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E3 2019

Will Marvel’s Avengers Win Over Single-Player Fans?

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Every year, developers from around the world gather in June to showcase their most secret and anticipated projects. In the months leading up to E3, gamers witness the spectacle of influencers and industry veterans discussing the rumors of what might be, further fueling their desired announcements come to life. In the spirit of fun and excitement, E3 allows for the passion of gaming to be broadcast on a world stage and recognized for its influence on the entertainment industry.

Now that the industry is approaching the eve of E3, OnlySP is counting down the days remaining in a segment we like to call ‘12 Days of E3’. Please join OnlySP in celebrating an event that can be described as Christmas for Gamers, as we come together in anticipation for E3 2019!


Square Enix’s Avengers project was revealed with whispers and rumours, getting a teaser trailer back in 2017, and little more than a parade of implied delays since. However, after having its official reveal delayed into 2019, the project—known as Marvel’s Avengers—is finally set to be revealed at this year’s E3.

How important will this reveal be to the wider Marvel Games initiative? What kind of game even is it? And perhaps most importantly, will single player gamers care, or is this the next PUBG or Fortnite, a massive online-only hit where multiplayer is the content?

First off, both the known facts and marketing language around the game has always walked the line between developer Crystal Dynamics’s single player experience with Tomb Raider, and the more exploitative language of online pseudo-MMOs such as Destiny or Anthem. Cooperative missions, microtransactions, a ‘living game’: the sort of Games As A Service trends that most often prevent single players from enjoying their purchases without an Internet connection.

The Avengers Project Announcement Trailer 0-14 screenshot

With pre-E3 conferences cresting the horizon, leaked programme details support this language of a Game As A Service, but maintain the “cinematic action-adventure” descriptor shared with Tomb Raider. Obviously, the best possible interpretation of this duality would be something like recent Rockstar games: a fully featured single player experience with a companion MMO experience on the same disc.

What is more likely, at the very least, is a Monster Hunter influenced single-player/co-op hybrid game. Between the promise of character ‘customisation’ and the inclusion of fan-favourites Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and Black Widow, whether this co-op would be based around a core Avengers team or player-created characters is unknown.

The least desirable, but most likely version is a fully online-only experience that supports single player (check here for Daniel’s single player thoughts on the recent online-only release The Division 2) while prioritising cooperative missions and parcelling out content (the proverbial “road map”) over the course of a year or more.

The Avengers Project Announcement Trailer 0-22 screenshot

So the pessimistic view is that Marvel‘s Avengers will be all but hostile to single-player fans of God of War, Spider-Man, and even Crystal Dynamics’s own Tomb Raider games, despite sharing the cinematic action-adventure genre. The optimistic view, and why we can still be excited to tune into Square Enix’s E3 showcase, is quite a bit more important. Marvel Games has a lot riding on the Avengers IP and will not suffer a debacle of the kind that BioWare and Bethesda have seen with Anthem or Fallout 76.

Way back in 2014, TQ Jefferson, then VP of Production at Marvel Games, made very clear that the poor quality of Phase One game adaptations (Thor, Iron Man etc.) changed Marvel’s direction overall. The same stewardship that led to last year’s superlative Marvel’s Spider-Man oversees Square’s Avengers project, and the same ethos of prioritising original storylines, rather than movie tie-ins, means that the developers have had many years to forge their own path ahead.

The Avengers Project Announcement Trailer 0-3 screenshot

Even more than in 2018, when Marvel’s Avengers was originally scheduled for its official reveal, the Avengers Project tease means a lot to comic book and video game fans. Endgame brought the journey of the original cinematic Avengers to a close—in 2020, players will relish the opportunity to return to the core team with a fresh storyline and the polish that Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal have demonstrated with their earlier titles.

At E3 2019, this theoretically rebooted Avengers team can debut without the hindrances of being a movie tie-in, and without competition from DC (after all, the Batman: Arkham team are once again sitting the event out). The game will almost certainly boast amazing production values and oodles of content for players, with the aforementioned road-map set to deliver more content, perhaps for years to come.

Single-player fans need to curb their expectations, however. The biggest uphill battle that Square will face when revealing its Avengers project will be to convince us that an exciting adventure awaits despite the inevitable cooperative and online focus. Standard cooperative modes will have, by the time of its release, already been explored with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, so even multiplayer gamers will need more than just “play with your friends” to be convinced.

The Avengers Project Announcement Trailer 0-31 screenshot

Most importantly, after more than two years of whispers, the presentation must be more than a CG cutscene and DLC details. Will Square be able to demonstrate multiple Avengers characters to the same excitement and awe of Insomniac’s Spider-Man? Or will the game be a slightly more colourful The Division 2, with the Avengers brand doing all the heavy lifting?

We do not have to wait long now. Square Enix’s press conference takes place on Monday, June 10 at 1:00pm PT / 4:00pm ET / 9:00pm BST.

Stay tuned for more of our 12 Days of E3 by following OnlySP on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube. Also, be sure to join the discussion in the community Discord server.

Mitchell is a writer from Currawang, Australia, where his metaphorical sword-pen cleaves fiction from reality daily. When he's not writing, he plays video games and watches movies. While thinking about writing.

