In a game that includes a green steroid rage machine, a god of thunder, and a living World War 2 legend flinging a giant frisbee around, it’s amazing how a regular dude lobbing pointed sticks at murder machines might just be one of the most powerful characters around. Last week’s big update for Marvel’s Avengers arrived, bringing with it a ton of visual updates to propel the game into next-gen territory, gameplay tweaks, and the new Future Imperfect operation.
Hawkeye was also included in that hefty patch, which on PS5 required some ridiculous loops to jump through while Xbox Series X|S players simply smiled when seeing just how well Smart Delivery works for that platform. More on that later though, as the big story here is just how brilliant Hawk guy is to use within the game.
Clint Barton has always been seen as the Aquaman of the Avengers, a running joke about a blue-collar hero who could easily be stopped by any supervillain wielding a pair of scissors near his bow. In Marvel’s Avengers, he’s a surprisingly nimble vigilante that can serve a number of roles on the battlefield, taking out trash mobs of AIM-bots, or keeping his distance and peppering more dangerous foes with an onslaught of trick arrows.
I’ve gotten to the mid-30s with Clint so far, which has given me a good understanding of how to use the character and has me focused on a build that has turned him into a disruptive combatant in missions. Like his protégé Kate Bishop aka Other Hawkeye, Clint has close-range offense in the form of his sword from his Ronin days and a range of other options with a massive quiver of trick arrows.
That’s where this Hawkeye feels completely different in comparison to Bishop. Whereas she had a agile focus with her teleportation and swordplay move-set, Hawkeye’s bread ‘n butter arrow tricks allow him to pull off a huge number of offense and support. His skills allow him to pin down a group of enemies and then shower them with a high-explosive bombardment via his assault skill, restore willpower to allies with an arrow that sets up a wide support field, and tear through smaller enemies with his ultimate ability that launches an AI-controlled arrow.
Clint’s Intrinsic ability is also one that fuses well with his archery, as dropping a number of attacks on enemies won’t just overcharge his archery tempo, it’ll allow him to automatically lock onto enemies and fire off several arrows into their shiny skulls in the blink of an eye. There’s still some fine-tuning to do on Hawkeye, as his heavy ability to unleash a volley of arrows appears to have absolutely random aim while transforming the in-game camera into a drunk uncle at a wedding party, but the key takeaway here is that Clint is a heck of a lot of fun to play as.
He’s effective at any range, and with allies running support he’s an invaluable asset who can help take down flying death-fortresses or get rid of a mechanical maniac by shoving a rocket arrow into its eye socket.
The same can’t be said for Future Imperfect though. Billed as the big climax to the Hawkeye story, this new expansion is painfully short and its only highlight is Clint remarking that his dog needs him. What was teased as an epic confrontation with a dark future turned out to be an anti-climatic fizzle at best.
Sure it started out promisingly with the introduction of Old Man Hawkeye and the dust-swept remains in the new Wasteland patrol zone, but the story content was over in an hour. Even the tease of encountering the Hulk’s twisted future self known as the Maestro turned out to be nothing more than a quick boss fight that quickly brought the curtain down on the entire expansion.
For all of the beat-downs that Marvel’s Avengers has endured since it launched last year, I’m still hoping to see a game that does right by Earth’s mightiest mortals. It’s understandable that developing a game this big and this ambitious in a world racked by a global pandemic is a Herculean effort, and developer Crystal Dynamics has revealed where it intends to take the franchise next.
Characters like Hawkeye proves that the team knows how to make a fun game, but a number of elements still work against it. After all, what’s the point in being given all the tools to be an Avenger when you can barely use them thanks to a screen that’s almost impossible to read during action moments, enemies taking disruptive potshots at you from across the screen, and never being allowed to fully use those satisfying combos you’ve just unlocked?
With a Wakanda expansion on the way, Black Panther on the horizon as the next playable character, and more fine-tuning inevitably on the way, there’s still plenty of time to see Marvel’s Avengers rise to the challenge. Hawkeye is proof that the studio knows how to make a treasured comic book icon feel great to play as, but the operations in which players will test their mettle as the beloved archer or any of the other fan-favourite characters still needs a lot more substance to keep attention on the game in the months to come.
Last Updated: March 23, 2021