A lot of the Gamereactor team at E3 in Los Angeles had a mixed response to the new trailer for Square Enix and Crystal Dynamic's Marvel's Avengers when it debuted at the press conference of the former this past week. It had all of the typical features you'd expect from a game about the heroic team most famously brought to life with the saga that concluded with Endgame, but with very limited gameplay some of us felt it looked like more of a generic action-adventure experience, one that didn't quite match up with the hype that has surrounded the project.
At E3 after the press conference, we got the chance to see Marvel's Avengers in more detail, as Square Enix was holding presentations this week during which we got to see an extended level from the game. Security was very tight around showing the content to us, which gave us a deeper insight into the format of the game following on from the level we saw during the press conference that introduced the premise.
The reveal trailer showed the Avengers during A-Day when an evil force sabotages the Helicarrier and Captain America seemingly dies. The Avengers are outlawed, and it was this first battle against the bad guys on the Golden Gate Bridge that we saw in our demo. Each hero was given the spotlight as they worked to save the city - and the world - once more.
First up was Thor, and it's clear from this hero alone that Vincent Napoli is the lead combat designer on the project. Napoli helped tune the combat in the God of War, and even without playing it we noticed Thor's hammer was very similar to Kratos' axe, Leviathan. The God of Thunder could throw his hammer at bad guys and call it back, and strike and smash enemies at close range too, delivering lightning attacks at the same time.
Speaking of striking and smashing, the Hulk plays as you would expect from the green giant, as he can cause devastation by smashing enemies together and pummelling them into the ground. This looks to be a really satisfying experience, and you can also destroy objects in your way and traverse the environment with his giant leaps.
Captain America is another hero we got a brief glimpse of, and he was reminiscent of Thor in the sense that he could throw his shield at enemies. The visual and audio feedback on both of these projectiles was really satisfying, and each attack in this demonstration felt heavy, from the metal clonk of a hammer to the chest to the Hulk slamming a bad guy into the concrete. The combat was certainly the highlight of what we saw, and we hope it's just as fun to play as it was to watch.
It wouldn't be an Avengers demonstration without Iron Man, but this offered a dramatically different way to play, as he can fly and hover while also using his various gadgets to deliver long-range strikes. Rockets were used to take out turrets, while smaller projectiles could be used to dispatch the grunts on the floor.
Lastly, we had Black Widow, and we have to say this was the weakest section by far. Black Widow doesn't have as many powers as the rest of the team, and she feels more like Lara Croft rather than a superhero. She also faced Taskmaster in this demonstration as part of a mini-boss battle, but Taskmaster telegraphed his attacks so obviously that the whole thing felt really slow and scripted. There was no organic flow to the combat as there had been with the other heroes, and for a boss fight, it fell pretty flat.
This demonstration was just an extended look at the level we had already seen, and there wasn't any gameplay from the co-op side of things, but it was very useful to get this extended look at the game's opening. The stakes are clearly high this time around, but for different reasons than we're used to, and while the character models might not be the same as we've come to expect over the years, we're still open to this new take on the heroic team that we know and love.
As for the co-op, we spoke to the studio's creative director, Noah Hughes, about the multiplayer aspect and he explained to us how "co-op's an important part of the game. There are portions of the campaign that are specifically designed for particular heroes. In those levels, you'll be playing that hero but in a lot of the other levels that open up as you progress through the campaign, you have the option to play those as any hero. So even if you're playing single-player you can choose to play your favourite more."
As well as being able to replay levels, you'll have the option to max out your level cap and unlock further playable content. The studio also has plans for additional content after the campaign ends. "The world's going to continue to expand. We have new regions coming, we have heroes coming, and that'll all be at no additional cost," Hughes told us.
It remains to be seen how the rest of the game shapes up, including the plans for extra content after players have finished the story, but for now, this looks to be a great game for Marvel and superhero fans. It doesn't look to be pushing the boat out too much when it comes to action-adventure gameplay, but we'd argue it doesn't really need to when it's delivering a solid experience of fighting as these iconic characters. Stay tuned for more on this game, because we're very interested in seeing what's to come.