Preview: Marvel’s Avengers doesn’t look bad, but raises questions

One of E3 2019’s most anticipated reveals was Marvel’s Avengers from Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics. While the game’s reveal during Square Enix Live left many scratching their head (mostly because we’re used to the movie versions of these characters for the past 10 years), Crystal Dynamics had a bit more to show us on the E3 floor.

In a hands-off gameplay demo, we got a closer look at how the gameplay will play and each of the main characters in action. Overall, the demo looked like an extended trailer of what we saw at the press conference.

The demo began the same way the trailer began with The Avengers in San Francisco celebrating the launch of a west coast Avengers presence. The celebration is then interrupted by an attack on the Golden Gate Bridge.

Thor was the first Avenger to the bridge and started swinging his hammer immediately. The gameplay is a third-person action, beat em up, with a bit of platforming thrown in for good measure. From what we saw, it’s very linear. You’ll be able to swing and swipe with Thor’s hammer, spin and throw the hammer at enemies knocking them way off screen, as well as jump up and bring down a thunder strike to take out multiple enemies at once. One of my favorite moments is when Thor threw his hammer at an enemy and the hammer held the enemy up on the side of the bus. Thor was going hand-to-hand with other enemies, he called the hammer back, and knocked out the guys he was fighting, then threw the hammer back at the other enemy, knocking him off the bridge.

Iron Man came next, with the ability to fly (Thor can float), fire rockets from his arms, and shoot beams from his chest. The flying looked solid, the weaponry looked cool, and Iron Man’s abilities shown is everything we would expect from Iron Man in a video game. There were handful of Quick Time Events during the gameplay, usually to start a sequence with the new character.

When Hulk came crashing onto the scene, he’s able to grab debris and throw it at enemies. He was also able to grab enemies and throw them off the bridge. Hulk then gets to do some platforming, running and jumping across gaps on the bridge.

At this point I was wondering, however, if this was how the game was going to play in its entirety. Does the game determine when we’ll switch characters depending on what scene we’re in or was this just for the intro mission? Does the game begin with each character fully-powered and we don’t have to “earn” level-ups, skills, or abilities? In the demo we were shown, it doesn’t look very conducive for co-op play, so will co-op only be for certain missions and are we stuck with what characters the game chooses for us?

Captain America was at another location and also stayed true to what we’d expect from him as a character. The hand-to-hand combat, the tossing and recalling of his shield looked pretty good (not as good as Destiny’s Titan though!), and the overall movement of the character looked solid.

Finally, Black Widow has a one-on-one confrontation with Taskmaster, the villain leading this attack. She’s quick both in melee and firing off rounds from her pistols. At one point, she even went invisible, which was really cool, and attacked Taskmaster.

The demo was an entertaining spectacle and at some points reminded me a bit of Crackdown 3-type of gameplay. The demo went back and forth between cut scenes, quick time events, and player controlled action. I suspect that only the intro mission is built this way to give us a taste of how all the characters play because I’m hoping the full game isn’t like this.

For those of you expecting Arkham levels of gameplay, you'll be disappointed. The game, based off what we saw from the demo, seems pretty simple and targeting the most casual of audiences. Hopefully we'll learn more soon, since we know Crystal Dynamics, the team behind the recent Tomb Raider trilogy, is capable of making great games with great gameplay.