Marvel’s Avengers – Everything We Know of the Ambitious Project by Crystal Dynamics
Marvel's Avengers IP is one of the biggest in the entire entertainment industry, following the highly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe that culminated with Avengers: Endgame, which became the highest-grossing movie of all time.
It is perhaps surprising that in all these years we haven't had much in terms of triple-A Marvel games, with the exception of Insomniac's Spider-Man title for PlayStation 4. Last year, Nintendo Switch players also got Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, though that wasn't really a triple-A production.
It is up to Crystal Dynamics (with the help of Eidos Montréal) to change all that with Marvel's Avengers. First announced as the Avengers Project in early 2017, the game only resurfaced last year. It is quite the departure from the previous single player only games developed by Crystal Dynamics, which might explain the long development period.
Square Enix recently confirmed that the Marvel's Avengers beta will take place over three weekends. On August 7th, the pre-order beta for PlayStation 4 will begin, while a week later Xbox One and PC pre-order customers will get in and PlayStation 4 users will move to open beta. A final weekend of open beta testing on all platforms is set for August 21st.
Content-wise, the developers said there'll be a mix of everything for fans to try, including some solo campaign missions, co-op missions, War Zone missions and more.
Price, release date and platforms
Marvel's Avengers will be released for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Google Stadia on September 4th. The game has also been confirmed to be available for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X upon the yet-to-be-determined release date of the next-gen consoles by Sony and Microsoft.
There is no official word yet on full cross-play, though Square Enix did confirm 'cross-generational play' between PlayStation 4/PlayStation 5 and Xbox One/Xbox Series X. Additionally, those who pick up the game on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One will be able to upgrade for free to the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X of the game and their saves will carry over, too.
Publisher Square Enix is offering two special editions beyond the standard one. The Deluxe Edition, priced $79.99, comes with an exclusive Obsidian Outfit pack, including Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Thor, Hulk, and Ms. Marvel, along with six exclusive Obsidian-themed nameplates to further customize; a free month of the Marvel Unlimited online comic subscription service (while supplies last); and three days of early access.
The 'Earth's Mightiest' Edition will be much more expensive at $199.99, but it also includes keepsakes of each Avenger drawn directly from the in-game narrative, such as: full color 12” statue of Captain America, Hulk Bobblehead, Mjolnir Keychain, Black Widow's Belt Buckle, Iron Man's Prototype Armor Blueprints, Kamala Khan's Honorary Avenger Pin and a commemorative Avengers group photo. All of this in addition to the goods previously mentioned for the Deluxe Edition, and there's even an exclusive SteelBook case in the package.
Marvel's Avengers can be considered a third-person action game, structured in a regular solo campaign (where players will rotate between the various heroes depending on the mission) and a cooperative focused multiplayer component. The campaign falls under the label of 'Hero Missions', while the cooperative part of the game is grouped under the 'War Zone Missions' category. War Zone Missions will come in many different flavors, such as Iconic Missions, Faction Missions, Drop Zones, Vaults, Hives, and Villain Sectors.
We recently learned from the developers that it won't be necessary to actually play with others in War Zone Missions, however, as it'll be possible to use AI-controlled heroes instead.
A huge part of the gameplay will revolve around the customization of the playable heroes, both visual and functional. There'll be lots of skins to unlock and gear to collect, divided into the usual rarity categories (white, green, blue, purple, yellow).
When it comes to character progression, each hero has multiple skill trees allowing for wildly different playstyles. For example, even the Hulk can be transformed into a ranged character according to the developers. Additional customization can be added through perks, which may for example add gamma damage, or shrink enemies when equipping Hank Pym's gear.
In the moment-to-moment action, beyond basic attacks, the heroes may activate three cooldown-based Heroic abilities, loosely grouped under the categories of Support, Assault, and Ultimate. The gameplay has been designed to reward teamwork, too, with team finishers moves available once an enemy's stun meter has been filled.
Marvel's Avengers won't be an open world game, as that wouldn't make sense for this type of game. Instead, missions will take place in a variety of regions that will be further expanded following the title's launch. Crystal Dynamics stated that campaign missions will be more linear, while War Zone missions are going to offer a greater degree of exploration to players.
Marvel's Avengers begins at the height of the popularity of Earth's mightiest heroes. During an 'A-Day' celebration in San Francisco for the opening of the second Avengers HQ, terrorists led by the Taskmaster strike and eventually manage to destroy the Golden Gate Bridge and most of the city with it. Additionally, the group's leader Captain America is believed to have died during the attack, leading the Avengers to essentially disband while the public largely blames them for their inability to protect San Francisco.
Five years later, the world is a very different place as the organization called Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.) managed to convince politicians of the need to outlaw superheroes, who have been 'replaced' by A.I.M.'s mechanical protectors. However, teenager Kamala Khan, a big fan of the Avengers who isn't convinced at all of their supposed guilt, uses her wit and her newly found Inhuman powers to uncover A.I.M.'s conspiracy and subsequently brings back the Avengers once more, enlightening them on what was really happening.
The latest videos have revealed that A.I.M. is led by George Tarleton, who is actually the supervillain M.O.D.O.K. (Mental/Mobile/Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing). Other supervillains confirmed to be in the game are the Taskmaster and the Abomination.
On the hero front, Hulk, Thor, Iron-Man, Black Widow, Miss Marvel (Kamala Khan) and Captain America will be playable at launch. Rumored post-launch additions include Captain Marvel, War Machine, Hawkeye and Black Panther. By the way, Marvel's Avengers will receive free updates for a long time, featuring new regions, new story arcs and new playable characters.
Marvel's Avengers is based on an evolution of the Foundation engine seen in the recent Tomb Raider reboot trilogy.
The developers briefly discussed the improvements being prepared for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X versions of the game, which will feature extremely fast load times, boosted resolution and fidelity, improved texturing and armor destruction, and ray tracing.
A bit more color was provided specifically on the PS5 release, which is set to 'fully utilize' the ultra-high speed SSD, the DualSense advanced haptics, and immersive spatial audio offered by the new platform. In terms of features, stochastic screen-space reflections with contact-aware sharpening are enabled on PS5, alongside higher anisotropic filtering, enhanced ambient occlusion, and higher draw distance/LOD compared to the PlayStation 4 version. There is also the option to choose between Enhanced Graphics mode or High Framerate mode, with the latter targeting 60 FPS and dynamic 4K resolution.
More information regarding the PC, Xbox Series X and Google Stadia versions will be released at a later point.