Marvel’s Avengers has faced its fair share of criticism during its road to launch, but the public opinion appears to be shifting more in the game’s favor lately. The latest War Table stream had a lot to do with that and helped set the stage for the beta that’ll give the community its first hands-on experience with the game. That beta is starting soon, and if for those who are still on the fence about the game or have some lingering questions about it, there’s a good chance this beta will win some of those skeptics over.
This is coming from someone who grew increasingly skeptical, not more assured, with nearly every reveal except for the latest War Table event. World-saving superheroes scrambling for a new belt to wear that’ll give them a 13% chance of dealing more damage to someone while discarding that gear for whatever’s in the next level did not sound like an appealing concept. Combat looked clunky and weightless, and it didn’t seem like it’d make you feel like much of a superhero.
Those concerns don’t go away right when you start the beta. They instead erode over time as you grow more accustomed to your heroes’ moves and the full scope of Marvel’s Avengers is laid out after attaining access to all its various modes. Your button mashes turn to more creative combos you can string together yourself using abilities you unlock through progressing character levels which leads to plenty of “Did you see that?” moments. Combat isn’t as fluid as something like Marvel’s Spider-Man, but it only gets better the more you invest in a character. Whacking someone with a ranged slap as Ms. Marvel seems goofy at first, but once you start grabbing enemies at a distance and swinging them around while mixing in those ranged attacks and capitalizing on your friends' moves, the whole picture starts to come together.
Each mode also has its own surprising moments that proved to be better experiences than expected. It’s hard to appreciate the full scope of the game’s main campaign when you’re only shown a part of it viewed through time jumps and restricted to early parts of the game, but the story’s got potential. Kamala Khan is the glue that holds the Avengers together, and if her chemistry with Bruce Banner and the Hulk is any indication of how she’ll do with the others, she’s going to be a fan-favorite by the end. Punchier moments like Hulk’s boss fight with Abomination play out much how you’d expect a superhero showdown to, but the mechanics of the fight and your desire to keep things as flashy as possible will keep you focused and tense on harder difficulties.
Once Marvel’s Avengers turns you loose into its more open world,, the game truly shines. Playing with friends is always better than playing solo with callouts and combos creating more memorable moments, but you’ll do just fine on your own with some competent AI to join you. Sure, they ended up running straight into walls or going off on their own at times, but they rarely need your help in battle, and seeing a Hulkbuster stomping across the screen while Black Widow turns you invisible reminds you that your teammates are actually there contributing. The world is opened just enough to give you more to do but not so much that you waste time scouring every inch of a map for loot. Marked objectives uncovered only when you approach them present players with combat scenarios and puzzles to solve on their way to the main objective with the rewards often worth the detour.
Even though the loot is essential to taking on more challenging enemies and difficulties, I’m still not sold on the loot system after hours in the beta. It’s a core part of the game you can’t ignore, but the idea of having things like a critical hit chance modifier on Hulk just sounds strange as a concept and tedious in execution. Gear traits are powerful enough on their own and I’ll never turn down some extra damage or the chance to grant my teammates a supportive buff, but this sort of system tied to the Avengers and their stats just hasn’t meshed yet. Plenty of expectations were usurped during the first few hours with the Marvel’s Avengers beta though, so perhaps that too will change in the following weeks.
Marvel’s Avengers releases on September 4th with the beta running every weekend before that date.