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'Marvel's Avengers' Closed Beta First Impressions

Source: Bernard Smalls / Crystal Dynamics

Crystal Dynamics Marvel’s Avengers is easily one of the year’s most anticipated titles dropping this year on consoles. PlayStation 4 players, including us, got a chance to take the game for a spin during its closed beta over the weekend first, and we walked away with some mixed reactions.

After spending hours with the game, we are still cautiously excited to play the game revolving solely around Earth’s mightiest heroes, but the game’s multiplayer aspect has us a bit worried. Before you jump into the game’s multiplayer experience, Crystal Dynamics gives you a crash course by allowing you to play the game’s Golden Gate Bridge mission. The mission which will be in Marvel’s Avenger’s promising story campaign sets up the narrative that leads to Captain America’s “death” and the world turning on superheroes and the rise of the game’s antagonist the company A.I.M.

The level which was also showcased at New York Comic-Con, allows players to get acclimated with each character and their unique abilities. One thing we loved about the game is how easy it is to quickly get used to using each Avenger and their different play styles. One player may like Thor’s balanced gameplay while another may prefer Iron Man’s ability to go ham on the ground or air. Some will choose Black Widow’s speed combined with her gunplay and martial arts skills. While most will choose Captain America’s fighting style, which plays similar to Batman’s mechanics in the Rocksteady Studio games. If doing damage is your thing, then the Hulk’s tank-like devastation and but you could always settle for the well rounded Ms. Marvel due to her versatility. There is no one way to play the game, and you will definitely find yourself sticking with one character mostly.

But what really has us confident that Marvel’s Avengers story campaign will be the game’s bright spot was the second mission you’re allowed to play featuring Bruce Banner (The Hulk) and Kamala Khan. In it, the two reluctant Avengers are searching for a hard drive featuring Tony Stark’s virtual assistant and eventual super sentient being, J.A.R.V.I.S, to help power up the derelict Avengers Helicarrier and home base, the Chimera. Before the action, we are treated to some great banter between Bruce voiced by the great Troy Baker and Khan played Sandra Saad, which gives us a preview of just how captivating the game’s single-story campaign can be.

Things get exciting fast when Banner is shot, and its time to turn into the big green guy who also hilarious has his limited vocabulary in the game. The level serves as another introduction to the two characters and how each handles differently. Like the Golden Gate Bridge mission that treats players to a boss battle featuring The Taskmaster taking on Black Widow, this mission sees The Hulk face off against his long time foe The Abomination in a battle of the giants which was insanely fun.

Once the mission is accomplished, you head back to the Chimera to insert J.A.R.V.I.S into the Helicarrier’s system and power up the “War Table,” which serves as your map to the multiple multiplayer missions. Now, this is where we get nervous about Marvel’s Avengers. The beta allowed players to try out the insanely short Drop Zone and a tad bit longer War Zone missions that were revealed by Crystal Dynamic.

Marvel's Avengers

Source: Bernard Smalls / Crystal Dynamics

In Drop Zone, you and your squad are dropped straight into the enemy base and are tasked with usually one objective to complete, which weren’t much of challenge literally took you only minutes. While in War Zone, you are placed on a much larger map with more A.I.M baddies to worry about plus “puzzles” in the form of doors which usually hold loot behind them.

Marvel's Avengers

Source: Bernard Smalls / Crystal Dynamics

Speaking of loot, this is what sets the multiplayer apart for the story campaign as the game becomes more of Destiny style loot-grab. Unfortunately, your hunt for chests during the beta isn’t really rewarded as the pickups as far as gear for your character doesn’t really affect your character’s stats at all. What we did enjoy was finding all of the Marvel lore in the form of comic books and dossiers that tie into the game will pique any Marvel fan’s interest.

Also, working towards earning in-game currency to unlock the character’s costumes is worthwhile as they do look outstanding.

As far as the action in the game, it’s a basic button smashing good time with each character, basically having the same generally combo mashes to accompany their unique abilities to add that superhero flair we have come to expect. Some characters have multiple assortments of weaponry to choose from. For example, if you’re using Iron Man, you can switch between using his is repulsor ray, lasers, or rockets, which all have to be acquired through a skill tree along with other abilities and combos.

Another cool touch is the hero’s three heroic abilities, which are all cool-down based moves that can be swapped out in the final version of the game. We used Iron Man ALOT as you can tell, and he is armed with his unibeam, a shock wave his ultimate heroic the fan-favorite Hulk Buster armor, which can also be placed on the map allowing the other characters to use it as well.

But, based on what we played in the beta, the multiplayer leaves much more to be desired, and that worries us. We understand we didn’t play the game’s entire offering, but we sure do hope there is more to it than what we experienced because it got real repetitive quick. We also hope that in the final product, the gear in the game also approves because gamers want to be rewarded for searching for loot in hopes of securing rare finds that actually boost your character’s stats.

We look forward to having some more time with Marvel’s Avengers when we can review the whole game before its September 4 release. Xbox and PC players who preordered Marvel’s Avengers will get their chance to experience the game when their beta begins on August 14-16.

Photo: Bernard Smalls / Crystal Dynamics