September 24, 2020

Marvel’s Avengers Review

It’s hard to believe that until now there hasn’t been a major Avengers video game. The characters have appeared in fighters, the Marvel Ultimate Alliances, and of course LEGO games; but it’s been decades since there’s been a dedicated Avengers game and there’s never been one this big. That’s why when Crystal Dynamics revealed that they were working on an Avengers game a few years ago, it immediately became one of the most highly-anticipated video games. Now, at the end of a console generation, the game is finally here.

The question of whether or not it’s worth it almost depends on where your opinion lands on one of the bigger debates in modern video games. While Marvel’s Avengers does have a really excellent single-player campaign, that ten-to-twelve hour epic is really just an introduction to the main portion of the game that will keep it going for years to come. Meaning, the biggest part of Marvel’s Avengers is the “Games as a Service” co-op multiplayer mode that is very similar to Destiny.

Some gamers who believe that the definition of “video game” in 2020 is a cinematic over-the-shoulder strictly single-player adventure that’s exclusive to one plastic box are currently waging a war against a multi-platform service-based co-op multi-player game, and in the process they’re spreading a lot of misinformation to try to tear down a game they’ll never play. Let’s just address the microtransactions (or MTX) in the game that some of these people are calling “predatory” or “abusive”.

There’s no “pay to win” here. All of the MTX in the game are cosmetics; costumes, emotes, name plates, etc. There are “season pass” style things for each of the Avengers, but for the six that ship with the game these are free and, again, just unlock cosmetics. Completing these Challenge Cards will also earn you enough in-game currency to pay for the Challenge Cards of any post-launch heroes that are added (and the heroes, along with their story missions, are free). With that “controversy” out of the way, I had a great time playing through Marvel’s Avengers.

The single-player campaign, which will take you ten-to-twelve hours if you only do the campaign missions and don’t bother with any of the countless side-missions, is a fantastic Avengers story with a great voice cast. I actually laughed out loud at some of the banter between Avengers at times. Many people have complained that the characters don’t look like the MCU actors, but this game was never meant to be a movie adaptation any more than the PS4 Spider-Man game was supposed to have Tom Holland as Peter Parker.

Opening with an “Avengers Day” event where young Kamala Khan wins a fan fiction contest to go on the Chimera helicarrier, things quickly go bad with a new Terrigen reactor on the ship. You know this part of the story by now; bad things happen, the Avengers disband, and five years later Kamala is swept into an adventure to reassemble the team and find out the truth about what really happened on A-Day.

Kamala is the perfect choice to be the main character in the story, as she’s a huge Avengers fangirl, and she and Bruce form a nice father-daughter relationship. I hope the MCU’s Kamala is handled as well as the one in this video game. In fact all of the Avengers are handled perfectly, and they even picked some great music for Tony, but naming one of the bands will spoil one of the best moments late in the game. Speaking of late in the game, the ending to the campaign is amazing. You will spend time playing as all of the Avengers throughout the campaign, but the finale gives each member their time to shine and the cast is handled excellently in the final battle.

During the campaign the game will alternate between crafted story missions that continue the epic set-pieces that Crystal put in their last two Tomb Raider games, and some multi-player style missions. Obviously the story missions are the highlight, and including some of the MP style missions in the single-player game is a slight disappointment, but they’re still better than those stealth levels that broke up the action in the PS4’s Spider-Man game. There’s also one part in the campaign where you will need to “grind” a War Table mission or two to complete an assignment quest right before embarking on the final mission.

While you can jump right into the Avengers Initiative multi-player mode before tackling the campaign; playing through the single-player will unlock several costumes you can use in the MP modes and all of your gear and unlocks carry over. You’ll also learn each character by playing through the campaign, so I’d recommend doing that before diving into the multi-player modes.

If you played the beta, you’ve had a small sample of these modes. What the beta didn’t have was the full skill trees (there are now three tabs), and the factions. The factions are, again, similar to Destiny where completing tasks for them will unlock special bonuses. Their assignments work just like the ones in Destiny, where you pick the one you want from the faction vendor and then go and complete the quest in missions.

Playing the beta was just a taste of what the main game would have, such as the beta campaign missions actually being from about an hour into the final game. The beta also wasn’t as optimized as well as the final either. Playing on a PS4 Pro, the High Performance mode in the final game is much smoother than it was in the beta. The game also looks really impressive at times, and even almost next-gen in some parts, which makes sense as the game will be receiving upgrades on the next gen consoles and even PC (modders have already found high-res 4K textures that are too taxing for current graphics cards).

Again, whether or not Marvel’s Avengers will be something you’ll enjoy will really depend on how you feel about online co-op games. The campaign is excellent, and is the cinematic Marvel epic for 2020. Beyond that though is the main “meat” of the game, and it’s best described as Marvel Destiny. If you like Destiny and love Marvel, you’ll definitely like this game. I’m a big MMO player and still play WoW to this day, but I do like the genre on consoles as well. One of the first console MMOs was Phantasy Star Online on the Sega Dreamcast. It took years, but Destiny adapted that model to a FPS, and now Marvel’s Avengers takes it and applies it to a superhero game.

Those who believe they’re fighting a crusade to “save” cinematic single-player games will never play this, and they’ll continue to push outrage narratives to try to attack the game due to the genre its in. Yet, the game is a lot of fun. The campaign is very satisfying, and it’s fun to group up with friends as the Avengers and smash up some levels. The most exciting thing is the future, as there’s a huge list of post-launch heroes on the way that’ll keep the game fresh well into the next generation of consoles.

I really enjoyed my time with Marvel’s Avengers. The campaign was absolutely worth playing through and delivered a great Avengers story (with just enough dangling threads for future expansions), and the multi-player modes will give the game lots to come back for. If you’re a Marvel fan who likes online games that live on past the end of their single-player adventure, it’s pretty easy to recommend this Avengers game.

Game: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

A copy of the game was provided by Square Enix for this review. Campaign completed, and multi-player modes played.