Marvel’s Avengers: 6 Months Later, An Analysis Of Its Updates
So, here we are. A little more than six months into the life cycle of Marvel’s Avengers. It’s understood that games like these need regular updates to keep things from getting stale. This piece will be a pretty in-depth analysis of most of the major additions since launch and how well they increase the game’s quality overall. If you’d like to know my initial thoughts on the game at launch, go here.
The bulk of the new content that’s been added comes in the form of two major updates. Both updates add a new character. The first one being Kate Bishop and the second being Clint Barton. Since the updates are defined by character additions, I’ll focus on both as such.
Kate’s update brings with it some new story beats. Now, I’ll be honest. I don’t much care for any of the extra story additions these updates have featured. Marvel’s Avengers’ main campaign was pretty forgettable, and it seems like these story add-ons will follow suit. There just isn’t any real development anywhere for me to at all care about what’s happening. So, I won’t be discussing the quality of these additional stories. Just know that these stories attempt to justify the related character’s addition to the game. This, in itself, is something I can appreciate.
As for Kate’s character functionally in the game, I think she’s great. In my time playing as her, she quickly became my new secondary and will probably be my main since Widow tends to suck at the only thing you need to be good at to deal with this game’s messy combat. We’ll get there though.
Kate’s main draw for me is her teleporting abilities. Superfluous as they are as far as efficiency is concerned, when the game isn’t throwing an infinite amount of spam at you to deal with, her teleporting is pretty fun to mess around with. It’s just a shame the game doesn’t really give you a reason to use or enjoy her teleport abilities regularly over her other tools in combat.
What makes Kate a real killer is her absolutely insane crowd control tools. Crowd control is probably the most important aspect of this game. Kate probably has the best tools to control a crowd more comfortably than possibly any other hero currently playable. Her support heroic creates a holographic duplicate of herself which draws a little bit of enemy aggro. Her assault heroic blows enemies away in a large AOE blast and her ultimate gives her sword attacks shockwave slashes. Honestly though, all of that kind of pales in comparison to a particular tool she sports: the scattershot arrow.
One of her three selectable arrow types on-the-fly, the scattershot arrow is, frankly, busted. Scattershot arrow makes Kate fire a volley of arrows, shotgun-style. The rate of fire is ridiculous, and the hit-stagger is insane. It absolutely shreds any basic-sized enemy or drone in the game. Any larger enemy that features obsessive super armor is also no match when kited around with a scattershot arrow. Sitting in the sweet spot distance where something like an Adaptoid only chooses to slowly walk you down instead of doing one of its BS ranged moves or one of its slow melee moves is free damage for the scattershot arrow.
Kate is by far the best hero currently in Marvel’s Avengers right now, simply because the raw utility of the scattershot arrow is off the charts. The best part about it is that it takes absolutely no resources, and it’s arguably her best tool. So much so that it makes practically all of her other tools worthless. This is in addition to all the other crowd control and kiting tools she comes equipped with.
This hero practically gives credence to how horribly balanced this game is for a single-player environment. She makes me question why this game is even melee-based if playing it like a 3rd-person shooter with dodge mechanics is infinitely better. She dumbs down the game’s combat even more while somehow simultaneously making it infinitely easier when the game attempts to ramp up its “difficulty”. This is truly an impressive feat, and I honestly have to applaud CD for managing to accomplish something like this. Even Iron Man’s ranged options aren’t this OP.
Outside of Kate, her update doesn’t add too much else. So, let’s move on to Clint.
Clint’s update adds a little more content than Kate’s. He, of course, adds a few more story elements. What I will say about the missions is that I appreciate the fact that they feel a little more set-piece-y. They have a few scripted events happening in-gameplay during them. It’s still mainly the same deal as any other missions in the game though. You run around, beat up bad guys, complete objectives, some of which do not compliment the game’s combat at all, and open chests for loot.
What really attempts to mix up this tired formula is the new biome: The Future Wasteland. It’s just a shame it doesn’t really do that. Before I talk about the Wasteland specifically, let me touch upon the issues I have with the biomes in general.
Marvel’s Avengers biomes are ostensibly all wastelands in their own right. I’d be the first to argue that they’re much too big for their own good. I’m honestly not sure what they were exactly going for when coming up with these play spaces, but it damn sure wasn’t player engagement. The biomes do more to waste the player’s time than actually engage them in any way.
