Marvel has made games for years that vary in quality and genre. Between fighting, adventure, arcade, and light role-playing games, we have seen Marvel’s mightiest heroes in a variety of ways. But with the growing popularity of Marvel with the MCU and high profile games, it was inevitable that an Avengers Triple-A game would come with players playing as their favorite heroes. Marvel’s Avengers hits the mark in many ways but misses in just as many.
This game is primarily a campaign driven experience with replayable endgame content. The main campaign and story can be quite interesting and gripping at times while being terribly cliché and almost annoying at other times. Using Kamala Kahn as the way for players to experience becoming an Avenger works surprisingly well; she is relatable, powerful, and full of hope and humor.
The dynamic between her and the other Avengers is very hit and miss; some conversations are wonderfully natural while others feel like awkward, auto-generated dialogue. The missions and enemies may have different visuals and increasing difficulty, but they lack depth or any real challenge. If an enemy is too strong, then wait and use a super move or come back at a higher level. This mindless fighting can be fun at times but loses most of its value after the first couple of hours. People can play through the campaign again to work on leveling up and finding loot, but there is no other major reason or entertainment value to play through the main storyline again.
The endgame is somewhat similar to things like Destiny 2 or The Division, replaying old missions over and over again in order to gain new loot. But as of now, there doesn’t seem to be much of a driving force to have such powerful loot. This loop of gaining new armor and weapons is fine, but that also comes with the need to offer gameplay that is deep, challenging, and endlessly entertaining or truly difficult to complete. Just grinding missions to gain more loot in order to play harder missions to get even better loot is mindless and doesn’t offer anything other than hours of grinding.
Marvel’s Avengers can be fun, and getting to use a new hero can make things interesting again for a few hours, but the lack of depth, coordinating to pull off interesting combos, or having to use lots of different skills to approach very powerful enemies and encounters really keep this gameplay fairly average. If basic attacking and dodging were better handled, then there would be an inherent level of challenge and engagement and playing. But as of now, players can just smartly button-smash to kill all the enemies and use big ultimates to clear out even more.
The only times I found the gameplay to be interesting and difficult were in one on one boss fights. With this lack of reason to actually get high-level loot and a not-so-engaging-combat system, there’s a big lack of drive to play this game for hours and hours and hours on end. Don’t get me wrong, the loot is cool, new costumes and bonus effects can make the game seem nicer, but the core mechanics are exactly the same from beginning to end. New updates or DLC’s could be fun, but after the initial playthrough, I can’t imagine a major reason to keep playing them.
Some real issues with the game include lots of bugs, huge frame rate drops even at very low graphics qualities for PC. The world also feels mostly empty and missions just feel like running and jumping simulators for these heroes with a couple of enemies spread around and some quick-time events or switches to flip. There just doesn’t feel like a real engagement of the characters with the missions, especially outside of the campaign.
Pacing is also one of the bigger problems. Players only get to play Kamala for a lengthy amount of time in the beginning. She isn’t a bad character or boring to play, it just feels odd to play an Avengers game without the main cast for such large sections of the campaign (especially because they were the ones mainly advertised). I understand that the campaign is designed this way to ease players into playing a new Avenger every couple of hours and learning how to play them. But instead of being forced to play only one or two Avengers through large portions of the game, incentives to play new characters would be a much better way to handle it. Don’t limit us, give us a reason to explore our options.
As I was playing Marvel’s Avengers and going through various online discussions, I found the biggest problem is that if the story was about a bunch of brand new characters, nobody would really care about this game. In other words, the Marvel brand and set of heroes make this game interesting to play, not the actual gameplay or story. I never felt the depth of the characters and their relationships were fleshed out in the story.
For example, when playing Marvel’s Spider-Man, you felt like Spider-Man. Swinging through the air, fighting bad guys, his commentary, and movements all made us feel like we were the web-slinger. However, the Avengers here feel like rip-offs of the Marvel Cinematic Universe thrown haphazardly into a video game. If the game took more risks in being more true to its comic book roots and having fleshed out the characters a bit more, there could have been something great.
These are a lot of negatives, but the game is overall a more positive than negative experience. The negatives are just so glaring because the game could have been so much more, and it is tied to such an iconic and popular brand. It needed more time to work on story development, endgame incentive, and level design. If you’re a big Marvel fan and want a generally light experience, then I’m sure you’d have a lot of fun playing through this game. However, the people looking for deep gameplay and reasons to play for hundreds of hours inside the Marvel Universe aren’t going to find that here.