How Marvel’s Avengers Can Make the Best of its Daunting Path to Launch

Back in early 2017, Marvel and Square Enix revealed that they would be teaming up to produce multiple projects based on the increasingly-popular comic book universe, with the first being a Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal collaboration to create a game based on the Avengers. More details about the title were originally promised in 2018, but it wasn’t until this past E3 that eager fans finally got their first look at the single and multiplayer title from the developers of Tomb Raider and Deus Ex. Featuring a starting roster of five fan-favorite heroes with plans for free characters post-launch, the debut of Marvel’s Avengers was set as the final title of Square Enix’s E3 press conference, showing off the premise and voice cast but only minor glimpses at the gameplay. On the show floor the following days, press members got a lengthier look at gameplay behind closed doors, which our preview called a “compelling vision” despite some rough edges. Now, with E3 behind us, the development team still has plenty of work ahead of them as they prepare for the launch version of the title on May 15, and with plenty of lingering questions, there are a few key points that our next looks at the game should hone in upon to make the next eleven months as smooth and auspicious as possible.

Focus on Originality

One of the most memorable moments of the first trailer featured Iron Man, Thor, Hulk and Black Widow helplessly watching as the aircraft that Captain America is on explodes after a terrigen reactor mishap, seemingly leading to his demise and the ultimate disassembling of the team. Now, with Steve Rogers being spotlighted as one of the five playable Avengers at launch, and the relatively common theme of dead or supposedly dead characters coming back when the time is right in comic book stories, there’s a decently solid chance that the opening level won’t be the only time Captain America plays a major role in the story. This bold narrative decision immediately separates this story from anything the Marvel cinematic universe attempted over the past decade, however, showing that the writers are willing to take risks with these beloved characters instead of sticking to a relatively standard Avengers tale. Without spoiling some of the bigger surprises that are likely in store, this sense of originality should be put in the spotlight whenever possible, opening a greater sense of potential to further excite both new and current fans.

Simplify How We Play

With the promise of both single and multiplayer content, and the extremely varied playstyles of each of the five main characters, there are plenty of expected questions regarding exactly how missions will work in the full game. The ambitious nature of this game truly shines through when examining the multiplayer possibilities, as someone playing as Iron Man has a greater sense of verticality and freedom that offers a completely different gameplay experience than his ground-restricted companions, and making sure everyone is consistently doing something compelling is an undeniably difficult task. So far, even the closed doors demo has only focused on the single player portions, although a confirmed beta closer to launch should answer any remaining questions that have yet to be answered by that time. After providing fans with a more lengthy look at the gameplay, taking a deep dive into the process of starting and playing through multiplayer missions from a variety of perspectives would go a long way towards lifting the sense of confusion surrounding the title.

Plan for the Future

Towards the end of the Avengers debut at Square Enix’s conference, the presenters made it clear that the launch of the game was only the beginning, with all post-release characters and content being free to all players, including a tease of Hank Pym, better known as Ant-Man, possibly being one of the first additions. While this commitment to the future is always promising, the currently planned launch of the game puts it in a rough spot, as it will release mere months before the start of the next generation of consoles, with Xbox’s Project Scarlett confirmed for Holiday 2020 and the PlayStation 5 likely arriving around the same time. With any potential delay only shortening this window, Square Enix has the tall task ahead of them of ensuring that current-gen console owners that buy the game at launch will still receive all of the same content that those who purchase the very likely next-gen ports of the title will also receive, despite the latter having a much longer life ahead of it. Additionally, the development team will also have to strongly consider making cross-gen saves a priority, so that dedicated fans who do buy the game at launch won’t have to start anew in as little as six months after the fact, with the hope being that even those that switch console brands can still receive the same treatment. This assuredly challenging prospect is one that Square Enix should not shy away from if they hope to ensure more sales at launch and more confidence from their players, particularly as Marvel’s Avengers nears its own launch on May 15 for (at least) PS4, Xbox One and PC.