Marvel's Avengers: Future Imperfect is meh, but the future is bright
While Hawkeye's story, the new Wastelands area and to some degree the PS5 version won't make anyone super-excited, the roadmap shows there's still hope for the game.
It's no secret that I wrote one of the more positive reviews when Marvel's Avengers launched last August. This was in spite of the game having some serious technical shortcomings and fundamental problems in terms of its gameplay. The great story, interesting characters and fun combat have been more than enough to keep me entertained for hours and give me hope for the future. Operation: Kate Bishop - Taking A.I.M, the game's first content update, made it very clear that it would take a lot of time to fix things, however, and the new update makes it all the more obvious.
Because Operation: Hawkeye - Future Imperfect follows a very similar recipe as Taking A.I.M. Heck, even the new playable character is to a large extent the same. Sure, Hawkeye has a few different arrows to choose from, but both have a heavy focus on their bows, while swords can be used up close. That's not to say I have trouble distinguishing them, as Clint Barton is definitely my favourite of the two. His Nightstorm Arrow ability makes it rain arrows with different attributes over a fairly large area, which comes quite in handy when enemies come swarming in. Combine that Recovery Arrows healing and buffing both you and allies inside a circle, and it's safe to say Barton comes in handy both offensively and defensively. The icing on the cake is the Ultimate: Hunter's Arrow. This AI-driven arrow will just fly around hurting anything it can find while you keep on doing whatever you want. Absolutely obliterating large hordes of enemies on screen in seconds by mixing these abilities is a lot of fun, so it's a shame that the regular attacks are very similar to Bishop's.
The saddest aspect of the update is still the story, however, and I don't mean heartfelt moments. While it starts somewhat interesting by diving deeper into what the future will bring if the Avengers fail, it fails to go anywhere. It's basically just filler, as it clarifies a few things Taking A.I.M already made fairly obvious. What makes it even worse it that the trailers and marketing in general have made it crystal clear who the new villain is in Future Imperfect, making it all the more ludicrous when the plot makes it seem like it's a mystery and ends after a scene we've already seen in several trailers. This could have been a cool reveal, but ends up being extremely predictable because the marketing department needed something to tell us before launch. Having the final boss fight feeling like Abomination 1.5 makes the facepalm you end with after finishing the story just last longer.
Then how about those next-gen upgrades? Well, those are a mixed bag as well. The good news is that the game most definitely looks, runs and loads a lot better. You'll extremely rarely seen the frame rate dip much below 60 when playing in Highest-Performance Mode and both the characters, environments and effects are astounding when going with 4K Mode. That makes it all the more disappointing that the game will freeze for five or ten seconds almost every time you try to exit the menus after dismantling gear or changing anything on PlayStation 5. Not exactly fun in a loot-driven game...
Okay, that's enough negativity for today, because Future Imperfect also shows the developers are listening. I'm not just talking about being able to replay story-missions and making your own HARM rooms. The new Cargo Runner Synthoid "enemy" is very inspired by Diablo's Treasure Goblins. This agile bugger will try to run away when you find it, as it has a lot of loot. Chasing it down and killing it earns you a lot of resources and in some cases great gear. A neat idea I hope they keep on building upon. The thing that really gives me hope though isn't even a part of the update.
We finally have a roadmap, and it includes some very exciting stuff! Later this spring, the Tachyon Anomaly event will let us use the same characters in a party and Black Widow's Red Room Takeover will offer unique HARM Room content and outfits. The latter might even be the first time we'll get to really look like someone from the MCU, as "Outfits inspired by the Marvel Cinematic Universe" is a part of the roadmap as well, and timing it with the release of the Black Widow sure sounds great. While we can look forward to the Raid-like content, a new Villain Sector where we'll get to fight Monica Rappaccini, a new kind of mission called Patrol Mode in Wastelands allowing us to explore the big area and taking on tasks and post level 50 progression, the part of the roadmap that really gives me hope is on the far-right: War for Wakanda.
Notice that it say expansion, not operation. That's because this will be far bigger and more impactful than anything we've gotten so far. Black Panther will without a doubt be very different from the archers, finally getting what sounds like a completely new enemy type is something we all need, a new lush biome sounds amazing and increasing the Power Level cap is a must when most of my characters are 150 or at least very close to it.
To make a long text short: while Marvel's Avengers' Taking A.I.M and Future Imperfect aren't enough to turn the tide, they lay the foundation together with a very promising roadmap for an intriguing future that might live up to the new life Final Fantasy XIV, Destiny and No Man's Sky got after a rough start.