It’s fair to say that Marvel’s Avengers hasn’t had the smoothest ride since it released last year, with the fact that it didn’t offer enough to do post-completion, the staggered release of new heroes, and the next-gen version’s release date taking a three month delay some of the biggest qualms gamers have had. It’s a shame because I really enjoyed my time with the game and was genuinely excited to see what new additions would expand upon the experience. Truth be told, I still am – especially with the likes of Black Panther and the PlayStation-exclusive Spider-Man due to arrive later this year.
I’ve returned to Marvel’s Avengers after a bit of a hiatus to finally check out the PlayStation 5 version and see the improvements that it has brought. Hawkeye (aka Clint Barton) has also launched alongside the new release, so there’s an all-new hero and operation to sink my teeth into… it’s the perfect time for players to dive back in and see what the game has to offer, really.
I think it’s important that I point out that I really enjoyed playing through Marvel’s Avengers’ post-completion content. I’ll happily acknowledge that the loot system does lack the personal touch seen in similar releases and that some missions could grow a little repetitive, but playing through the game with friends, helping them progress through missions, and circulating my time with each of the heroes (and trying to complete their Challenge Cards to grab new items) made for a really good time. We didn’t play it intensively every night or anything, but spent a good few hours with it on a weekly basis – the only reason we stopped is because we wanted to wait for the next-gen version of the game to drop.
I didn’t have as many complaints as other players then and, as mentioned in my review (check that out through this link), simply appreciated the unique and satisfying take on playing as some of the world’s mightiest superheroes. The following summed up my thoughts quite well,
“Marvel’s Avengers lets gamers live out their wildest superhero dreams, with its engaging action-fueled gameplay complimented by a brilliant story and some frantic showdowns with foes. There’s a hell of a lot to dive into here that’ll keep players enjoying themselves for hours on end, with the character development, co-op missions, and sheer array of unlockables to earn offering plenty for players to sink their teeth into. Add to that an entertaining campaign and it’s clear to see that Marvel’s Avengers is something special.”
Has my opinion changed a little due to the lack of content that has hit the game in the seven months since its release? A little bit (and it’s something I will touch upon in this review), but not enough to diminish my glee at how itfun it feels to play. I won’t go over that again here though, but will focus on the PlayStation 5 improvements, the new Hawkeye content, and whether or not I can still see myself coming back for more Avengers action in the future.
One thing that’ll be obvious to any returning players is the significant improvements made to the PlayStation 5 version of the game, with spruced up visuals, an enhanced performance, and better loading times at the forefront of the experience.
‘Better’ loading times is probably underselling it. Marvel’s Avengers could be guilty of taking close to a minute to load sequences on the PlayStation 4, but it takes just SECONDS now. I was able to load up the ‘Avengers Reassemble’ activity card from the PlayStation 5 UI and find myself back ay my last checkpoint in the main story in around twenty-seconds, whilst loading up missions when you’re already in-game takes less time than it takes to say ‘I am Iron Man’. Honestly, it’s so impressive and ensures players are never out of the action for too long.
The improvements made to the game’s visuals and performance are just as impressive. Players will have the choice of two modes when they start the game: ‘Performance Mode’ and ‘Quality Mode’.
Performance Mode is all about prioritising the frame rate of the game, with a 60fps frame rate present throughout with barely any drops (I only noticed one during my time in the campaign and that wasn’t significant at all). However, this runs at a dynamic resolution and whilst there will be times where it hits a checkerboard 4K, there’ll also be times where it will drop lower. It’ll always look bloody impressive though, with a clear improvement in the textures and visual effects when compared to its PlayStation 4 counterpart.
Quality Mode on the other hand is all about graphical prowess and a native 4K resolution, though this comes at the expense of the frame rate which is locked at 30fps. What you’ll get here though is the best-looking Marvel’s Avengers, with improvements made across the board with the textures, the levels of destruction, the environmental and particle effects, and so forth. It’s already a stunning game to look at anyway but playing in Quality Mode really ups the ante as far as the visuals are concerned.
It will come down to player preference as to which mode is ideal to play: do you want a smoother gameplay experience, or do you want it to look the best it can? Personally, I went for Performance Mode, with the slick 60fps frame rate really bringing the action to life. It made every aspect of the combat feel a lot slicker in design, whilst the fact that it also has significant improvements made to the visuals made it an easy choice. Whatever you choose, Marvel’s Avengers looks stunning on the PlayStation 5.
Of course, there’s also the bonus of the haptic feedback and responsive triggers, with the latter certainly making their presence felt with some of the heroes. You’ll certainly feel the weight of Thor’s hammer as you lunge it around the environment for example, whilst firing off your repulsor or rockets as Iron Man certainly packs a punch on the triggers. It’s some solid use of the controller and certainly adds to the immersion of all the action taking place.
