It’s been a year since Marvel’s Avengers was released to much fanfare but beaten down due to a mixed reception. Taking a number of well known superheroes and throwing them into a game that focused on level grinding and microtransactions didn’t impress many but it had its share of success and twelve months on it’s now on Xbox Game Pass (DLC and all). Not being sure what to expect I jumped in and swhat I’ve found has been a pleasant surprise that works well as a fun solo superhero experience if you’re willing to avoid many of the online components.
Note: these are just my impressions of the game from a solo player’s perspective. The multiplayer side of it is not something I’m too interested in right now but that may change in the future.
The game initially takes place during an event where the Avengers fail to stop a disaster that not only appears to have killed Captain America but exposed the public to a toxic agent that grants many their own superpowers. One of these new superpowered people is Kamala Khan, aka Ms Marvel, who has been forced to hide her powers from the forces of AIM until she goes on the run, searching for the (now missing) Avengers. How the story plays out has been one of the most enjoyable aspects with a mix of unpredictability from the main characters and foreboding from the periphery ones – you know where it’s heading just not how they will get there.
In terms of play Avengers feels like a third person brawler. There is also the ability to shoot and fly depending on the character you’re using (Iron Man being the most obvious example) but for the most part you’re on the ground beating down on enemies. There is enough variety in them that will require a player to mix up their styles as many have abilities that discourage button mashing though on the default difficulty I’ve sometimes found it hard to find the right strategy when encountering groups with more than a couple of different types. Ms Marvel’s polymorph powers fit well here, especially the health recharge, but when the fights drag out you really do wish for them to recharge faster. If you do find that you just can’t progress in the game it will prompt you to dial down the difficulty which is a nice touch to see happening in more games. Some missions are level gated which might require a bit of grinding to have a chance at all of beating which might discourage play which is a shame for anyone just wanting to play through the story.
Visually the game is terrific with a character and map design that leans into what developer Crystal Dynamics have done exceedingly well in their Tomb Raider games. Ms Marvel benefits the most from the detailed character models as she is a big focus within the game’s story. That combined with the screenshot worthy scenery and I can see why the team would be approached to work on the new Perfect Dark. The recent next gen console update has helped give the game a nice boost too. On the other hand the other Avengers may come across as a mixed bag for fans – the MCU versions of the characters are almost iconic now so any versions that hew too closely to them are going to be instantly compared and it’s not always a success. The voice acting is pretty good and full of the best voice talent in the business but they are still working within the confines of an established franchise where people’s expectations may not align. That was probably an area that they were always up against expectations… no game could afford to have Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, etc all lend their likeness and voices unless Disney was all in on it.
If Marvel’s Avengers had focused more on the basics and a linear game structure it could have succeeded as a solo/co-op adventure. But it really works in giving players a chance to full the shoes of their favourite superhero… there’s just a lot of stuff around the edges that might get in the way of you fully enjoying it.
Marvel’s Avengers is out now for PC, Xbox and PlayStation. Played on Xbox Series X via Game Pass.