After literally years of ultra secrecy, Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics have finally showed significant pieces of their long-in-the-works Avengers project. Behind closed doors off the E3 show floor the project now officially named Marvel’s Avengers was demonstrated. Those lucky enough to attend saw what was essentially all of the gameplay behind the massive explosion in the cinematic trailer they showed yesterday at the Square Enix press conference. Celebrating what in game they are referring to as A-Day (as something of a public self-celebration in connection with them opening their West Coast building), a giant, all-out attack begins on the Golden Gate bridge. The Avengers break off from their celebration to engage the nebulous attackers.
Iron Man, Thor, Hulk and Black Widow each take separate routes to the melee and the demo was all direct action from there. It’s not clear how a player switches between the different characters–whether it’s by choice, or if the game automates the transition–but from the segment shown here, it appears as if the transition between Thor fighting on the ground and Iron Man zooming a hundred feet a second is fairly fluid. The combat, and there is a hell of a lot of it judging by this one opening battle, is balanced on the easy side. The characters each have a variety of fairly unstoppable attacks. Thor can throw his hammer Mjolnir sticking enemies in place, call down lightning or literally throw foes flying like a football. Iron Man can target guided missiles, use repulser blasts or fly through the air. Hulk and Black Widow get in on the action after that, and thankfully, Hulk manages to feel like one of the most well-rendered attempts at his brute strength of any video game in years and years. Black Widow comes in just in time for a boss fight with the game’s first solid villain, The Taskmaster.
It’s overtly hinted that The Taskmaster appears to be some kind of diversion for a much larger play about to happen. Nevertheless, Black Widow has a showdown with the enemy that involves both an elaborate aerial fight (she clings to his back) and a kung fu-like octagon dance on the final remnants of the bridge. It’s hard to say if the hand-to-hand mechanics will be as approachable as the demo made it look like, or if this would be massively difficult to control in rapid-fire succession. Read: if this is the very first boss, this may be far from a simple affair. Even in her victory the trailer’s reveal of a modified Avengers version of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s heli-carrier gets vaporized, and apparently maybe with Captain America on it.
While the game itself feels like a solid hybridization of the best mechanics of God of War and the recent PS4 Marvel’s Spider-Man, Marvel fans are going to have some unavoidable complains here. For one, the game is clearly operating in line with the 2012 Marvel’s The Avengers film style of personality of these five characters, but the design seems like more square-headed versions of the real-life actors that have made these characters so famous. Essentially, it’s clear that Tony Stark is inspired by Robert Downey Jr., but it’s jarringly obvious that this is not what he looks like. Furthermore, while the game features an all-star roster of video game voice actors (Laura Bailey, Nolan North, and Troy Baker all were major characters in the near flawless Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End) something just doesn’t sit right about the performance. It’s most likely that any average fan of the recent films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will just find it impossible to divorce from their memory what Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and Scarlett Johansson actually sound like. This is definitely not an impression of the famed superstars of the MCU, but maybe it should have been?
Also, no Hawkeye folks. Nope. Maybe in future expansions of the game that Crystal Dynamics has hinted will come post release, but he was not deemed “worthy” enough to be a part of this one.
Finally, curiously, the demo leader seemed to imply the game would be a multiplayer cooperative experience, more so than a single player experience. That’s odd considering that what little leaks have come forth as of yet from the game have implied there would be a single player campaign. We asked of the demo moderator, Crystal Dynamics devs walking around the Square Enix booth on the floor, and publicists from the team, and nobody seemed to know for certain if the game for-sure would have a single player campaign. Perhaps Crystal Dynamics hasn’t fully decided they will have a single player campaign? Let’s hope they do.