Now is the best time to play Marvel's Avengers
Square Enix's Marvel game has had a rough time of it, but right now is a perfect time to play.
The initial announcement of Marvel's Avengers, then "The Avengers Project" took place way back in January 2017. Marvel is easy to get hyped about, and the launch of the PlayStation exclusive, Spider-Man, proved that superhero games are back and that they can be great. Marvel taking more of a direct interest in gaming is a good thing, after all.
Unfortunately, when Marvel's Avengers finally arrived, the Square Enix-produced game didn't see the same rapturous applause as Sony's Spidey outing (or its subsequent mini-sequel). Some of the criticisms were well founded, but it was never a bad game. At least I didn't think so. The thing that put me off the most was being limited to 30 FPS on console and the fairly lengthy wait for a next-gen upgrade.
I stopped playing fairly early on, not because it was a bad game, but because it arrived at a bad time and the Xbox Series X soon took up all my time. But recently there's been a bit of buzz about Marvel's Avengers again, so I fired it back up. And let me tell you, now is a perfect time to give this game a proper chance.
Marvel's Avengers has So. Much. Content.
Like most games almost a year into their life, the content available at launch pales in contrast to the content available to play right now. When the game first arrived you essentially had the campaign and the Avenger's Initiative Warzones to play through. That's far from the case now.
The launch roster of characters has also been expanded, for free, with Kate Bishop and Hawkeye having joined Ms. Marvel and the original Avengers. Black Panther is the next to arrive with the War for Wakanda on Aug. 17. Each character has their own battle pass-like progression with opportunities to unlock cosmetics and other in-game items by completing challenges.
War for Wakanda will, presumably, be like the arrival of the previous two characters, both of which have their own campaign tracks that run alongside the rest of the content in the game. The main campaign is about 30 hours' worth of playtime on its own, with soon three additional narratives to follow after that.
The Warzones have been joined by other multiplayer-friendly content, like the Mega Hive, a high-level piece of content that to challenge the most seasoned players that's something similar to a dungeon in a game like Destiny 2. You've also got other mission tracks for Shield and the resistance, as well as a sort of endgame campaign to take down AIM's other baddie, Monica.
All of this while having a level cap of 50 and a power cap of 150 available to grind for on all eight (soon to be nine) characters. If you're looking for a new game to grind content for, Marvel's Avengers has it in spades.
Marvel's Avengers is Xbox Series X enhanced
It took a little bit to arrive, but Marvel's Avengers is now fully upgraded for the new generation consoles. That means either a higher-detail, lower frame-rate 4K option, or a silky smooth 60 FPS performance mode that sacrifices some resolution. 60 FPS is what this game always needed, but at launch, console players were stuck at 30 FPS. It felt like a bit of a chore playing on the older consoles, but that's not the case anymore.
Honestly, don't bother with the 4K option. Slap on performance mode and you'll enjoy this game a whole lot more.
On Xbox, it also supports smart delivery, that oh so pleasing, seamless upgrade path. Unfortunately, I bought it on PlayStation to get the promised Spider-Man exclusive DLC that's still MIA, so I had to deal with the much less enjoyable Sony way of upgrading.
What that higher frame rate now means is that the wild melee combat and the extensive moves list you have for each character now flows smoothly and quickly. Hulk should not be smashing a bad guy into the ground at 30 FPS. He doesn't deserve it.
It's The Avengers, who doesn't want that?
Marvel's Avengers is a good superhero game. Is it as good as Sony's Spider-Man titles? No, it isn't. But it's also a very different type of game. Back on the Xbox 360 and PS3, there were a number of Marvel movie tie-in games, and they weren't very good. But they had the characters. Who doesn't want to smash up everything in sight as Hulk or throw a big old hammer around and summon lightning as Thor?
Marvel's Avengers, as with the Spider-Man games, stays true to the universe but puts its own spin on classic characters and storylines. Better yet, using a big bad that hasn't yet been featured in the movies in MODOK, spiced up with appearances from Abomination and Taskmaster.
The story is good and having Kamala Khan as the central character was inspired. It tells an Avengers story in its own way and through the eyes of a character who adds a unique angle to it. She's also perfectly suited to melee combat, and popping her heroic ultimate move, embiggen, never ever gets old.
Are the characters anything like their movie counterparts? No, not really. Is that bad? Not at all. But as a little tie-in, there are some Endgame cosmetics to dress up your Avengers in, even the white Black Widow suit from the latest movie joins in. But this is very much its own thing and all the better for it.
Reduced price, double XP, win-win
In a world where $70 games are a thing on the new consoles, Marvel's Avengers coming in at $40 for the standard edition already makes for fantastic value based on the content included with yet more arriving soon. It's even cheaper if you buy a physical copy and there have been pretty solid discounts for PC recently on Steam alongside the free play weekend.
You don't have to get into the microtransactions if you want, there are cosmetics to earn in the game just by playing, if you don't want them, don't buy them. All of the game's content is available to you regardless.
Now is also a great time to get in because catching up isn't as difficult. As a celebration of the new high-tier endgame content and with Black Panther joining soon, there's double XP until early September. That means leveling up your characters and unlocking their sweet skill trees will take half as long. If you needed an added incentive to pick it up.
Ultimately, though, Marvel's Avengers is a good game that didn't receive the attention that it perhaps deserved. The developers could have given up, but they've kept working to make it better, produce more content, hell, there's even a much-needed UI overhaul coming soon as well. Even if you're not convinced a Marvel game can exist as a service, give it a shot. Even just the story content is worth playing through. I think it's one of the better Xbox games you probably aren't playing.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine
You now have me intrigued. I may give it a shot after The Ascent 😊