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Marvel’s Avengers game: Everything we know, including playable heroes

Gabe Gurwin

Square Enix, Marvel, and Crystal Dynamics teased the existence of their Marvel’s Avengers game for years before its official unveiling at E3 2019, referring to it only as “The Avengers Project” and leaving fans to speculate as to what form it might take. Now that we’ve seen the game in action, it’s easily among the most ambitious video games in Square Enix’s long history, putting you in the boots of several of your favorite superheroes as they battle to save Earth. While its initial showing didn’t hit the way Square Enix had hoped, many have come around as more info about the game has been revealed.

Here is everything we know about the Marvel’s Avengers video game.

Hanging up the gear, or not

The plot of this game is totally separate from the MCU, with an all-new original story. Marvel’s Avengers initially takes place during a period of triumph for the Avengers, who, in the game, are made up of Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow, Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), and Thor — Spider-Man is a noticeable absence, likely because of his own game on PlayStation 4. The unveiling of a new headquarters in San Francisco, powered by an “experimental energy source,” is disrupted by a deadly attempted heist that ultimately results in not just the disbandment of the Avengers, but the outlawing of all superheroes.

This event forces the Avengers out of retirement to face a mix of technologically-advanced and superpowered enemies, led by a company called AIM (Advanced Idea Mechanics). They initially show up as a force to completely replace heroes in the world, and slowly the heroes will learn that there’s an actual conspiracy against them by AIM.

The game will feature a single-player campaign mode, called Hero missions, as well as also including co-op missions in Warzone mode. Eventually, you will be able to play as all six included Avengers after recruiting them throughout the single-player campaign. They will all be customizable, both with new equipment that upgrades your stats and abilities and by using costumes. Ms. Marvel was later revealed to also play a role, as announced during New York Comic Con 2019. The latest War Table showcase revealed that Ms. Marvel would play a large role, as she attempts to reunite the members of the Avengers.

We also know who will be voicing the titular heroes:

  • Captain America — Jeff Schine
  • Thor — Travis Willingham
  • Bruce Banner/Hulk — Troy Baker
  • Black Widow — Laura Bailey
  • Tony Stark — Nolan North
  • Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel — Sandra Saad

You can get more of the game’s story as part of the tie-in comics, which are available to purchase right now. These comics feature backstories but won’t contain major plot points that are essential to understand the game.

The campaign that launches with the game will be known as “Reassembled” and will follow Kamala Khan on her quest to bring the Avengers back together. Future story expansions will be under the “Avengers Initiative” banner and will see new heroes joining the roster. The first hero revealed at E3 2019 was Hank Pym as Ant Man. However, the first hero that will be released is Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye. He will have his own story content, which will support single and multiplayer, unlike the hero missions in the main campaign.

Who are the game’s villains?

We also know at least three villains will make an appearance, including Taskmaster and Abomination, with many more planned for the future. The game’s trophy list makes mention of MODOK (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing), and after the recent War Table showing, we know the villain will play a large role as the game’s main antagonist. MODOK is a lesser-known villain from the comics, but one who might still be familiar to fans.

Before MODOK turned evil, he was known as George Tarleton, one of the founding members of AIM. In Marvel’s Avengers, MODOK seeks revenge on the Avengers after the “damage” the team caused on A-Day. AIM is looking to cure the “Inhuman infection,” which would, in turn, mean taking out the Avengers.

With the “Avengers Initiative” post-launch expansion, more villains will be introduced along with the playable heroes.

How does it play?

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Marvel’s Avengers is a third-person action-adventure game, similar in presentation to other superhero titles like Batman: Arkham Knight and Marvel’s Spider-Man. It has plenty of cinematic flair as well, with set animations for finishing moves on some enemies. In gameplay footage leaked from San Diego Comic-Con, we saw Thor rush into a group of enemies and deliver several powerful blows with his hammer. One enemy is knocked hundreds of feet backward by an uppercut attack, and another is hit directly with a thrown hammer. Thor also destroys debris and rescues civilians trapped in the rubble.

The recent War Table showing gave us a deeper look at how Thor plays, taking us along as he completes one of the hero missions. It showed Thor’s iconic Mjolnir hammer and all the various ways he can use it. Of course, hand-to-hand melee combat with the hammer is an option, but you can also throw it to take out multiple enemies from afar, giving Thor a versatile move set to use. It seems like many of the attacks we saw in the War Table presentation will be upgradable.

