Looking back at my review of the Marvel’s Avengers video game, I’ll be the first to admit that it has not aged well.
One of my most anticipated games of 2020 was Marvel’s Avengers, a “Destiny-esque” action adventure live service game from Square Enix and Marvel Games. Upon release, I decided to write a review of the game in which I praised it to no end.
The game is passable, but not great like I claimed it to be or think it can be.
If this game featured characters that didn’t happen to be some of the most popular fictional characters of our time, part of me thinks that this game would be suffering the same fate that Anthem, a similar game, has.
Fortunately for Marvel’s Avengers, things haven’t reached rock bottom, but they could. The first red flag is the player base.
In November, just two months after the game’s release, the player base was down 96% on PC. Although the console player base stats were probably a little kinder to the game, as a player I felt this as well, with long wait times to get into lobbies and hardly ever getting into full lobbies myself.
The crux of this problem comes down to a few things, but mainly it’s that the game is not fun enough to constantly play in order to get satisfying rewards. The story is great and gives me hope: the Kate Bishop DLC was a nice addition, but only lasted a few hours and didn’t really fix the problem of replayability.
The game is grind-heavy, the missions are not varied enough, and the gear system lacks the appeal that competing games like Borderlands and Destiny have.
This game has potential, though, and here’s a few reasons why:
- The studio is talented: Crystal Dynamics is the studio behind this game and previously had a lot of success in redefining the dormant Tomb Raider series. The team is great at crafting a narrative. But live service games take a lot more than narrative to retain players in my opinion.
- Marvel’s characters/lore: Marvel continues to dominate a large part of popular culture with the continued success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After shows like WandaVision, fans might be clamoring for more Marvel to fill their TV screens. That’s where this game has a shot at winning new audiences over.
- Next-gen update and DLC: The game’s release on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S could be the spark that sets things off for the future. The Hawkeye DLC is dropping alongside this, which will hopefully win some players back.
The game needs to change its course for the long run, though, if it wants to avoid another severe loss of players. I think there are a few ways to combat this, which I will list below:
- Movie-inspired skins: Every player wants this, and I don’t imagine it being too hard. Give us an Avengers: Infinity War Thor (complete with Stormbreaker), give us an exact replica of Iron Man’s armor in movies like Iron Man 3 or Avengers: Endgame, give us Smart Hulk and give us Hawkeye with Jeremy Renner’s fresh haircut. Marvel’s Spider-Man (another game overseen by Marvel Games) features skins from four different Spider-Man movie franchises, so there really is no excuse here. Originally, I had an idea that expanded to locations and character release timing, but I’ll leave it at skins for now (baby steps, you know?).
- Destiny-esque raids: Destiny and Borderlands are the two game franchises that started the live-service genre, in my opinion. Something that made these games so successful is the epic raid missions and boss battles that these games featured. Destiny’s Vault of Glass raid and Borderlands 2’s fight against Terramorphous the Invincible have created so much joy and iconic moments for players, and Marvel’s Avengers needs something similar to this. Imagine how cool it would be to fight a Celestial or fight through an alien Skrull base to unlock some killer gear.
- Story — Marvel Gaming Universe: It is no secret that Marvel’s Avengers will eventually feature Spider-Man. This is the perfect opportunity to take the game’s lore to the next level and feature some cross-collaboration with another Marvel video game. Create some sort of live event in both Marvel’s Avengers and Marvel’s Spider-Man to connect the two and get fans engaged and hyped. Maybe it’s a set of secret clues hidden in Marvel’s Spider-Man that eventually lead to a new Operation in the Marvel’s Avengers game. This is a concept I’ve dreamed about as a little kid and I would love to see a game series try it.
- Character wishlist: This isn’t exactly a suggestion for improving the game, but I think that adding these characters would get fans excited again, especially considering how popular these characters are in the movies and TV shows. They are as follows:
- Scarlet Witch
- Dr. Strange
- Captain Marvel
- Black Panther
I currently enjoy the game for what it is, but it needs definite improvements. The story foundation is excellent, the characters are likeable, and the base level of gameplay is good. Marvel’s Avengers just needs to find its footing in the live-service style of game, embrace the fandom of the MCU, and overall, do better to keep the fans coming back for more.
I’m hopeful for the future of this game, but not certain it will hang on. Not yet, that is.