I don’t want to say Marvel’s Avengers has been a rollercoaster ride for me, as I never felt the highs of hype the same way I might have in the past, but it’s definitely been an adventure. I’d waited years to learn something, anything about the game. And then when I finally did, I had mixed feelings, despite including it in my Best of E3 2019 roundup.
The fact of the matter is I’m a Marvel fan and I wear that proudly. It does mean I have some bias towards Marvel projects as I do want them to be good. That said, Avengers did not inspire a ton of confidence out of the gate. While my perception of the game improved over time, to a point where I finally truly got excited for its potential to replace the Marvel Heroes sized hole in my heart, that excitement was always tinged with some apprehension. The beta only confirmed my worries. This was likely going to be a rough ride.
Unfortunately, Marvel’s Avengers appears to be following the Anthem trajectory I wrote about in my launch impressions. I was being a bit cheeky about that first comparison, but it’s almost uncanny how the game has made the same sorts of mistakes, from rampant bugs and performance stability, to core gameplay features and loot tables being broken or unrewarding, to the weekly store resets full of repetitive cosmetic options. Also, Like Anthem, the single player story is entertaining, but it all kind of falls apart once you’ve completed it. Avengers could have absolutely been a self-contained single player story that I’d have enjoyed and moved on from, but it feels like the looter aspects were sort of tacked on.
Now, unlike some, I do want Avengers to be a looter game. I’m looking for a Marvel ARPG to scratch that itch and replace games like Marvel Heroes or even Marvel Ultimate Alliance (I was disappointed with the latest entry for a number of reasons). But at this point it’s looking less and less likely that will happen. Sure, Marvel Heroes got off to an exceptionally rough start and took quite some time to find its footing, but the basic online experience was still enjoyable for me out of the gate. Black Widow, my main character, still has a broken loot table, so there’s barely any point in logging on for me right now. The current slate of content on offer is beyond repetitive, with only a couple of locations and endless AIM Labs to fight through. Tachyon Rifts, one of the few new pieces of content we’ve gotten so far, are essentially just a way to recycle the anemic missions already on offer.
A new State of the Game blog post put out by the team recently detailed a number of much needed quality-of-life priorities the team is working on, which is great. But aside from the aforementioned Tachyon Rifts, and, at least for now, solo only Mega Hive (a weekly mission), the only new piece of content on the docket is something called Omega-Level Threats. These are what sounds to be the closest approximation to raids in Avengers. The first one drops sometime in the next few weeks and, this is almost comical at this point, but it’s yet another AIM Lab! The AIM Cloning Lab, to be precise. Let’s just cool it on the AIM labs after this one, guys. Please.
Kate Bishop, the first new addition to Avengers’ roster, will be pushed out of October, but it sounds like Kate and perhaps Clint will still make it out sometime this year. Players will have to wait until next year for the next non-Hawkeye hero to drop and, most importantly, a new region to play in. The next gen version of Avengers on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X also won’t make it until sometime in 2021.
I feel there’s a decent chance that Crystal Dynamics can button up the game on some of its pain points when it comes to bugs and quality-of-life issues in a reasonable amount of time, but Avengers is so far behind when it comes to content that the delays are likely to exacerbate the precipitous fall in player count we reported on recently. There simply isn’t enough to do and a weekly mission and yet another AIM lab, as challenging as it may be, is not going to carry the game through the coming months.
The one way I hope Avengers isn’t comparable to Anthem is in the way the game’s publisher, Square Enix, approaches this problem. EA’s got a skeleton crew working on Anthem at this point and it’s clear to me that it will never have the redemption arc it truly deserves. Square Enix, to its credit, didn’t give up on Final Fantasy XIV. It’s shown a willingness to put the resources in to turn things around when necessary and Avengers absolutely needs that sort of intervention if it’s ever going to regain its footing in the space. Hopefully the delays announced recently truly do represent a commitment to quality and not a shift in focus for Crystal Dynamics.
What’s your take on the Avengers situation? Share your thoughts in the comments below!