We’re in the endgame now (and it’s not that great).
Marevl’s Avengers is out now, but sadly, it’s not the game we’d all hoped it would be. There have been countless examples of live service games suffering poor launches over the course of this generation, and this superhero game is one such game as well. It does have some things going for it, like enjoyable combat and a decent campaign, but the list of issues that weigh it down is a bit too long. Here, we’ll be talking about some of the biggest issues players (ourselves included) have had with Marvel’s Avengers since launch.
Avengers’ loot-driven approach is something that a lot of people have looked at with skepticism for a while, and sadly, at least at launch, it’s proven the skeptics right. Perks from gear feel too incremental, and when you do finally get something that’s worth sticking with, it quickly becomes under-leveled. Those two aspects together mean that the only purpose gear serves is to make the numbers go up, rather than giving you cool gameplay benefits. It’s not until you’re close to hitting the Power cap with a character that the gear starts to make a difference, and by that time, the repetition of the missions most likely will have worn you down.
Speaking of which…
Marvel’s Avengers doesn’t have a shortage of things to do once you’re done with the campaign, but missions just don’t have enough variety. On paper, it sounds like there’s tons of different kinds of missions to go around, with threat sectors, villain sectors, war zones, drop zones, eliminations, and what have you, but once you’re a few hours into the endgame, you realize that they’re all just words. The game has a pool of about half a dozen objectives that it repeats ad nauseam, to the point where all missions start bleeding into each other. It’s not like there’s anything interesting going on from a narrative perspective to keep you hooked either.
The campaign is much better than the multiplayer, thanks to there at least being some notable narrative strengths (such as Kamala as a protagonist) to keep you interested for its duration, but if we’re only talking about the mission design, the campaign suffers as well. Rather than putting you in unique situations that properly leverage the unique abilities of whatever character you’re playing as, campaign missions, too, devolve to just “beat this wave of enemies” more often than not, and it keeps on happening again, and again, and again, right up until the very end.
“DEFEND THE AREA” MISSIONS
One mission type in particular has drawn the ire of quite a few people. Some missions in Marvel’s Avengers task you with defending a specific area, which entails you having to stay within the bounds of a blue circle on the ground- which sounds fine on paper, but is an absolute nightmare when you’re actually playing. Avengers is a very combat-centric game, and so, too, are these specific missions. That means you always have to stay on the move, either to attack enemies, or dodge attacks, or maybe because you take some hits that force you to move. Often (too often), this stuff takes you out of that blue circle you have to defend, which is just incredibly annoying.
Given the fact that it takes place across multiple mission areas, and that the game could have literally taken you around the globe (which it occasionally does) for its missions, you’d think that Marvel’s Avengers might have some environmental variety… but it doesn’t. There’s a forest, a badlands area, a snowy tundra, a city environment, and… that’s it? These areas themselves feel rather dry and lifeless, and given how often you have to visit them to undertake missions (which, as we’ve discussed are also quite bland and repetitive), the feeling of repetition becomes a bit hard to ignore. Indoor environments in particular are reused excessively.
It’s not just the environments in Marvel’s Avengers that are lacking in variety- the enemy design suffers from this issue as well. There are about 9 or 10 main archetypes that each differ from each other meaningfully, but within these archetypes, they all have minor variations that don’t actually seem that big of a deal when you’re in the middle of combat. Most of enemies you fight or bots or androids of some kind, which makes them all feel even more similar, and their visual design doesn’t help them stand out either. Given just how many enemies you’re constantly fighting in the game, eventually they all just start bleeding into one another.
One area where Marvel’s Avengers succeeds to a surprising extent is the way it portrays its main characters, with Kamala Khan in particular being a standout, but it stumbles a little bit in this area as well. For instance, Thor is far too underutilized in the story. He comes into the picture more than halfway through the game, following which he’s just sort of there. Unlike the other Avengers, he doesn’t have any personal stakes in the story, no personal conflicts, and the game by and large doesn’t focus on him too much. Hopefully we’ll get DLC missions down the road that put more of a spotlight on him, because in the campaign as it exists right now, Thor is perhaps the most unnecessary main character.
