In many ways Marvel’s Avengers is like Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir. It seems impossible to pick up but you know, for a fact, that people wield it successfully. It also looks incredibly impractical, impossible even, and yet it’s surprisingly effective at what it does. The salient difference being if I attach a strap to Marvel’s Avengers and throw it, I won’t be flying anywhere.
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The other difference is what Mjölnir and Marvel’s Avengers ask of you. The hammer asks that you be worthy if you wish to wield it, whilst the game asks a lot of your time if you wish to play it. What they have in common though is that both, despite the lack of a logical explanation, are a lot of fun.
The Crystal Dynamics game isn’t without its problems, but after bouncing off the beta last year and not giving the game a chance, I can assure you that a lot of the growing pains are nowhere near as egregious as most of us who skipped the game thought. Even if there are still some glaring issues to be aware of.
My main takeaway is that the expansions are not a substitute for the game many of us wanted this to be, but that’s not a bad thing. Whilst there is extra story content – which is free – just playing through that and calling it a day is doing yourself and the game a disservice. It would be like throwing Mjölnir and not calling it back despite the fact you know you can, because you found throwing it appeasing enough.
This is because the narrative elements of the game only make you engage with all the different systems and mechanics on a surface level. The story-driven campaigns and DLCs are just guides that give you a tour of the game’s basics, not what long invested time play is like, despite that being the main draw of the game.
This is something of a Destiny 2 issue as the real Marvel’s Avengers – with most of the game’s core mechanics – doesn’t emerge before you hit the post-game, and that means it’ll feel like a lacklustre experience if you don’t persevere with it. You might walk away feeling you just about got your money’s worth at this point, but you may also think that the game is missing a lot of depth, because at that point it is.
The more I dug into the game’s mechanics though, the more fell in love with how they all work. It comes down to four pillars: chosen character, mission structure, enemy variety, and loot. I say this because when the four pillars successfully hold the game up, the loop is incredibly satisfying. The problem is, when one pillar collapses, the rest tend to follow.
More often than not something gets in the way. This ranges from a character that doesn’t feel good to play (but with nine to pick from, this comes down to taste more than anything), mission objectives that feel insultingly simplistic and without variety, enemies that can all be dispatched with basic attacks, or loot that doesn’t scale with you, both in terms of level and play style.
I’ve still been infatuated with grinding through the post-game. Character skills, gear with specific buffs or abilities, missions with better rewards, and longer more challenging gameplay scenarios all present themselves as you put in more time. All this actually shifts how the game plays, as each of the above encourages you to play differently, until you find what best works for you.
Considering that the post-game content now has so much on offer, with a year of updates and changes under the games belt, it still doesn’t go nearly as far as something like Destiny 2. So I can’t see myself treating this like a job, as many service titles are engineered to have players do.
This is mostly due to the fact that once you max a character out and figure out what gear you want, there’s not much else to do. Why replay a mission against the Abomination, or go through multi-room challenges, if the reward isn’t adequate? I understand I’m sounding a bit contradictory here, I’m saying the core gameplay can be good and so can the reward, but ultimately if the reward isn’t good enough, and that’s what a game like Marvel’s Avengers is about, then what’s the point? What loop does a loot grinder have when the reward isn’t exciting?
Marvel’s Avengers doesn’t feel entirely complete. However, as extra loot and different mission structures keep getting added in to the game, I can see myself dropping back in, and really enjoying it.
There are a couple of elements of Marvel’s Avengers that I need to address directly. That’s the game’s glitches and the micro-transactions. Both of these feel out of place, and yet oddly fitting, for a current AAA title. Both can damper the experience as well, as they’re always pushing their way to the forefront and, well, they suck.
Missions bugged out way too often for me, leaving me without the loot I was playing for in the first place. Objectives just wouldn’t load as completed, and I dread to think about the amount of times I got right to the end of an objective, or to a boss, for the game to tell me to ‘dispatch all the enemies’ despite the fact there weren’t any left.
The micro-transactions also pollute Marvel’s Avengers like a cloud of Terrigen Mist, but instead of getting cool powers, Iron Man is now blue instead of red. They may only be cosmetic, but the rate you unlock things like emotes, skins, and custom takedowns when not paying is pitifully slow. Having to put down the asking price, and then have the game demand a couple of quid to put the Hulk in a suit that makes him look dapper as hell is quite insulting. If the expansions weren’t free on top of all this, the tone of my writing would be very different and would include “:(” at least once.
The fun in Marvel’s Avengers is buried deep into the game, so you’ve got to look for it instead of just playing the story and expansions. After a year, it’s definitely worthy of being given a shot, but for it to keep people like me hooked it still needs to consistently grow and improve.
If it doesn’t, the next time I put Marvel’s Avengers down, it’ll be for good.
Marvel’s Avengers is available now. You can play it. You should play it.