Platform: Xbox One
Marvel's Avengers Preview - E3 2019
We get a glimpse of the gameplay in the upcoming superhero title
The Avengers super hero franchise has grown to be the #1 entertainment property worldwide over the past 12 months. With two films breaking ticket sales records, the momentum that Marvel Studios has built shows no signs of stopping. As more films are planned to steadily stream into theaters, the focus is now possibly shifting to other avenues – TV, and indeed video games. Following last year's great adaption of Spider-Man from Insomniac Games, we can now look forward to a new title. Marvel's Avengers is in the hands of Square Enix and developers Crystal Dynamics, who have been until now busy with the reinvented Tomb Raider franchise. We got a chance to see a hands-off demo of the Avengers at E3 2019.
The demo we got to observe followed the same sequence of events as the game's reveal trailer – however we actually got to see all the gameplay moments in-between the cutscenes. The developers worked with Marvel to create an original story for the Avengers universe. We were told that the final product will feature a cinematic action/adventure, supporting both solo and cooperative play. The story will begin on A-Day, an event during which the Avengers - Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk, Black Widow, and Thor - are unveiling some new tech in the San Francisco bay. However, an explosion suddenly occurs in the background on the Golden Gate Bridge. Thor and Iron Man quickly mobilize; Iron Man goes directly to the bridge while Thor diverges to assist some civilians that are being attacked by an unknown military force right near the bridge.
Thor lands in the middle of the shootout and we get to observe some combat gameplay. He uses typical action game melee moves to bash some enemies around; he can throw his hammer, spin it, and even pin an enemy with it while he cleans up some others with fists. When enemies become a bit too numerous, he unleashes some special attacks that focus on area-of-effect damage, like a series of lightning strikes. A new bunch of enemies appear, this time with shields, so Thor must put in a bit more effort to dispatch them. Yet another set of enemies arrive, this time with jetpacks, but Iron Man also enters the scene to chase them away. We now proceed to some scripted flying gameplay, as Iron Man is shooting at the foes trying to escape, drawing the battle onto the bridge itself, which is now partially collapsing.
Iron Man eventually reaches a stable section of the bridge and lands, and engages with some melee combat himself. He prefers to use his suit's abilities to deliver damage, like a high energy beam from his chest, and a lock-on rocket launcher. All of these action sequences certainly seem heavily scripted and are meant to be cinematic, as we transition from gameplay moments to cutscenes seamlessly, and quite often. At this point, the Hulk arrives to join the fight as he jumps onto the bridge from the transport airship above. We watch some Hulk gameplay as he brutally smashes enemies into the ground, into each other, and throws huge chunks of concrete. He also does a surprising amount of traversal, making big leaps across gaps in the bridge and some wall runs. His special attacks include a powerful clap. We reach a point where performing a QTE lets him lift an enemy tank and throw it at another; a cinematic moment, but certainly without much input from the player.
Meanwhile, the action switches to the Avengers' new helicarrier, which seems to be malfunctioning and trapped in some sort of energy field. Captain America is on board, trying to help the staff to evacuate, while enemies also begin to pour in. We watch him bash on some bad guys in melee, as well as throw his shield that bounces around between foes. Foes that take enough damage become stunned/weakened, and open to cinematic takedowns. We learn that this new ship uses an experimental energy source, which is misbehaving and the on-board scientists are unable to understand why.
Meanwhile back on the bridge, the man behind today's attack appears. It is the Taskmaster, an apparent ex-SHIELD agent, and he attempts to bring a Sonic Disruptor bomb into the city. The Avengers on the bridge stop his truck bomb, and he gets into a tussle with the Black Window, who is also now on the bridge. They engage, and The Taskmaster takes Black Window on a jetpack ride through the collapsing bridge as they fight. It's another cinematic moment, where the player has little to do except the occasional QTE. Eventually, they come to a halt on a platform and Black Window offers possibly the most engaging bit of gameplay in the whole demo, which is a boss encounter with the Taskmaster. It's a lengthy battle, having to dodge his attacks, counter with melee and her pistols, and utilize specials like going invisible in order to surprise him. When he finally falls, and the Disruptor bomb is neutralized, the team realizes that this was the plan all along. We watch as the Avengers' helicarrier comes crashing down into the water, and seemingly taking out much of the city.
On this, the demo concludes, and we observe the rest of the E3 trailer unchanged. The story will pick up five years after the events of this day, with the Avengers' being scattered and disliked by the population. The developers tell us that the full release will feature "a growing roster of heroes that can be customized, with new content coming steadily after launch". What exactly this means regarding content available at launch, we've yet to know. Based on the demo being shown, Marvel's Avengers is clearly focusing on being accessible and cinematic, rather than offering deep or unique gameplay – but perhaps this is just the beginning. Fans can look forward to checking out this new super hero saga in May 2020 on PC, Xbox One, and PS4.