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Avengers disassemble!

Bruce, Nat, Cap, Iron Man, and Thor. Image owned by Square Enix.

Opinion by Alex Curthew-Sanders

Marvel Avengers has decided that slowing down progression is the answer to all of its woes… all of which involve the games already slow progression.

Marvel’s Avengers was a game that everybody was looking forward to. After the resounding success of films Infinity War and Endgame, it was set to absolutely kill it upon release, with the promise of rich, rewarding gameplay as your favourite superheroes. I mean, what’s not to like? And after the early gameplay reveals and demos, people placed down their pre-orders and eagerly awaited its release.

When it released it was met with a very lukewarm reaction to put it nicely. It was meteorically disappointing. Without the original actor’s faces scanned in for the game you were essentially left with a rather generic button masher, with some faceless heroes masquerading in the costumes of your beloved heroes, and to put the rotten cherry on this undercooked cake, it didn’t even function properly upon release. Requiring numerous patches to fix all the bugs before they could address the largest problem of all, and one that still plagues the game to this day since its August 2020 release: the lack of content.

After beating the main story, you aren’t really given much of an incentive to continue playing. The combat is rather mindless until you hit the very end levels, which means you have to suffer through a mediocre experience to get to the ‘better’ parts of the game, only to realise that ‘better’ translates to playing the same content but slightly differently. It’s a bizarre design choice that never really made sense to me, and evidently, I’m far from the only one as, according to Steam Charts, since September 2020, barely a month into the game’s release, it lost 80% of its players, and that number has continued to drop. According to industry analyst David Gibson, it resulted in an overall loss of $63 million for Square Enix. So, it wasn’t going well for anyone. But, despite this rather tumultuous chain of events, there were some diehard fans that stuck with it, and chose to weather out the storm, or lack thereof, hoping that the game would one day reach the peak of its potential, which admittedly could have been pretty good. There was light at the end of the tunnel, however.

As with any game, Marvel Avengers featured a levelling system, and this levelling was apparently rather fast. This was good not only because it allowed you to reach the better part of the combat system quicker, but also because it provided a player a reason to stick with the game as they are consistently earning skill points, thus feeling as if everything they do is rewarding. Apparently, the developers didn’t share this mindset. As recently, they’ve decided to slow down levelling.

Citing directly from one of their reddit posts, they believed that players would be “overwhelmed” by the fast levelling and, therefore, unable to make an informed decision on what to spend their skill points on. This led to them slowing down levelling in the later levels, but they weren’t done. They stated they wished to speed up levelling in the earlier levels to ensure players could “feel like a superhero” quicker. The blatant contradiction being that earlier levels are where players are most likely to feel “overwhelmed”, yet they felt speeding up progression there was appropriate. The entire statement felt like an insult to the playerbases’ intelligence and showed how little the developers understand their own game.

The game relies on getting to the very end levels to expand its combat system beyond a mindless button masher. With this in mind, in what world does it make sense to extend the journey to this destination? They try to pull off the classic “sense of pride and accomplishment” spiel that EA tried with Battlefront 2, without realising that for that to exist, the journey has to be interesting and worth it. Needless to say, Marvel Avengers does not provide this interesting journey, and only promises a slightly more interesting destination.

With such a small player base, I don’t see how this will help retain loyal players and, on the flipside, I don’t see how this is going to entice new players. Especially when they see the immense backlash that this decision has garnered.

It’s safe to say that the developers have made a massive slip up here, and only time can tell if they will eventually recover, or crash and burn. It’s just a shame to see a game that had everything in its favour, fail to realise any of its potential.

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