Marvel’s Avengers PS4 Pre-Order Beta Impressions

Gamespace Writers Assemble!
Marvel's Avengers Banner

To say there has been a strong desire for a quality superhero game for many years would be an understatement. We did get quality games with PS4’s Marvel’s Spider-man game of two years ago and the Nintendo Switch’s Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, notwithstanding both being platform exclusives. But ever since the demise of Marvel Heroes Omega (R.I.P.) superhero gamers have never seemed to fill “that” void. So when it was teased way back in 2017 that Square Enix was developing an Avengers Project it started minds a racing. Square Enix went dark after that project announcement for so long that doubts started to set in if we’d even see “a” game.

Marvel's Avengers Movie Lineup

A beginning “home” screen, but not for long.

Well, this last weekend reality came a knocking as Square Enix started the first of three betas. This first one was dedicated to PlayStation 4 pre-orders only and a few of us here at Gamespace got in on our own “dime”. We thought maybe we should present my impressions, along with some of those of my fellow writers and comic book fanbois Steven Weber and Raph Whitmore. We’re here to present our impressions upon you as you perhaps await the general Open Beta slated for the weekend of August 21st!

Good First Impressions

Marvel's Avengers A-Day Disaster

The beginning of the well known A-Day Disaster

Upon start-up, you’re allowed to choose from one of four difficulties from Easy, Normal, Hard, and Brutal. The beta experience starts with the story campaign and the opening of the, now famous, Avengers A-Day disaster. If you’re not familiar with the trailers and such this Avengers’ game takes place in what has been coined Marvel’s “Gamerverse” meaning a different universe apart from the movies and comics canon. Marvel’s Spider-man game was also set in the same Gamerverse. Both games, in fact, have associated comic book tie-ins and in Spider-man’s case a prelude novel.

Hulk Gamerverse Cover

Marvel’s Avengers Hulk Gamerverse Comic Prelude

Throughout the opening campaign, you’ll have moments of tutorial-like glory by playing, and feeling as powerful, as the Thor, the Hulk, Iron Man, and Black Widow. Overall this beta packed in a decent amount of gameplay but sadly you’ll only have extended access to the Hulk, Ms Marvel, Iron Man, and Black Widow. The latter two heroes need to be unlocked. During the story campaign “preview” segments you’ll play mostly as Kamla Khan (Ms Marvel) and the Hulk. Later on, you’ll unlock Iron Man and the Black Widow as well as the “War Table” (mission hub, similar to games like Destiny 2) and H.A.R.M. challenges, essentially Danger Room training battles.

Marvels Avengers A-Day Widow

Ten minutes of controlling the Black Widow

The Good

Marvel's Avengers Kamala

Kamala Khan, a.k.a. Ms Marvel is a shining star in this game!

Initially Square was to open up the beta on Friday at 9 PM in each players’ timezone. Social media jumped on that right away complaining an advertised three day period was more like a two day and three-hour beta. In a welcome, surprise move, Square enabled the beta early Friday morning. Of course, this led to some hectically scampering to all of a sudden try to get the day off from work on Friday.

While some bugs were encountered by our little band of brothers I don’t think any of us had connection issues. All attempts to get in and play happened without queues or any of that nonsense. Our group might have seen one lock-up but for the most part no crashes, so stability in that regard was a plus.

Kamala Will Become A Star!

The story revolves around the Inhuman, Kamala Khan (modern-day Ms Marvel), trying to re-assemble the Avengers. I personally was not her biggest fan when she arrived on the comics’ scene years ago being one who grew up with the classics. Besides, “my” Ms Marvel was always Carol Danvers. I respected Kamala but I just wasn’t into reading the character’s title. After seeing how she’s portrayed in the story segments here and how her character plays in-game I’ve become an advocate. I think many will fall in love and be inspired, by her attitude, her hopefulness, and her messages!

For an initial public beta, the content on offer was hefty enough to provide a lot of things to try over the three day period. The beta let you play the beginning of the story campaign. Those missions were fun, spacious, and encourage exploration as loot boxes were hidden all over.

Marvel's Avengers Vista

Lovely graphic even for Hulk.

Lots To Explore For

Loot boxes not only contained gear and resources for leveling up gear but also contained collectibles. Things such as classic comic book covers, cosmetic nameplates, and audio files of background information to name just a few. Collecting a set of comic book covers actually adds “set” bonuses to your heroes.

Marvel's Avengers Covers

Cool covers for us comic book nerds to collect!

