We look at the latest work from Crystal Dynamics. Marvel’s Avengers fails to convince in a title that remains in no man’s land in every way.
Crystal Dynamics crosses the finish line. In a difficult year for the Marvel factory on the big screen, the video game continues to mark the times of its productions beyond paper and ink. Marvel’s Avengers even comes with a double objective: to consolidate its initial journey and to continue building over the months on the foundations of reunification. That vision of the service game raises the challenge. It is not only about convincing face to face, but transferring the assurance that there is a game for a while.
The license is attractive in itself. We have checked it during its beta period. Whether fans or neophytes of the Marvel scene, being able to control faces like Captain America, Black Widow or Iron Man (among others) is an advantage that only one gender rival manages to have: DC. While Rocksteady places the landing of the Suicide Squad in 2022, Square Enix is already arriving to fill the heroic slot for the upcoming Christmas campaign.
Marvel’s Avengers is a melon made up of too many parts. It touches a bit of different genres and slopes to stay, unfortunately, in no man’s land. We go from a traditional campaign to a postgame that returns us to the ghosts of other titles. The residue it leaves us is too gray. At times it shines; for others, the efforts fall into sack a while.
Context: Kamala Khan and the inhuman conflict
The first contact with Marvel’s Avengers surprises. The Californian company does not introduce us directly to the RPG Looter experience, it invites you to follow a plot line through the Reuníos campaign. The focus is strictly limited to the vision of a single player; We are offered to explore certain free missions in the company of another player, but practically the entire story arc revolves around a single person.
The premise on which it starts is well known. The A-Day breaks the union of the avengers, who are subjected to a public trial for the first time. The idyllic image of this sort of vigilante is distorted. We see a disunited group (pun intended) that chooses to step aside and embrace the shadows of exile. Fans will see especially noticeable differences in the way the IMA organization emerges and the main minds behind it.
The calm before the storm.
There are some parallels between the comic and the video game, although when they meet they tend to deviate towards the interpretation of the team led by Scot Amos. That vision, in our judgment, has successes and errors. Placing Kamala Khan as the central narrative axis is critical to achieving that level of empathic connection. Ms Marvel, one of the recent additions to the Marvel roster, is not far from the effervescent fan on the street. It brings the enthusiasm of someone who ever dreams of becoming a superhero.
Contrary to what might be expected, its presence does not start from its origin. Kamala and Abu (the only two characters in her arc participating) already know the nature of her powers. The difference, in this case, is that the knowledge of the young woman allows her to pull the thread of resistance. “Someone out there must listen to us,” he said in one of his initial dialogues. Typical resources of the superhero overproduction that reaffirm themselves in the constant between good and evil, between those who do not fit in with society and those who abuse their power.
Kamala Khan carries the weight of the script. Ms Marvel is one of the last faces added to the comic book universe.
This is a script of a standard scale, close to the topic and far from being memorable. It’s a light campaign to play, fun even. There are situations that correctly convey the Marvel sensations we are used to in recent years, especially its final mission, worthy of any blockbuster. The problem is that we would like to extend the moments of brilliance. There are ups and downs derived from a direction that did not know how to straighten the course of certain elements.
It may seem trivial, but having a portfolio of villains up to the task is part of the formula. Marvel’s Avengers introduces us to six, half of them generic robots by IMA creation. Recognizable only appear in the other trio: Taskmaster, Abomination, and MODOK. Those of you who have played the beta will know that you fight the top two in the first quarter of the game. That’s right, they will not be repeated throughout the campaign. It is difficult to explain the reasons for these absences. We have seen in other projects that raising a poster of arch enemies is essential to connect in this cat and mouse chase. We don’t have to go far, Insomniac Games already did it in 2018.
Taskmaster is one of the six bosses that make up the Gather Together campaign.
The campaign earns more for those who tell us than in gross playable quality. Except for the missions discussed above, the rest of the situations are not far from the average fill objective. We would not say that it is a preparatory of what is to come in the postgame. Reuníos has the entity in a classic story mode, only that by its nature we are introduced to the RPG elements in a light way, not to say lacking in relevance.
It took us around 12 hours to complete it on hard difficulty. You can change the settings at any time in the options menu. In normal it will be a walk; that extra bit of defiance is appreciated. Iconic missions also play a role, as each of the initial six heroes has their own chain of objectives to delve into their background. Winks in this regard are appreciated.
