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access_time August 19, 2021 at 6:00 AM in Reviews by David Poole

Review | Marvel’s Avengers: Black Panther – War for Wakanda

After nearly a year since launch, Marvel’s Avengers has just received its biggest update ever. While the game did gain additional content with two Operations, Kate Bishop and Hawkeye, this update adds significantly more to the game. Black Panther – War for Wakanda is finally here, officially bringing the Wakandan King to the roster of the game. This addition also builds a bigger world for Marvel’s Avengers, and shines a brighter light for its future.

Black Panther – War for Wakanda starts us off in the Wakandan jungles of Africa. AIM has hired Ulysses Klaue, AKA Klaw, to mine Vibranium from the technologically advanced country. Of course, when his home is threatened, King T’Challa won’t let this happen without a fight. The Black Panther dons his cowl and fulfills his responsibilities as the protector of his home. It’s not long until the Avengers get involved, soon joining forces with Wakanda to take down a common enemy. The story, while shorter than the main campaign, manages to capture the Black Panther mythos well, telling a story that’s worthy of the King.

Unlike previous operations, this expansion starts with a solo mission for T’Challa. Working through the jungles and fighting off Klaw’s men, I was reminded of the single-player moments of the main campaign. This allowed for more focus on T’Challa and his connection to Wakanda, including people like Okoye, general of the Dora Milaje. While Wakanda is typically closed off from outsiders, the seriousness of this threat makes an alliance necessary. Opening the country to the Avengers makes them able to absorb the culture, allowing them to get closer to their new ally. It really helps to expand this world, and even takes a moment to add a couple Easter eggs. Of course, Klaue isn’t alone either, hiring Crossbones as the lieutenant of his militant group of henchmen.

We get some amazing new talents to the voice cast, including God of War’s Christopher Judge as T’Challa himself. He brings a different performance to the King of Wakanda, giving a deep yet powerful tone that resonates through his dialogue. Erica Lutrell performs wonderfully as T’Challa’s sister Shuri, and Debra Wilson’s Okoye brings out a true warrior spirit. Dave Fennoy changes things up as the Wakandan elder Zawavari, sounding much different than his The Walking Dead days. Thanks to using a dialect coach, the accents were truly on point for all the Wakandan performances. Of course, we can’t forget Steve Blum, who delivers a great performance as Ulysses Klaue, bringing his iconic pipes to the villain.

As the story plays out, you’ll move through the jungles to ancient caverns, and even to the palace in Birnin Zana. Crystal Dynamics has done a fantastic job in making Wakanda feel different from the rest of the game. The areas use entirely new assets, Shuri provides intel instead of JARVIS, and you’ll even have Zawavari on teleport rescue duties. There’s more puzzles and focus on platforming, and it adds a new layer to the environment. Even with the environment feeling so different, it’s worth pointing out the extensive amount of detail. When I walked the palace of Birnin Zana, I was amazed with the level of effort put into showing off Wakandan culture.

Honestly, Crystal Dynamics doesn’t get enough credit for their effort. Marvel’s Avengers is a gorgeous looking game, and has been since day one. Sure, we could argue about character designs or graphical glitches, but the game still looks fantastic overall. Black Panther – War for Wakanda is no different, setting a shining example for this iteration of Marvel’s world. Characters especially look great, and they brought their A-game for T’Challa. His animation is superb, and even the little details like scratching the walls as he walks along them add a nice touch. Even the NPCs look great, helping to sell us on an advanced civilization.

Of course, T’Challa is the main attraction here, bringing a new hero to the roster. He brings with him many new cosmetics, and while most will require spending credits, the ones you can unlock still look fantastic. As for his gameplay, T’Challa plays incredibly well, offering a nimble fighter with a lot of resources. Like Captain America, he can wall run and double jump, but he can also cling to walls. His attacks are ferocious and consist of claw slashes, pounces and dagger throws. He’s agile enough to outmaneuver his foes while also utilizing Wakandan technology in combat. Level him up a bit and you can even summon the power of Wakandan warriors to aid you in battle.

What really sets T’Challa apart is his use of Vibranium. Not only does his inclusion add a new Vibranium status effect, which absorbs attacks into a kinetic explosion, but it also brings the Sonic status effect counterpart. Enemies will use Sonic energy to protect themselves, limit your vision, and even debuff you. Luckily, using Vibranium effects can help to combat it, and T’Challa comes with that energy in spades. Using his intrinsic abilities, he can even absorb attacks and release it in a powerful blast, buffing his strength. Fans of the MCU will likely recognize this ability, but Crystal Dynamics found a unique way to present it.

T’Challa’s Heroic abilities are also interesting, offering a unique set of powerful skills. King’s Mercy, his Assault Heroic, allows him to throw a Vibranium spear, perfect for taking on Sonic-powered enemies and capable of pinning foes. Using his Support Heroic, the Kimoyo Beads, he unleashes a volley of autonomous beads that attack and stun enemies. With an upgrade, they can also be good for recovery. Finally, his Ultimate Heroic, Bast’s Chosen, summons the power of a goddess to increase T’Challa’s strength and durability. With some customization, you can even use this and his intrinsic energy to make an invincible Black Panther.

With a new region and hero, it was about time to also introduce some new enemies. Aside from the aforementioned Klaw enemies, we also get new crawler enemies. These spider-like robots come in large numbers and even have larger “Hunter” variants to pose a threat. Perhaps it’s teasing things to come, but overall, the new enemies help to bring more to the table. They make great use of the new statuses and offer some challenge for newcomers and veterans alike. The new Overcharged buff they use also adds some spice to the mix. Let’s also not forget the two new boss fights with Klaw and Crossbones, who have unique patterns and methods too.

New enemies and environments also bring along new objective types. One such objective is the new Corrupted Vibranium clusters, which show up for players to destroy. Take them out in time and you’ll be handsomely rewarded. There’s also the Sonic Fracking Towers that Klaw is using to mine Vibranium. These towers offer a new step-by-step process to take them down, requiring a bit of platforming in the mix. Of course, we can’t forget the music either, which mixes jungle beats with hip hop. It truly makes Wakanda have its own vibe, and I’m here for it.

Black Panther – War for Wakanda also comes with several new quality of life updates. The most notable update would be the new UI. Now everything related to your character is all in one seamless page, from accessing skill upgrades and challenge cards to changing out gear. It’s a clean look that works well for the most part, though the new controls for upgrading and dismantling gear will take some getting used to. You’ll now use the left trigger to dismantle gear while the right trigger upgrades it. The upside is now we can dismantle multiple items at once, though you still use the left trigger to select it. It’s a bit less comfortable than the previous method, but it’s a small price to pay.

Aside from the UI, the game gets a few other changes as well. This includes a quality of life upgrade for receiving faction objectives with the Resistance Network, keeping both factions in one place. Players also have access to their gear locker at any time, now being able to store gear and retrieve it whenever they wish. Overall, it’s a big upgrade for the game, and while it’s not perfect, it shows the team is applying feedback and change. There’s still more to come to Marvel’s Avengers, and War for Wakanda definitely paints a brighter picture.

Clocking in at roughly ten hours, Black Panther – War for Wakanda is definitely a worthwhile expansion. T’Challa is a fantastic addition to the roster and Wakanda provides a marvelous new playground for our heroes. The team at Crystal Dynamics put in a ton of effort for this content, and it definitely shows. With a great new story addition, an updated UI and other new content, it’s never been a better time to jump into Marvel’s Avengers. Considering this is all free content, that’s all the more reason to check it out.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

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