Coming from the culminating conclusion of the Infinity saga with Avengers: Endgame a month ago, the most iconic Marvel heroes had a head full of steam before E3 2019. However, its revelation drew a wide range of reviews based on everything from the way the game worked to the appearance of characters. As a result, the hype train slammed on the brakes as concern grew over the state of the game.
A few months later, at Gamescom 2019, I played through the opening mission of the game, and even if I enjoyed most of the experience, it was not the game that the heroes deserved the most powerful on Earth. Then, just like the Avengers themselves do when their game opens, Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix have gone dark. The studio delayed the game from spring to fall in order to respond to player feedback, with its great reemergence happening today. The result is an Avengers game that looks renewed from the version that was widely criticized in 2019. I spoke to the developers to not only learn more about how the team is creating a unique Avengers story, the different systems in place and what players can expect from the game after launch, but how the delay helped the studio refine the experience.
Pick up the pieces
Pick up the pieces
The opening mission that Crystal Dynamics presented last year took place during A-Day, a festive festival in San Francisco in honor of the Avengers and the opening of their headquarters on the West Coast. Unfortunately, this event broke out in violence as a mysterious enemy led by the deadly mercenary Taskmaster attacked the Golden Gate Bridge. In this section, the player experiences brief sequences as renowned heroes: Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America and Black Widow. While the Avengers are doing their best to bring down this force, it’s not enough, as the attack on the bridge turns out to be a distraction while the enemy targets the Avengers helicopter carrier. The hovering leviathan, powered by a Terrigen crystal, is destroyed, killing Captain America and making Terrigen Mist rain over the city, granting uncontrolled powers to countless civilians.
With San Francisco reeling and the world watching in horror, the superpowers are banned, creating a safety vacuum that the world has grown accustomed to since the creation of the Avengers. To fill this void, in stages, the technology giant Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM), with the mission of replacing the heroes now dissolved. “They proposed a very noble solution, which is:” With science and technology, we can offer security and protection “, so a science against superpowers solution was proposed,” explains creative director Shaun Escayg.
AIM promises to use science not only to protect the world, but also to cure the “inhuman” infection that has spread through San Francisco, now quarantined, due to the Terrigen explosion. Unfortunately, while AIM may seem to have the best interests of the people in mind, the organization is anything but noble. The company, led by founding member George Tarleton, turns public fear of the Inhumans into a fear of those with superpowers.
Very quickly, Avengers fangirl Kamala Khan, who was at the celebration of the day A and remains firm in his belief in the most powerful heroes of the Earth, discovers a conspiracy which not only AIM experiments on Inhumans, but the company could even to be behind the bridge attack and explosion of helicopter. While Kamala needs the help of the remaining heroes, she is anything but helpless.
In fact, being at A-Day, she is exposed to the Terrigen Mist and undergoes an inhuman transformation that allows her to embrace and stretch parts of her body. It takes the name of Mrs. Marvel, on the model of one of her favorite heroes, Captain Marvel. Unfortunately, since she now has powers, she, along with many other San Franciscans, has to hide. After this round, it becomes a central and key element not only of the reassembly of the Avengers, but of the history of the game as a whole.
An Ignoble objective
An Ignoble objective
While Ms. Marvel’s emergence is a positive side effect of the catastrophic events of A-Day, she is not the only central character affected by the Terrigen explosion in San Francisco. George Tarleton was also caught in the explosion and left injured and disfigured. The aftermath of the explosion and exposure to Terrigen caused massive growth in Tarleton’s brain. Tarleton tries to recruit Kamala, saying he can help “cure” her inhuman “disease”, but she doesn’t buy it and she escapes AIM custody to bring the plot to Bruce Banner, Tony Stark and the rest of the Avengers.
However, meeting the Avengers is an easier said than done task. Not only are the heroes dispersed and isolated, but they are often at odds with each other thanks to the distrust sown by AIM and Tarleton, or MODOK as it is known. In fact, Tarleton’s transformation has made it even more brilliant than before. This combination of technological power and super-awesome intellect makes him a major threat to the Avengers.
While those who have only watched Marvel Cinematic Universe movies don’t know who MODOK is, comic book readers are well aware of the character’s insidious nature. “We wanted a villain who was a formidable Avenger-level threat, but smarter than the average villain, not only using technological power, but his ability to divide from within, his ability to come up with a very challenging solution – even noble in some, ”says Escayg. “He has Bruce Banner and Tony Stark at war; they can’t even see each other in the eye because Bruce believes the Hulk is a dangerous being and maybe the Avengers are too, and Tony shares the opposite view , like Kamala, that without them the world would be in danger. This particular villain was smarter, more powerful, could exert this influence and influence public opinion even within the Avengers themselves on how they see themselves or perceive themselves. “
Crystal Dynamics watched the story she wanted to tell and realized that the malicious pessimism under which AIM and MODOK operate are perfect benchmarks for the unfettered optimism that Ms. Marvel has for the Avengers. Not only that, but they have each personified the public conflict that is unfolding around the world over those who are overpowered.