Some bosses need to take the situation on several fronts.
The good work of the study when transferring the license is undoubted. The Avengers are recognizable characters within the Marvel factory, especially Kamala Khan and Tony Stark, embroidered. It gives off tact for capturing the personalities that have accompanied us for so many years. In that sense, it planted. Earn more as a fan service product.
Blow by blow, team after team
We close the campaign chapter to delve into what is truly important: how do you play Marvel’s Avengers? Progress is marked by the role players at the service of the loot loop. A hero is made up of four pieces of equipment, a superior and two inferior artifacts. While the former improve the overall power level (the value set by the level cap), the artifacts meet modifier-style conditions. Especially the superior one, which improved can give us special abilities after pressing a specific combination.
That loop to which we alluded, standard in the genre, is added the character level. As an RPG, the experience we gain from our actions translates into skill points to redeem across its extensive skill trees. They consist of three families that little by little derive into different specializations. The maximum it reaches is 50; it will be the first goal you complete.
The equipment only varies the power value, among other advantages. It does not feel like a reward.
As a player you go through various states. You welcome the first pieces of equipment, even modify them, as the game advises during the first steps. After hours you discover that the system feels detached from progress. Receiving a superior piece of equipment has little impact on gameplay. At that point, you give them the benefit of the doubt: what will the legendary or more powerful team look like? Exactly the same.
There is no sense of reward. My new purple bracelet doesn’t change the way I played when I was equipped with a green one. We found no palpable differences between the items you’ve been struggling to unlock versus the commons. There is not even a combination of recognizable sets that makes you look outfitted with something exclusive. Nothing.
Each hero has three active skills and a focus bar, whose function varies depending on who you drive.
At that point you grab the hero level. At least in this sense it transmits a journey, a belonging. That my Black Widow, for example, is better than the Natasha I was given access to 5 hours ago. Unfortunately the ceiling is touched too early. It is an evil that is usually associated with first-batch service games. Since the beginning of the generation, Destiny or even The Division (fixed in the sequel) sinned to limit the player’s progress too early, either due to a lack of content or by tracing the journey based on grind barriers.
In the case of Marvel’s Avengers, we insist: it is detached from the proposal. It is not integrated into the gameplay, it has an artificial significance. They are numbers to meet to pass the level cap and be able to access the next mission, nothing more. Speaking in silver, here Black Widow does not receive a new staff that changes her animations or available actions, but a new glove filler that we know of its existence because the inventory tells us. Non-relevant numbers seen in a menu.
The abilities of some heroes are not used.
We cling to skills because yes, there is a certain evolution, which does not mean that it comes with depth. The combat is no more than a standard beat ‘em up. We have light attack and heavy attack, that’s it. Heroic abilities, as special actions are called after refreshment, take on the role of panic buttons. There are missing combinations, chains of movements, something that shapes a fight that is far from thinking about what your next decision will be.
These problems arise from an intrinsic evil of the proposal: there are no differences between heroes. There are no synergies or coordination elements. You arrive, defeat everything in your path and back to the Chimera. In cooperative the same thing happens. Playing it with friends is a frenzy of open-ended blowouts and smacks that don’t require you to do your best. The learning curve is non-existent, since in the first half hour with one you have already seen everything that will give of itself, only enhanced thanks to the unlocks.
It is very accessible. In a matter of no time you will know how to perform the abilities of the avengers.
This is something that comes out as soon as you’ve been through everyone. At first it is not like that. Ms Marvel and Hulk have some abilities focused on increasing their survivability on the battlefield. The green beast uses his rage bar (holding the right trigger of the controller) to attack the enemy and regain vitality, while Khan does the same with an active heroic. Those who do not have it end up accessing some way to regenerate in the same way. And no, it is not a sign of synergy to offer the Iron Man Hulkbuster to a partner. They all have repertoire for different ranks of combat.
But the problems remain when it comes to equating the sextet. Some are below others. With Hulk, it does move with success to control a mass that devastates the stage. Instead, Thor is not worthy of the demos he offered us on paper. He is a decaffeinated God of Thunder, who wields the hammer far below his capacity. Or Iron Man, clumsy when flying and less fast than he really is. Or Ms Marvel, whose metamorphic abilities are barely taken advantage of … and so we could continue with almost everyone, except Black Widow, who, thanks to her invisibility cloak, pastes very well when using other actions.
