Marvel Avengers

I mentioned that this had gone on sale, and that it would probably be a decent pick for the solo content. So I picked it up to give it a shot. I don’t have regrets, though some questions.

I don’t get how any game is launched in 2020 with a load time that’s measured in minutes before you start playing. I have a solid rig, it’s installed on NVMe and there’s really little I can do to optimize that. Yet Avengers takes at least 90s from pressing the icon until it loads. And each mission can take 20-60s to load up. How can Monster Hunter World, a 3 year old game, have load times less than 20s yet this thing (and plenty of others, including Anthem) can’t get this fixed. Menus and loading screens are not gameplay, and there’s WAY too much of it here. Optimizations are still required.

On the plus side, the moment to moment gameplay is impressive. Iron Man shoots lasers, Thor shoots lightning, Hulk smashes, and Black Widow… well I still don’t get how she’s an Avenger. The game looks great, the interiors and exteriors have some variety, there’s plenty to do, and there’s enough difference between the characters to give meaning, and enough similarity so that you’re not relearning all the time.

The new addition of Kamala Khan as Ms Marvel is terrific, pulling off the fangirl vibe that feels authentic. The gradual increase of the team works, and the general banter is pretty cool. Gear is, as you would expect, an absolute horror show with no purpose other than seeing a number go up. I’m sure this changes at later levels. The campaign itself is rock solid, hitting the right beats with next to no padding. Color me impressed.

Speaking of which, the core campaign lasts ~10 hours or so. The way it’s delivered splits time across multiple heroes, so that by the end of that 10 hours, your character levels meander between 5 and 10. Of a total of 50. Getting each to 50 means playing a bunch of various missions and really, grinding it out. There’s other content, but not to the depth of the main campaign. Heck, when you do end the campaign, the next quest it gives you requires level 50/140 power. It’s a bit like leaving Westfall in WoW and the next quest is to solo Sargeras. Uh, ok?

The meh is the combat mechanics being quite dependent on active combat, which is a fancy way of saying you need to learn when to parry and when to dodge. The timing here is so much better than Assassin’s Creed it’s not funny. It doesn’t feel at times like a reskin of Lara Croft (loading times and all), with button mashing QTEs. I’m pretty sure at higher levels and expanded gear/skills the mechanics improve. For now, it just sucks to be 1shot because you didn’t dodge someone attacking you from behind. The vertical space is well used, and it doesn’t feel like a huge penalty to take a non-flyer. The plot is pulled straight out of a comic book, and the final couple bits with MODOK are really well done. It feels epic, which is what you’re looking for.

I’ll keep plugging away, getting someone to 50 (likely Thor). Kate Bishop launched today, as a new character. If I had to guess, I’d figure the game stabilization period is somewhat over, now it’s about content and optimization. Clearly I am not going to do 48 floors of combat, where death means restarting from floor 1. I’d expect there are plenty of heat maps as to where people are spending their time, and dev cycles to focus on that. I’m far enough away to be happy with what’s there now. If DCUO can still rake in millions of dollars, you really have to be trying to mess this up.

A special note on Kate Bishop being added this week to the game. Ashly Burch is awesome, and the writers took this to the right spot. The banter between her and Tony is golden! It helps that her bow skill set is fun to use – tons of mobility, great ranged damage, and impressive crowd control options. Her core mission is about 3 hours or so, and I enjoyed every bit of it. If this is the type of content that comes out with each new character, Avengers is going to stay installed for a long time.

And all that for $30. I do think it was a good purchase, with a potential for it being as great one.

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