Going into the Marvel’s Avengers beta there was a fair bit of scepticism on my part. Being a fan of superheroes and Marvel in particular there is a mixture of excitement in having a AAA game where the iconic heroes team up and some trepidation on how that would all actually work. The Marvel’s Avengers beta gives a taste of what players can expect from the main game, and it looks promising, though not without a few issues.
In the beta you can play through 3 main story modes, some War Zones, Drop Zones, and a secondary mission focused on Hulk. Starting out with the A-Day level (the same one that was playable at last year’s E3) players will get to grips with each of the core Avengers team including Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, and Black Widow. It’s a good mission that gives you a chance to try out the different combat styles of each, from the close quarters fisticuffs of Black Widow and Captain America, to more of the ranged and weapon based combat of Thor and Iron Man. Meanwhile Hulk is a tank that can take out groups quickly while tearing through scenery as he’s apt to do. Each Avenger can slot three super abilities to the shoulder buttons that charge up after use and can help level the playing field when needed.
After A-Day the other campaign missions centre around Kamala Khan (AKA Ms. Marvel) and Hulk, with Kamala firmly in the spotlight. Although she’s existed in the pages of Marvel comics for almost a decade now, she’s not as established as the other Avengers, yet she’s arguably the most fun to play of the lot. When she Embiggens, bosses become much less of a challenge too. As a character she’s quirky and relatable, due to the fact she’s an Avengers fangirl herself who often finds it hard to contain her excitement in their presence. Even when Black Widow and Iron Man become unlockable, bringing the roster up to four characters in the beta, Ms Marvel is the character I kept going back to.
Drop Zone missions in the beta do begin to feel quite repetitive. You either must take out an elite AIM squad, destroy turbines, hold an area, or engage in a domination-like match to get hold of control points. I hope the missions are more varied in the final release of Marvel’s Avengers. The environments are samey too, but that would be down to the limited locations in the beta. The full game should have plenty more on offer, depending on where the Avengers find themselves exploring during the main story.
As you play missions you will find gear that improves character power levels in an of RPG-lite way, similar to the looter shooter progression of Destiny and Borderlands. You will only get gear for the character you are controlling, so if you want power parity you will have to replay missions with the other characters to get that gear. That forces you to get used to playing with the different Avengers, but it can get repetitive, in the same way running multiple characters in looter shooters tend to involve a fair bit of grinding. Gear does not change the appearance of characters, with that solely happening when new costumes are unlocked.
The Chimera is the main hub for the Avengers, and it is huge. Unfortunately, your walking speed feels very slow, so it can take a bit of time to get from one part of the ship to another. Just a slight increase in walking speed could help alleviate that, and I have another very slight nit-pick here as well: I do not like the sound the doors make when they shut! They sound sci-fi, but also make it seem like the doors are saying “thoka” (hard th not soft), and in Punjabi that means spit. Every time a door shuts, I hear it saying “spit” at me. I’m sure it’s nothing more than a coincidence, but it is there!
The Marvel’s Avengers beta gives more than a quick glimpse of what to expect from Crystal Dynamics newest game. This is a large helping of content from the game and after spending a few hours picking away at it, we’ve come away finally understanding exactly what this game is and what the Tomb Raider studio is trying to achieve. So far it’s coming together nicely, and while not exactly revolutionary we’re impressed with how it enables a group of radically different Avengers to fight side-by-side. Let’s just hope the story can inherit some of that MCU magic and that we see more mission variety when the game finally touches down on September 4th.