All heroes have abilities for each combat rank.
We cannot deny that there are moments that offer direct fun, easy to access. You jump right into a mission and you’re already in the middle of hundreds of explosions, gunfire, and more. We believe that Marvel’s Avengers aspired to be more than just passing entertainment, and at the end of the campaign there is little reason to continue. Noteworthy is the business card, a battle pass packed with cosmetic items per character. For the initial six it is free, although the way it progresses has its things. The only way to fill it out is through points obtained from two daily contracts and another two weekly. To reach the last level it takes about a month of play … and so on with each one.
Postgame, what do I do now?
Once the Get Together campaign is complete, we become directly part of the Avengers Initiative. An assortment of secondary stories is opened to us based on mission chains. The role of SHIELD becomes more important, and that is that Maria Hill appears more times than in the rest of the game.
Marvel’s Avengers postgame is… bland. These missions review the situations that we have already experienced in the previous hours. Generic missions, like war zones, offer nothing more than to go to a point and complete the objective. Usually we are introduced to a small area free of exploration, although there is not much to investigate. It is not usual to find surprises in the question mark icons. If it is not a high value target, it is a chest, and if not a prisoner that we must free.
The postgame begins.
Villain sectors are back with force, where we can face Taskmaster and co in other locations again. The combat against these humanoid enemies is not up to the standard of other combats. They are giant damage sponges that don’t pose much of a challenge. They hardly vary movements, they do not have an elaborate set of movements with which to break the monotony of combat. Quite the opposite of mechanical enemies, and given their magnitude they pose combat in a different way. The flying beast stands out, which we have to reach based on jumping platforms in the purest Scarab style in Halo 3.
In this section of the game the narrative approach to mission design is lost. The few plot missions that there are pose the completion of the same objectives as always, to which is added the absence of scenes where the characters interact. There is a slight secondary storyline to connect the next steps of the post-launch content, but it loses interest. The path to unlocking the hives, missions in which we face hordes of enemies over several floors. It is the peak of difficulty.
The models are of great quality.
We cannot ignore the technical plan. Visually, it offers a high level, both for stage direction and muscle. The models have a high quality, which stand out especially in video scenes. The lighting is surprising, very elaborate. The Reviews has been carried out on the PS4 Pro version, in which it offers the graphic quality that we can expect from a production of this size. However, not everything is up to par.
The rate of images per second suffers more than we would like. In 4K mode, it is locked by default at 30 fps. When there is tumult on the screen, it is usually below the objective, something quite common. The console seems to be too small, as if crying out for the jump to the new generation. There is a secondary mode that prioritizes performance. We do not recommend it, since by unlocking the framerate the image dance is more significant.
To the performance problems are added multiple programming errors, textures that never finish loading and crashes towards the interface, among others. It gives the feeling that it needed a couple more months of development in this regard, as problems are common even with version 1.05 installed.
We have performed this Reviews on a PlayStation 4 Pro through a digital code supplied by Bandai Namco
Marvel’s Avengers remains in no man’s land. The Get Together campaign offers a correct storytelling experience, where the strength of the license shines above the gameplay. The problems start when you get the feeling that removing the RPG looter elements would work exactly the same. The entire team progression system feels detached from the game, it offers neither the reward nor the variety that is assumed in a title that lives to encourage you to continue playing. Crystal Dynamics touches the suits of various genres a bit so as not to hit any of them. It is easy and light to play, and those who draw on Marvel fanservice will find their place in it, it is even fun at times when you enter without any pretense. But this way it is easy to lose interest after hours. Once you enter the postgame you find an empty shell. It doesn’t push you to stay in the loop. You reach the glass ceiling too soon.
- The Get Together campaign, a light experience with the Marvel seal.
- Kamala Khan, one of the best recently created characters.
- Direct and accessible fun with cooperative functions.
- The loot system feels detached from the gameplay.
- The postgame, full of generic missions.
- Playable depth is lacking, especially in the combat system.
- Performance issues and bugs.
It meets the expectations of what a good game is, has quality and does not have serious flaws, although it is missing elements that could have taken it to higher heights.