Hands-On With Marvel’s Avengers At Gamescom

I’ve been a big fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe over the past years, but for some reason, Marvel’s Avengers wasn’t really on my watchlist pre-Gamescom. It’s by chance that I walked past the booth in the morning and saw an almost empty waiting line when a “why not?” crossed my mind.


Mannequins or highly trained cosplayers?

We were brought into a room where the headcount of the number of booth employees was equal to the amount of Playstation 4 stations. It was clear they wanted to keep an eye on us. And rightfully so, as the guy directly ahead of me was escorted out of the booth when he tried to start playing with his go-pro mounted to his backpack.

The demo starts us off with a brief cinematic, showing something happening on the Golden Gate bridge, Thor & Iron Man fly over to check it out and we’re given control over Thor and the gameplay starts with what will be a trend throughout the demo: a Quick Time Event.


Hammer Time!

After the QTE we move to a simple combat training where surprisingly takes Thor about 5 hits to take down a human in light body armour. I know, I know, suspension of disbelief and all that, but it just felt wrong that his punches lacked so much impact. Luckily we learn about a few more tricks afterwards: heavy attacks, aiming ranged attacks which DO have the proper amount of impact as Mjölnir satisfyingly sticks to whatever object was in its path, pinning the unfortunate footsoldier.

After a few more skirmishes on the bridge, Iron Man flies over and you get control over him. The banter between the two is rather funny and fits right into how they interact in the cinematic universe.


Iron Man in pur-SUIT

The flying controls nicely and the on-rails shooting section is a welcome change of pace. It breeds hope for the variation on gameplay the game could offer us. We also get to check out his on-the-ground combat right after, but he can take to the air whenever he wants, in hovering mode that is. As you would expect, Iron Man plays as a ranged character who can fire well-aimed shots and it felt pretty epic to use his ultimate attack too: the unibeam blows up everything it touches.

Next up was the big green guy, who got a grabbing attack added to the arsenal that fits his persona well. When there are no enemies around that same attack will grab a chunk of concrete out of the floor which you can aim at enemies. He did more damage than Thor dished out but still needed to get a few hits in to take down regular old humans.


Hulk smash!

He has to then take down a few tanks and jump his way across a few gaps. While the jumping felt really satisfying, it was also heavily scripted. There were two jumps in particular that he should be able to make easily, judging by how far he could jump on the straight part of the bridge, but the game REALLY forces you to take the linear path it laid before you.

The plot develops and it seems like the bad guys intend to use the helicarrier for their evil purposed so we shift control yet again and this time get to brawl with Cap. The great news is that each of the heroes do feel different in how they move and control, it’s not a simple skin-shift with some added on attacks.


Take a good long look at America’s Ass

Cap can throw his should and it bounces around automatically + we get a new grabbing attack to finish of weakened enemies. The QTE shows its face again at the end of the fight though as the game prompts you to use your biggest attack but then shifts into a cinematic of you performing it.

For the last length of the demo, we strap on some leather and get to beat down on the boss with Natasha Romanoff. We first ride Taskmaster’s back as he tries to jetpack off with a detonator. It’s another QTE filled affair but at least this kind of technique gives them control over the visual effects and where the camera is pointing at.


They land and Black Widow shows us she’s true to her name as she pummels Taskmaster into submission. the fight is an interesting mix between melee, ranged attacks, dodging and grappling. It’s clear that She’s not as powerful as the other heroes but she makes up for it in agility.

Defeating him ended the demo and then we were shown the events that play out in the years after A-Day and a brief explanation of how the game will play: it will mostly be mission-based and you get to either pick character-centric missions that will give you something tailored to them and most likely some interesting backstory, or missions that you can tackle with other players as well. Completing them grants you exp and other resources which can be used to rebuild your base of operations: the crashed helicarrier. You’ll also get equipment with various stat upgrade and you can change which abilities are tied to our heroes.

You can pretty much see the whole demo here:

A note on the graphics: In the above video it looks crisp, and while the game looked amazing to me with all the action going on, the build at Gamescom did have this weird effect around the edges of characters and objects. As if there was a border with a pointillism effect applied to everything. Could have just been the demo that wasn’t optimised for the PS4 hardware yet, or the display settings had to be finetuned… I’m sure that kind of things will not be in a final build.

Final Word: I’m looking forward to the story of the game most of all, it painted an interesting picture and I wish to find out what else they have in store for us. I hope the missions do not get too repetitive and that they avoid having us grind for gear. The Quick Time Events are probably something that only happens during the most important setpiece moments of the game too. But that all remains to be seen.

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