Ever since the first Marvel’s Avengers gameplay trailer was released at E3 in 2019, I’ve struggled to fully grasp what the game will be. Even when watching the recent War Table steams from the game’s developer Crystal Dynamics in June and July, it still wasn’t obvious what I’d be playing come September.
After taking part in the closed Marvel’s Avengers PS4 beta this weekend, I now have a better idea. The only issue, however, is that whilst I’m now eagerly anticipating getting to grips with the main story, I’m worried about the longevity of the game.
Marvel’s Avengers Plot
The beta for Marvel’s Avengers includes a fair amount of content to sink your teeth into. The beta begins with the single-player mission that has been shown in previous trailers and game demos. The mission acts as a tutorial whilst also introducing you to the main premise of the story.
The Avengers are in San Francisco to celebrate the opening of their second headquarters. During the ceremony, a terrorist attack led by Taskmaster leaves the Golden Gate Bridge and much of the city in ruin. As part of the ceremony, the Avengers reveal their new Terrigen Crystal-powered helicarrier, the Chimera. The destruction causes a Terrigen mist to fill the air, which turns countless people into superpowered Inhumans. Blamed for the disaster, the Avengers disband.
During that opening sequence, you’ll get to play as five of the original Avengers, whilst learning many of the basic controls. The opening 10 to 15 minutes of gameplay is where Marvel’s Avengers really shines. Filled with impressive set pieces, you’ll switch seamlessly between playing as Thor, Iron Man, Hulk and Captain America at a frantic pace, before facing off against Taskmaster with Black Widow in a pretty epic showdown.
Following the intro, the beta skips forward in time. The second mission introduces you to Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel), who was at A-Day as a fan and gained superpowers in the blast. The mission follows Khan and Bruce Banner as they attempt to raid a secret base to recover Jarvis and bring the Avengers back together. The pace here is much slower than the intro and is filled with chatter and comedic quips in between fighting sequences that help to add some depth to the characters and fill in some backstory.
Of course, a small offering of two campaign missions isn’t much to base an opinion from, but there are certainly promising signs that the campaign won’t disappoint. The set pieces are well done, the characters come across as you’d imagine and the combat is fun and varied.
War Table and Co-op Missions
After completing the second campaign mission, things took a bit of a turn for the worse. Once back on the helicarrier and with Jarvis powered up, you’ll be introduced to the War Table, which acts an interactive world map. Here you’ll be able to choose your next mission and join up with three friends, randoms or AI-controlled Avengers to take on bad guys.
The amount of content available in the beta is substantial at first glance. However, once you run through a few missions, you’ll come to realise that whilst the mission objective may change, the gameplay is quite dull and the locations are all very samey. You’ll travel to an area, fight a wave of enemies, hold an area against waves of incoming enemies and repeat.
Story elements in the secondary mission are kept to a minimum and dialogue is reduced to throwaway lines that seem to repeat in every mission. The reward for completing these side objectives, however, is that it will give you the chance to level up different members of the Avengers and earn loot to increase your power level.
There’s every chance that during the fully released game, there will be much more variety on offer and that the loot grinding and gear will play a more significant role as you progress. My main fear, however, is that there may be moments in the campaign where you’ll hit a difficulty spike that will force you to grind pointless and boring objectives first in order to level up.
Whilst some of the secondary missions seemed to be over in a few minutes, some were longer and included a boss fight. I’m hopeful that on higher difficulties those longer secondary missions will take on a new lease of life, requiring teamwork, carefully planned out character configurations and communication.
At first, the combat is fairly intuitive, although it can feel clunky. As you play further into the beta and take control of the different heroes, however, it becomes clear that the combat is deeper than simple button mashing.
Each character has their abilities, skills and basic moves mapped to the same controller buttons, but each one feels unique once you begin to learn different movies, combos and unlock additional skills using skill points. In the campaign, this is highlighted by the fact that levels can be designed to use a particular character’s skillset. In multiplayer, enemies and levels are unfortunately more generic, despite offering a wide scope of verticality to combat to take place on both the ground and in the air.
It also pays to take your time with combat, making use of the dodges and parries on offer rather than aimlessly smashing attack buttons to try and thin the enemy waves. In the campaign that felt quite easy to do. In multiplayer, however, it felt a bit more hectic with mayhem filling every corner of the screen.
If your main interest in Marvel’s Avengers comes from the campaign, there are signs that you won’t be disappointed. The two missions I played were varied in pace, the locations seemed interesting and the combat was fun. It’s clear that the developers have poured a lot of love into the game, with references to comics and the MCU.
The online portion of the game excited me when it was first announced, however from what the beta had to offer, it seems to combine all the least fun bits of other loot-based games like Destiny and Anthem. The environments felt like cookie-cutter copies and the limited number of objectives repeated multiple times.
Hopefully, Crystal Dynamics has more co-op elements ready for when the game releases or for post-launch. There’s an opportunity to build something fun that keeps fans returning with friends on a regular basis, but it will need the addition of raids, strikes, and epic loot drops to make it worth playing once the end credits finish rolling.
Marvel’s Avengers Beta Gameplay
Future Marvel’s Avengers Beta Dates
- August 14-16: PlayStation Advantage Open BETA & Xbox/PC Closed BETA: The second BETA weekend will be open to the entire PS4 community as part of our PlayStation Advantage partnership. Additionally, those of you who have pre-ordered Marvel’s Avengers on Xbox or PC will be able to jump in and play. Pre-load will be available on August 13.
- August 21: Open BETA for All: August 21 – 23 will give all fans across all platforms a chance to jump in and play the Marvel’s Avengers BETA! Pre-load will be available on August 20.
Marvel’s Avengers will release on September 4th.