Impressions from the Marvel’s Avengers Beta
As promised, our Month of Marvel has some early impressions from the upcoming Marvel’s Avengers beta. Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics gave GotGame and a few other outlets early access to the beta before it launches on PlayStation 4 this Friday. While we didn’t get a chance to go over everything in the beta, we did learn a lot from our time with it. While the July Marvel’s Avengers War Table covered a good amount of what to expect, you won’t really get a good idea of how it is until you play it. We’ll try not to spoil too many surprises, but we will cover some of the story mission content here.
Starting out, the Marvel’s Avengers beta opens up with the A-Day segment in San Francisco. We’ve covered this story mission pretty extensively already, but it is worth mentioning some changes here. While the core features remain the same, the beta finally shows us a more accurate representation of general gameplay. This includes health pickups, collectibles like comics and data files, and even gear. It also includes resources to pick up, which is necessary for upgrading said gear. The photo mode is also immediately available, which has become increasingly popular in games lately. Spending a bit of time in it, it has some cool features, but could use some tuning up. My biggest issue is moving the camera, which seems too restrictive, and also too difficult to maneuver for specific angles.
A-Day finishes up with a boss fight against Taskmaster, one of the two Marvel villains you’ll come across in the beta. After the opening mission, we get a slight summary of the events that happen up to the next one. Five years have come and gone, and now Kamala Khan, suspicious of AIM’s activities, is trying to reassemble the Avengers. Her search eventually leads her to Bruce Banner, though we don’t see this moment in the beta. Instead, we get right into the next story mission, starring Kamala and Bruce as they search for JARVIS at the Olympia Archive. The mission starts in a forest, but eventually leads to an old Avengers facility where you’ll find Easter eggs galore.
Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a mission without combat, and you’ll have plenty of AIM enemies to fight. While the mission starts quietly, it doesn’t take long for Bruce to Hulk out. This mission really lets you release your inner rage, delivering powerful yet brutal attacks on several enemies. One thing that you might notice in this mission is hidden areas. If you pay close attention to the environment, you might notice some breakable walls. Break these down and you’ll surely uncover some gear and resources. Interestingly, though not surprisingly, only some characters will have the ability to break down walls like this. Sorry Black Widow fans, but you may need a Hulk player on your team if you want to access all the hidden areas.
Sometime during this mission, you’ll also level up and earn a technique point to spend on a new skill. Skills can add new combo attacks, counters, finishers and more. The Avengers beta will only give you one skill tree, but the final game will have three for each character. Eventually, you’ll acquire JARVIS with Kamala, though moments later, Hulk will have his own hands full escaping an explosion. Of course, he gets out by smashing his way through (how else?). Kamala will continue the mission on her own until she comes across Abomination, only for Hulk to tag in and take the boss fight. The battle goes through a few stages, the two powerhouses seemingly evenly matched from the start. Though that won’t stay like that for long, because “Hulk’s strongest there is!”
Once the mission is done, you’ll find yourself in a Helicarrier hub, the Chimaera, mainly playing as Kamala again. This part of the beta gives us a lot to check out, including rooms for each of the members of the team. Yes, that includes Hawkeye. Sadly, you can only explore Kamala’s and Bruce’s for now. Even so, seeing this through Kamala’s fangirl eyes gives us the same perspective that we as Marvel fans have. The Chimaera is full of gear chests, fun little conversation pieces and more. It’s also fairly large and seems to open up more as the story progresses. Either way, you’ll eventually make your way to Bruce at the war table and you’ll start a new mission. This time, a familiar face will show up to give you details on a hidden Shield base in the snowy tundra.
This is the first mission you can take on by choosing your hero, though you’ll only be able to select from Kamala and Hulk here. This mission also gives us an idea of how the AI companions work. I chose to play as Kamala here, letting the big guy do as he pleases. The AI is surprisingly pretty competent in the game, though they don’t seem to have a way to follow any instructions. It wasn’t an issue in this mission, but it did come up later on. Even so, my Hulk was pulling his own weight in battle with little issue. This area was rather large and open, with a lot of ground to potentially cover. It was clear that this was going to be a map used later for multiplayer War Zones.
This area also had various bunkers that you could enter by solving certain puzzles. Fight the enemies outside to then make it easier to focus on the puzzle. Sometimes it would be pressing a series of switches within a time limit, and others it might be destroying a beacon. Either way, once you solve the puzzle, you’ll open the door to all the various loot inside. These missions will essentially give you multiple side tasks while you’ll have one main objective. While you can cruise by the entire mission by going straight to the objective, you’ll miss out on a lot of opportunities. After finding the hidden base, you’ll be treated to some more chests until you reach an area that requires you to defend an area of incoming enemies. Once finished, you’ll go back to the Helicarrier once again.
With the mission accomplished, Bruce introduces Kamala to HARM rooms. You’ll be tasked with doing a tutorial HARM room as Iron Man, or to be more specific, Kamala playing as Iron Man. This gives you an idea of how all of the different moves work and gives you more in depth combat instructions. While the tutorial sort of covers a general basis of the character combat, it doesn’t even touch the tip of the iceberg for the depth, let alone even Iron Man’s moves. Once you complete the tutorial, you can finally move on to the full Avengers multiplayer beta.
Of course, before I took on the multiplayer, I went to do the three HARM missions for the beta on my own. Each mission has you and three companions go into a simulation where you take on ten waves of enemies. Each mission gets progressively harder, though they weren’t as difficult as I expected. I took this time to get more time as Iron Man, as well as Black Widow, who has a pretty cool set of skills herself. These missions are pretty fun, and make for good practice of your unlocked skills. It also helps to get more acquainted with each hero’s way of moving. The third mission started to show some challenge, but I still completed it with no problems. I ended my HARM missions with Kamala and earned a custom nameplate for the final game release.
