By now you’ve probably seen our hands-on impressions for Square Enix’s upcoming Marvel’s Avengers. Take a good look, because they actually provide a little more nuance to the gameplay that made its premiere at Gamescom a little while back. The game feels really good as far as how each of the characters play, particularly Thor and Hulk. That’s just one part of the picture. After our gameplay demo, Crystal Dynamics walked us through other portions of the game, giving us an idea of what to expect when it makes its way to release in May 2020.
So let’s break down each of the components and get a good idea of what this game is all about. We’ll start with the very thing that brings all the Avengers together in the first place – the story.
As you might have seen from the gameplay footage, things aren’t going so well for the Avengers. Following the opening of a new San Francisco headquarters, a terrorist attack breaks out. The heroes manage to thwart it and stop the evil Taskmaster but at a price. A massive explosion tears apart San Francisco, and possibly kills Captain America in the process. As a result, the heroes are devastated, and eventually blamed for the devastation.
“Following the events of A-Day, the Avengers disbanded,” the developer explained. “In their absence, a new organization rose to power in their place – Advanced Intelligent Mechanics, also known as A.I.M.
“A.I.M. believes that science will save the world, not superheroes,” they continued. “(But) five years after A-Day, the world is a very different place than it was beforehand. Superheroes are now outlawed and have been replaced by A.I.M. and their advanced synthoid AI.
“A.I.M. wants to redefine all of mankind’s future through logic and reason and science. So they build a force to protect the rest of us from the superpowered individuals. And you can probably see where this is going to go.”
As a result, the remaining Avengers now have to re-assemble, as it were, and try to take back each part of the world from the forces of A.I.M., using their unique powers. That means Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Black Widow have to work together with whatever resources they have to save the day.
Getting Powered Up With the Avengers
When the group does come back together, they turn to a downed helicarrier in the middle of nowhere as their homebase. It’s here that players can get a look at the open world hub, which shows the available missions that are on hand for them to take on.
There are two types of missions that are available in Marvel’s Avengers. The first are Hero missions, which are meant for single players and move forward the storyline, giving them control of select heroes over the course of each one.
The second are WarZone missions. Here, players can work together in up to four-player co-op, working alongside one another to push the narrative forward and collectively take down enemies both large and small alike. These missions can also be taken on in single player, if you don’t have buddies that can join you in an online session at the time.
As you complete missions over the course of Marvel’s Avengers, more missions and areas become available. Soon, you’ll come face to face with tougher A.I.M. enemies, and eventually turn the tide back in the favor of the Avengers. Who knows, maybe Captain America could resurface. We did see his character in concept art, and he is quite playable in the beginning. So anything’s possible.
“The more you play both WarZone and Hero missions, the more stuff populates in the world,” Crystal Dynamics explained during its presentation. That means the more you do, the more the world opens up.
You also get to unlock some content, which we’ll cover in the next paragraph.
Did Someone Say New Content?
Everyone likes collectible gear, and Marvel’s Avengers will have no shortage of it. Over the course of the game, as you play in both Hero and WarZone missions, you’ll have the option to earn new outfit and gear for characters within the game. In addition, some outfits will also be available for purchase via Microtransactions.
Now, keep in mind that these are the only Microtransactions within the game. These are for special outfits that pay tribute to the Avengers with some of their best goods. These include Black Widow’s original costume, Hulk’s Mr. Fixit zoot suit, and Thor’s classic Lord of Asgard suit, among others. They’re completely optional and aren’t required to unlock anything in the game.
Otherwise, you’ll earn lots of suits as you battle your way through the missions, and be able to equip these outfits on your characters at any time. Though Crystal Dynamics didn’t really have too many to show off during the demo, expect quite a bit of variety for the long haul.
Speaking of long haul, Marvel’s Avengers certainly has a lot of, ahem, “endgame” content in mind. Crystal Dynamics has already promised that the game will be supported for years to come, with a number of new heroes and WarZone missions, as well as some pushes to the narrative. It didn’t break down who was coming to the game just yet, though we did see a hint of Ms. Marvel in the opening gameplay trailer, as well as Ant-Man. There’s also no word as to what kind of new villains could enter the picture alongside Taskmaster and a teased Abomination, but the door’s wide open for some of Marvel’s worst to walk on through and wreak havoc.
On top of that, the developer also promised that this content will be free. The rest will be included within the game’s price, and there will be a lot of it. Square Enix is building the game for the long-term alongside Marvel, and it sounds very promising, provided it can live up to what the opening gameplay demo provided.
Push Your Character To New Heights
The Avengers characters start out nicely powered up enough, with a number of abilities and special skills to activate once you build up the proper level of energy. However, like all great superhero games, it helps to make enough progress to unlock new abilities. Fortunately, Marvel’s Avengers will provide the option to do that.
As you make progress across both Hero and WarZone missions, you’ll be able to unlock new powers for each of your characters, depending on what you want to do with them. We didn’t see all the ones that are available throughout the game, but did get a taste of some of Iron Man’s. This includes a pair of lasers that can cut through enemies very quickly as well as some cool punching abilities. These skill trees will open up quite a bit, making your heroes even more powerful as you go along.
“As you play these heroes and you level them up, you’ll get skill points that you can invest in each hero’s individual skill tree. All heroes’ skill trees are unique, they all have sets of skills that they have to go through, and you can choose how you want to spend your skill points, and where you want to go deeper, so your hero can be customized the way you want to play.” Some even involve “classic” moves taken straight from the classic comic books, which the game was inspired by. There are original ones to boot as well.
There are also perks that tie together with certain costumes within the game. “Gear can modify directly how your hero plays,” Crystal Dynamics explained during their presentation. “The higher the rating the gear, the better the perks, sometimes even the more perks you get.” They then pointed out how one piece of gear had higher stats than another piece of gear, with an increased power level. They can vary depending on what you use. Synergies and boosts can play a part, particularly with Iron Man’s tool set. But they’re all great to mess around with, if only to see how your performance changes up with each character.
More Ground To Cover
Crystal Dynamics has hinted that there’s even more territory that will be covered with Marvel’s Avengers in the months ahead and not just with the heroes and storylines to come. It noted that even more systems could deepen the game even further, revolving around the characters. This will likely be with the WarZone missions, as we’ll likely get a look at just how well multiplayer will work somewhere to closer in the year.
This, combined with what we’ve managed to learn over the weekend at PAX West, really paints a different side to Marvel’s Avengers. There was a great deal of skepticism about the game during its initial introduction at E3. Crystal Dynamics, aided by the developers at Eidos Montreal, is assuring that they’re making a superhero game that lives up to the legacy of the superhero franchise, even if it is somewhat different from the Marvel Studios film property. It still has a ways to go before it finishes its trip to retail, but thus far, it’s definitely making a heroic journey.
Marvel’s Avengers releases on May 15, 2020 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
(Square Enix invited us to a suite to play the game and speak with Crystal Dynamics during our trip to PAX West. We thank them for accommodating us!)Related: Interview, Marvel's Avengers, PC, Playstation 4, Square Enix, Xbox One