Marvel’s Avengers undoubtedly delivers some repetitive gameplay but I’d argue that it wraps it in just enough story and interesting (although in some cases overly familiar) characters to deliver a very enjoyable game. Avengers isn’t without its flaws, but it capitalises on the success of the MCU while having enough of its own charm as well as a fresh new take on the idea of running around as your favourite hero and smashing up bad guys that underpinned games like the X-Men Legends and Marvel Ultimate Alliance.
The story for Marvel’s Avengers follows Kamala Khan’s efforts to reunite the Avengers five years after ‘A-Day’, a catastrophic event that destroyed the team, seemingly killed Captain America along with hundreds of innocent bystanders, as well as infecting countless others with Terrigen, making them super-powered Inhumans.
The story slowly introduces other characters and alternates the player between each of the Avengers for different missions. Despite being a relatively loose story that mainly points the player in a direction and says go, there is some surprisingly powerful emotion in the heroes arcs and a great emphasis on their development and backstory. This is seen most in Kamala Khan, whose religion and relationship with her father are key to the narrative.
For more experienced video game fans, the cast of Marvel’s Avengers is an all-star line-up, almost distractingly so. Tony Stark is played by Nolan North, who is most notable as Desmond from Assassin’s Creed, Deadpool, and Nathan Drake in the Uncharted series. Bruce Banner is voiced by Troy Baker, best known as Joel in The Last of Us and its sequel, Black Widow is voiced by Laura Bailey whose roles almost surpass North and Baker, and include starring in Gears of War 4 and 5 as Kait Diaz, Mary Jane in the PS4 exclusive Marvel’s Spider-Man, and Abby in the Last of Us Part II. Travis Willingham voices Thor, as he has in several Marvel projects, Jeff Schine is Captain America, and Sandra Saad stars as Kamala Khan.
And yet despite the, in some cases, very familiar voices, the voice actors show their skill by making it their own, and after a few hours of adjusting to the look not quite being the MCU (but notably similar) and the voices being extremely recognisable, the world of Marvel’s Avengers and it’s characters immerses its audience.
The main standout of the game is, of course, Kamala Khan, who acts as the audience conduit in more ways than one. Not only is she the driving force for the story and reason for reuniting the team, but Kamala is also an Avengers super-fan, who freaks out like every one of us would when meeting and interacting with them.
Although the core game revolves around running around, variations of the same kind of combat between each character, smashing boxes and finding loot and better gear, the subtle shifts in each character’s gameplay and the loose story wrapped around countless missions of ‘go here, fight these guys, then smash this thing’ really do add just enough to make the game, it’s story and characters engaging.
Undoubtedly the added bonus of already being familiar with and liking the Avengers helps, and the similarities to the MCU only play into that.
For those who worried the game would be too much of an online, ‘shared-world experience’, looter and level grind game, instead of something more like a single-player fully story-based adventure akin to the likes of Uncharted or God of War, I’d argue that there is still a lot of single-player content, just maybe not enough to justify getting the game if you have no intention on multi-player.
Aside from the main story campaigns, each hero gets a legacy mission set which interweaves with the main story and its villains on a more personal track for each character. As well as that there are random AIM bunkers and labs to destroy and the HARM room training. A more cynical person will see the story as a convoluted introduction to the online quest and gear collecting mechanics, but I’d still argue that the story does enough to make the campaign enjoyable enough in its own right.
Although it is relatively short, clocking in at around ten to twelve hours (not counting each characters legacy missions and HARM challenges).
Where the game perhaps falls short for people wanting to play the game alone, it does, however, excel on a multiplayer level. The shortcomings that come with the AI and repetitive missions are countered by the novelty and fun of running around with other people as a unique team of Avengers tearing through AIM and taking on larger than life villains.
As any good superhero games should, Avengers comes with several costume options for characters that lean into both original designs and more traditional ones, there aren’t any exact MCU ones in there yet, but they will surely arrive soon.
In terms of problems, some cutscenes can be ruined by random pop-ups getting in the way of the camera angle. Random audio issues where characters that aren’t around start talking or say some very out of context lines were present in both the Beta and the final version. The load times aren’t too bad, although some sections where you can die by jumping the wrong way cause a full reload which can be pretty annoying, the counterpoint to that is that once loaded features like completely swapping outfits happen instantly, without needing to reload the game.
Ultimately Marvel’s Avengers has a good amount of story for more casual Marvel and MCU fans that aren’t big gamers, but perhaps lacks more dedicated story content for fans of fully immersive twenty-plus hour campaigns.
But that isn’t what Avengers is, nor is it what it is trying to be, instead, this is the start of a shared world online experience that will continue to add Marvel characters regularly over the coming years and well into the next generation of games.
Overall, as a starting point, Marvel’s Avengers delivers repetitive gameplay, sprinkled with enough character and story to keep it fun and engaging, and the beginnings of what could well be the MCU of video games, although it undeniably still has a long way to go, it’s a solid start.