Returning to Marvel’s Avengers after some time away, I was hoping that the title’s biggest update since its launch would change the tide of the game. Unfortunately, despite the addition of new hero Kate Bishop, it’s only more of the same.
On one hand, that’s not necessarily a bad thing considering that Kate Bishop herself is incredibly fun and unique to play as. However, the game itself remains a buggy mess after the update, and there are still minute quality-of-life fixes that are missing and have me rolling my eyes in disbelief.
For fans who are already invested, the update provides more content to enjoy. But for those who are unimpressed by the game, Kate Bishop won’t change many minds.
New hero used haphazardly
The main game campaign showed that less powerful heroes, such as Black Widow, could be just as compelling to control as the more mighty Avengers, and Kate Bishop continues that trend.
In addition to Kate’s bow and sword are new Tachyon abilities to allow her to teleport short distances. These are very affective during traversal, making her one of the fastest characters to move across the map.
One of her abilities even allows her to shoot an arrow and then teleport to where it lands. In combat, this results in a devastating impact that sends enemies flying, but I found myself more often than not simply shooting at my desired location hundreds of meters away, and then instantly teleporting to it, negating the need to sprint or fly over the empty terrain that comprises a lot of the game’s areas.
Kate’s gameplay is her strength, but I was disappointed to find myself a little mixed on the character herself and how she interacted with the team. In the game, Kate is essentially in the same shoes that Ms. Marvel, aka Kamala Khan, finds herself in now. She was the teenage protégé of the Avengers before A-Day, and is now in her early 20s.
Kate is voiced by Ashly Burch, an incredibly talented actor with a long history of voicing video game characters. Burch has been Tiny Tina in the Borderlands series, Chloe in Life is Strange, and most recently, Aloy in Horizon Zero Dawn.
She has an incredibly recognizable voice and that just doesn’t mesh with Kate Bishop, who’s presented as a very young and growing Avenger. Don’t get me wrong, Kate is more than capable as a hero, and the five years since A-Day have forced her to grow up a bit, but there are certain lines of dialogue that took me out of the story because of Burch’s incredibly experienced and distinctive performance.
Kate is also never given anything really fun to do, and unfortunately doesn’t play off of any of the other heroes. She has a single moment with Cap, and a handful with Tony. But most of the time, we’re just hearing dialogue over missions. I hoped that she would have had some nice moments with Kamala, as their situations are very similar, but we get none of that.
Game remains mundane and buggy
The “Taking AIM” story opens up with the Avengers finding that Kate has attacked a compound. The team believed that she and Clint Barton, the original Hawkeye, were dead.
Not only is Kate alive, but she has intel that Clint is too, and is tracking him down. The best aspect of the Avengers was the campaign, and specifically the more linear, unique levels. Unfortunately, the entirety of Kate’s story is built using the multiplayer Warzone format.
Not only do you return to the same locations as before, but you return to the Snowy Tundra for 85% of the entirety of the DLC. When I found myself completing the same monotonous puzzles in the same AIM corridors, I exclaimed, “are you kidding me?” at my television.
The DLC levels try to mix it up slightly with different implementations of those puzzles, pairing ranged switches with ones you need to melee, playing to Kate’s strengths. The Super Adaptoid who is the villain at the end of the DLC wields Captain America’s shield and Thor’s Hammer, but once you begin to fight it, there’s almost no difference between it and the regular Adaptoids other than a longer health bar.
There’s also a mini boss fight against a Dr. Lyle Getz, an evil AIM scientist who hops into one of the already familiar Dreadbots we’ve fought time and time again. The Avengers have such a colorful and varied rogue’s gallery, so it’s frustrating that they chose to stick this random scientist in a robot, something the game already does repeatedly? The fact we’ve only really fought Taskmaster, Abomination, and M.O.D.O.K is incredibly disappointing.
On top of the familiar monotony were the familiar bugs. In one instance, I was unable to move Kate, which resulted in having to restart a checkpoint. Another had her flying through the sky, able to exist outside the map boundaries, and fire arrows on my enemies. At least that one was fun.
The future looks bleak
No, I mean it — it really looks bleak. A lot of the story in “Taking AIM” deals with time travel, and hints that there’s a big confrontation coming down the line that might be found in a huge update to the game— a second campaign potentially.
It’s interesting enough, but is the journey to it going to be this tedious? Getting new characters that never fully integrate with the team? Being sent to the same areas and AIM labs as we always have? Catching ourselves on bugs as we battle identical robot enemies again and again?
As a fan of these heroes all my life, I’m willing to put up with this to play the new DLC drops, as underwhelming as they may be. But what co-developer Crystal Dynamics needs is a consistent player base to return day in day out, and unfortunately, if Taking AIM is any indication, it’s going to miss the mark.
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