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E3 2019

Marvel’s Avengers May Need Some Saving

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Marvel's Avengers

After years of nothing but scraps of details, Square Enix has properly revealed a substantial portion of Crystal Dynamics’s Avengers game. Those who saw the unveiling may have been torn as a result of strong cinematics marred by lackluster looks. Excitingly, Square Enix was kind enough to allow some E3 attendees a chance to see half an hour of hands-off, raw gameplay. All anticipation came screeching to a halt the second gameplay kicked in, though. Maybe the final product will yield better results, but, for now, Marvel’s Avengers looks heroically boring.

The demo that E3 attendees saw in a behind-closed-doors setting is an extension of the game’s reveal trailer. During the A-Day celebration, a rogue military group attacks the team, causing significant damage to bystanders and supposedly killing Captain America.

The demo showed about 5–10 minutes of gameplay for each character, starting with Thor, then following Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, and finishing with Black Widow. While Captain America takes out baddies on a newly-unveiled Avengers heli-carrier, the others defend the city on the ground.

Marvel's Avengers gameplay screenshot - Captain America

Black Widow, specifically, is entrusted with taking out the Taskmaster before the villain detonates a round of explosives. Each section of gameplay is flashy and sometimes even spectacular. However, the problem is that moments are rare where the game looks like it may actually be fun to play.

Marvel’s Avengers takes inspiration from Destiny’s super moves, where players feel all powerful with every hammer throw and ground pound. Crystal Dynamics is trying to implement a similar feeling with every second of gameplay instead of in spurts, but the idea is not so great in practice.

The comparison may be tired by the time this preview goes up, but Thor’s playstyle looks eerily similar to a certain Greek, axe-throwing God killer. Unlike God of War, player control is not the priority, as finishers and cinematic moves take precedent. Throwing Mjolnir hard enough to send soldiers careening into the blue or with enough force to pin them to walls is exactly the balance Marvel’s Avengers so desperately needs, so those moments stick out as highlights. Disappointingly, such moments are few and far between for the son of Odin.

Marvel's Avengers

Next up (and maybe worst of all) is Iron Man. Take away Iron Man’s practically pre-written blueprint for in-game flight and put him on an immovable track and players can picture Crystal Dynamics’s vision of Iron Man. Anthem, despite its talked-to-death flaws, has an unmatched mech-suit free flight system to take advantage of. Marvel’s Avengers takes the idea down to its most barebones, essentially turning most of Iron Man’s time on-screen into an on-rails shooter. The other portion of his time on screen is relegated to slow moving hovering and basic-looking third-person shooter gunplay.

Hulk brings back the attention of any who had lost it following this lukewarm (at best) opening. Hulk not only manages to be both the best-looking Avenger graphically, but also a powerhouse of fun. Hulk packs the speed and unabashed rage seen from decades of movies and media content—and deciding what the team could do to make the character’s gameplay any stronger is hard. Along with pure, beat-‘em-up clobbering, Hulk can jump off walls and slam into the ground. With the exception of the possibility of combat becoming too meat-headed after a while, the big green meanie appears to strike the right balance of dumb fun.

Captain America looks about as good as he can thanks to the character’s lack of fitting lore to pull from. Marvel’s boy scout seems to have combat that is fairly involved, with a solid number of options. What makes Cap look most interesting, though, is the constant pinballing of his shield between cracked enemy skulls. Throwing Captain America’s shield might be the character’s saving grace.

Marvel’s Avengers_ A-Day _ Official Trailer E3 2019 0-44 screenshot

Black Widow takes a step back again thanks to another section that looked sadly on rails. As stated before, Widow takes on the Marvel deep cut villain, Taskmaster. Long story short, nearly half of the boss fight could have been a quick time event and even the battle’s most cinematic moments were obscured thanks to significant framerate drops. At this point, I really just wanted the demo to be over, especially because Black Widow’s boss fight felt overlong in and of itself.

Many commentators have already called out the game’s confusing artistic choices, so players should be sad to know that seeing the action in motion does an already mediocre look no favors. Sometimes, however, Marvel’s Avengers can achieve photorealistic qualities. Even with a few spots of lavish polish, more often than not, Hulk and the others resemble superhuman potatoes.

Not everything is as bad as it seems, as the promise of future content and a genuinely intriguing premise are stronger than most seem to give credit for. Though the dialogue could be less hammy in a few areas, the delivery and some standout interactions were enough to promise a generally engaging cast.

A solid foundation is undoubtedly in place and some maneuvering or, hopefully, even a delay could push Marvel’s Avengers just enough to accomplish something unmatched. The cinematic gameplay is well done and impressive in its own right, but it just needs a certain fun factor to make the game a game and not the next entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Marvel's Avengers

Maybe the disappointment is from the years of hype or maybe it comes from Marvel’s almost flawless track record in terms of its core properties. Even considering Hulk-like expectations, I cannot shake the feeling that something is desperately wrong with this game. Crystal Dynamics not only needs more time to address fan outcry, but to completely reassess Marvel’s Avengers from a gameplay perspective, too. Superheroes should play like superheroes, not just look like them.

As stated toward the beginning of this preview, far too few have actually gotten their hands on the game, so a finished product or hands-on time could totally change this marred perspective. That said, if Square Enix wants to execute its plan to roll out playable heroes, bonus content, and extra modes in the future, players need to see its game is worthwhile and, for now, that guarantee is absolutely not present. Marvel’s Avengers just does not seem to pack the punch it so desperately needed for its debut.

 

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