With the announcement of Ms. Marvel joining the playable list of characters in Marvel’s Avengers, Square Enix seems to have finally presented a slew of new information to get more players excited about their upcoming game. During New York Comic Con 2019, I was able to go hands-on with the introductory mission to Marvel’s Avengers. Though I was expecting a lukewarm demo, I was happily impressed by the gameplay mechanics, hints of the future, and ending trailer showcasing more of the game that is to come.
The demo opens with the core Avengers team revelling in their own pomp and circumstance for the unveiling of their West Coast headquarters. Quickly after the showcase, explosions are seen on San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Captain America has Thor and Iron Man investigate the situation, bringing us to start the hands-on part of the demo with Thor.
I began playing as Thor by engaging against several military grunts through punches with his trusty hammer. Though the punching and dodging we’re anything to be overly impressed by, the mechanics were a nice mix of the Batman Arkham series and the Kratos in the latest God of War – creating a flow of punches, combos, and simple knockouts. Thor also has some interesting maneuvers with Mjolnir – allowing me to pin various enemies to cars and walls, then getting the chance to knock out others with bare hands, and even the chance to recall Mjolnir was pretty awesome.
Continuing with the aero-inclined heroes, Iron Man’s section was by far the weakest. I began controlling Iron Man while he’s flying away from the screen shooting down several no-named enemies. While this was transpiring, Tony continued off with dialogue to progress the story. The on-rails shootfest was absolutely silly, allowing me to mildly maneuver up and down with my unlimited beams shooting those enemies to the group. Even more annoying was the fight sequence, which was mostly on the ground, that occurred right after. The punching and dodging felt much worse than Thor. While the ability to levitate during these melee encounters was available, I felt that the z-axis in this equation just made the fight more sloppy and harder to manage. Luckily, this sequence didn’t last long, and though my thoughts on it were horribly dour, I’m hopeful that these abilities will be optimized more for larger areas that have yet to be shown.
Panning away from Iron Man quickly, Bruce Banner falls gracefully from a QuinJet down into the crumbling Golden Gate Bridge. From what was easily the most frustrating part of the demo with Iron Man, Hulk was easily the most fun. As the Hulk, I was able to punch the grunts away fairly easily, and was even able to grab one to use as a club. As I was pummeling those grunts with another grunt, I noticed that the grunt being used as a weapon was also losing damage – a small consequence, but really great attention to detail. In between the utter destruction of those lowlifes, I also had the chance to have Hulk jump and grab on to several walls or crumbling debris. As the Hulk was clamped onto the tops of various locations, it reminded me of Spider-Man’s perched looking out onto New York City. Hulk was easily the most accessible character and I cannot wait to play as him again next May.
Following the Green Giant, was America’s best ass-et…Captain America, similar to Thor, played much like an Arkham Batman – punching, kicking, and dodging with ease. Nothing really sparked a ‘wow’ moment until his super move was charged and I was able to throw his iconic shield towards the enemies. Seeing the shield bounce all around the room, while knocking out enemies made it feel like I was the true blue American hero like the comics and movies. Captain America’s segment was also the slice that introduced more variety in enemies; ones with shields, electrical sabres, etc…..further drawing comparisons to the Arkham Batman series, though certainly not always a bad thing.
Lastly was the killer agent, Black Widow. Though the sequence with her was mostly quicktime events, the actual fighting mechanics against Taskmaster was just as repetitive and dull. I’m hopeful that future encounters with Black Widow and Taskmaster are more exciting, especially since this was the last gameplay bout I played before the final cutscene in the demo.
With all this, I am still cautiously optimistic about the story and gameplay of Marvel’s Avengers. The inconsistencies with quality within the mechanics of each character is jarring and can certainly skew enjoyment of the game vastly. Hopefully, the recent delay announcement will give Crystal Dynamics the time to polish and improve on the game to deliver the best experience possible.