Nothing is interesting to look at. Nothing is interesting to do or interact with. There’s barely ever an NPC to interact with. When there is, it’s usually some boring side-objective about saving someone or attached to the main objectives of the mission, which also isn’t very interesting. There’s no reason to really go out of your way to explore the biomes thoroughly. All you have to do is press a button, and the game tells you where all the major secrets are. All of the minor, unmarked secrets are usually just more chests to open anyway.
You’d think that if you’re going to have huge, sprawling play spaces, there’d at least be an intriguing way to get around them. That isn’t the case either. The movement system in Marvel’s Avengers is not at all engaging enough to justify these spaces being so big. You’re either sprint-jumping or flying. It’s not like you’re navigating an obstacle course. There’s no epic piece of scenery or map geometry to stylishly fly over, under, past, or through. You aren’t executing a string of glides, dives, and ziplines like Batman or web-swinging around like Spider-Man. So, what’s the point?
The design philosophy of Marvel’s Avengers‘ biomes is non-existent. They serve as little more than a backdrop for the player to run around and beat up bad guys in. It’s formless nothingness that only further highlights the game’s bland visuals.
So, what about the actual Wasteland map? Well, it looks a bit better than the average biome. The fallen Kree makes for nice landmarks. There’s also a bit more variation between map sections to make different areas feel a little more distinct. The map also features POIs. These are basically interaction point objects the characters will make comments on. At least, that’s as far as I understand them being. This is something that the campaign had, but the multiplayer biomes didn’t. I understand why they didn’t. I’m just confused about their addition now. It’s not like this biome plays any differently from any other. I doubt most players would care about these interaction points when smashing up robo-baddies with their friends. When playing alone, though, I suppose they’re a nice treat, if pretty innocuous at best.
So, that leaves us with Hawkeye himself. Functionally, I think he’s fine. He’s not better than Kate, but he’s fine. The worst part about him is probably the overall clunky nature of his moveset. His ranged tools are alright, though they’re kind of slow. Slow in comparison to Kate anyway. Any kind of major crowd control capabilities he has also taken some sort of resource whether it’s his intrinsic meter or heroic charge. His assault heroic can also be really clumsy to position correctly. Cluster arrow is probably the exception. Cluster arrow is alright once you unlock its tripwire charge, and the stun it does makes chaining takedowns super easy. It’s not better than the scattershot arrow, and it’s still really slow, but it does its job well enough.
I tried experimenting with going exclusively ranged as him, playing as a sort of backline support, and it just wasn’t working. This largely has to do with the way enemies are designed and the fact that the AI teammates are useless when it comes to trying to execute any sort of strategy that isn’t ‘run in after you and smack random baddies around’. My ranged damage output was also kind of weak, though, because of my gear. I’m sure if you start focusing stats into ranged, he’ll start shredding targets.
I tried giving his signature attacks a try and they’re just as clunky as Kate’s. The problem is the fact that they’re all these mid-range-ish bow attacks that send the character backward with every arrow they fire. I didn’t like them with Kate and I don’t like them with Clint. They aren’t really worth doing from a considerable distance away because the auto-targeting is unreliable and probably won’t aim the attack at the target you want, much less any target at all. If you’re within the distance that the auto-targeting will have a better effect, then you’re probably close enough to also swing your sword at the enemy you’re attacking. It just makes these signature attacks largely impractical. Sure, they’re cool-looking, but they’re also pretty worthless, all things considered. This is basically the M.O. of Marvel’s Avengers‘ entire combat system. Cool-looking, but impractical.
I’m also not a fan of his auto lock-on. Overcharging his intrinsic causes him to automatically lock on to enemies when aiming. This isn’t all that helpful when in a fight with a bunch of enemies and you just want to focus one target and the lock on just chooses whatever target it wants, making you awkwardly try to switch to the one you want. You can deactivate it with a button press, but that still doesn’t solve the cumbersome phase of its initial activation.
