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.
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.
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.
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.
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.