The first of three betas of Square Enix’s upcoming game based on The Avengers (titled Marvel’s Avengers) launched this past Friday. You could only have played in this beta if you pre-ordered the game on the PlayStation 4. There will be two more betas in the coming weekends. August 14th-16th the beta is open to all PS4 players and those who pre-ordered on PC or Xbox and then the free beta for everyone on all platforms is the 21st-23rd. So if you didn’t already pre-order and want to play the game before it launches on September 4th, you certainly have an opportunity to do so.
I normally do not recommend pre-ordering any game. I admittedly took a pretty big gamble pre-ordering the PS4 version because frankly, I knew I would have the time to really check it out this weekend and I might not the next two. Square Enix’s Marvel’s Avengers has had a pretty rocky road as far as public showings go. I more or less covered this in my previous post. The recent “Wartable” presentations were pretty good but first impressions mean a lot and I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of “meh” from the public when it comes to this game.
And it would be a shame if Marvel’s Avengers fails because of a public that judged it based on those admittedly kinda poor early showings because based on what I spent hours playing this weekend, the game shows a lot of promise, albeit with a couple of rough edges you admittedly wouldn’t expect from a AAA game from one of the world’s biggest game developers based on one of the world’s hottest franchises that haven’t had that many games the last decade. People should theoretically be clamoring for a high-budget Marvel game that isn’t based on Legos.
So let’s get the negatives out of the way first because I don’t want to end what as I already said is an overall pretty positive impression on a sour note or a bunch of nitpicks. There is no getting around that the character models in Marvel’s Avengers aren’t great. Some are downright ugly. Black Widow & Thor, in particular, look pretty bad. But it’s also the kinda drab tone and muted colors. Even in stages that take place in what should be lushly-colored jungles seem way too toned down. I’m not saying you need the ultra-bright colors often associated with the MCU but there’s got to be a happy medium between so bright it’s blinding and going for such a dark tone I have to turn the brightness all the way up just to see things.
Secondly, while he’s certainly not terrible, Hulk is in my humble opinion, the least fun character to play out of the ones available in the beta. Despite being, you know, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, which should make him a natural tank character that can absorb a ton of damage, he’s just as vulnerable as any other hero and slower and a bigger target with special attacks that are a little hard to focus correctly.
Finally, the beta itself is very poorly laid-out it in how it teaches you how the game works, it basically throws a few brief hints to start, and then you get real training in the first “H.A.R.M.” room. It’s not that hard to experiment and figure out how geat and resources work and if you’ve played loot-based games before it’s familiar stuff but there’s going to be some of the crowd who has no idea and that’s not good.
Now onto the good stuff, although whether this some of this qualifies as “good” might depend on personal taste. Marvel’s Avengers has often been described as Destiny-like and if you are wondering how a game featuring individual superheroes is like an online MMO loot-shooter well, it’s actually got quite a bit in common with some of Destiny’s most prominent features.
Firstly though there is absolutely a single-player story to experience which I’ll get to in a bit, one-off missions where you get a bunch of loot, fight waves of enemies, protect territories and fight huge bosses is a huge part of Marvel’s Avengers. While you can certainly skip all of this and just focus on single-player, it’s getting to play as your favorite heroes more often, whether it’s on your own or with friends and that’s a good thing. Not all the missions were fun to me, with the one big raid boss being an especially ridiculous affair, but that’s to be expected. Some were incredibly fun and most produced some pretty cool rewards.
As far as the loot goes, well that’s an even more key component of Marvel’s Avengers and I really enjoy it. It is very much a “watch the numbers go up” sort of deal, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I love either constantly finding new gear or resources to upgrade my gear and watching those numbers go up, it’s extremely satisfying and a good hook just like it is in Destiny. There’s also experience levels and skill trees and so on so it’s like every hero is almost their own class. The coolest part about all this is that you can make your heroes specialize in a way that makes them way different from someone else’s hero. Your Iron Man can be very different from someone else’s with all the possible modifiers and whatever skill trees you upgrade. Whether or not future DLC heroes will all feel unique or start falling into set types in up in the air but right now it’s fair to say every hero feels and plays differently while having enough in common that you can switch from one to the other and still pretty much know what you are doing which is a nice balance.
And honestly my favorite part about the multi-player strike missions? You don’t have to have a full party of online friends. Or any friends if you don’t want to. The A.I. will fill in slots with available heroes and they are incredibly helpful in the missions. That’s really cool if I just want to do either a ten-minute strike ora two-hour raid and don’t necessarily want to be dependent on at least one other person hanging with me the whole time.
That’s the multi-player. Now for the single-player which I think a lot of people were worried about, especially with the Destiny comparisons. I haven’t really played since the first couple of months it was out, but in general, Destiny was very light on content to begin with. There was lore but you had to like find cards and go to a website to see it and the overarching story was very basic and there just wasn’t that much stuff to do.
The good news is the beta of Marvel’s Avengers alone has more missions and a wider variety than Destiny when it launched and while you only get to play a few story missions it gives a real favorable impression of the single-player. You only get a brief amount of time to play as Captain America and Thor in the first level and they aren’t available in the multi-player. You get the most time with Kamala Khan and the Hulk which unfortunately exposes the Hulk as the least fun to play as I stated before but I had a blast playing as Kamala she might be my favorite character to play out of the initial selection. The levels I played also have lots of fun dialogue between the characters and easter eggs that show the developers know and love Marvel and want fans to see a bunch of fun stuff too and that really makes a difference.
From my impressions of the beta, Marvel’s Avengers isn’t the equivalent of this year’s Spider-Man which was an absolutely amazing game that blew everyone’s minds. It’s got some rough edges and is probably not what some people are looking for in a game starring Earth’s mightiest heroes. But it is a fun game that promises lots of content starring a lot of people’s favorite heroes and giving one of their best newer ones, Kamala Khan, a well-deserved spotlight and that should be sufficient reason for everyone to give it a chance on any of the free beta weekends coming up. I was very skeptical of the initial unveiling of the game but now I am super excited to play both the single and multi-player content of Marvel’s Avengers when it launches on PS4, Xbox One and PC on September 4th and hope it gets lots of post-launch content for a long time.