Avengers (2020 video game)
Morgan W. Gray
|Genre(s)||Action-adventure, role-playing game, beat 'em up|
Marvel's Avengers is an action role-playing brawler video game co-developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix. Based on the Marvel Comics superhero team the Avengers, the game is mainly inspired by the Marvel Cinematic Universe's iteration of the group, as well as the long-running comic book mythology. The game's main storyline takes place five years after A-Day, a celebratory day for the Avengers wherein a tragedy resulted in death and destruction, and the Avengers were blamed. The team is forced to reassemble to save the world from peril in the form of A.I.M., led by George Tarleton / MODOK, which threatens to end the world of superpowered individuals.
Gameplay is presented from a third-person perspective and can be playable in both single-player and multiplayer; the game features an online co-op mode, allowing players to assemble a team of heroes of their own. The initial playable characters are Steve Rogers / Captain America, Tony Stark / Iron Man, Bruce Banner / Hulk, Thor, Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow, and Kamala Khan / Ms. Marvel, with more becoming available to players post-launch as free updates, which also includes new regions to be explored. Each hero possess a variety of costume customization features, as well as the capacity to upgrade their powers and abilities using a skill tree.
Marvel's Avengers was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Stadia on 4 September 2020. The game received mixed reviews upon release, with critics praising its story and gameplay, but criticizing its repetition, user interface, and technical issues. It will also be released on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X when both consoles launch, with PlayStation 4 players and Xbox One players being able to upgrade to the next-gen version for free.
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Marvel's Avengers is a third-person, action-adventure game that combines an original, cinematic story with single-player and co-operative gameplay. The game can be played offline as a single-player experience or online with up to four people during certain aspects of the game. The game will feature customization options including abilities and costumes, which can be upgraded using a skill tree. Costumes have been sourced from "all corners of the Marvel universe" and can be earned in-game or bought separately as DLC. Players will also be able to receive free updates containing new regions and characters.
Marvel's Avengers features a roster of characters drawn from the Marvel Universe, including multiple playable heroes. The initial set of playable characters consists of Steve Rogers / Captain America (Jeff Schine), Tony Stark / Iron Man (Nolan North), Thor (Travis Willingham), Bruce Banner / Hulk (Troy Baker / Darin De Paul), Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow (Laura Bailey), and Kamala Khan / Ms. Marvel (Sandra Saad). Following the game's initial release, more superheroes will be made available for free to players, including Kate Bishop / Hawkeye II (Ashly Burch), Clint Barton / Hawkeye (Giacomo Gianniotti), and T'Challa / Black Panther. Peter Parker / Spider-Man will also be available, albeit exclusively on the PlayStation versions. Crystal Dynamics studio head Scot Amos stated the exclusivity of Spider-Man came from Marvel and Sony's existing partnership, and clarified that this was the only character to be console-exclusive.
The game's supporting characters include Hank Pym (Danny Jacobs), Phil Sheldon (Walter Gray IV), J.A.R.V.I.S. (Harry Hadden-Paton), Nick Fury (Charles Parnell), Maria Hill (Jennifer Hale), Dum Dum Dugan, Dante Pertuz (Michael Johnston), and Cerise (Cherry Thompson).
During the game, the Avengers and their allies come into conflict with several supervillains and opponents; among them are George Tarleton / MODOK (Usman Ally), Monica Rappaccini (Jolene Andersen), Emil Blonsky / Abomination (Jamieson Price), Tony Masters / Taskmaster (Walter Gray IV), and Loki (Travis Willingham).
On A-Day, five members of the Avengers — Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow and Hulk — celebrate the unveiling of a second headquarters in San Francisco and their own Helicarrier, the Chimera, powered by a Terrigen Crystal. However, the ceremony is interrupted by a terrorist attack led by Taskmaster, resulting in most of San Francisco and the Chimera being destroyed and Captain America's apparent death. In addition, the destruction of the Terrigen Crystal produces Terrigen Mist, turning countless people into Inhumans. Blamed for the tragedy, the Avengers disband.
Five years later, superheroes have been outlawed while a science-based organization called A.I.M., led by former Avengers scientist George Tarleton, takes their place in society, vowing to find a cure for what is dubbed the "Inhuman Disease". At her home in Jersey City, teenage Inhuman Kamala Khan discovers damaged video footage apparently revealing Tarleton locking Captain America in the reactor room before it exploded. She is soon contacted by "Tiny Dancer", a member of the Resistance, who tells her that A.I.M. is on to her. She attempts to meet Tiny Dancer at Heroes Park, but is captured by A.I.M. scientist Monica Rappaccini and brought to Tarleton, who tries to convince her that A.I.M. wants to help her understand her Inhuman abilities. However, Kamala escapes and make her way to Utah to find the Resistance.
