After two years of secrecy, Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics are nearly ready to talk about their first Avengers game – or, as we know it, Marvel’s Avengers.
At Square Enix's E3 2019 press event, we finally got our first look at the game in a story trailer that seems to riff on some of the biggest moments from the Avengers comics. You'll play as your favorite Avengers in an all-new story set in the Marvel universe featuring many Avengers throughout the game (with the exception of Hawkeye) as you save the day from an evil force. According to Crystal Dynamics, the game has 'an all-star cast' that includes Laura Bailey, Nolan North and Troy Baker, some of the most preeminent voice actors in the videogame industry.
It was at this year's E3 that we also learned that the game will have a multiplayer component alongside a single-player campaign, though it wasn't shown off during the event. What we've heard from Crystal Dynamics in a closed-door briefing is that you'll assemble into teams of four online, customize your characters and fight online together through new scenarios. Crystal Dynamics says this content will be free and will come at a constant clip. Last, but not least, we got a confirmed release date: May 15, 2020.
Here's everything we know about Square Enix’s big foray into the Marvel universe.
[Update: San Diego Comic-Con has been and gone with some new details and a mighty trailer leak. Read on to find out more.]
Cut to the chase
What is it? Crystal Dynamic’s first Marvel game in a multi-game deal
When’s it out? May 15, 2020
What can I play it on? Xbox One, PS4, PC and Google Stadia. No word yet on Xbox Project Scarlett
While no one was allowed to play the game at E3 2019, Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics were allowing attendees to stop by and see an in-depth hands-off demo.
The way the game works is that you'll control each Avenger individually and control switches automatically between segments – a flying sequence you might play as Iron Man while a battle scene might use Hulk, for example. Each character has their own set of abilities that mirror what we've seen from comics, movies and other games, and combat largely looks like Marvel's Spider-Man, full of fluid dodging, combo attacks and Quick-Time Events.
It's a real cop-out to end the comparison at Marvel's Spider-Man, but that seems to be the look and feel Crystal Dynamics is going for – something that's easy to pick up and makes you feel powerful. The problem here is that, while all the characters have their own skills in combat (activated by the trigger buttons), there really wasn't a ton of variation in the actual gameplay. Most times, characters are shuffled into a battle arena, brawl for a few minutes with some fodder enemies, and then control shifts to the next Avenger in the sequence. It feels safe, but not all that exciting.
What Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal (who's co-developing the game) did get right are the massive set-pieces that serve as the main stage for the action. In the demo we saw, The Avengers were fighting to save civilians on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco from terrorists led by (spoilers!) Taskmaster.
The segment of gameplay we saw involved all five of the game's playable Avengers and culminated in a boss battle. The pacing leading up to the battle felt great, as did some of the Quick-Time Event segments that emulated the movies' big-budget action.
Marvel’s Avengers trailers and screenshots
It was supposed to be shown privately at San Diego Comic-Con and then released after Gamescom 2019 but the official gameplay footage for the game was leaked by attendees at the Comic-Con panel.
In what appears to be a more complete version of what was shown behind closed doors at E3 2019, the trailer shows off the prologue of the game's main story campaign which involves footage of Thor, Hulk and Iron Man in action as they defend an A-day event in San Francisco that's gone somewhat awry. Given it's a leaked trailer it's not the clearest footage in the world so do bear that in mind if you'd rather wait for the official thing.
Outside of the logo tweeted out by the game’s Twitter handle, there hasn’t been much in the way of official art.
What we do have, however, is the game’s first teaser trailer that came out last year. Check it out below:
The big unveiling for the game came at E3 2019, when Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics really let loose a lot of details and clips.
We've embedded the Avengers E3 2019 trailer below:
We've also got a number of screenshots from the trailer, embedded below:
San Diego Comic-Con has been and gone but not without important happenings for Marvel's Avengers fans. In a panel for the game, hosted by creative director Shaun Escayg explained to attendees that the game would allow players to play through an original Avengers story, with customisable heroes and online multiplayer. There will be the main story campaign where you'll play as the various Avengers, and then the online co-op which is where you'll do your character customisation. This customisation will include skill trees as well as appearance changes.
There was also footage of the game shown. While this footage was supposed to be for attendees only and released around Gamescom to the public, it was leaked and you can see the leaked footage for yourself in our trailer section above.