“It created the best conflict of the two opposing themes: are these people really superheroes? Or are they just powerful and dangerous beings? Can we use science and technology to control and harness this power? Or is it their humanity, their empathy or their differences that really make them the greatest protectors on Earth? Said Escayg. “It was the perfect recipe for conflict and to highlight these opposing themes.”
With a threatening and sophisticated organization led by a disturbed but brilliant figurehead, the world needs the Avengers more than ever. However, with the public opinion of the Avengers and mistrust in the ranks of heroes at an all time high, Kamala Khan has a lot to do if she wants to bring the team together. Thus begins Operation Reassemble.
Assemble your own Avengers
Assemble your own Avengers
While bringing together a team of Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hulk and Ms. Marvel is an exciting prospect, players can take over the heroes using an extensive customization system. Each hero has skills, heroic moves, and equipment that can be customized in depth to deliver the style of play you want. Each hero’s skills consist of four distinct categories and are enhanced with these skill trees. By using the skill points earned while playing, you can unlock new moves, combos and attacks. For example, one of Thor’s melee skills is the Hammer Spin, which allows him to spin Mjolnir around his wrist, or Mjolnir Cyclone, which allows him to spin to perform a fierce zone attack. Meanwhile, one of Thor’s ranged abilities is manual targeting, which allows you to mark enemies to bounce your hammer like a pinball machine.
In terms of heroic movements, each hero has three categories to fill: Assault, Ultimate and Support. The Assault Heroic is the fastest to load, with a few movements allowing you to store several loads. These moves include attacks like Thor’s ground pound and Black Widow’s electrified projectile called Widow’s Bite. Support heroics focus on helping your teammates. Warrior’s Fury is Thor’s, who summons a special essence from the sky to grant close teammates temporary invulnerability. Ultimate Heroics takes the longest to load, but they can change the course of the battle. For example, Thor’s God Blast calls upon the power of the Bifrost of the Nine Realms to deliver a devastating attack that can pierce shields.
Thor is one of the most versatile heroes, but he’s not the only one who can be played the way you want. By configuring your heroes your way, you can create different gameplay archetypes, even going so far as to create a supporting Iron Man or a remote Hulk. You can even deepen the abilities you equip and use with a Mastery Tree, which allows you to use a fine-tooth comb to configure and fine-tune every last bit of your heroes.
In addition to these heroic skills and abilities, players can further customize their heroes by using equipment, perks, artifacts, and more. Gear works much like other games, giving stat bonuses, while Gear Perks gives you mods and buffs in specific situations. An epic piece of equipment for Black Widow provides benefits such as ranged attacks that improve defense and heavy combos that increase stun damage. Some equipment even uses elements like Pym particles to reduce enemies or gamma radiation to grant additional damage modifiers.
“In addition to all the unique powers the heroes had, we wanted to know what no one could do?” said combat director Vince Napoli. “We really looked at the technological aspects of Marvel and some of the fundamental concepts that are global for all heroes, namely the ability to use Pym Particle technology and reduce enemies, or to use gamma radiation to create a Gamma status effect. We also have cosmic status effects and a few others. “
On top of all that, the team at Crystal Dynamics has created tons of cosmetics, including emotes and outfits. I’m particularly happy to see the different uniforms and costumes from Marvel’s rich history for its most iconic characters. Some cosmetic products are won at the end of the mission, while others must be purchased through the in-game supplier, SHIELD’s Chastity McBryde. Some outfits also require you to complete iconic mission chains, while others can only be purchased through the game’s online store. Players can choose from outfits like the Iron Man-inspired Stark Tech outfit The invincible iron man or the alias outfit of Donald Blake de Thor from his first appearance in Journey into mystery.
While this may seem overwhelming to people who just want to jump on a mission and crush the buttons to victory, Napoli says that Marvel’s Avengers is still, at its core, an action game about playing as super – favorite hero. “You still want to make it an option; all great action games have this setting where you can get in and pick it up very quickly and make it feel really, really satisfying with little investment, “he says. “The idea is that once you’re invested in this, you’re more likely to go and say” you know what? “I like to break up guys a bit. What is the low barrier to entry to create a better way to break up guys?” Then, once you are there, hopefully you will take the next step, then to the next step and to the next step. “
From cosmetic adjustments to how you progress through your skill trees, all of these customizations come together to let you play the way you want. In our first gameplay preview since the original revelation of Crystal Dynamics’ A-Day, we saw how all of these components come together to provide the experience you feel on the sticks.