I’d be remiss not to mention the fact that you can replay through the main campaign too, with Marvel’s Avengers’ single player campaign standing out as one of the best that I played through in all of 2020. It was a little stupid that you couldn’t do it again in the first place, so it’s nice to see that has been rectified here.
The other big addition that has come with the next-gen launch is the release of Hawkeye and the ‘Future Imperfect’ operation, giving players an all-new hero to play as and some new missions that take place in a desolate future Wasteland. I won’t go into the nitty-gritty of the narrative behind this to avoid spoilers for new players, but you can expect a little bit of time-travel and an epic battle against Maestro, as per all of the promotional material that has been pushed out ahead of launch.
One of my biggest worries with Hawkeye was that he might feel too similar to Kate Bishop to use, but Crystal Dynamics have done a good job in differentiating the pair and giving Hawkeye abilities that feel completely different. Whereas Kate Bishop was tech-focused and would teleport around, Hawkeye is more old-school and uses a wide array of arrow types to get the advantage over his foes. This includes grappling arrows to get closer to enemies, homing arrows to strike them down, and even boomerang arrows to double-up your damage output and strike twice – turns out it isn’t JUST Mjolnir that’ll make its way back to players…
His Heroic Abilities are just as useful, with the Hunter’s Arrow gracefully pinging multiple enemies at once and the Nightstorm Arrows bringing an onslaught of arrows from above to wreak hell upon foes. He’s also able to both heal and negate ailments with his support ability, which can really help when in the midst of a tight battle against some tough enemies – it’s certainly one of the more helpful support abilities available in the game. Add to that his katana which is used for close-ranged battling and you’ll quickly find that Hawkeye is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades that suits multiple play styles.
Whilst Hawkeye is a lot of fun to play as though, the Future Imperfect operation as a whole was a little bit lacking. It only took me around two hours to beat, whilst it also doesn’t have a whole lot of extra content to get through right now that’ll see you exploring the depths of the future Wasteland for long. It has been confirmed that more missions are coming in the near future, but for now you won’t find many reasons to stay around after you’ve defeated Maestro. At least that boss encounter is fun though, with his epic size and abilities certainly making him a formidable foe – even if he is slightly underutilised in the overarching narrative.
Between the improvements with the visuals, performance, and loading times as well as the addition of Hawkeye, there is plenty to be excited for in Marvel Avengers’ PlayStation 5 release. Of course, one of the issues that stood out the most for players was the lack of post-game content – how does it hold up now?
Well, whilst there is new content here (and the previously released additions including Kate Bishop that I haven’t covered), I wouldn’t say Marvel’s Avengers has brought in a whole lot more to really round out the experience. As mentioned, this isn’t something that has bothered me too much thanks to the fact I adore the co-op elements of the game anyway – especially since I’m still working on each character’s Challenge Card and have a whole new one now with Hawkeye. Still, it’s a lot lighter on content that similar releases in the genre and it might not offer enough to keep everyone invested in the experience.
There is the promise of extra content to come in the near future though, with all new missions, unlockables, and heroes hitting the game in due course. Heck, even the Wasteland region which I’ve complained about being lacking in this review is going to be fleshed out with more missions, so it’s clear that Crystal Dynamics know that it might have been a little bit lacking at launch. Add to that the ‘War for Wakanda’ expansion that looks to bring a full-fledged story-based experience to the game and it’s clear that there’s PLENTY to look forward to in the future.
Is it good enough that it has taken this long to arrive after a turbulent launch, though? After an unpredictable 2020 that has brought with it all sorts of challenges for game developers, I think Marvel’s Avengers deserves a second chance with those who weren’t fully satisfied the first time out. Sure, it still doesn’t offer as much content to get absorbed into as similar live service games, but the improvements and additions it has brought so far are certainly taking it in the right direction. I’m still excited to see what’s going to bulk up my superhero escapades in the future and am sure to spend more hours blasting enemies with my buddies in this souped-up version of the game in the meantime.
Marvel’s Avengers’ first seven-months might not have been as mighty as the heroes themselves, but there’s still a special game to be found here that has a promising future.
The next-gen update really soups up the visuals and performance across the board, whilst the fact that it’s a free upgrade for existing owners gives more than enough incentive to dive back in. Hawkeye is a really fun character to play as too, even if the operation associated with him is a bit shorter than I’d like it to have been.
There’s no denying that Marvel’s Avengers is still a little light on post-game content, but there have been enough improvements and additions made to warrant giving the game more of your time. There’s work to be done by the team at Crystal Dynamics (and they’ve already proven they can deliver with Kate Bishop and Hawkeye), but there’s still a good time to be had with the world’s most esteemed group of superheroes.
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
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