The footage showed the prologue of the game's main story campaign which sees an A-day event in San Francisco gone wrong following an explosion. Footage of Thor, Iron Man and Hulk in action against the minions of Taskmaster. It shows the different kind of moves and skills each hero brings to the table but also reveals that more than the core group will appear in the game. Ms Marvel makes an appearance in the footage but whether or not she'll be playable is unknown.
Offline and solo gameplay
It's been confirmed that Marvel's Avengers will offer players the chance to play offline and alone, despite its focus on the online multiplayer experience. In an interview with GamesIndustryBiz, Crystal Dynamics boss, Scott Amos, said that players "can have a complete experience and have fun" even if they never go online.
No paywalls or Loot Boxes
It's also been confirmed by Scott Amos that paywalls and Loot Boxes will not be a feature of the game. It seems that monetization will come from entirely optional cosmetic purchases. These will allow players to invest in their favorite heroes and make them look exactly as they want them to.
"The idea, from the beginning, is that we want you to be able to customize your hero; how they look, how they play, the gear they have and how they use it," Amos said.
"Your Black Widow could be different to my Black Widow – just a little, maybe a lot – depending on what you favor and how you unlock things."
Of course, players will also be able to earn customization items as they play as well.
Marvel’s Avengers was finally revealed at the Square Enix E3 2019 press conference on Monday evening, giving us our first real look at the game since it was announced back in January 2017.
A "tribute to Stan"
Crystal Dynamics has revealed that the Marvel's Avengers game is a tribute to Stan Lee, who passed away in 2018. When we asked if Stan would be making in appearance in the game, the developer seemed coy but hinted we will be seeing the legend make a appearance.
The most important thing we saw was the gameplay, which looked to be a third-person adventure in the same vein as Marvel's Spider-Man. We know we'll get the chance to play as almost all of the most famous Avengers at some point, with the exception of Hawkeye who sadly wasn't part of the unveiling.
Marvel’s Avengers will feature “continuous single-player and co-operative gameplay”, and that players can “assemble in teams up to four players, master extraordinary abilities…and combine powers” – i.e. an online multiplayer component that Crystal Dynamics has yet to reveal, but we're hoping we'll hear more about that later.
Focus on story
Marvel’s Spider-Man blew us away last year with a story full of heart, characters we cared about, and some sensational performances to boot. Square Enix and developer Crystal Dynamics have a wonderful opportunity to deliver a narrative befitting the unbelievable roster of Marvel characters they have inherited.
Thankfully, it looks like they're doing just that with Avengers.
We know the game takes place after A-Day, the day the Avengers get honored for their service to the community. This day of jubilation is quickly ruined, however, and our heroes our ripped apart – which gives us real Disassembled vibes.
Apparently the heroes come back together and will have to face a new threat that wasn't revealed in the trailer.
Crystal Dynamics emphasized the idea of a “continuous” game in an “ever-expanding world”. All this content may come first to PS4 thanks to a deal between Square Enix and Sony, but all of it will be free on every platform. Recent games-as-a-service titles such as Destiny, Anthem, and The Division 2 aren’t exactly lauded for their top-tier narratives, so we’re hoping the reveal will confirm the experience won’t be diluted in favour of ever-lasting revenue.
Fresh, diverse range of playable heroes
Decades of comics, and 22 movies over 11 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe ensure fans are well versed on many classic Marvel heroes. While we love Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, and Thor, we think it’s time to introduce some fresh, lesser-known faces in Marvel’s Avengers.
Unforunately, for whatever reason, Hawkeye wasn't part of the presentation and Hank Pym – a.k.a Ant Man – only got a supporting role.
We’d love to see Khan take centre stage, perhaps even alongside other more recent Avengers, such as Iron Heart, Miles Morales, and Squirrel Girl. Why not?
It's Crystal Dynamics' biggest game ever
In a recent interview, Crystal Dynamics studio headScott Amos told GamesIndustry.biz that this is the developer's biggest game to date, requiring five studios from around the globe to make:
"We've had to change how we work, how we are organised as a team, the number of people we need to do this, the number of external partners… We've had to go hire experts like Shaun Escayg, who is our creative director. He told stories for Uncharted and The Last of Us [at Naughty Dog], we needed him to help tell this story. Dave Fifield was a game director who worked on Halo and Call of Duty, we needed him to help us with multiplayer," Amos said.
The five studios working on the title are Crystal Dynamics at Redwood Shores, a new studio in Bellevue called Crystal North West, Crystal Dynamics' partners in the Netherlands, Nixxes, Eidos Montreal and even Square Enix Japan.
Five teams to bring the five Avengers to life? Sounds about right.