Marvel’s Avengers World First Hands-On: Talk about an Endgame!

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Okay, full disclosure: I was never not going to love this. I’m an Avengers fanboy, have been before the MCU turned Captain America and Iron Man into household names even your grandparents have heard. I was so excited to get hands on with The Avengers, frothing even, and I’ll state this up front: I loved every single second.

The characters, the combat, the spectacle that can only be achieved with the pulpy action of a Marvel franchise; it all just rang true to me, I couldn’t stop grinning throughout the whole thing. We were warned that it was still a pre-alpha build and we’d only be playing the tutorial level which has far more quick-time events and linear sections so as to introduce the story and characters in a way that’s accessible to players so we wouldn’t be getting try any of the “big kid” levels (which we were assured would be much more difficult with less hand-holding). So yeah, I loved playing The Avengers.

People are going to HATE this game.

And it breaks my heart to say that, it really does.  I’m being objective from this point onwards, but I did want to get that little bit of fanboyism out of the way as early as I could; I loved this game, I probably will love this game and I don’t think I was ever not going to love it. That being said, I know without a shadow of doubt in my mind, that this game is not what a lot of people wanted out of Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix. There’s been so much confusion as to what kind of game The Avengers even was up until this point, with the messaging around it being that it would be a co-op multiplayer looter-shooter, but the marketing placing a big emphasis on the narrative above all else. The developers knew that people were confused, hence the deep-dive presentation into the gameplay I sat through where the dev team explicitly laid out exactly what it was all about. To sum up all they had to say: It’s definitely a looter-shooter.

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Gear and power levels were a big part of the gameplay presentation, the devs going out of their way to show us that characters would earn loot of differing rarities, power levels and perks that would change the way that characters played, with an emphasis on different playstyles and team composition.

That being said, they were also very quick to remind us that there was still a hefty dose of “Campaign” in the midst, with players who don’t want to play with friends having the options to run the narrative and cutscene heavy story mode that seemed to play out like an alternate take on the Civil War storyline, one where Cap doesn’t rebel due to his untimely death resulting in a ban on superheroes. Branching off these main missions that will focus on individual characters, with levels developed around their unique playstyles, side quests will branch out from this mainline path to flesh out the overall story and provide more context on many of the heroes which become unlocked as you complete their story missions. These unlocked heroes can then be used to replay completed quests to level up and find unique loot.

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Yeah, it’s dense. I’d be lying if I said I got it all down the first time I saw it all go by on the projector but it does make sense when you boil it down to its essential components. The Avengers are your playable characters, they unlock loot through replayable main and side quests, this loot grants different perks and abilities based on assigned skill points; it’s a formula that many gamers are no doubt going to lampoon due to the absurd influence Destiny has held over the game’s industry since it introduced the idea of modern live-service gaming. Despite games like Anthem and The Division often being lambasted for “following the money”, the live-service looter shooter is hot right now, and it’s making some companies a great deal of money. What happens if you throw The Avengers, currently the biggest thing in the world outside of Fortnite, into the mix? Probably a lot of money.

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There are other things people are going to whine about. Microtransactions for cosmetic skins that pull from 80 years of comic history (Joe Fixit for Hulk was definitely my favourite) and a lot of free post-launch content updates to name a couple of such things. Hell, just the inclusion of the word microtransactions was enough to send a shiver down my spine. Not because I’m against microtransactions, especially if they’re just cosmetic, but because I know what the general consensus amongst gamers is going to be. Which makes me a little sad, because even though The Avengers has all the trappings of a genre I myself am not a huge fan of, I’m so excited to play more of that game.

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I got to play as Black Widow duelling with Task Master on top of burning bridge in the first fifteen minutes. I got to pin goons to the side of a truck with Thor’s hammer, rain lightning down on his partner and recall the Mjolnir mid-combo with the press of button. I got to bounce Cap’s shield of a wall and knock out two thug’s at once to catch out of the air in a stylish flourish. No matter what the general consensus on this game turns out to be, and I like to think I’ve at not hidden any of things that will no doubt draw a lot of fire from the public, I’m not ashamed to say that I’m definitely going to love The Avengers.

“Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right…when the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world, “No, you move” – Steve Rodgers, The Amazing Spider-Man #537

Last Updated: August 22, 2019

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