After half a dozen hours with Marvel’s Avengers, I’m left with the feeling that we are just seeing the start of something interesting. After literal decades of waiting for a good Avengers game, we’ve finally gotten our hands on what Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics have put together. Encapsulating the cumulative histories of dozens of characters, thousands of pages of comics, hundreds of hours of movies, and making it all somehow work in a multiplayer game cannot have been an easy challenge. With a launch date of September 4th, we won’t have to wait too much longer to see how it all came together.
The beta (and ultimately the full game) starts with the Avengers team assembling to stop a terrorist threat. A tutorial action sequence introduces you to Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, and ultimately Black Widow. Each character has completely different forms of locomotion, as well as unique attack and defense powers. You’ll get to unleash all of their ultimate abilities as well, showcasing just how powerful these unique individuals truly are. Unfortunately their might combined isn’t enough to stop what would ultimately be called “A Day” — a massive disaster in San Francisco which culminates in an anti-hero law being passed, the team being disbanded, and the death of entirely too many citizens. A young Kamala Khan narrowly escapes this disaster, and it’s around her that the story revolves.
Kamala, now a teenager, seeks to bring the team back together as they face a new threat. Cloaked in patriotism, a group called AIM has risen from the ashes of San Francisco, and it’s not long before you see that they will unlikely be on the right side of history. The demo quickly drops you into the mousey boots of Dr. Banner, but quickly you’ll be hulking out and smashing.
Playing as the Hulk was an immediate reminder of the kind of game that Crystal Dynamics is creating — a looter shooter. As such, you’ll be playing as a “level 1” Hulk. Mentally battered from the loss of his team, he’s nowhere near as powerful as you might recall him from any of the Avengers movies. Powerful, yes, and certainly able to fling AIM robots like rag dolls, but he is nowhere near invincible. Through the course of roughly four hours of single player content I saw his powers slowly grow through equipment pickups and skill purchases to expand his attack repertoire. Nanotech improvements to his spine, reinforcements for his hands and wrists, and other invisible-yet-powerful improvements help the Hulk grow his power level. By the end, I could see how power progression would grow the longer you played with this character.
Switching to Kamala, she had already grown into her powers, able to stretch her arms and legs at will. She can even “embiggen”, growing to a massive size where she can deal substantial amounts of damage. Here we get to see some of the cosmetics for Ms. Marvel, including different t-shirts that show her enthusiastic geeking-out love of the Avengers like an Iron Man shirt. She can also pick up different variations of her own costume. Her equipment pickups are reflected on the screen in a way we don’t see with the Hulk, and I can only imagine that’ll extend to other characters as well.
With the single player content behind me, I finally reached the War Table aboard a grounded helicarrier. Here I could finally tap into the part that has me most excited — multiplayer. Allowing up to four people to team up to battle it out.
After fighting with the unnecessarily obtuse PlayStation 4 quirks around setting up a multiplayer game with voice chat it was time to play. Laura and I jumped right into the action with a two-player Let’s Play of a defensive mission type. Crystal Dynamics tells us that there will be over 100 mission types. This one certainly reminded me of other looter shooters we’ve played, but it was quite a bit of fun. Here’s 30 minutes of multiplayer action.
These small slices of a much larger game serve as a taste of things to come. Crystal Dynamics promises free updates to missions to add variety beyond what we’ve seen over the course of the weekend. There is a staggering 81 years of Marvel content to explore. Villains, heroes, alternate universes, time bending adventures — it’s all waiting to be explored. Here’s hoping that Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics can bring it all together to make a game worthy of playing for years to come.
Marvel’s Avengers has a beta for anyone who has pre-ordered the game on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC opening on August 14th, with a full open beta hitting on August 21st. Look for our coverage of the full release (including on Stadia) on September 4th, 2020, with a PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X version shipping when those platforms arrive this fall.
Stay tuned Gaming Trend — we’ll be teaming up to bring you our continued adventures very soon!
Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming.
Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter.
Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 27 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).