Her search soon brings her to the Chimera's hidden wreckage, in which she finds Bruce Banner after a confrontation with the Hulk. She shows him the footage and eventually convinces a reluctant Banner to assist her in proving the Avengers' innocence. Traveling to a former S.H.I.E.L.D. compound to retrieve J.A.R.V.I.S., the two are confronted by A.I.M. and one of their operatives, the Abomination. Hulk manages to defeat him before he and Kamala return to the Chimera to reactivate J.A.R.V.I.S. and setting out to reunite the Avengers, starting with Tony Stark.
While they find Stark at his family estate, he is reluctant to help as Banner's testimony of A-Day incriminated the Avengers. Upon learning of Kamala's evidence, Stark agrees to join them and works to restore the Chimera. Amidst their search for parts to help him, Kamala and Banner stumble upon the Ant Hill, an Inhuman sanctuary and the Resistance's headquarters run by Dr. Hank Pym. While assisting them, Kamala disobeys orders and attempts to raid an A.I.M. prison on her own to rescue Inhumans, but is captured. While in custody, she learns Rappaccini's efforts to make an Inhuman cure were unsuccessful, leading Tarleton to put priority on their Adaptoids. Having worked undercover within A.I.M., Romanoff infiltrates the facility, captures Rappaccini, and frees Kamala, revealing she is Tiny Dancer.
Banner attempts to interrogate Rappaccini about the Adaptoid lab's whereabouts, but she resists before A.I.M. forces attack the Chimera and retrieve her. Witnessing the attack, Thor intervenes and rejoins the Avengers. However, J.A.R.V.I.S. restores the footage, which shows Captain America ordering Tarleton to seal him inside so he can destroy the reactor, apparently causing the explosion. Believing A-Day was their fault, the Avengers fragment.
While reviewing the interrogation, Kamala realizes A.I.M.'s Adaptoid lab is on their satellite and relays this information to the Avengers, rallying them with a heartfelt speech. Stark upgrades his suit to achieve space travel and infiltrate the satellite, where he discovers Rappaccini was holding Captain America prisoner to harvest his blood and use it to power the Adaptoids and mutate Tarleton after he was exposed to the Terrigen Crystal on A-Day. The two Avengers manage to escape with Thor's help, during which Captain America reveals he destroyed the reactor because it was unearthing something that threatened to destabilize the San Andreas Fault and destroy San Francisco. Meanwhile, Tarleton discovers what Rappaccini has done to him and seemingly kills her.
With Captain America back, the Avengers deduce Rappaccini hired Taskmaster to hijack the Chimera and steal the Terrigen Crystal, which unearthed the unknown object. They soon learn that Tarleton, now going by MODOK, plans to exterminate Inhumans and superheroes around the world. The Avengers storm his San Francisco fortress, but MODOK activates a Kree Sentry buried beneath the bay and overpowers them until Kamala grows to giant size and destroys it, causing MODOK to fall into the bay. With the Avengers reunited and MODOK defeated, Kamala returns home and rejoins her father, who secretly allows her to join the Avengers.
In a mid-credits scene, a surviving Rappaccini becomes A.I.M.'s new Scientist Supreme while the Kree Sentry launches a pod into space. In a subsequent post-credits scene, Maria Hill informs the Avengers that S.H.I.E.L.D. has discovered A.I.M.'s activities.
A teaser trailer was released on Marvel Entertainment's YouTube channel in January 2017 which announced the game. The game was under the working title The Avengers Project. More than two years later at E3 2019, Square Enix hosted a press conference that shared more details on the game, including a full trailer and release date. The 14-minute presentation showcased a trailer made from in-game footage, a brief description of the gameplay including characters, multiplayer and customization, and a preview of the actors behind the game. A playable demo was available to show floor attendees behind closed doors.
A closed beta was available for those who pre-ordered the game. This began 7 August and ran until 9 August for PlayStation 4. The closed beta then came to Xbox One and Microsoft Windows from 14 August to 16 August, with an open beta for all PlayStation 4 users also being available during this weekend. A final open beta took place from 21 August to 23 August for all launch platforms apart from Stadia.