Moving on, while working with other members of the press, I managed to set up a few multiplayer sessions for some War Zone missions and a few Drop Zones. They had been playing a bit longer than me, so I was a little underleveled, which made my first multiplayer mission a bit of a nightmare. Kamala was my strongest character at this point, but someone was already playing as her, so I switched to Iron Man. Luckily, I obtained some gear from doing the HARM room and I was able to spend a lot of the resources I had collected to upgrade it. This made it so I was at least able to survive.
Speaking of upgrading gear, there are four main gear items per character. After that, each character has three secondary gear slots for artifacts. You’ll obtain various gear throughout the game, each with varying rarity. Most of the uncommon and higher gear will be upgradable by spending collectible resources. Thankfully, each piece of gear uses a different one, so while it may seem overwhelming at first, it makes it easy to balance out your gear. The game even has a handy button to automatically equip your best gear. Of course, this could easily change if you upgrade another item in your inventory. As my Iron Man was slightly upgraded, I was sent through a three-tiered mission, ending with a giant robotic insect boss.
While I needed to be revived a couple times, I managed to get a lot of experience from doing such a high level mission. Reviving is basically just having a team member coming within proximity of you before a timer finishes counting down. The boss battle, while a tough fight, was pretty fun, though it was difficult to hit certain parts of it at first. Then I discovered there was a lock on feature, which is pretty helpful. While it was a tough fight, our team endured and finished in tact. We would continue doing missions in the game, all of which helping me level up and gain more gear. The beta does have a level and power cap, as players will be able to level each hero up to level 15, and a power cap of 45.
One thing that I had yet to mention was the UI for each hero. Every member will have three special moves with cooldowns. Two heroic powers and one ultimate. One thing that I found interesting is that leveling up automatically resets a cooldown, which means you can potentially use Iron Man’s Hulkbuster twice in a challenging battle. In fact, let’s take this time to detail all the characters of the Marvel’s Avengers beta. You’ll mainly have access to Kamala, Hulk, Iron Man and Black Widow in the beta. While you play as Thor and Captain America during the A-Day segment, that will be the only moment here. As mentioned earlier, the characters in the Avengers beta will have access to one of three skill trees. This means that in the final game, the characters can play completely differently if you so choose.
First off, we have Iron Man, the high flying Avenger. His powerful Unibeam will shoot out continuously for a time, dishing high damage in a focused blast. His other heroic spends all his energy to overcharge himself, giving him unlimited energy and ammo for a set period of time. Yes, Iron Man has energy which builds up as he deals light attacks. Using heavy attacks will spend it in three different categories. He’ll have his repulsor tech, lasers, and rockets to utilize, each with different ways of attacking. Repulsors are high powered energy blasts, with rockets feeling a bit similar, though more explosive. The laser attacks are good for crowd control, as Iron Man will often spin his attacks around him. And of course, we already mentioned the Hulkbuster, which is his limited time Ultimate.
Next up is Kamala Khan, who has a “polymorph” energy that she can spend by holding the right trigger. This buffs her attacks when she has the energy, which can be built up with light attacks. One of her heroics is the high five attack, which deals a lot of damage and also pushes enemies away. The other, surprisingly, is a healing ability, which will also heal teammates nearby. Finally, her Ultimate is “Embiggen”, which will make Kamala large and in charge for a brief period of time. It’s a lot of fun to be giant Kamala because she can simply kick her foes away with mighty force. Traversal with Kamala has her able to stretch her arms and grab platforms, branches or light posts, allowing her to swing.
The Hulk is similar to Kamala when it comes to having a rage energy meter. As he fights, he builds up his rage, and holding the right trigger allows you to buff your attacks and regenerate health as well. Hulk can slam the ground with some serious force, and even grab his foes to use them like a weapon. He can pick up chunks of the ground to toss it at his foes as well, giving him some range. His ultimate attack has him do a gamma powered thunder clap, which sends waves of damage to his enemies. Hulk can jump pretty high, and he’ll gain momentum as he jumps further. If you do a heavy attack in the air, he’ll even do a powerful ground slam. Hulk has one other heroic attack that gives him a powerful charge, mowing enemies down.
Finally, we have Black Widow. She’s definitely more of a technical character, having a heroic ability to turn her and her allies invisible. It also helps reveal hidden areas and switches. Her other heroic is her Widow’s bite, a powerful shock blast that she can shoot at one foe. Widow’s ultimate ability makes her combine her batons, making her basically become Darth Maul from Star Wars as she deals fast light attacks and shocks the area with her heavy attack. Her traversal lets her use her grappling hook to swing and move around, and she can even grapple onto enemies. Like Iron Man, she can also unlock different ammunition types for her guns. In my time as her, I had her pistols as well as a semi-automatic rifle, though she seems to have more.
Overall, I had a lot of fun with the Marvel’s Avengers beta. It gave me a good taste of the game and I look forward to playing more this weekend. I still have plenty of abilities to unlock, missions to complete, and even some collectibles to find. Hopefully I can find more of Kamala’s Avengers fan-fiction recordings, as it reminds me of friends I know that are just like her. I’m also told that there are some fun Easter eggs I might have missed. Naturally, that means I must find them. The Marvel’s Avengers beta launches on PlayStation 4 for preorder customers this Friday. Other platform preorders will gain access on August 14th. Finally, the open beta will launch on August 21st, granting access to everyone. To gain access, you’ll need to sign up here. We’ll have more coverage of Marvel’s Avengers all month, so look forward to it.