Kamala Khan is a relatively new face when it comes to Marvel, only making her first appearance in 2013 before becoming Ms. Marvel and getting her own spinoff, but nevertheless Crystal Dynamics has revealed that she'll play a key role in their Avengers game, reuniting the heroic group after the tragic events of A-Day, as we've seen in pre-release materials like the trailer above.
We actually attended a preview session for the game with Crystal Dynamics' lead producer Rose Hunt and studio head Scott Amos in London recently, and during this time we were also let loose with a combat demonstration featuring Khan, seeing us try to survive 15 waves of increasingly difficult enemies with the polymorph hero.
But before we did that, we were told a little bit about their decision to include Khan. Amos said that they put her in as a central character as she shares similarities with the rest of us; she's a fan of the Avengers. She's at A-Day at the beginning for this very reason, which exposes her to the Terrigen Mist that ultimately gives her the powers we know her for. That's why she believes in them all after heroes have become outlawed - because she has hope in the heroes she idolises and wants to help them herself.
As for what we've played, one quick run around the arena we were let loose in gave us a sense of what's on the way. Just like the other Avengers, her combat felt weighty and powerful to control, except with agility afforded to her by her stretchy limbs. Through an on-screen prompt you can zip to ledges with ease, for example, making her versatile in battle if you know how to keep moving. Dodging with circle was also important for this very reason too, and using both in combination makes her very hard to hit.
Small grunts started the waves off, and these could be dispatched with light attacks on square and heavy attacks on triangle. By holding triangle an even more powerful push could be deployed, which was useful for knocking enemies back or disrupting shields, and all of these could also be used in the air as well. When bad guys were at low health a prompt came up to press triangle and circle together too, executing a cool finisher like picking them up and pounding them into the floor.
Then there are the special abilities on cooldown as well, like a healing effect on L1 and a big palm strike on R1. The former is self-explanatory, but the latter sees you dispatch a giant palm into the enemy, crushing them against a wall and dealing huge damage. The cooldowns were rather long though, so we wouldn't advise wasting these.
Then an even bigger and better ability could be used after a short while, assigned to L1 and R1 and giving you huge damage while also being massive in size, since Khan can make herself bigger, stomping and slamming enemies with ease. This was a necessity for the bigger enemies in later waves, and with R2 we could also go bigger for a short amount of time, indicated by a bar at the top of the screen.
By using all of these together we found ourselves balancing her devastating hits and abilities with quick movement. With rocket launchers, lasers, and firearms posing a threat at range, we were soon zipping about the arena dodging these while also landing blows and avoiding the powerful melee attacks too, saving our biggest and best abilities for the bigger foes, like the armoured titans in the last wave.
Amos' presentation wasn't just about Khan though, as he also filled us in on the format of the game. The War Table will form the core of the experience, and from here you can select either campaign missions (Hero missions) or Warzone missions. The difference between these is that campaign missions are primarily single-player only, providing a more guided experience with mandatory heroes and a more linear narrative, while Warzone missions allow for co-op with up to four players, providing more open areas and a looser narrative to follow.
As you progress you unlock more heroes, which in turn gives you more Hero and Warzone missions. These will unlock all over the world, and in turn they'll give you more customisation options, which Amos was very keen to talk about.
Playing will gradually unlock more outfits and alternate skins for your heroes, including Hulk in a suit like a 1930s gangster (a definite highlight), and Amos emphasised that they've sifted through 80 years of Marvel history to get these different outfits and skins just right. These are only cosmetic too, so you can choose what gameplay benefits you have without compromising the way you look, and they will be split between ones you can only pay for, and ones you can only earn.
Gear is another central pillar of customisation, and these hero-specific options certainly affect gameplay. Like with something like Destiny or Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, these come in different rarities and filter into certain categories, featuring perks like buffs for your team. The better the gear, the better the perks, and Amos said that he expects players to "micromanage" the gear they have for the best results. There are even gear sets to collect which grant special bonuses when complete.
Then Amos talked about skills, and again these are specific to each hero. You assign skill points to unlock different abilities, but as you unlock new abilities - like Iron Man's lasers and rockets - you can seamlessly switch between them in-game using the d-pad, adding tons to your arsenal. All leveling up is carried between Warzone and Hero missions as well, so there's an incentive to play both.
Obviously Khan's introduction to the game is a great move for diversity and inclusivity, as she was Marvel's first Muslim character to headline her own comic, and it seems she's been included in a way that ties her nicely to all the other Avengers. As for the other elements we were told about in London, it was great to get a good overview of how Avengers will work in practice, and we just want to get our hands on more of it right now.