You may have heard that Square Enix is creating a new Avengers game, Marvel’s Avengers, and the beta is now available to play on Steam. There will be spoilers in while breaking down the game's beta version.
I do understand this is a beta which means this isn’t a complete game, though it is worth mentioning this is the time frame that feedback is immensely important. I played for about two hours and I found myself very frequently comparing the game to two others: Marvel’s Spider-Man for the PS4 by Insomniac Games and Square Enix’s own Kingdom Hearts 3 for PS4. I find there’s a lot of similarities between Marvel’s Avengers and the other two games, but we’re going to put a pin in that. When looking at the game, there are positive and negative aspects to dissect.
There is plenty to enjoy throughout the gameplay. I liked most of the voice acting; except Captain America, who had an oddly deep voice. There wasn't anything necessarily bad about the voice acting, but it felt like a miscast when you compare this actor to others like Chris Evans or Roger Craig Smith (who plays Cap in most animated/video game media).
Playing as Thor, Black Widow, and Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel) was the most fun I had while playing because they were the most agile and had very quick and powerful attacks. Lastly, I enjoyed the first mission because you got a small taste of playing as each of the core Avengers.
To contrast the positive aspects of Marvel's Avengers, there are negative aspects to account for. Every character feels very stiff, even the agile ones like Captain America and Iron Man. The game is stat based so trying to play as Hulk, for instance, is a nightmare because his lack of a strength stat doesn’t compensate for the character stiffness, especially in the early game. Kamala, by contrast, is a bit more mobile and equivalent in strength because everyone's stats start the same, so she's far more entertaining to play as. The game's render sinks below par, and especially on Kamala's hair which often looks equivalent to PlayStation 2 graphics. Characters will often appear blocky and with sharp edges that don't belong with the hyper-realistic style they're going for. I had my motion blur turned off and it seems like - when it was on - they were using motion blur as a big compensation factor for how poor the quality of the textures was, especially when moving.
The game has seemingly random lag spikes and FPS drops so I experienced a decline of game speed. That alone had interfered with my personal experience.
The game teaches you how to play the game far too late. Unfortunately, I ended up dying multiple times in the first few missions because they hadn’t taught me how to counter (yet) and I didn’t know how to effectively dodge or block, either. The lack of instructions had confused me as I've navigated my way through the game.
It plays incredibly slow, everything is so slow. Sprinting? Slow. Opening a chest? Slow. Holding your heavy attack to break a shield? So slow that I’d often get knocked out of the animation before I could even break the enemy’s shield.
The missions are painfully long and all it is is hit enemies, go to the next area, hit more enemies, repeat (albeit a pretty normal gameplay loop), but it hardly entertaining.
The backgrounds look really bad, they appear so painfully flat that I oft times struggled to see a character like Hulk when he’s in, say, a green forest. Speaking of, the characters blend in with the surroundings even when they’re not the same color, which makes it incredibly hard to see what’s happening. They don’t stand out and neither do enemies so it’s exceptionally hard to see enemies outside of their health bars (and that's only if you’re locked on to them) or if they have energy-based weapons which have a large purple glow.
Lastly, I struggled to really engage with the writing of the characters. Outside of general Avenger knowledge, I wasn’t shown anything worthwhile about the main characters other than they’re heroes who want to do the right thing, which makes them come off very one-dimensional.
Remember that pin from the start? Let’s talk about the comparisons. Things being incredibly slow feels very reminiscent of Kingdom Hearts 3; which, as mentioned, is another Square Enix game. It feels like you move, open chests, and react slowly in Marvel’s Avengers to pad out the run time of the game, on top of the missions feeling far too long as it is. KH3 had slow-paced cutscenes and very long worlds in order to pad out run time too, which was a big issue for fans, but at least - conversely - the characters were agile and easy to play as compared to the clunky, slow-moving characters in Marvel's Avengers.
Conversely, it’s hard to play any new Marvel game after the bombshell success that was Marvel’s Spider-Man without some level of comparison. That game was widely praised for how good its story and gameplay were and how it “made you feel like Spider-Man.” Marvel’s Avengers, however, seems to miss all of those beats for me. The story, as stated, feels slow and boring, the gameplay feels repetitive and dull, and I don’t really feel like any of the superheroes when I play. Each character, while exhibiting their iconic moves, still feels like a watered-down version of their MCU counterparts.
I think this game needs some more “time in the oven” so to speak. Things need to play and control faster and a lot of the textures and backgrounds need to be fixed and smoothed out. The character’s need to control better and stand out from environments, too. I think the core of the game is good but is incredibly rough around the edges.
I also found this fun glitch after the Harm Room where I activated one of Iron Man’s super attacks just before it loaded the next area and it caused the camera to shake violently when the next area did load; so that was great. There was also a weird lighting glitch during multiple instances while playing where every character’s face was MUCH darker than the rest of their bodies and you could see the shadow cut off at their neck, it was really weird.
I recommend playing the beta yourself if you haven’t yet, it is free on Steam, and if I had to give this a rating, I would say: 4/10; it needs a lot of work. After you play the beta, let me know what you guys think in the comments! If you agree with me or not and how much work you think Square Enix needs to put in to make this game as good as Marvel’s Spider-Man.
By Nicholas James