The day is finally upon us: the Avengers have been let loose. It took months of internet uproar to get here. Like all things Marvel and Avengers—and really, all things video games—the arguing was relentless over everything having to do with this video game. There were complaints about the artistic direction, exhausting anger directed at the microtransactions, and most disappointingly, nerd rage over Kamala Khan’s lead role, which is the kind of sexist, racist bullshit we’ve seen take a disgusting hold on gaming. No one was happy, especially after the lackluster headlines about the beta. “We don’t like the art style!” “The art style is fine, but the combat sucks!” “The combat is fine, but why’s the matchmaking slow?!”
Shut up, all of you.
I played Marvel’s Avengers, a lot, and I’m here to say it’s a flashy, heroic blast that brings the Avengers universe into the gaming realm seamlessly and faithfully. (I’m sure that I’ll get hate mail for being positive about the game, and that I’ll be deemed “idiotic” for failing to see its flaws, but listen, I’m just trying to have a nice time.) Marvel’s Avengers is a good thing for 2020, one of the only good things. It is a perfectly fun game. Just accept it. Go get upset about politics or our crumbling society instead. So while it may pain you, here’s a warm and fuzzy review of a game I happen to love.
Avengers has two main modes, the campaign and the “Avengers Initiative.” The campaign is not quite as lengthy as Ghost of Tsushima, Spider-Man, The Last of Us, or one of the many other great narrative-based titles of late, mostly due to the additional story given to you in the Initiative. And Avengers Initiative is really where this game comes alive. It lets you and three of your friends, or random players, or computers if you prefer, take on missions in coordinated strikes. You’ll have a lot more fun in multiplayer if you’re communicating with your regular gamer zone teammates, simply because of how much you need to work together and back each other up. (Initiative does not allow for duplicates of characters, and thank god for that, otherwise we’d only see Iron Man and Captain America everywhere.) The combat isn’t Dark Souls deep, but it still allows for plenty of dodging and parrying action. The thing that makes Avengers truly special is the versatility in each hero’s combat style. Iron Man plays drastically different than the Hulk, and while there may be loose similarities, if you de-skinned all the characters you could still tell exactly who you were playing based on the feel.
Many of the complaints about Avengers stemmed from the fact that it is not like Insomniac’s Spider-Man. It just isn’t, and it never was going to be. From the beginning, Avengers was marketed as a class-based looter. When you take that genre into account, it’s a damn good title. I may be biased because I don’t mind grinding through levels to get what I need, but for me, Avengers accomplishes that “come back for more” and “one more round” pull you look for from looters, while adding combat that’s flashier and more interactive than top-down dungeon crawlers or looters like Diablo or Marvel’s Ultimate Alliance. As for the art style, the human facial features aren’t the best we’ve seen this generation, but the flashy costumes, shiny textures, and glow action are exactly right, especially considering you won’t spend much time looking at faces save for in the campaign cutscenes.
Naturally, people were also pissed to learn about the microtransactions in Marvel’s Avengers, but what the hell else is new? They’re just kinda stuck in gaming now. It may be true that every hero has a purchasable battle pass for $10 apiece, but the marketplace and in-game currency are only used for cosmetics, and if you’re going to have microtransactions, that is the way to go about it. Plus, after purchasing one battle pass you’ll have earned enough credits back to buy the next one. Of course, you can sink money into buying credits, but you by no means have to. Considering that we’re getting a metric shit-ton of new characters and free content following this game’s launch, paid cosmetics are hardly a cardinal sin. That warrants dropping a few bucks to put Hulk in a funny hat.
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That upcoming content makes the future of Avengers seem especially bright: Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, and the PlayStation-exclusive Spider-Man (sorry, everyone else), along with new online quests and costumes. Plus, leaks are circulating that a much longer list will include the likes of Black Panther and Doctor Strange. If Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix take as much time with the next batch of heroes as they did with the original six, then this game will be unbelievable by its first year anniversary.
While every Triple-A, blockbuster game goes through some sort of online troll rampage, this was a particularly perfect storm: a video game about the Avengers with a woman of color taking the lead. Kamala Khan, well, she’s a massive Avengers fan, just like you all say you are, and following her story seven years after her comic debut, seeing how much she obviously loves these heroes, is powerful stuff. Endearing, too. Those unwilling to explore this game because it doesn’t feature another Captain America or Iron Man plot leave a bad taste behind. What this review comes down to is: Avengers is more than worth picking up, as long as you’re aware that it is a great game that is not Insomniac’s Spider-Man. It is Marvel’s much-needed breakthrough into the Triple-A, blockbuster game category, one of the few categories DC had the edge in until now. This could be the start of a new dynasty for Marvel.
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