Since Marvel’s Avengers launched in September 2020, the much-hyped superhero video game has undergone a number of updates and expansions. It’s second major DLC has just dropped, introducing not only a new playable hero, but a new biome, complete with its singleplayer story arc, multiplayer missions, and more.
If you’ve been at all curious to try out Marvel’s Avengers, or indeed dive back in after a long hiatus, Operation: Future Imperfect provides a compelling excuse, flanked by the freshly enhanced PS5 and Xbox Series X|S versions of the game.
Let’s talk about the main highlight here: Hawkeye. Underlining his somewhat underappreciated status within Earth’s gang of mightiest heroes, Clint Barton didn’t make the original roster for Marvel’s Avengers, and has actually arrived months after his mentee, fellow hotshot Kate Bishop.
His debut ties in with a short series of story-driven missions that lead players to a new explorable zone called the Wasteland. As its name implies, Operation: Future Imperfect has you venturing along an alternate timeline in which the Avengers failed to repel the Kree invasion. While interesting in premise, Future Imperfect doesn’t leave much of an impact, tying up neatly within a couple of hours while vaguely nodding at where the game’s story might meander in future.
If there’s one thing comic book fans found disappointing about Marvel’s Avengers it was a distinct lack of familiar characters, especially villains. This second DLC fails to remedy that issue. Though we get to throw down against Maestro during the finale, he lacks any sort of presence beyond the two cutscenes which bookend his boss fight. Not only that, you’ll be fighting the same waves of AIM robots from the base game on a near endless loop.
Kate Bishop had previously been an ideal choice for expanding the Avengers roster. It’s great to see Crystal Dynamics, a developer known for its empowering female protagonists, continue to diversify its roster of mostly male heroes. However, with Hawkeye now thrown into the mix, that’s two bow-focused characters back to back. Considering the bounty of options available when it comes to the Avengers roster, it’s fair to say that Kate Bishop and Hawkeye are far from the most intriguing duo, especially when Scarlet Witch and Vision are currently on everyone’s lips.
That said, Crystal Dynamics have done a stellar job in making Hawkeye a fun and versatile hero to play. At first glance, his signature arrow-slinging may look dull compared to Hulk’s penchant for ultimate destruction, Thor’s mighty lightning moves, or Iron Man’s billion dollar arsenal. However, Hawkeye has plenty of tricks up his sleeve.
While his light and heavy sword combos are pretty reliable for fending off grunts, you’ll steadily shift more towards Hawkeye’s ranged and special attacks as you start to level up and spend those skill points. He can be fairly uninteresting to play at first until you start optimising your gear and selecting mastery skills to enhance certain skills and attacks.
It won’t be long before you’re slicing and shooting with deadly precision, swapping between the archer’s three arrow types, and weaving deadly combos that light up the screen with damage numbers. Razor arrows can pick off targets from afar, whereas Cluster shots will turn his bow into a shotgun, and Pulsar arrows allow you to tag enemies with remote explosives.
What works really well here is how the combat designers implement bow attacks alongside standard melee combos. These advanced moves can rain down destruction while also offering some added crowd control utility. Don’t be deceived – although not as immediately gratifying as other Avengers heroes, playing as Hawkeye is immensely rewarding the more you play as him.
Overall, Operation: Future Imperfect is a small step in the right direction, but it fails to tackle the biggest issues Marvel’s Avengers faces. Those left bitter by the game’s live service hooks, uninspired loot, and reliance on grindy dungeon brawls will find nothing worth celebrating here.