Rising to Heroism
Rising to Heroism
As Ms. Marvel begins to research how to assemble the team, she brings proof of her plots to Bruce Banner, who then travels with her to Tony Stark’s home. The two former Avengers continue to wonder whether those who have superpowers should be considered threats. In a later scene, we see a confrontation between Iron Man and the Hulk. We don’t see how this fight ends, but before the screen goes black, Iron Man summons a giant fist from his Hulkbuster costume to punch him.
It only seems to be the beginning of Kamala’s quest to bring the Avengers together. As Ms. Marvel continues to track down the members of the disbanded team, the story of the solo progresses, opening new missions specific to the heroes. These hero missions are solo movie campaign stages focused on a particular member of the Avengers.
One of these hero-specific missions we looked at was Thor’s “Once an Avenger …” mission. AIM attacks the Avengers’ newly reconstructed helicopter, and the team must work together to prevent it from being destroyed again. AIM drops several robotic walkers on the Chimera helicopter deck while Ms. Marvel watches. Iron Man rushes over and detonates one of the devices and onto the streets below. Crowds are horrified as a Daily Bugle reporter says it’s the same day that AIM promised to reveal its Adaptoid program.
The mission seems to be one of his first missions in the game, as Thor approaches the scene dressed in his alias Donald Blake outfit, with a t-shirt and volunteer jeans. He calls Mjolnir from the Captain America memorial statue as if to say he’s coming out of retirement. Thor rushes over to the presenter side and pushes him away as another metallic meteorite crashes from the helicopter just where he was standing. The god of thunder then passes from street level to the ship using a heavy swing of his hammer to help his fellow Avengers fight.
The scene on the helicopter when Thor arrived is disastrous; AIM walkers breach the hull with their exercises and people like Iron Man and Ms. Marvel are at risk of being overwhelmed. Thor flies up and with a proclamation: “You should know, I’m not in a good mood!” hits the bridge, sending electric shock waves to destroy a group of robots and adaptoid walkers.
As the gameplay sequence begins, Thor wields his hammer powerfully while the rest of the Avengers intervene on communications to talk about their joy at seeing him again in action. Each Mjolnir swing seems to carry the weight I felt it was missing from my first practical experience last year, and each time the hammer hits an enemy, it resonates with a satisfying noise. Players can weave combos together using heavy and light attacks or use long presses to use signature attacks.
Thor turns his attention to one of the walkers, who not only protects himself with an electromagnetic field, but can detonate projectiles, shoot flames and take a heavy portion of damage. Once Thor enters the shield radius, he discharges it with heavy combos using the hammer and lightning. Thor finally brings the walker in by throwing his hammer into the pit, catching it and cutting it before calling a lightning strike to complete it.
Thor spots the Hulk on an upper deck and joins him. Hulk does not seem happy to see the Asgardian and reacts by launching the robot AIM which he has just dismantled against the god of thunder, to which Thor remarks: “Just like in the past”. The two then rushed forward, exploding, smashing and destroying the encroaching mechs. Thor has a wide range of abilities that make it viable from a distance and up close. His heavy blows make him a nightmare for the mechs that invade him, while his hammer blows and lightning summons allow him to choose enemies of medium range.
Thor and Hulk focus on another walker. After slaughtering his health, the two execute a Team Finisher where Thor returns the walker, Hulk jumps over it with a piece of soil and breaks it, and Thor channels the electricity via Mjolnir to deliver the final blow. In another team case, the two collaborate with Thor slamming in the middle of the walker, Hulk tearing off his leg and clubbing the walker with. Thor and Hulk aren’t the only ones who can team up; in another gameplay sequence, I see Mrs. Marvel and Hulk taking apart a robot together.
The bridge continues to flood with more mechs, drones and walkers, Thor, Iron Man and Hulk doing their best to follow. MODOK announces that it has one last card to play: a giant walker, which it drops in the middle of the ship to descend into the engine room. Thor notes that he can manage it himself, which Iron Man refutes: “You don’t have to!” Exactly.”
