#EGX2019: Marvel’s Avengers Hands-On Preview
By now most of us would have seen the gameplay demo that originated from E3 this year for Marvel’s Avengers from Square Enix. An Avengers game that kinda looks like it wants to be inspired by the MCU movies, but also made some character design choices that also made you think that they are attempting to create their own identity. This visual indecisiveness caused some fans to call for an image change for some of the Avenger characters, in particular Captain America and Black Widow.
In my humble opinion, Square Enix should have gone one of two ways, if you want the MCU look, go all out with the likeness and if they can afford it, get the voice actors in too. If not, go for the cell-shaded looked, direct from the comics. Either one would have probably avoided the negative fan feedback, instead of going for somewhere in-between. All that aside, the most important aspect of this Marvel’s Avengers game is not really how it looks, but how it plays and after going hands-on at EGX 2019 last week, I am super excited for this game to release next year.
The story of the game follows the events that transpired during A-Day, a celebratory day for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and a second Avengers HQ located in San Francisco. However, celebrations are cut short following an attack involving Task Master and the A.I.M (Advanced Idea Mechanics), a private military corporation that aims for world domination funded by terrorist arms dealers and questionable scientific experiments. We actually saw a form of the A.I.M in Iron Man 3, following The Avengers movie of 2012. But if we’ve learnt anything from the world of Marvel, not everything is always what it seems and there is most certainly a wider conspiracy afoot, which will be uncovered by Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel during the story of the full game.
For now however, let’s just focus on the gameplay and how each of the playable Avengers feels during the demo that I played. Once A.I.M crashed the A-Day party, the first Avenger that I took control of was the mighty “God of Thunder”, Thor (Travis Willingham). This version is not as charismatic as Chris Hemsworth in the MCU, but he was a lot of fun to play and felt a lot like Kratos from God of War (2018). Thor punches the crap out of any enemies that gets in his way and is of course armed with the Mjölnir, which not only deals heavy damage and can crash through certain obstructions, but you can also throw the hammer at your foes and insanity summon it back on your command. Thor was a lot of fun to play as, but thankfully so are all of the other playable heroes that featured during the demo.
Next up I played as Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Nolan North), who was perhaps the most awkward character to play as, due to the gameplay not perhaps feeling quite as free-flowing as the other characters, as you switch between ground and air combat. However, it is still so satisfying blasting enemies with the Repulsor Beams, accompanied with the sound effects that you can probably already hear in your head. Quite naturally, the most fun to be had with Iron Man is flying around in the suit, blasting enemies down from the sky, accompanied by Mr Stark’s witty humour.
To perhaps little surprise, quite possibly the most fun I had during the demo was playing as The Incredible Hulk (Troy Baker/Darin De Paul). From the moment you’re very briefly Bruce Banner during a cut-scene before he transforms mid-air into the Hulk, crashing to the ground shouting “HULK SMASH!” As the Hulk you quite literally smash through everything in sight and can use unfortunate enemies as melee weapons, akin to Loki’s “puny God” scene from The Avengers. Quite surprisingly, Hulk even performs a spot of wall-running, briefly jumping from structure to structure, but on a basic, yet fun level. Playing as Hulk was so much fun and he is perhaps the currently announced playable character that I am most looking forward to playing as in the full release.
Once Hulk’s scene was done with, I played as good old, Captain America (Jeff Schine); his moments were the shortest, but equally as fun. Cpt. America played similar to that of Thor, only instead of the Mjölnir; we were using his patriotic shield, a super-charged Frisbee made with the near indestructible Vibranium. Unlike all of the other Avenger scenes in this demo taking place on the crumbling Golden Gate Bridge, Cpt. America is going toe-to-toe with soldiers of A.I.M in the Helicarrier. In case you haven’t seen the gameplay demo in action, I won’t say much else about playing as the Captain, but I will share the gameplay video in question below.
Finally, the demo finished up with Natasha Romanoff aka the Black Widow (Laura Bailey). Out of all the characters I was going to play as, Black Widow intrigued me the most before-hand, because as we know, Natasha doesn’t have traditional comic book super-powers as such, though in fairness, she does have slowed aging and an enhanced immune system. Natasha is not only a master combatant, but she is a super-spy in every sense of the word that would put even James Bond to shame. During the concluding moments of this demo which involved a battle with Task Master, Black Widow had to utilise every oz of her hand-to-hand combat training. If I was going to compare the gameplay associated with Black Widow, it would be that she played similar to that of Batman from the fantastic Arkham series. Black Widow was fast and lethal, but also relies a lot on counters and dodging, seeing as she cannot take as much punishment as some of her super hero counterparts.
Before going into Marvel’s Avengers, I was a little sceptical, as I didn’t want to get mixed up in the hype and set myself up for one hell of a comedown, especially as there are rumblings that this game might have live-service mechanics. However, from the moment that I picked up the controller, I could not stop smiling, because I was having so much fun from start to finish with this demo and as a life-long comic book and videogame nerd, this is all I want when two of my favourite worlds collide. If this 20+ minute demo was everything to go by, Square Enix could very well have one of the hits of 2020 in Marvel’s Avengers. I just hope that it’s not monetised to heavily come release, because this game has all the potential in the world and I couldn’t be more excited to play what could be one of the best super-hero games of all-time! Not that I want to get caught up in the hype or anything!
Marvel’s Avengers is developed by Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal, and will release for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on May 15th, 2020.