I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write this article, but I always knew it was a possibility. Marvel’s Avengers launched this week and for better and worse, I’m having a real sense of Anthem déjà vu.
I realize I’m in somewhat of the minority here, but I did enjoy the Anthem campaign for what it was and the same is true for Marvel’s Avengers. The difference is that Crystal Dynamics didn’t put together a campaign that was merely good for a game in the looter genre, but they instead delivered a solid campaign that could stand all on its own as a fully single player game. I continue to believe that Kamala was an excellent choice as a protagonist for this game, the writing is solid, and the campaign has some excellent set pieces throughout. There are inconsistent challenge issues due in large part to the way loot and experience is doled out, but the ability to tweak difficulties whenever helps a good deal there.
The combat is also undoubtedly fun, but even that comes with caveats. The camera system is not always cooperative and there are both balance and readability issues when it comes to off-screen enemies firing projectiles at you. Stunlocks are also plentiful which can make combat frustrating as hell at times. That said, the characters all do a good job at allowing you to explore the fantasy of playing each individual Avenger. Hulk is fun as hell leaping and bounding around everywhere, smashing constantly, beating up dudes with other dudes (a highlight for me!). Iron Man can do crazy high flying combos and brings all his fun lasers, rockets, and repulsor blasts to bear with both style. Widow is a stealthy, agile ballerina of death. The list goes on.
Unfortunately, that’s kind of where the good parts of the game end at this point. There is just a mountain of bugs plaguing Marvel’s Avengers. Everything from basic functionality like matchmaking being broken to terrifyingly bad situations where people are having all of their progress reset are issues presently in the game. Did I mention that this live service game is using client-side saves? Yeah, that’s a huge problem. Anything involving microtransactions is saved server side, but cheaters will undoubtedly be an issue once matchmaking is smoothed out, so if you don’t have at least a buddy to play with, you should definitely keep that in mind.
There are also lots of ways, like Anthem, that the game is obtuse or unclear about its systems where it’s hard to even tell they are functioning. Difficulty, for example. Does raising difficulty increase drops and experience? There’s conflicting information here. Some say it does, but only for end of mission rewards, some say it doesn’t at all. The game doesn’t do a good job of telling you.
There are balance issues already starting to crop up, too. Players have figured out ways for Captain America to infinitely stay in his Brooklyn Brawler (Ultimate Heroic) state and get pretty close with Black Widow’s Invisibility. At this point, I won’t be surprised to learn about even more issues of this nature over the coming days.
The short of it is this: if you’re a Marvel nerd like me and you have the ability to tolerate a launch that feels pretty close to Marvel Heroes in 2013, or Anthem, for a higher profile example, then maybe you want to play this for the campaign. Beyond that it’s kind of a crapshoot right now and I can’t recommend this to anyone who isn’t a Marvel diehard or someone who is looking for a deep and functioning multiplayer experience. I’m going to keep plugging along and hopefully things start turning around and quick, but my recommendation is for anyone interested in this title to wait either for a sale or to see what Crystal Dynamics does to right this ship.