Marvel’s Avengers is a game that’s been through a bit of a rough go–sort of slammed for not being the MCU version of the characters, delayed due to COVID-19 shut downs, and a beta that was fine, but I personally gave up on after a couple of hours. So how does the end result fare? Well, not so mighty.
What Is It?
While the Avengers are meant to be the highlight, this is a Kamala Khan (aka Ms. Marvel) story.
After the tragic events of Avengers’ Day (A-Day) in which a portion of San Francisco is destroyed, Captain America seems to have been killed, and exposed terrigen mist created hundreds of Inhumans with mutant like abilities including Kamala herself, she sets off to help reassemble the Avengers to fight against the growing evil of Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM).
In the five years since A-Day, AIM has risen to be the protector that the Avengers couldn’t be and the ones who will cure Inhumanity. Of course, that means oppressing Inhumans, performing secret testing, creating a robotic Army, and creating the supervillain MODOK through the body of their CEO, George Tartleton.
Why Should I Care?
Marvel’s Avengers lives and dies by its loot-based core. Almost everything is centered around loot management. If that’s your thing then you’re probably in for a treat, but if not, you’re going to struggle. But either way, this is a monotonous struggle with one main bright spot found in the campaign.
There was no better choice than centering the story on Kamala. She’s the inspiration to the jaded Avengers, reminding them why they do what they do. The mentor/mentee relationship found between her and the Hulk is well done, but she’s able to really connect throughout the whole team and easily creates a more grounded atmosphere. Through her, you’re more easily able to care about the plight of the Inhumans. But when things get away from Kamala specifically, that’s where things can falter.
AIM is fine, but it’s just robot after robot after robot with the occasional human sprinkled in. There are a couple of henchmen villains in Taskmaster and Abomination, but they don’t do much for the story beyond providing some repetitive missions after the fact. MODOK is kept in the background in favor of Monica Rappaccini, but the balance between who is the biggest villain of the two is poor. By the end, I didn’t really care. It was just a series of button-smashing motions that became a means to an end. And that’s all so much of the rest of the game ends up being, to mostly frustrating degrees.
If you want a sense of how important loot is, JARVIS has you covered. You could be in the middle of a fairly big fight, but if a loot box shows up, Tony Stark’s AI will make sure to announce its presence to you. It’s that big of a deal. Loot is represented through gear dropped through boxes, enemies, completion rewards, and vendors. You’ll also find a variety of materials to upgrade that gear. Most gear will be specific to your character during your given mission, which means if you want more gear for another character, you have to find it through a vendor or simply replay through the missions as that character. But there’s no reason to do so beyond the simple regeneration of more loot, so it’s really discouraging and useless to want to invest time into all of your characters. That, in turn, conflicts with the multiplayer issues I’ll revisit soon enough. The game does what it can to deliver character specific-missions, but within the first week of launch, there’s just not that much to do. It’s just about getting more loot for the sake of getting more loot. That whole system is basically why you can’t switch characters mid-battle, which was horribly frustrating.
Power Levels are directly connected to this loot experience. Effectively, character rank plus gear power equals Power Level. The concept is fine and generally works, but where it fails is how it impacts your mission difficulty. Each mission is also given a power level, along with a standard difficulty that can be changed at any time, but the power level adjusts to your power level, constantly upping the difficulty. So say I wanted to tackle a Mission Power Level 30, but my character was Power Level 25. I could complete other missions, find more gear, up my experience to reach 30 and feel comfortable completing that mission, but the mission will compensate and turn to Level 35. It’s certainly frustrating, especially when you take a chance anyway and find the hidden mission feature of “get downed three times and fail the mission completely”. A couple ways around the Power Level issue could be to save power ups until the mission loadout section, giving the Mission Power Level no time to adjust), or using matchmaking to hopefully find other players. It’s a poorly executed experience that can’t quite figure out how to work between single and multiplayer.
