Marvel’s Avengers hasn’t had an easy go of things since its launch two years ago. It was criticized for being buggy, repetitive, grindy, and a lackluster live service game. I avoided it at launch, but picked it up for cheap during a Black Friday sale (I’m a sucker for discounts) last fall. I played the campaign for a bit and set it aside to play some other games I had bought from sales. And then Elden Ring came out and no other game mattered for four months.
But with this season being the Summer of Thor, my favorite superhero was added to game recently. Jane Foster’s Mighty Thor holds a special place in my heart. She’s been my favorite superhero since I started reading her books in 2017. Her worthiness and story of self-sacrifice endeared her to me, not to mention her kick-ass costume and the interior art of her books by the great Russell Dauterman. I even commissioned by favorite artist David Mack to paint her for me (yep, that watercolor hangs on my wall). So when it was announced she would be coming to Marvel’s Avengers, I was ecstatic. I’d get to play as my favorite hero the same week she stars in a new MCU film? Hell to the yeah. I figured now would be as good of a time as any to get Marvel’s Avengers going again.
I quickly remembered why this game failed to hold my attention or interest.
The combat is stiff and clunky, with the superheroes feeling too rigid. Their attacks are both powerless and weightless as any ol’ AIM robot can eat a combo without flinching and then take down your hero with ease. This is my biggest issue with the game, and one that adding my favorite superhero doesn’t solve. Superheroes – especially the Avengers – are supposed to feel mightier than everyone else, yet in Marvel’s Avengers it doesn’t take much for even the friggin’ Hulk to go down from a few robot punches.
I understand power balancing is difficult with superhero games (notice the lack of Superman titles over the years) and balance is even more difficult when the Hulk and Thor, God of Thunder, need to be challenged by and succeed against the same enemies that regular humans like Black Widow or Hawkeye go against. The game’s enemies – again, mostly waves of AIM bots after AIM bots – end up being bullet sponge-y and, say it with me, boring – the one thing it’s hard to imagine a superhero game being.
It’s a shame, too, the game is so tedious to play because I do think it excels in its storytelling. The campaign tells a great origin story for Kamala Khan as she transitions from inhuman teen on the run to the catalyst who assembles the Avengers again all while blossoming into a hero in her own right. Sandra Saad does a fantastic job of bringing Kamala to digital life, and the rest of the cast, headlined by industry vets Troy Baker (Bruce Banner), Laura Bailey (Natasha Romanoff), and Nolan North (Tony Stark), match her performance.
But the campaign and its story is only so much of the game, and most of its gameplay will be spent trotting out the heroes in the same maps to fight the same enemies during missions with little variety. And I’ll admit that introducing another take on a hammer-wielding God of Thunder doesn’t help the lack of variety issue. More — and different — heroes would help switch things up, and the game sorely needs more enemy variety. What’s the point of adding new hero after new hero if they’re not going to have any additional enemies to fight?
This has me wondering if Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics should simply cut their losses with Avengers, learn from their mistakes, and focus solely on creating a new Avengers game. Instead of wasting characters like Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange, Falcon, or OG Avengers Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch on this game, Crystal Dynamics should save them for a new, better game. I really enjoy the post-A-Day setting of Marvel’s Avengers, and I think it can easily be mined for more stories. In addition to the Avengers roster expanding, a sequel could also bring in more elements of the Marvel universe. How would Attilan and the Inhuman royal family fit into this post-A-Day world? I’d love to find out.
I suppose I’ll keep Marvel’s Avengers (and its 100+ GB file) installed on my PlayStation. Maybe I’ll come back to it now and then to experience what it’s like to kick (robot) ass with my favorite superhero. Ultimately, however, there are plenty of better Marvel superhero games available, with even more on the horizon, and I don’t know if Marvel’s Avengers will ever be as worthy as any of the rest of them.
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