While superhero movies have been around for much longer as a whole, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has entranced viewers the world over for more than a decade. It doesn’t require looking very hard to find people who have grown up watching and loving these movies; people who wonder what it must be like to actually have superheroes in your world, what does it mean to be one of Marvel’s Avengers, what is it like to save the world?
Next year, Crystal Dynamics hopes that we all find out as they release the not-terribly-inventively-titled Marvel’s Avengers to PS4, Xbox One, Stadia, and PC. Despite it not coming out until next May, this week is the week of New York Comic-Con, and if that means anything, it means that members of the press can get our hands on some early demos of the game, and that’s just what happened this past Wednesday with the new Avengers game.
To be clear, this game does not take place within the MCU. It features Marvel characters, but it is a separate universe entirely. There is no connection here with movies or other games.
That out of the way, when we sat down to play, we took a look at two different portions of the game. First, we played the opening level (kind of a tutorial establishing the basic narrative of the game), and then we spent time as Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel herself, trying out her skills in a training arena.
One of the most immediate things that was apparent picking up the game was the cinematic nature of it all. Cutscenes had the camera swinging around and leant a huge air of excitement. Every time I switched characters, I found a smile on my face as I got to pummel baddies in a (slightly) new way with some relatively spiffy graphics (save, maybe, Thor’s beard which didn’t look great).
The intro level had us in San Francisco at the Golden Gate Bridge as a bunch of villains had put a stop to the “A-Day” festivities and the opening of an Avengers building in San Francisco. There was a constant influx of bad guys everywhere. The action was fast and without an easy way of locking on targets, there was plenty of camera spinning needed to get enemies in sight. The camera was often not quite where I wanted it and consequently didn’t offer up the bad guys I knew were just off screen and getting ready to fire at me (an indicator informed me of as much).
I started as Thor and progressed one by one through Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, and Black Widow (not necessarily in that order, but I think that’s right), testing out their various abilities. While they were nominally different to play, the amount of time we had with each was not quite enough time to assure us that each member of the squad had a truly distinct feel, but as one progresses through the game, levels up, and customizes the Avengers with various abilities/equipment, that may become more prevalent.
Certainly, during Head of Studio Scot Amos’s presentation, the tailoring of characters was one of the things noted – each Avenger can be upgraded to suit the player’s wants. The particular example we heard was that one of the members of the team likes to play Thor more as a tank character on the ground, whereas another plays him flying around and using area weapons. They have both advanced their character choosing the abilities/strengths that would allow them to play in their chosen manners. How different will a flying Thor be from Iron Man or a ground Thor be versus Hulk? That remains to be seen.
As explained by Amos, the game will feature solo missions known as Hero missions (a traditional campaign) along with missions that can be done co-op, Warzone missions, with up to four people (remotely). People can add and drop from co-op mid-mission, and everyone must choose a different character (no running through a level with four Hulks). Missions will be selected from a map aboard a helicarrier the Avengers are using as their base. Some Hero missions require one character, others require multiple characters, and there are what appear to be side missions as well that reveal secrets and help folks gain new equipment.
In terms of story, that first level we played has everything go horribly wrong on A-Day and the game will pick up five years after those events with the player having to put the Avengers back together and right wrongs. The big reveal we got was that much of the story will center on Kamala Khan and it will be she who spurs the group to do reassemble and figure out the secret of AIM, the group that has taken over protecting the world.
Amos promised that after the game’s launch in May of next year, there will be new characters and new regions released. He also detailed some of the multitude of outfits players can wear as various Avengers and stated that outfits didn’t in any way effect abilities or gameplay (essentially, they’re just cool, and some of them definitely were).
As so much still can be altered with a game this far from release, the big question one has to answer after a hands-on demonstration like this is simple: is it intriguing enough that I want to see it again?
With Marvel’s Avengers, the answer is: definitely.
Marvel’s Avengers is due out May 15, 2020.