All-in-all, dude Hawkeye is feeling more like the fake one out of the two. He’s okay. The self-sustain he has in his support heroic is nice, but I wouldn’t say it’s better than Kamala’s. He also only gets one charge of that ability. Kamala has the option for multiple with the addition of instantly reviving downed teammates. Kamala also has much better crowd control tools. Plus, he’s just not better than Kate overall, both in flashiness and efficiency.
Then there’s the customizable HARM room. Tutorials and training tools are a good idea for a game like this. The problem is that the tutorials suck and the training tools aren’t implemented well. Now, I’m not really going to dive deeply into why I think Marvel‘s Avengers‘ combat is meh at best and garbage at worst. That deserves a piece all on its own. It’s still the best feature the game has to offer, yes, but that’s only because everything else about it is so underwhelming comparatively. There are still just too many details, both mechanically and functionally, that just generally ruin the combat experience and make it not at all rewarding.
Just know that my stance is this: The game is unbalanced for a single-player environment. It’s not because the enemies hit too hard or don’t hit hard enough or because enemies have awful-looking attacks and wonky hitboxes. Though, those things certainly don’t help. It’s because the game’s idea of “difficulty”, and the experience as a whole, is predicated solely on multiplayer philosophies. Enemies are not fun to fight. They’re fun to smack around, but not fun to fight because they all function the same way. The only difference is the amount of super-armor they have, the excessive numbers they come in, and whether or not they can fly. These factors make things like trying to get creative with a character’s moves pointless because when the “difficulty” ramps up there are only three things you need to be able to do.
- Control the enemy crowd. Not every hero in the game can do this comfortably, which is why some heroes end up feeling better than others in this regard.
- Stun-lock higher-tier enemies with super-armor by using heroics, power attacks, and mashing the heavy attack button and/or kite them around with consistent ranged DPS.
- Dodge, dodge, dodge. Abuse I-frames with your heroics and spam takedowns on every chance you get.
These three simple things are what makes trying to do anything flashy with combos in Marvel’s Avengers pointless. With how many enemies this game tends to throw at the player when things get “difficult”, there’s more than likely always going to be some kind of threat focusing you from off-screen. These off-screen threats will force you to drop whatever flashy string you were doing and mash the dodge button, or I-frame through it with a heroic or a takedown. And that’s if the ridiculous amounts of hit-stagger attacks tend to do to the player don’t stop you first, which can often cause you to be layered by multiple attacks. Fighting behind cover is often a necessity in this game if you even want to finish a basic light combo.
This is the combat in a nutshell. Still visually pleasing because everything looks flashy in this game, and there is fun to be had with it occasionally, but overall it’s functionally unrewarding and mechanically superfluous when the “difficulty” spikes.
The custom HARM room just takes all of these things and puts it under a microscope of awfulness, especially since no AI companions accompany you while in it. The AI companions were Marvel Avengers‘ only excuse to throw damage sponge enemies with excessive super-armor at the player as well as just large numbers of enemies period. So, what excuse does it have now?
The only saving grace is an individual hero’s heroics. Without them, any particular character can feel helpless against overwhelming opposition. Even then, heroics are not built equally. Heroes are at an incredible disadvantage if they don’t have natural and efficient crowd control tools built into their basic kit. And the game heavily favors ranged tools more than melee. So, what’s left? Kiting enemies around with ranged options and hoping you can avoid the ridiculous spam everywhere? Welcome to the war of attrition.
This isn’t “depth”. This is just figuring out how simplistically designed the game really is. Especially since this is basically the tactic you’ll be using for every single combination of enemies in Marvel’s Avengers. Some heroes are just naturally better at it than others. Some heroes might not be able to do it very efficiently at all because of your build. It’s not rewarding, it’s not well designed and it’s not fun. It’s just exhausting and repetitive. Hell, it’s not even real practice.
The custom HARM room is just the combat taken to its absolute extreme that requires you to do the cheesiest, sweatiest, or simplest strategies possible to complete them. Actual practice would allow you to do something like comfortably experiment with combo strings under a controlled environment. Though, for this game, that probably wouldn’t really be good practice either because there’s no real reward system for doing cool strings and it often punishes you for trying to do so. It doesn’t account for your build and it doesn’t account for the tools a particular hero has. It just throws waves of spam at you. Those waves being completely universal across all heroes.
