In 2020, it seems that we either love something or despise it with no room for anything in-between. It’s become the norm pretty much everywhere, including the game industry. That’s why I feel so weird talking about this beta for Marvel’s Avengers. That’s because this beta is… good?
What a ringing endorsement!
I know those words don’t seem to carry much weight, especially since everyone seems to have strong opinions on this game, but it’s the best way to describe what I played. I’ll go in-depth more later, but the beta has satisfying visuals, addictive combat, a ton of missions, and a few excellent story moments. On top of that, I have had an absolute blast playing it and I intend to pick up the game when it launches next month.
One of the game’s main problems, at least from the beta, appears to be a case of wanting to be too much. It aspires to be a multiplayer looter-shooter while also telling a cinematic single-player narrative. It wants each character to feel and play differently, but it also wants each character to fit in with any mission or enemy type. It’s tugging in so many different directions like a dog playing tug of war. As a result, we have a game that is strong in a lot of ways, but it never excels at anything.
Wow, that came off as really negative. Look, Marvel’s Avengers is going to be a big game. Hell, its beta is massive with over 15+ missions! Not everything is going to be part of an epic story. These sometimes tedious side quests also come with the territory of being a loot-based game. And that’s fine with me. But I can see why some people may not find it enjoyable.
Anyway, the snippets of story we get from the beta primarily follow Ms. Marvel and The Hulk as they try to track down Jarvis and Tony Stank. I’m sorry, I meant Tony Stark. Bruce Banner plays the role of the grizzled veteran in the superhero game while The Hulk acts as his reluctant mercenary. And Ms. Marvel is the newbie reacting to everything with the same enthusiasm as if she just won the lottery.
I’m getting a little ahead of myself here because that’s not where we start the beta. Instead, we are plopped right into the A-Day footage we’ve seen at least a dozen times.
The A-Day introduction sets out to introduce us to our heroes and the story’s general conflict that sends our heroes underground. While it does that with efficiency, the mission has some significant issues from a gameplay standpoint.
A-Day is essentially a giant trainwreck of QTE moments, a lackluster boss battle, and an overabundance of information to absorb with us playing as each Avenger. It doesn’t help as a tutorial to any character because we don’t get the time to really learn anything before the game puts us in the shoes of the next Avenger.
Safe to say, I was not a fan of the beta following its introduction. It doesn’t help that Square Enix forced me to link my account, which took me over an hour to do because their website kept crashing (PSA: If anyone is going to play the open beta on the 21st, be sure to link your account beforehand to avoid that issue).
Luckily, my thoughts begin to shift when Marvel’s Avengers slows down. Now, the focus is on Bruce and Kamala in their search for Jarvis and later, Tony. As soon as the beta does this, it’s an instant breath of fresh air. It’s also where I finally started to see personality in these characters.
At first, I was hesitant to buy-in to Kamala Khan as the de facto main character of this game. With Marvel’s entire roster to play with, I found her to be a strange pick to round out the core Marvel’s Avengers roster.
So far, I couldn’t have been more wrong as her eager personality provides a semi-fresh perspective on the typical superhero stories we typically see. It’s amusing to see Kamala fangirl over these iconic heroes, and it reminds me a lot of how the MCU initially handled Spider-Man. Bruce Banner’s subtle but turbulent relationship with his own Mr. Hyde is exciting as well. So, I can’t wait to see how the story unfolds. At least for those three characters.
Combat-wise, Marvel’s Avengers succeeds at making nearly every fight enthralling whether you are causing havoc as The Hulk or shooting from a distance as Iron Man. Each character has a different move-set, skill tree, animations, and other cosmetics to unlock.
One complaint I noticed online was that Marvel’s Avengers is a button-mashing game. Well, yeah. Just like Rocksteady’s Arkham games or Insomniac’s Spider-Man, Marvel’s Avengers adopts the same basic combat style for each of its characters to drum up combos. Every character has a light attack, a heavy attack, a ranged attack, a special R2/RT ability, and a dodge.
It’s outside of that basic outline where you start those variations in gameplay. But I still think the gameplay could be a little more diverse.
Don’t get me wrong; the heroes have a unique playstyle opposed to their fellow Avengers. For example, The Hulk plays as an unstoppable tank with brute strength while Black Widow uses her agility and swift hand-to-hand combat skills to get the job done.
There’s just something about the core gameplay where each Avenger plays a little too similar to one another. To be fair, this may not even be a problem at launch since we know that the full game will have three skill trees to level up. Those skills will supposedly help tailor each character to your personal playstyle. But I can only judge what’s in the beta, hence why I mentioned it here.
Moving on to the gear and progression systems. So far, it’s a mixed bag. I love the idea of meshing The Avengers with Destiny, and it could be what keeps the game living years after release. It’s just unfortunate that you don’t see the gear you equip. Therefore, you never genuinely feel like you’ve earned something spectacular. A lot of the fun of loot-based games, at least in my experience, comes from showing off the legendary gear you’ve spent hours grinding to obtain. Plus, I have yet to find any gear worth keeping. Again, it’s a beta but finding satisfying loot is kind of the point of a loot-based game.
Taking cues from Fortnite and Warzone, Marvel’s Avengers also has a battle pass system for every hero called Challenge Cards. There, you can earn new costumes, nameplates, and resources by leveling up your characters. It’s actually a pretty cool idea that I didn’t see coming going into the beta. Unless there is a premium version of the Challenge Card system that includes gameplay enhancements, I can’t see this becoming a significant issue for the game.
Let’s end this impressions article talking about the game’s controversial graphics. People have been critiquing Marvel’s Avengers and its visuals ever since the game’s announcement. While they aren’t in the same stratosphere of truly breathtaking titles like Ghost of Tsushima or Red Dead Redemption 2, the graphics in this beta are a drastic improvement from the character models to the sometimes destructible environments. It’s definitely a step up from the game’s initial reveal back at E3 2019.
Verdict: The beta for Marvel’s Avengers is… alright. That seems like a cause for concern, but it’s actually quite the opposite considering this game is supposedly cemented as the second-coming of Anthem. Marvel’s Avengers isn’t amazing (yet). But this game is nowhere near the catastrophic failure it was made out to be. Instead, it’s a fun game that could be great as long as Crystal Dynamics continues to listen to feedback. It’s a blast to play, whether you’re going into missions solo or with a group of friends. And that’s why the game works so well. Luckily, the open beta for the game launches on August 21st. So be sure to try it out for yourself!