Multiplayer doesn’t make anything much better. It’s framed as the Avengers Initiative, instead of the Campaign, but ultimately runs through the same platform and you can switch between different missions. The bonus of saving the Initiative until after the campaign is that you don’t junk up the campaign missions in the overall objectives. The experience is fine. It’s co-op instead of PvP, so there’s not much competition to be had. It’s a struggle to even find anyone to play with, as even after just a few days post-launch, it took anywhere between 10-15 minutes to find partners. You’ll have an easier time going through the Initiative platform because you can choose to enter a random mission with your pre-selected character or a random character. Once inside a mission, it’s basically a free-for-all. There’s no gameplay features, solo or multiplayer, that will allow you to play as a team. Each player can do whatever they want until certain checkpoints are met, then you’ll be forced to progress as a unit. But there’s no way to direct players to certain locations, or to request actions. That’s on you and your headset capabilities, but such a feature would be nice for solo play (which you’ll probably need to do most of the time because of the struggle to find players). There’s just nothing really enticing for it all aside from, of course, generating loot. To what end? Great question.
Beyond that, the game is just boring and monotonous, if not outright broken. Almost every mission plays out the same way, as many are just another AIM facility or SHIELD bunker filled with robots and loot.There are several AIM facilities that are laid out almost exactly the same, which can be horribly confusing. City levels are odd because they are completely deserted and eerily quiet. Terrains are typically a bore to traverse, either because you fly slowly over them, or just have to constantly long jump (and Widow can somehow jump what seems like 70 feet???). When you are fighting, there’s no nuance. There are combos and such you can use, along with special heroic powers to lay down bigger attacks, but everything turns into a jumbled mess of bodies and explosions with a terrible camera. The AI is fairly competent, but tends to simply crowd the same area, turning everything into that jumbled mess. You get the sense that combat should play more like something from one of the Batman Arkham games, but the flow is nowhere near that. Or you can cop out and use ranged attacks from any character. Boss battles are the worst, as even something as nuanced as Taskmaster is boiled down to “just throw a bunch of punches or ranged attacks until the health meter drops”.
As for what’s broken, I have to end up in spoiler territory by the end of this, so be warned. But first, there are random glitches throughout the game that can be serious enough to shut things down and start again. An enemy may get stuck in a wall or simply spawn and do nothing, which invalidates any attacks on it, so you have to restart from the last checkpoint. There were certain loot boxes that seemed easy enough to get once unlocking a door, but there were absolutely no opportunities to unlock the door. For that, I had to look up walkthroughs because I could tell something was off. In at least two levels, the switches simply weren’t present. But don’t worry, because there’s enough loot to go around as it is. On a smaller note for me but a bigger note for those who truly need it, captions would randomly disappear from the screen for brief periods of time, making accessibility a concern. But now to end on the spoiler note: upon his return, Captain America’s face is a misshapen mess. At the start of the game, there are no issues (he just looks generic and I hated his costume). But upon returning late in the game, any cut scene with Cap constantly made his face distorted. At worse, his eyes popped out almost exactly like Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? It was hilarious and mind boggling at the same time. How did this game get released with such a blatant error?
What Makes It Worth My Time and Money?
This is going to be a great game to pick up on sale by the end of the year.
You have a great concept with just the most subpar and monotonous execution. The campaign is mostly great because of Kamala, but the importance of loot is just so detrimental to the enjoyment of the game. It’s obvious the game wanted to be so much more what it ends up being. It took a chance with creating interconnected solo and multiplayer modes, but it fails to strike the right balance or give you a reason to keep playing in multiplayer. It’s saving grace may be character packs and missions released later, but doesn’t help now. At the same time, it doesn’t feel like it’s an incomplete game, but it’s also horribly repetitive and boring at times. It also wants to present itself as a game with a nuanced combat system but only really delivers a glorified button-smashing experience. And even when the campaign is done, there’s not a real sense of resolution because the loot-grabbing missions after do whatever they can to undercut the main story.
All that said, it’s not a terrible game. There’s some value to be had in smashing some robots, and I certainly found myself going back to see if I could see things differently. In some ways, sure. I’ll go back and complete some missions when I have not much else to do. But that’s not sustainable. The problem is that the game, arguably, struggles with its identity, and therefore can’t really lean into one. So you end up with this jumbled mess of concepts that should work, but don’t quite at this point.