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Marvel’s Avengers game: Everything we know, including playable heroes

Square Enix, Marvel, and Crystal Dynamics had teased the existence of their Marvel’s Avengers game for years before its official unveiling at E3 2019, referring to it only as “The Avengers Project” and leaving fans to speculate as to what form it might take. Now that we’ve seen the game in action, it’s easily among the most ambitious video games in Square Enix’s long history, putting you in the boots of several of your favorite superheroes as they battle to save Earth.

Here is everything we know about the Marvel’s Avengers video game.

Hanging up the gear, or not

The plot of this game is totally separate from the MCU, with an all-new original story. Marvel’s Avengers initially takes place during a period of triumph for the Avengers, who, in the game, is made up of Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow, Ms. Marvel, and Thor — Spider-Man is a noticeable absence, likely because of his own game on PlayStation 4. The unveiling of a new headquarters in San Francisco, powered by an “experimental energy source,” is disrupted by a deadly attempted heist that ultimately results in not just the disbandment of the Avengers, but the outlawing of all superheroes.

This event forces the Avengers out of retirement to face a mix of technologically-advanced and superpowered enemies, led by a company called AIM. They initially show up as a force to completely replace heroes in the world, and slowly the heroes will learn that there’s an actual conspiracy against them by AIM.

The game will feature a single-player campaign mode, called Hero missions, despite also including co-op missions in Warzone mode. You will be able to play as all six included Avengers at first, along with recruiting many others throughout the single-player campaign, and they will all be customizable, both with new equipment that upgrade your stats and abilities and by using costumes. Ms. Marvel was later revealed to also play a role, as announced during New York Comic Con 2019.

We also know who will be voicing the titular heroes:

  • Captain America — Jeff Schine
  • Thor — Travis Willingham
  • Bruce Banner/Hulk — Troy Baker
  • Black Widow — Laura Bailey
  • Tony Stark — Nolan North
  •  Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel — Sandra Saad

We also know at least two villains will make an appearance, including Taskmaster and Abomination, with many more planned for the future. The game’s trophy list makes mention of MODOK, but it’s unclear how large of a role the villain will play.

You can get more of the game’s story as part of the tie-in comics, which are available to purchase right now. These comics feature backstories but won’t contain major plot points that are essential to understand the game.

How does it play?

Marvel's avengers crystal dynamics san diego comic con 2019 gameplay update

Marvel’s Avengers is a third-person action-adventure game, similar in presentation to other superhero titles like Batman: Arkham Knight and Marvel’s Spider-Man. It has plenty of cinematic flair as well, with set animations for finishing moves on some enemies. In gameplay footage leaked from San Diego Comic Con, we saw Thor rush into a group of enemies and deliver several powerful blows with his hammer. One enemy is knocked hundreds of feet backward by an uppercut attack, and another is hit directly with a thrown hammer. Thor also destroys debris and rescues civilians trapped in the rubble.

The action then shifts to Iron Man, who is flying through the air in a manner similar to Freelancers from Anthem. As he flies, he takes projectile shots at enemies in front of him, knocking them out of the sky. Powerful missiles crash down all around him, destroying vehicles along the Golden Gate Bridge. Tony Stark is no slouch on the ground either, using close-range blasts and counter-attacks to eliminate several enemies who close in on his position.

Next up in the gameplay demonstration is Hulk, who begins as Bruce Banner and leaps from a flying vehicle, transforming before he hits the bridge. As you can imagine, Hulk’s primary objective is to smash. In this case, he does this by grabbing the closest enemy he can find and flailing their body around as a melee weapon, which knocks multiple targets off of their feet. He grabs another and slams them into the ground in a cinematic finishing move.

Captain America’s move-set slightly resembles Kratos from 2018’s God of War, with his legendary shield being thrown as a powerful weapon capable of taking out multiple enemies in one swoop. Once some of the herd is thinned, Captain America charges into combat and swings his shield as a melee weapon, mixing in an extremely powerful kick as well.

Last up is Black Widow, and the gameplay we’ve seen from her reminds us heavily of Crystal Dynamics’ recent Tomb Raider games. She charges up teetering buses and debris on the Golden Gate Bridge, sliding off one on the side before leaping and tackling Taskmaster out of midair. The scene shifts to a cinematic quick time event as the two zip through the air and Black Widow delivers several punches to his head. With the gameplay, Crystal Dynamics wants to appeal to a broad audience, not just hardcore players.

In looking at the game’s trophy list, which surprisingly leaked nine months ahead of the game’s release, there’s a lot we can infer. Heroes have a “Power Level” that will likely be a rank that can be leveled up. There’s also an item called a “Cache Strongbox,” but it’s unclear what it is, exactly. Some were speculating it might be some sort of loot box, despite Square Enix stating the game would not include random loot crates.