I haven’t even mentioned how lackluster the implementation of the custom HARM room is as a whole. You can’t mix and match enemies. They’re all confined to pre-made groupings that are scale-able by size. This makes no sense. A custom training feature should give the player options to select a specific enemy to fight, either by itself or in a customized mix. The size scaling is also baffling. The first size of ‘1’ is usually already too much for any one hero to handle comfortably, depending on the enemy type and the crowd control options that hero has. Increasing the size only increases the amount of unfun cheese.
You also can’t change the map to fight in different environments, and the hazards don’t really add anything. Some of the player-beneficial modifiers make it bearable, but that isn’t saying much. To top it all off, you don’t gain any progress towards anything when playing in it. So, it’s not even a rewarding feature for people that just want a convenient grinding option. Currently, the implementation of this custom training room is probably the biggest piece of evidence that CD doesn’t even know what they want from this game. The cause is either carelessness due to any constraints they’re no doubt having to deal with, or inexperience when making a game like this. It’s probably a combination of both.
I don’t know how they did it, but they managed to screw up a simple command/ping system. You can ping objects and enemies for your AI teammates. The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be any AI for your teammates to execute any unique commands outside of smashing open a door. Telling them to shoot a target, watch an objective or focus a specific enemy with your pings results in no change in their behavior whatsoever. At least, it never worked for me.
I’m honestly not even sure why CD even added the ping system. Sure, it’s great that a teammate can now smash doors open for you. That’s probably the main reason people wanted a command system in the first place. They could’ve also just given that property to every character’s power attack instead of making it character-specific. All they did was just introduce a new problem with this ping system. A problem they could’ve avoided by programming the AI to do more for you than smash open doors when telling them to do anything else. It wouldn’t surprise me if they just forgot to do that.
There are also some other small things like the heroic gauntlet hives and the tachyon rifts. Both are just lame attempts at adding any sort of endgame. One just mashes a collection of the same flaccid objectives in any other mission into one and separates them with loading screen elevators. The other is just another mission modifier that makes you run around and collect orbs to extend a time limit that’s now been placed on the mission. They also finally added a way to replay the main campaign.
Listen, I want Marvel’s Avengers to do well, but this just ain’t it, chief. It still has no idea what it really wants to be because it keeps trying to unsuccessfully marry multiplayer with single-player philosophies. The constant attempts of trying to mix these two things just turn it into a mess. Nothing can actually be substantial because things have to be simple enough for a multiplayer environment, causing the single-player experience to suffer for it. And since nothing is substantial, players are left with largely empty and unfulfilling content. It needs heavy redesigns in several aspects. I fear that it will never get those redesigns any time soon because its philosophies going forward were already baked into its DNA the moment it launched.
There’s little reason to believe that the biomes will become more focused, the combat will become more rewarding or the content will be any more engaging than what’s already here. At this point, it’d probably be too much work to change those things. This isn’t even considering all of the problems it has with polish. Enemies still get stuck in death animations, stuck in level geometry, or just fall through the floor occasionally. The UI still tends to bug out every so often. Mission objectives sometimes bug out, forcing you to reload a checkpoint. Teammate AI starts glitching out. Matchmaking is still a mess, etc.
The funny part about it is that I don’t think the game has necessarily gotten any worse since launch. It just hasn’t gotten substantially better. Honestly, I don’t even know what I was really expecting after six months. All I know is that this game should’ve never launched with all of this forced multiplayer, live-service BS. It should’ve exclusively been single-player. At best, the focus should’ve been mostly on single-player with any multiplayer elements being novel but fun additions/distractions. This is a hill I will die on about this game.
Things might change in the future for Marvel’s Avengers. This is inevitably always the claim with games like these. Those claims will ultimately never stop until it actually happens or the developers choose to definitively stop supporting the game. These conversations only hinge on how much faith you have in the developer and the publisher though. And let’s be honest, anyone could have faith in anything for any reason. This is why roadmaps mean nothing to me. I only want to talk about what’s here now. There’s always a chance that discussing what’s here now will influence what we get in the future. What is here now, though, I still don’t believe is worth your time or money.
How has your time been with Marvel’s Avengers over the last six months? Leave your comments down below! And while you’re at it check out my last review on Cyberpunk 2077!
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