Should you play Marvel’s Avengers in 2022? When it was originally announced that Square Enix and Tomb Raider developer, Crystal Dynamics, were creating an Avengers video game, the popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe meant it quickly topped the most wanted lists of many Marvel fans. That first teaser trailer – which has now been viewed more than 13 million times – immediately hooked us, promising a fresh take on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
However, as the game slowly started to materialise, it perhaps wasn’t what many had envisioned. With its launch it became clear that, while Marvel’s Avengers features a solid campaign with some pretty memorable character moments, it was also geared toward being a multiplayer experience. A dungeon-crawling brawler designed to be played over and over as you and up to three other superheroes run the same missions for loot and XP.
Square Enix was banking on Marvel’s Avengers managing becoming a flagship live service title for its western studios, going up against games such as Destiny and Warframe. It’s fair to say that it hasn’t even come close to dethroning either of these popular looter shooters. That said, the game continues to enjoy an active fanbase and has benefited from various major updates and expansions. But is it worth playing now, in 2022?
If you didn’t like the core Marvel’s Avengers gameplay at launch then the answer is a resounding no. Although missions frame combat scenarios in different ways, you’ll quickly fall into the habit of spamming a few basic combos and super powers on repeat. Each hero has their own extensive skill tree and moveset, but it’s easy to get away with mindless button bashing and the occasional well-timed dodge. In other words, while there’s clearly depth to the combat system, mastering it doesn’t necessarily make the game any more fun or rewarding.
Perhaps an even bigger turn-off is how Marvel’s Avengers is structured. From the War Table you’ll select one of the game’s regions before launching into a mission, hoping to improve the power level of your selected hero by finding rare loot. That carrot dangling from the end of the stick has never been particularly appealing, though. As long as the numbers go up, you won’t really feel a need to dig into the different stats and how they influence your playstyle. Not until you reach the endgame that is. If you reach the endgame.
Almost two years later, there have definitely been some improvements to Marvel’s Avengers, but to fix the game’s biggest issues would have required a complete overhaul as opposed to tweaking a few systems here and there. At this point, with teams within Crystal Dynamics now working on Perfect Dark for Microsoft and starting pre-production of a new Tomb Raider game, not to mention having just been sold alongside Square Enix’s other western studios to Embracer Group, that just isn’t going to happen.
Still, if you’ve yet to play the game and are looking for a well-told story set in the Marvel universe, then you should at least check out the single player campaign. It offers a new perspective on the Avengers from the viewpoint of Kamala Khan who sets out to reunite Earth’s Mightiest Heroes following their defeat at the hands of MODOK. From Ms. Marvel to the newly added Jane Foster, Crystal Dynamics has tagged in some of the industry’s best performers to bring these characters to life.
While Marvel’s Avengers excels when telling its own comic-inspired story, this is sadly something that doesn’t translate during its multiplayer dungeon-crawling. This isn’t helped by the fact there are only a small handful of supervillains to face amid endless grunts and their supercharged elite variants.
Overall, Marvel’s Avengers isn’t a game we’d easily recommend in 2022, even if we have racked up dozens of hours of play since it originally launched. With friends, it’s an enjoyable co-op action RPG though one that doesn’t have the same level of customisation or reward as the genre’s frontrunners. That said, Marvel superfans may still delight in how their favourite characters are represented, the War for Wakanda expansion being a particular highlight.
Looking to the future, Crystal Dynamics has promised more content that will explore what happens following MODOK’s defeat, but while they’ve hinted at characters like She-Hulk, Captain Marvel and Winter Soldier, Crystal Dynamics are no longer producing roadmaps, leaving their remaining fanbase in the dark. Hopefully this will open a new chapter, weaving more story into those co-op encounters while making hero customisation more transparent and meaningful.