Thor is sent to a lower floor to join the Hulk again in the fight against certain Adaptoids. He invokes his support of heroic warrior fury on the Hulk to give the green monster temporary invulnerability and let him crush his heart. Thor then redirects his attention to the giant walker, who has a special Stark Tech shield that Iron Man cannot penetrate with his rays. Fortunately, Thor has an Ultimate ready, and he calls on the power of Bifrost to bypass the shield, demolish the Walker, and thwart MODOK’s plan.
Despite the threat being neutralized, the damage is done and Black Widow goes over the radio to say that there is not enough power to restart the engines. Tony gives his signal to Thor and the Asgardian sends electricity to the front engines just in time to prevent the Chimera from crashing in the city below. This taste for heroic cinematic missions excited me to see how Crystal Dynamics can capture the feeling of being a powerful superhero through organized missions designed with specific heroes in mind. However, with so many personalization and field gameplay variables, Warzone could be the place where Marvel’s Avengers really flexes its muscles.
All together now
All together now
Knowing more about each character through Hero missions seems like a great way to delve into the history of this title and the universe in which it exists, but the Avengers are all about to team up to save the day. With Warzones, you can undertake missions with up to four players online or offline alongside A.I. companions. All the customization you make with your heroes plays an even more important role in Warzone missions, because not only do you bring your custom Avenger into the mission, but all AI characters you fight with are the versions you created in using skills, equipment and cosmetics.
The hero missions are intended to advance the story, but the war zones also take place in the story, the team coming together to fight AIM. As such, you continue to gain experience and upgrades by completing these missions, even if they are not primarily designed to advance history. You get missions from peripheral Marvel characters like A.I. from Tony Stark. Jarvis, Maria Hill of SHIELD, or the brilliant scientist Hank Pym. Once you’ve selected a mission, you jump into the Quinjet for matchmaking and hero selection.
War zones take you all over the world, from remote places to dense cities. Some war zones are designed for exploration and team crossing, while others take place in narrow, combat-oriented corridors and buildings. Each war zone has a variety of objective-based missions and battles for which you can reap the rewards.
“There are all these different things going on, and all of them are in different regions, so we could have built this giant open world game, but that wouldn’t have allowed us to have the Avengers as that global presence that can quite a lot go everywhere and react to any threat, “says Warzone director Phil Therien.” Instead, we have built regions that are essentially small open world subsets where we have many missions. “We have had cities, forests, deserts, we can go underwater, we can go into orbit around the Earth. It really allows us to tell the stories we want to tell with the Avengers.”
In addition to Warzones, you also work to repair your helicopter and work with different resistance factions, led by recognizable comic characters like Dum Dum Dugan and Nick Fury. By increasing your reputation with these different factions, you have access to new suppliers, challenges and items. You will want to have access to these powerful allies as new heroes, threats and regions emerge as part of the Crystal Dynamics live services roadmap.
The journey to be worthy
The path to follow
The path to follow
At launch, Marvel’s Avengers hopes to deliver an all-in-one superhero experience in line with Crystal Dynamics’ rich pedigree, but just like comics and movies, the universe is still expanding. While you can purchase items from the in-game store, heroes, villains, and regions should be added at no additional cost.
“If we look at the main campaign, it’s a kind of Kamala from this perspective as a character from a point of view, bringing your heroes together, going through the campaign, including AIM and MODOK, and this story only brings your team, “says studio director Scot Amos.” Then, as we start adding more heroes and more regions, we will actually add more stories – like full stories that actually have a front and an end and like, “Hey, we’re introducing a new hero, and here’s a real story going through this particular region of which they can be a part.” This also includes the new bad guys. We will actually have new bad guys – named bad guys – starting to This world is constantly developing. It starts with AIM and it is first and foremost about understanding AIM and the situation with them, which will start to change more and more as we publish more and more content from month to month and even months after.
Just like in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Crystal Dynamics drops subtle clues throughout the launch content to give players fuel to theorize about what’s to come. “Some of the hooks we threw in the water the first day, you say to yourself,” Oh, that’s pretty cool. AIM has this submarine base. It does cool technology. I wonder if this is going somewhere. “Then, later, we pay for it with,” Oh my God! This is related to that, and now this other character has appeared! Says Amos. “These types of bows are things that we start at the basic level and then add these heroes, regions and villains at no additional cost.”
Crystal Dynamics hopes to regularly support the Marvel Avengers with post-launch content for years to come, but first, it needs to launch a solid launch to build a fan base that would require such a long-term roadmap. After the success of another modern Marvel superhero game, Insomniac’s Spider-Man in 2018, Marvel’s Avengers has a lot to do. However, with the improvements shown in recent footage, as well as the studio’s understanding of what it needs to improve on since its initial revelation, the Avengers look powerful again.