The leaked gameplay footage then shifts to Iron Man, who is shown flying through the air in a manner similar to Freelancers from Anthem. As he flies, he takes projectile shots at enemies in front of him, knocking them out of the sky. Powerful missiles crash down all around him, destroying vehicles along the Golden Gate Bridge. Tony Stark is no slouch on the ground either, using close-range blasts and counter-attacks to eliminate several enemies who close in on his position.

Next up in the gameplay demonstration is Hulk, who begins as Bruce Banner and leaps from a flying vehicle, transforming before he hits the bridge. As you can imagine, Hulk’s primary objective is to smash. In this case, he does this by grabbing the closest enemy he can find and flailing their body around as a melee weapon, which knocks multiple targets off of their feet. He grabs another and slams them into the ground in a cinematic finishing move.

Captain America’s move-set slightly resembles Kratos from 2018’s God of War, with his legendary shield being thrown as a powerful weapon capable of taking out multiple enemies in one swoop. Once some of the herd is thinned, Captain America charges into combat and swings his shield as a melee weapon, mixing in an extremely powerful kick as well.

Last up is Black Widow, and the gameplay we’ve seen from her reminds us heavily of Crystal Dynamics’ recent Tomb Raider games. She charges up teetering buses and debris on the Golden Gate Bridge, sliding off one on the side before leaping and tackling Taskmaster out of midair. The scene shifts to a cinematic quick time event as the two zip through the air and Black Widow delivers several punches to his head. With the gameplay, Crystal Dynamics wants to appeal to a broad audience, not just hardcore players.

Gear and skill trees

The War Table showing devoted some time to the game’s customization options. Characters will be able to unlock upgrades for Melee, Ranged, Intrinsic Ability, and Intrinsic Overcharge, which all impact various ways to play. The ranged option will tie to Thor’s hammer throw abilities, while melee will effect direct swings with the Mjolnir. Every character will have their own skill tree with numerous options for customization. Apparently, you’ll be able to upgrade your hero in a vastly different way than someone else with that same character.

Gear will also play a huge role in how your specific character operates. As shown in the image above, Iron Man has a slew of different pieces to unlock for his suit. Like Destiny or other similar games, the gear will feature an overall level, or in this case, it’s referred to as “Gear Power.” It seems like you’ll have to grind to gain XP for skill upgrades and to acquire more gear.

Gear and inventory management is a big part of Marvel’s Avengers, which are heavily intertwined with missions and character progression for each hero. All characters have four main slots where you can equip armor pieces. These can be upgraded using materials, and there were at least a dozen of them on-screen during a closed-door presentation by the studio.

This gear carries perks, special properties that can be unlocked after meeting a certain requirement, although Crystal Dynamics didn’t specify. There will also be sets that you can hunt for, working similarly to other games, so you can get even more stat bonuses depending on how many pieces of the same set you equip to your character.

It seems like there might be limitations into how much you can upgrade these pieces of gear, as some of them showcased special requirements to upgrade them. With materials, it might become tiresome to try to find the specific item that you need, but that is yet to be disclosed. The same goes for how much you can level up your character since the studio didn’t talk about level caps or limitations around it.

Each hero will have four categories of skills that are shared with everyone, but each will have multiple skill trees inside of them. These are meant to slowly upgrade the stats of your hero and also expand their movement sets and attacks. The studio said that there will be enough room for experimentation with each character, so you can tune them to appeal more to your play style. Despite the possibilities, they said that Thor will still feel like Thor in the end.

Heroes also each have their own ultimate ability, with Iron-Man’s being the Hulkbuster suit. This will allow Tony to combine his long-range arsenal with the destructive power of the Hulk.

Hero missions, world map, and co-op

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Alongside the traditional story-heavy single-player mode, called Hero missions, Marvel’s Avengers will also include a live-service cooperative multiplayer component. In this mode, you will be able to play in a group of up to four players online, using a roster of available characters that will continue to grow over time as you complete Hero missions. These are always tied to just one character in particular, and once you recruit them, side missions will start to show up that expand on their narrative.

There are side missions included in Marvel’s Avengers called Warzone missions, and for these, you can choose to play as one of several heroes to gain new gear and experience. Some of them will require you to go somewhere and retrieve an item, while others might involve a boss fight. These can be played solo like the main story missions, or you can play them online with another friend taking control of a different character. If you do choose to play Warzone missions by yourself, the other three heroes will be controlled by AI, but have the upgrades and skills that you have attributed to them

Like many PvE games of this kind, you’ll have areas to explore, enemies to defeat, and the opportunity to earn loot. The Warzone missions will tie to the game’s main story in some capacity as you work towards defeating AIM. There’s still a lot we don’t know about how cooperative play will work and how it ties to the single-player component. We hope to find out more as we get closer to the game’s launch later this year.