To Be A Hero, Combat Like A Hero

Combat was fluid, responsive, and fun. The characters all seemed to have different playstyles. One cool feature is when an enemy is near death it shows the controller triangle + circle buttons. If you mash these two in time near the enemy you’re treated to a cool character specific finishing move. Given the multitude of skills you can specialize in, with leveling skill points, you can tailor a character’s strengths to your playstyle. Although it was a strange feeling that the Hulk didn’t come out of the box as a “tanky” toon. To accomplish this you’ll need to put extra skill points into his “Rage” tree to bump up his defense. Check out Steven’s combat guide video below for more tips:

Even though the Hulk didn’t feel as tanky initially as I thought I still felt like I was playing the Hulk given his moves and animations. Each hero also comes with a set of heroic moves that power up to act as “ultimates”. We each had our own favorite of the four heroes to play. I like playing Kamala because I could still bash a lot and I had that back-up heroic “heal” for when I get into trouble.

The Marvel’s Avengers beta also introduced us to Challenge Rewards as leveling incentives. It’s kind of like a leveling pass for each character where you can earn cool cosmetics. The UI showed us that you can buy these level rewards with in-game currency but it’s just too soon to tell if these will act like season passes and change every so often or not.

Marvel's Avengers Challenge Rewards

Ms Marvel’s early level challenge rewards

The Bad

Marvel's Avengers Hulk Load Screen

A few things that “bothered” us were the following.

Gear drops were specific to the character you were playing. So if you’re looking to gear up the Hulk, you need to play the Hulk, not Kamala. Unfortunately during this beta round, we felt gear drops were sparse while getting gear leveling (i.e. boost) resources was plentiful.

Gear progression seems a bit unclear currently. Your heroes have a level, a gear level plus a power level. The power level seemed like it could be way higher than your character level. Character level doesn’t seem to do anything. Gear level is really only for upgrades that go into your power score. It seemed like gear level was capped at level 45 maximum. So some pieces take eight boosts to get there while other pieces take four boosts.

Marvel's Avengers Stats

Ms Marvel’s Gear Page

The Marketplace

The current Marketplace seemed underwhelming to us. Not that there was a marketplace just the fact that the current set of cosmetics on offer seemed so-so to us. Maybe they are saving the good stuff for release but nothing screamed out “I gotta buy this now!” to me.

Marvel's Avengers Marketplace

Current marketplace items for beta testing and trial buying.

On the group missions, you can pick from the War Table, if you choose to go solo the rest of the group is backfilled with AI companions from your roster. The AI companions are your versions of these characters along with their gear. It’s not clear how, if any, scaling works with companions that aren’t the same level or power level as the leader.

Marvel's Avengers War Table

An example of a mission selection from the War Table.

Community Challenges

While not in the beta, of course, the development team has mentioned there being community challenges. The premise is the game’s moderators would kick off a special event that the entire community can take part in. If a goal is met rewards like specific cosmetics, etc. are handed out to all who took part. This a feature we’re interested to see as this feature has served the Assassin’s Creed Origins community well in the area of longevity.

The Ugly

Marvel's Avengers Abomination

Who are you calling ugly?

The biggest bug everyone ran into was matchmaking was not working. You could invite friends to a group mission and play, you just couldn’t jump into a pick-up group. Leaving matchmaking on seemed to create too many buggy side-effects which was an issue Square acknowledged. Other weird things like Steven and Ralph were grouped in a mission and when they left the mission someone else was grouped with them. At one point I was doing a solo H.A.R.M. challenge and someone dropped into my audio channel, kind of spooky, but things we’re sure will get addressed before release.

One fear we have, after everyone starts playing for a while, is matchmaking group missions will play out like the following. The rewards for missions will feel like they aren’t worth the time it takes to do them. So players will get into a mission, fly around to pick up the gear chests that don’t change, kill the enemy that drops special loot, and then kick out and repeat.

Bottom Line (Lasting Impressions)

Marvel's Avengers Gullible

Were not being gullible, we did enjoy the beta!

At the end of the weekend, I think the three of us felt it was a lot of fun and look forward to the official release. The game does a great job of making you feel like the characters you’re playing and that you’ve come to love. We all have concerns about if it’ll get repetitive close to end game and how long of a grind it might be to get properly geared for builds we like. But amidst a dry spell of good superhero games, Marvel’s Avengers looks like it’s shaping up to be a worthy challenger to the crown for a long while.

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