I’ve been playing video games for at least 25 years of my 32 years existence on this earth and I have never once felt such a rollercoaster ride of opinions on one game before. Since Marvel’s Avengers was first announced I’ve gone from excited about getting an Avengers game, to bummed out once I realised it was a live service game, and then finally back to being hyped after having a great time playing the beta with friends. So w
here do I stand after completing the first campaign and sinking a few hours into the multiplayer? Well in truth, I’m still unsure as I constantly flip flop between having a ton of fun and being left frustrated and disappointed, but I think I’ve finally landed on a temporary score before we get more content added.
Remember as always, you can check out the video version of this review in the video below..
I want to start on a positive note and speak about Marvel’s Avengers fantastic campaign. This really came out of nowhere given that the beta failed to showcase any of the game’s brilliant story outside of a quick montage of still images. The real star of the show is undoubtedly Ms Marvel herself – Kamala Khan. From the opening cutscene her love and fandom for all things Avengers is truly infectious and if you’ve been a fan of Marvel growing up, you will fully relate to her from the get go just as I did. It’s partly thanks to this that when we meet the Avengers for the first time, it feels big. Meeting these larger than life characters from the perspective of a young super fan just felt massive and the outstanding voice acting and well written script only adds to these great moments.
As the story develops the quality never really drops, especially during character interactions which very nearly hold up to their MCU counterparts which although they aren’t based on, they are at the very least inspired by. Nolan North’s Nathan Drake-like take on Tony Stark was a real highlight for me as both a huge fan of Iron Man and the Uncharted games. Saying that, every character was brilliantly voice acted across the board so a big shout out to everyone involved here.
As you likely already know, the story revolves around the disbandment of the Avengers and the global takeover of AIM in their place. After coming across some vital information, Kamala Khan takes it upon herself to get the band back together. Recruiting the Avengers one by one is what fills the majority of this first campaign. Without spoiling any details, I will say that each character specific mission when recruiting these heroes is an absolute joy to play and acts as both fun levels and great character introductions. My only issues with the story came towards the end when the warning that I was about to enter the final mission popped up way too soon for my liking, meaning the campaign disappointingly only lasted 10-12 hours. Maybe it was due to the fact that the story length left a bad taste in my mouth but I went on to find the final mission a little lackluster. I won’t spoil anything but I just felt there might have been a better way to showcase your now fully assembled team. What I ended up with however was a more buggy and botchy version of the opening Golden Gate Bridge level. I had fun with the ending but I just expected more, overall though the campaign was still amazing and the main reason you should be looking at this game.
So far so good right? Sadly it’s not all sunshine and rainbows as for every high I felt in the story, I was often brought crashing back down to earth with annoying live service bollocks such as being introduced to vendors and factions as well as daily and weekly challenges for each Avenger designed to move you along their challenge cards. There’s no fun to be had with all this garbage, especially when playing single player. It feels seedy and distracts me from the otherwise fantastic world which the story built. It’s also frustrating that fun looking costumes for the Avengers are continuously dangled in front of me every time I enter a character menu. Yes most of these can be claimed through excessive grinding if you wish, but they’re blatantly there to encourage you to spend money to show off online to your mates and that doesn’t sit well with me in a full price game.
It just made me feel that this game was made up of two halves, one half featuring developers who clearly care about these characters and the other half being greedy publishers who see an opportunity to milk one of the biggest franchises on the planet. For a more detailed dive into my feelings on this, make sure to check out an article I wrote on the issue here.
My biggest problem with online and live service games is how many sacrifices are usually made elsewhere. In fairness to Marvel’s Avengers, the gameplay definitely isn’t one of those areas as each Avenger plays differently to the other and if you’ve willing to focus on your favourite to unlock their skill tree, you’ll be treated to some seriously deep and impressive combat. With that in mind it’s a shame that the locations you take your badass heroes to are boring and repetitive. Even during the impressive story my immersion was often broken by fighting the same identical AIM robots in either the same AIM hallway or the scarce and soulless Utah badlands.
Diving into the endgame content only exposes the uninspired levels and enemies even more, especially when it comes to the game’s villains. I hope this isn’t a spoiler as they’ve already told us about these villains during the war table events but the three main baddies you’ll fight are Taskmaster, Abomination and MODOK. Now I don’t have an issue with these big bads and I understand that Square Enix will likely be holding back some big hitters for later down the line. However with the game’s repetitive nature, it means I’ve now fought Abomination on five separate occasions in the story, multiplayer and the extra endgame missions. Sure I get some good loot out of it but I’m mindlessly just going through the motions at this point.
As much as the live service aspect of Avengers annoys me, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t enjoyed jumping online with friends. There’s a level of pure joy that I can’t fight when flying around as Iron Man blasting drones out the sky to clear the way for my mate playing as the Hulk to smash his way through enemies on the ground. Again you’ll find yourself running into the exact same locations with the exact same enemies but when you’re playing with friends, you make your own fun and the deep combat system and great choice of playable characters allow you to do just that. I will say that I could potentially see the novelty wearing off after a short while but hopefully upcoming additional content will help keep things fresh.
It’s also worth pointing out the amount of bugs and glitches that have littered the game during its first week of release. This is a problem all too common with live service games in the early days and Avengers is no exception. I’ve had everything from soundtracks playing when they shouldn’t, subtitles not even slightly resembling what the characters are saying, enemies getting stuck in the floor meaning I’ve had to reload the checkpoint to continue and the most hilarious one so far – invisible Kamala Khan. Frame rate dips (even on performance mode on a PS4 pro), screen tares and crashes are all too common but never enough to completely ruin the experience for me.
As you can likely tell from my ramblings, much like the lead up to the release of Marvel’s Avengers, the game itself has also been an up and down roller coaster ride. I’ve come away with the distinct feeling that this game isn’t sure what it’s trying to be. If you just play the campaign then you’d be forgiven for thinking the developers had single player loving gamers like me in mind but everything else that surrounds it just feels like the game was hijacked and held back by corporate greed. Playing online with like minded friends is easy and a lot of fun but I just pray new content down the line gives us new activities that aren’t just defend or destroy point A, B and C. As this is a live service game and we still have tons of content to come, this is of course not a score that is set in stone. If I was to give Marvel’s Avengers a review score as it stands in September 2020 though, I’d give the game..