There will also be Dropzones that are a smaller, more focused sliver of Warzone missions. These are meant to be get-in-get-out tasks designed to quickly loot for cosmetic and gear upgrades.

The game will also feature missions known as Hives and Boss Lairs, but those have only been teased so far.

Missions are selected from a world map, looking at different parts of the planet in an overview perspective where missions will show up labeled with a distinct icon. Hero missions have the Avengers logo, while the others may vary. Those that provide an extra narrative to heroes will have the respective superhero icon.

In looking at the game’s trophy list, which surprisingly leaked nine months ahead of the game’s release, there’s a lot we can infer. Heroes have a “Power Level” that will likely be a rank that can be leveled up. There’s also an item called a “Cache Strongbox,” but it’s unclear what it is, exactly. Some were speculating it might be some sort of loot box, despite Square Enix stating the game would not include random loot crates.

The trophy list also points to various difficulty modes, like Brutal and Merciless. You’ll be able to rescue AIM prisoners, as noted by the Savior of the People trophy. Be sure to check out the trophy list if you want to get into the nitty-gritty of some of the game’s features — but beware of minor spoilers.

Costumes and microtransactions

All post-launch heroes and additional regions will be available for free to all players. Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics also promised at E3 2019 that the game would not feature “random loot boxes or pay-to-win scenarios,” though the game will still include microtransactions.

According to an interview that lead creative director Shaun Escayg gave with IGN, these will take the form of custom outfits that can be purchased with real money. You will not be able to buy anything that can affect the gameplay.

These costumes are separate from your main gear, so you can customize your character as much as you want and just change the appearance. If you were wondering, yes, these will show up during cutscenes as well. Crystal Dynamics said that costumes will vary between all the known ones throughout 80 years of Marvel history and complete original ones made by the studio.

Beta

Marvel’s Avengers will be getting a beta on PS4 seven days before other platforms, and you can gain access by

pre-ordering the game

. Once you have pre-ordered the game on your platform of choice, you need to go to the official redemption page, log in or create a Square Enix account, enter your code and platform, and wait for Square Enix to send you a beta code upon release.

The beta will include hours of content, including several Hero, Warzone, and Dropzone missions. It will start off with the Golden Gate bridge A-Day intro, which has the starting five Avengers playable and gives a taste of their abilities. In the single-player hero missions, players will take control of Ms. Marvel and the Hulk as they try to track down the missing JARVIS, Iron Man’s A.I. that was stolen by AIM. They will then travel to the arctic tundra in search of SHIELD secrets. The pair will also face off against the Abomination during this mission in a boss battle.

The Warzone and Dropzone missions will be playable as either single-player or with online multiplayer and will feature Ms. Marvel, the Hulk, Iron Man, and Black Widow as playable characters.

In addition, players can tackle HARM (holographic augmented reality machine) rooms to test out each character’s abilities with waves of enemies attacking them. Completing all three HARM rooms will reward the player with Hulk hands to be used as the pickaxe in Fortnite, with an alternate Hulkbuster skin.

The Marvel’s Avengers beta program begins on August 7 exclusively for PlayStation 4 owners who have pre-ordered the game and will be available until August 9. On August 14, the beta will be available for all PlayStation 4 owners and run through August 16.

For those who pre-ordered Marvel’s Avengers on Xbox One and PC, the beta will begin on August 14 and will run through August 16.

Finally, on August 21, the beta program will be open to all PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC players and run through August 23.

Release date and platforms

Marvel’s Avengers was originally scheduled to release on May 15, 2020, but was pushed to September 4, 2020. This was to address concerns from the fans and to ensure it’s as polished as it can be. It will be available on Xbox One, PS4, PC, and Google Stadia. While the single-player content will be available offline for both consoles and PC, Google Stadia’s streaming technology means that you will need to be connected at all times in order to play the game.

The will also be a special edition of the game available, which comes with a 12-inch Captain America statue. This edition is available for preorder from the Square Enix store and will set you back a hefty $200. Remember, preordering grants you access to a beta, which will go live at an unannounced date.

$60 from Square Enix