Iron Man is another character that hasn’t been portrayed very well in the game, much to the disappointment of many. Out of all the Avengers, it feels like he’s the one who’s most in the shadow of the MCU. He’s constantly rattling off quips and one-liners and sarcastic jokes, and while that is of course what you want Tony Stark to be doing, here it just feels like he’s trying too hard to look and sound like Iron Man. It feels like he’s trying to do a Robert Downey Jr. impression, but not doing a very good job of it.
When Anthem launched last year, people talked about its flight controls often, and how good it felt to be flying around like Iron Man (when the game let you do it, at least). Well, in Marvel’s Avengers, you literally get to fly around like Iron Man… but it doesn’t feel very good. Flight controls aren’t as smooth as they should be, and they really show their cracks when you’re in closed spaces, which happens often. Both Thor and Iron Man have flight controls, but Thor is much more viable as a melee fighter, which means Iron Man suffers from this issue much more noticeably.
Given its emphasis on multiplayer, you’d think that Marvel’s Avengers would have a solid multiplayer framework in place at launch. Sadly, that isn’t the case. Matchmaking in particular is quite troublesome. Finding players to play with can take quite a while. You can always look for a quick match if you don’t want to wait that long, but doing so means that you don’t get to decide which mission or character you want, and you often get paired with characters and in missions that might be nowhere close to your current Power level.
Marvel’s Avengers is probably one of the worst optimized game launches we’ve seen in a while, which is really saying something. Out of all of its technical issues (of which there’s plenty), the most egregious is definitely the frame rate. When there are multiple characters and various on the screen (which happens often), the frame rate tanks hard, often to the extent of making the game unplayable. With all the particle effects and business on-screen, it’s understandable that performance can’t remain the most stable, especially on the PS4 and Xbox One’s outdated hardware, but even so, the performance issues can get a bit out of hand all too often.
Long load times might not be a thing once next-gen consoles roll around (or so we hope), but in the here and now, they’re still very much a nuisance. Marvel’s Avengers is one of many games that suffer from this issue. Loading into missions, traveling back into the hub areas, restarting checkpoints when you die (or when you’re forced to because of glitches), and more means that there’s no shortage of instances when a game has to enter loading screens, and every time, you end up looking at these loading screens for far, far too long.
This one is a nitpick, but boy is it annoying. For starters, when you pick subtitles, the game automatically forces closed captions on you as well. There isn’t an option to turn them off and just keep subtitles for now. Then there’s the fact that these closed captions are ridiculously bad, and often, rather than just describing the audio, they flat out reveal character motivations and their inner thoughts, which seems a bit… strange, to put it mildly. The subtitles themselves also have issues, such as their speed not matching the audio, placeholder text appearing in the game, and often not even being close to matching what’s being said by the characters in a scene.
OTHER TECHNICAL ISSUES
Choppy frame rate, long load times, and weirdly bad subtitles are far from the only technical issues Marvel’s Avengers suffers from. Audio is also quite troublesome, and often glitches out completely, from dialogue not being spoken or being cut off to audio effects being entirely mission during gameplay. Lip syncing is often off, characters regularly don’t animate as they’re supposed to, glitches might force you to restart missions, there’s excessive texture pop-in… the list goes on.
Marvel’s Avengers is a live service game with cosmetic customization options, which, of course, means that its a gold mine for Square Enix in terms of monetization. And monetized it they have. All in-game purchases are cosmetic, of course, and while you can unlock skins and emotes and costumes through gameplay, that requires way too much grinding. If you just want to purchase those cosmetics, you’re gonna have to pay up a ridiculous amount of credits, the in-game currency. Add to that the fact that all post-launch characters will each have their own individual $10 battle pass, and what we have on our hands is yet another aggressively monetized game.