Marvel's Avengers was originally set to release on Stadia, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows on 15 May 2020, but was pushed back to 4 September, in order to adjust and polish the game. The game was released in four editions; a Standard Edition, an Exclusive Digital Edition (only for PS4), a Deluxe Edition, and an Earth's Mightiest Edition, with the latter three editions being playable from 1 September, and the standard edition releasing on 4 September. The game is set to be released as a launch title for the Xbox Series X on 10 November 2020, and for the PlayStation 5 on 12 November 2020.
DLCs and story expansions
In June 2020, it was revealed that Hawkeye would be a playable character in a free post-launch DLC. Later, in July, Spider-Man was announced as a second DLC, exclusive to PlayStation. On September 1st, 2020, the third playable DLC character was revealed to be Kate Bishop, and Black Panther was also possibly teased as the next DLC character.
Tie-in media and merchandise
Marvel’s Avengers: Road to A-Day
Marvel Comics has published five tie-in prequel comics for the game in a collection called Marvel's Avengers: Road to A-Day. Each comic focuses on one of the five playable characters available at launch, excluding Ms. Marvel. The first comic to be released was Marvel's Avengers: Iron Man #1 on 11 December 2019, followed by Marvel's Avengers: Thor #1 on 8 January 2020, Marvel's Avengers: Hulk #1 on 5 February 2020, Marvel's Avengers: Captain America #1 on 18 March 2020, and concluding with Marvel's Avengers: Black Widow #1 on 25 March 2020.
Titan Books published two tie-in books for the game on 1 September 2020. The first book, titled Marvel's Avengers: The Extinction Key was written by best-selling author Greg Keyes, is a prequel focused on the events that take place prior to the A-Day, which also sets the game's events in motion. The novel follows the Avengers as they try to prevent an ancient organization called the Zodiac from acquiring an infinitely powerful weapon capable of warping the very fabric of time and space — the Zodiac Key. The Extinction Key also introduces the game's versions of Doctor Strange and Brother Voodoo, as well as specific members of S.H.I.E.L.D. The second book, Marvel's Avengers: The Art of the Game contains concept art, storyboards and artist commentary, an intimate study of the Avengers, plus a detailed view at the different environments and missions in the game.
Funko released a set of Pop! Vinyl figures based on the playable characters in the game that are available at launch, in addition to a figure based on Taskmaster. Black Widow received a glow-in-the-dark chase variant, with the stock of this variant being at a rate of one in every six Black Widow figures. Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and Hulk also received alternate designs exclusive to certain retailers, with the first two being glow-in-the-dark variants. The designs for the characters were also loosely adapted for Lego Marvel Avengers sets releasing in 2020, though the events depicted are not from the game itself.
Destructoid summarized its 6/10 review by calling the game "Slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy it a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled." Shacknews praised the campaign and unique character abilities, but noted the "convoluted and uninspired" menus and bug issues.
USgamer scored the game 2.5/5 stars and wrote: "If Marvel's Avengers was just the single-player story campaign, it would be amazing. There, Crystal Dynamics sells you on its version of the Avengers and introduces the charming and endearing Ms. Marvel to players everywhere. Combat has depth to it, and each hero truly feels distinct. Unfortunately, the endgame is where our heroes falter, with broken matchmaking, rough options in terms of progression, and endlessly reused environments and enemies."
Electronic Gaming Monthly said "Marvel's Avengers squanders the potential of what might have been a fun superhero romp by grafting on an annoying, overly repetitive games-as-a-service component. Playing as the cast of heroes offers decent thrills, and the campaign tells an enjoyable enough story, but odds are good you'll get bored long before you grind your way to the top."
Game Informer gave the game an 8.75/10, writing: "Developer Crystal Dynamics delivers a powerful superhero showcase that taps into each Avenger's unique abilities to light up the battlefield in thrilling ways, but when the dust settles, it slows down to show a softer, human side that is every bit as engaging, placing a character you wouldn't expect in the central role."
Avengers was the bestselling retail game during its first week on sale in the UK.
The PlayStation version sold 42,979 physical copies within its first week on sale in Japan, making it the second bestselling retail game of the week in the country.
- Additional work by Eidos-Montréal, Crystal Northwest and Nixxes Software
- The Deluxe and Earth’s Mightiest editions was released on September 1, while the standard edition was released on September 4
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