Marvel’s Avengers debuted with lofty ambitions but has struggled to carve its own path in the world of live service games. Crystal Dynamics continues to support Marvel’s Avengers, as a passionate fanbase urges the developer to provide meaningful updates. Three years after its launch, I firmly believe there is still vast potential to be tapped into. Now, it’s the heroes themselves that need saving.
For Marvel and superhero fans, it is easy to cast aside any excitement Marvel’s Avengers as moments like Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 release date start to approach. But Marvel’s Avengers is a different beast, with a potent social experience that is a blast and a wholesome Kamala Khan story that highlights why we love this band of heroes in the first place. The social economy is where Marvel’s Avengers currently lives and where it could die too.
For those who skipped the game on release, Marvel’s Avengers post-game content puts players into numerous PvE experiences, where grinding for high-level gear and maximising each hero’s abilities is the north star. From the Vibraniun mines of Wakanda to futurist wastelands, the devs encourage players to visit different regions to face greater threats. On paper, it’s a solid concept, but after three years the practice of grinding certainly isn’t for everyone.
Thankfully, the cast of Marvel’s Avengers is enriched with satisfying combat and exciting character-specific mechanics. Spider-Man has received some flack here, but he can turn into a superb support hero with addictive abilities to master. Or, he can play whatever role you want, as can every other hero.
Right now, conversing with my mates about our different builds and adding a competitive edge to levelling up keeps our sessions fun. Similar to showing off your Fortnite battle pass progress, we can’t help but race to make our respective Thor builds the strongest.
Clearly, the game is influenced by the MCU, and while it can be derivative at times, overall it encourages those endless chats about deep comic lore. What adventures has Spidey completed in this universe? Will we ever see Captain America players use Mjolnir? There are plenty of stones left unturned.
The Winter Soldier, the game’s latest character, is a bona fide damage badass that proves Marvel’s Avengers has the ability to do DLC well. Jane Foster and Kate Bishop felt too similar to their Thor and Hawkeye counterparts. The Winter Soldier, meanwhile, is a cunning blend of Black Widow and Captain America, that manages to cement a new identity in the game. Using that big fuck off air strike is honestly brilliant.
On the matter of DLC, this is also where the main issue with Marvel’s Avengers comes to light: post-launch support. Or lack thereof.
There was a time when the game had a DLC roadmap, but this was officially discontinued last year. Release dates for multiple DLC packs have been missed along the way, with the Cloning Labs update stacking up a whopping 25 months of waiting, before finally releasing on November 29, 2022. It wasn’t worth all that time either, as it turned out to be another soulless boss-fight quest. That’s if you can play it as it requires participants to have reached at least power level 175 to enter. Furthermore, the shortage of content is a complicated issue.
Perhaps the most notable figure in the game’s community, leaker ‘Miller‘, wrote a report late last year on the first inklings of a grim fate. According to Miller, Crystal Dynamics has struggled to restructure an adequate dev team amid the Embracer group merger in May 2022. Several factors have impeded development and now the leaker claims that that are “no plans for content in 2024.”
Despite the writing seemingly being on the wall, Marvel’s Avengers could (and should) be saved in my opinion.
The first step would be to redefine the levelling-up system. For newcomers, Marvel’s Avengers can be an intimidating grind to navigate, especially if you’re unfamiliar with exploits that speed up the process. But we shouldn’t have to do that anyway. Increasing power level XP gains and offering more variety for gaining high-level gear might be a logical obstacle for the devs, but it appears to be the easiest course of action. We’ve already seen that this can work with the Winter Soldier, as a questline designed purely to speed up his XP progress made harder challenges more viable.
Outside of that, players normally have to complete the game’s only Raid or Omega Level Threats, which still necessitate a high entry barrier to play. With a lower XP ceiling implemented, we can start to think about new characters. She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, Shuri, Ironheart, and War Machine have been mentioned in the past, as various datamining reports confirm their existence. She-Hulk is allegedly being held back until the devs acquire more resources, while leaked voice lines give players hope that Captain Marvel is finally coming.
While we can’t determine who is definitely arriving, the reinstatement of a roadmap for 2023 would be a solid way to touch base with players. Even in the absence of cross-play, Marvel’s Avengers does have a surprisingly passionate fanbase waiting in the wings. YouTubers such as ‘SadotTheGamer‘ and ‘BobDuckNWeave‘ continue to prove that players are eager for new updates. Personally, I’ve been waiting for the open-world style Patrol Mode update to drop since it was mentioned in 2021.
There is a genuinely captivating multiplayer experience somewhere in Marvel’s Avengers, one which utilises the world’s most iconic comic book characters properly. You can feel the bones of it in the game, as meaty combat and faithful character depictions offset the threat of monotony. The idea of a live-service Marvel game has put the devs in a unique position, as shooters and battle royales dominate this section of the industry. 2023 could be the endgame for Marvel’s Avengers, but I hope it lives to fight another day.