The trophy list also points to various difficulty modes, like Brutal and Merciless. You’ll be able to rescue AIM prisoners, as noted by the Savior of the People trophy. Be sure to check out the trophy list if you want to get into the nitty-gritty of some of the game’s features — but beware of minor spoilers.

Hero missions, world map, and co-op

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Alongside the traditional story-heavy single-player mode, called Hero missions, Marvel’s Avengers will also include a live-service cooperative multiplayer component. In this mode, you will be able to play in a group of up to four players online, using a roster of available characters that will continue to grow over time as you complete Hero missions. These are always tied to just one character in particular, and once you recruit them, side missions will start to show up that expand on their narrative.

There are side missions included in Marvel’s Avengers called Warzone missions, and for these, you can choose to play as one of several heroes to gain new gear and experience. Some of them will require you to go somewhere and retrieve an item, while others might involve a boss fight. These can be played solo like the main story missions, or you can play them online with another friend taking control of a different character. Again, Hero Missions cannot be played solo, but the progress between the two will carry over dynamically.

Missions are selected from a world map, looking at different parts of the planet in an overview perspective where missions will show up labeled with a distinct icon. Hero missions have the Avengers logo, while the others may vary. Those that provide an extra narrative to heroes will have the respective superhero icon.

We haven’t seen a ton of gameplay up until this point, and the online mode is just as mysterious as when the game was first announced. We do have something to look forward to, though. The game’s official Twitter account announced that we’d be getting footage of new gameplay on June 24, 2020, focusing on the multiplayer component.

There was a lot of confusion about how the game’s online mode would be integrated, which is why it’s so exciting to get to see it in action so soon. We’ll update this article after the gameplay reveal later next month.

Gear and skill trees

Gear and inventory management is a big part of Marvel’s Avengers, which are heavily intertwined with missions and character progression for each hero. All characters have four main slots where you can equip armor pieces. These can be upgraded using materials, and there were at least a dozen of them on-screen during a closed-door presentation by the studio.

This gear carries perks, special properties that can be unlocked after meeting a certain requirement, although Crystal Dynamics didn’t specify. There will also be sets that you can hunt for, working similarly to other games, so you can get even more stat bonuses depending on how many pieces of the same set you equip to your character.

It seems like there might be limitations into how much you can upgrade these pieces of gear, as some of them showcased special requirements to upgrade them. With materials, it might become tiresome to try to find the specific item that you need, but that is yet to be disclosed. The same goes for how much you can level up your character since the studio didn’t talk about level caps or limitations around it.

Each hero will have four categories of skills that are shared with everyone, but each will have multiple skill trees inside of them. These are meant to slowly upgrade the stats of your hero and also expand their movement sets and attacks. The studio said that there will be enough room for experimentation with each character, so you can tune them to appeal more to your playstyle. Despite the possibilities, they said that Thor will still feel like Thor in the end.

Costumes and microtransactions

All post-launch heroes and additional regions will be available for free to all players. Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics also promised at E3 2019 that the game would not feature “random loot boxes or pay-to-win scenarios,” though the game will still include microtransactions.

According to an interview that lead creative director Shaun Escayg gave with IGN, these will take the form of custom outfits that can be purchased with real money. You will not be able to buy anything that can affect the gameplay.

These costumes are separate from your main gear, so you can customize your character as much as you want and just change the appearance. If you were wondering, yes, these will show up during cutscenes as well. Crystal Dynamics said that costumes will vary between all the known ones throughout 80 years of Marvel history and complete original ones made by the studio.

Beta

Marvel’s Avengers will be getting a beta on PS4 seven days before other platforms, and you can gain access by pre-ordering the game. Once you have pre-ordered the game on your platform of choice, you need to go to the official redemption page, log in or create a Square Enix account, enter your code and platform, and wait for Square Enix to send you a beta code upon release.

Crystal Dynamics also said that the beta will only be just one of some other exclusive content for PS4 users, although it’s yet to be announced.

Release date and platforms

Marvel’s Avengers was originally scheduled to release on May 15, 2020, but was pushed to September 4, 2020. This was to address concerns from the fans and to ensure it’s as polished as it can be. It will be available on Xbox One, PS4, PC, and Google Stadia. While the single-player content will be available offline for both consoles and PC, Google Stadia’s streaming technology means that you will need to be connected at all times in order to play the game.

The will also be a special edition of the game available, which comes with a 12-inch Captain America statue. This edition is available for preorder from the Square Enix store and will set you back a hefty $199.99. Remember, preordering grants you access to a beta, which will go live at an unannounced date.

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