The Marvel brand has never been more powerful. The Avengers movie series literally took over the world, with other studios trying to find ways to capture the same success. There are several mobile games that have been running for years, and Marvel’s Spider-Man is one of the most successful PlayStation games of all time. Things have come a long way since Marvel desperately sold its rights out to anyone in the 90s, although arguably classic games came out of that. Yet, one game that’s still on the way seems to be having trouble generating hype. Especially following Spider-Man, you’d think people would be going nuts for Marvel’s Avengers. But they aren’t. What’s the deal?
On paper, Marvel’s Avengers should be a slam dunk. It’s being developed by Crystal Dynamics, the team responsible for the Tomb Raider series. Those games have their problems, but exciting, varied, and impactful gameplay wasn’t one of them. The game is fully backed by Marvel, and largely seems to be designed to at least match the vibe of the movies. The story is a totally different interpretation though, and includes characters we haven’t seen in the films. One of those that we’ve seen is Kamala Khan, or the current Ms. Marvel.
The problem doesn’t seem to be with the story or look of the game, though. People have mixed feelings on those, especially the weird way Marvel’s Avengers tries to have its cake and eat it too with the movie-like aesthetic. But what seems to really be an issue is how the game looks when it’s in action. Nobody on the ground really has a great sense of how Marvel’s Avengers feels in action, and the content released by Square Enix so far hasn’t done much to clear that up.
Despite all the cool animations and unique moves across each member of the team, the key word you see everywhere in online chats is “boring.” Every slice of gameplay shown off so far, even the most recent during Square Enix’s War Table stream, has failed to ignite hype in the fanbase. People clearly want to be in love with Marvel’s Avengers, but something about it isn’t quite clicking. Perhaps it’s related to confusion over the co-op multiplayer, which still seems a little muggy. Perhaps it’s the actual combat, which looks a little too simple for people used to games like Arkham Knight or God of War.
The content itself doesn’t seem to have displayed the gameplay in the most productive light, either. The most recent footage just comprised Thor beating up robots, without really showing what the more intense gameplay looked like. Bonking robot enemies in a room over and over gives off a vibe that nobody wants, the kind of vibe that points to older licensed games in previous console generations. Obviously it’s impossible to know what it feels like with a controller in hand, but for a game that comes out in just a few months, that’s worrisome.
COVID-19 hasn’t exactly made upcoming video games accessible to anyone, including folks in the press and influencer spheres who have to stay home. This could be why there hasn’t been a lot of content on Marvel’s Avengers in general, and a contributor to the murky reactions to gameplay footage. It’s a tough time for everyone, game developers included. But despite Marvel being so hot it practically controls pop culture, the fans aren’t as stoked about Marvel’s Avengers as I expected, and perhaps as they expected. Considering the response to games like Marvel’s Spider-Man and Ultimate Alliance 3, the hunger is always there for dope superhero video games. But Marvel’s Avengers has some work to do to get the same number of folks on board.