, scale, and power he should probably have in a game like this. Hulk smash, either by punching enemies, or grabbing them to whack people with or slam into the ground. The Hulk is able to notably impact the environment in a really satisfying way, knocking cars flying as you collide with them and not being stunned if someone fires at him. He can additionally leap with a really weighty momentum, doing an area of effect smash as he lands onto the ground. He had limited options beyond melee, but it felt really fun to smash stuff without anything being able to lay a scratch on you.
Playing as Captain America, things took a more fast paces melee and multitargeting approach. Cap excels at very quickly punching, swapping between multiple enemies with ease, and able to defend well with the shield if you’re not a fan of dodging. Cap can throw his shield and have it bounce around the room hitting multiple enemies, which clears space if you’re feeling under enemy pressure.
Lastly I got to play a small section as Black Widow, which was perhaps my favourite part of the demo. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Hulk all get their moments in the spotlight in the MCU movies, and get top billing when it comes to game appearances, but getting to see this badass assassin lady take playable centre stage was really enjoyable.
Playing as Black Widow, players have a lot more mobility options. Alongside fast melee hits, great dodges, and a gun, you’ve got the option to grapple enemies, dealing close range damage in well animated takedowns. It feels distinctly different from the other melee based characters on show, which is itself impressive.
In terms of the flow of the mission I played, it felt most directly comparable to boss fight scenes in games like Spider-Man PS4. The transition from melee combat with goons, into an in engine cutscene filled with quick time events, followed by a mid air combat sequence, followed by more combat scenes and at least one chase through an explosion filled environment after an escaping villain really reminded me in a positive way of scenes like Spider-Man’s helicopter chase. The game keeps up a consistent pace, using cutscenes to push forwar the distaster at a rate that necessitates not hanging around. It really does feel like there are lives on the line, and the momentum that provides is really satisfying.
Unfomrtunately, the demo didn’t let me play as Ms Marvel, so clearly it was a waste of time.
Joking aside, I still have some reservations about the game’s post release content schedule, but getting my hands on with the game I am convinced that it feels fun to play, the heroes feel distinct, and I really don’t mind about the off brand actor faces as much as I thought I did. I didn’t have to play long before they became the new normal, which was reassuring.
I know I have been on the fence a little about this game, but finally playing it certainly put some of those concerns to rest.