After sinking more hours into Marvel’s Avengers and diving more into the game’s multiplayer, I found myself only knee deep. The game is beautifully crafted to mirror the comic and movie counterparts of the Avengers, but it struggles as a video game in terms of gameplay.
Worthy of a Comic One-Shot
To recap, the biggest pro from my last review was the campaign’s story. It doesn’t contain the most amazing plot twists in the world; if anything its your run-of-the-mill superhero story where the protagonists fail, deal with the consequences, and eventually bounce back. But where it excels is how it chose to show these events unfold and the heroes involved.
Interactions between the cast of heroes were the most entertaining aspect. The writers definitely have outdone themselves to make these heroes feel like they were ripped from the comics and movies. It also helped cast who voiced the Avengers were top tier names in the industry such as Troy Baker, Laura Bailey, and Nolan North. I must also commend Travis Willingham who voices Thor. He was definitely on point with his portrayal and had me chuckling at some moments.
Another aspect that I’d like to highlight is the perspective they chose players to experience, through the eyes of a fangirl. It was endearing to play as Kamala Khan, who is a huge fan of the Avengers and idolizes them. Its something that we can all relate to. Chances are that if you are playing any superhero game, you were a fan like Kamala at some point in your life.
Addressing the Giant Man in the room
Before I get into the replay value of the game, I have to touch on the gameplay and combat. To be frank, I only had fun playing half of the Avengers cast, specifically Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. To be even more specific, I HAD to play those characters in order to have fun.
On a general note, combat is the typical combination of light and strong attacks. Holding the button a bit gives you a little variety but not enough to really change things up. You have special abilities in your arsenal as well, which can be useful when enemies get overwhelming and are fun to execute. However, there are some specific abilities that do seem a bit boring and could have been thought of more.
As for the camera, it can get very frustrating and in itself feels like another enemy to deal with. This adds to the poorly designed A.I. unit. You’ll find yourself clobbering the same enemies throughout the game which gets severely redundant. To be fair, other great action games do have redundant enemies as well, but at least they are designed better. This brings me to my next point.
When I play games like Bayonetta, Devil May Cry, or God of War, and I enter a combat phase, I feel like the enemies I encounter are handpicked to complement the map I’m duking it out in. There are elevated areas with just enough long range units for me to think about while I fight the grunts. In Avengers, I would encounter several combat phases where I felt like the hand of god that chooses the A.I. reached into a bag and just dropped on me whatever he pulled out, assuming I’d have fun just whacking at anything in my path.
Now, in a multiplayer aspect, I can see this as fun because you can work together to conquer insurmountable odds. But this falls flat on its face when there are just too many enemies to deal with thus getting pulverized. Sure, there are prompts when there is an incoming attack and you have the chance to dodge or parry, but the cues are not friendly to the user and are very difficult to spot with all the effects covering your screen. Imagine dealing with all that AND the camera that I mentioned earlier.
I’ll admit there were a few combat moments that were indeed fun and did have proper placement of A.I units. Stringing a bunch of combos together alongside my character companions made it a joy to play. When the combat works, you can fully appreciate its flow and fluidity; WHEN it works.
Heroes are made…not equally though
Although, like I said, I did have some fun with a few of the characters. Captain America and his acrobatic fighting style was fulfilling to play. It was the most fluid when it came to melee encounters, and throwing his shield to deal with ranged opponents was satisfying as well. Thor’s hammer felt great to connect with the enemies and it had weight to every blow, which was what I was afraid it would lack when I saw the previews. Calling down some lightning to assist you for every strike felt powerful. Iron Man is probably going to be everyone’s favourite character to play primarily because of his variety in attacks. You have the option to choose between three different types of attacks: Repulsors, Lasers, and Rockets. Each variation is unique and is fun to play, and being able to switch between all mid-combat makes you even more versatile.
Sadly, if only everyone else’s skill tree and move sets were as thought out as Tony’s, then maybe Kamala, Hulk, and Black Widow would just be as fun to play. The Hulk was my least favorite; sure it does seem like you can steamroller your way through waves of enemies, but after a while it does get redundant and you’re actually just button mashing to get through. It doesn’t help either that getting hit by a small grunt can flinch you and stop the flow of combat. As The Hulk, it doesn’t feel right. Kamala meanwhile, seems like a slightly more agile version of The Hulk who can also plow her way through opponents, but the same button mashing redundancy will occur. As for Black Widow, it seems like they tried to give her long range abilities more variety by changing the firing rates of her pistols, but it pales in comparison to Iron Man’s arsenal. Her guns don’t combo with her melee attacks, so it forces you to either stick to close range or long range combat. At this point, I’m hoping they at least polish and do justice to the upcoming hero releases like Spider-Man. If not, there’s always Spider-Man 2018.
Every character is given a deep skill tree to unlock new abilities and attacks. As you level up and unlock more skills, your experience with each character does improve and significantly becomes more enjoyable. Apart from learning additional attacks, you will also be able to use your skill points to gain passive buffs or stat boosts. However, this does seem like a padded on feature. Even though my stats were better, I didn’t actually feel a difference during gameplay.
Everything is better with friends
Once you finished the campaign, you are given the option to start your Multiplayer experience or The Avenger’s Initiative as labelled in-game. This is also a good way to revisit some missions you have missed during solo-play. Now, this is where most of your play time will go, running through missions and collecting more loot to upgrade your characters. Revisiting hub maps to explore for collectibles and traverse some sandbox levels.
Getting into the multiplayer aspect, I did encounter some issues with matchmaking. It took me several minutes to queue up a full four player party. At times I was only able to find one other player to head into a mission with; the remaining two slots were A.I. controlled. Playing with others does enhance your gameplay and combat though. As Iron Man or Thor, I’d take the responsibility of taking out airborne units and turrets, while the other Avengers like Cap and Hulk handle the grounded units. This is where multiplayer shines, to take a role in your party and work together to clear out the waves of enemies thrown at you. Playing with friends over discord would be the best way to enjoy. However, playing with random players might not give the same feeling since there is no way to communicate with your team aside from voice chat. A ping system, like in most recent multiplayer games, would have been nice.
I also encountered much better A.I. combat phases in multiplayer. For some reason, it did seem like the placement of opponents was more balanced. Perhaps this is because level of my companions were closer to me, as opposed to my solo experience where my companion was under leveled.
The loot system for me was extremely satisfying. Its quite a guilty pleasure of mine to consistently find better gear with random perks that enhance your characters attacks. You’ll also have access to the Faction Vendors that give you some of the highest ranked gear. However, I wish that for all the cool loot I acquired it would reflect on my Avenger’s outfit. Instead, the only way to change your look is through cosmetic or costume unlocks. Which may not bode well for most players who are used to changing their looks based on gear.
Final Verdict – 7/10
Even though players can essentially sink tons of hours into the multiplayer, its hard to say for how long. With a number of missions and challenges to experience, and a bunch gear to collect and upgrade, it does fall short on being the next big superhero video game release. Purely because the most important aspect is not the best it could be, the gameplay. Redundant, imbalanced character move sets, and camera issues cannot be overlooked. But for what its worth, this game can give you one heck of a campaign and more Avengers material to consume. Marvel’s Avengers is a game you will either enjoy it on its own, or compare it to everything else it tries to be.
*This game was reviewed using a PlayStation 4 via a review copy sent by Bandai Namco Entertainment Asia.