Well, The Avengers beta ends later today, and this was the first time all players across all platforms got to experience it, with the PS4 beta being open, and the PC and Xbox beta being for pre-orderers, though it opens up fully next time around.
This has been a fascinating game to watch, as it’s been sort of a rollercoaster from the start. The initial debut of Avengers at E3 looked pretty rough, but then in recent months with a series of War Table video preview installments, it looked quite a bit better. But now? Everyone has gotten their hands on it, and the results seems to be very, very divisive.
I originally had this titled as “the most divisive game,” but then I remember that The Last of Us Part 2 came out this year, and nothing is going to be more divisive than that (even if the haters there are a small, loud group, rather than a 50/50 split). But from the reactions I’m seeing, most people either seem to be loving Avengers or hating it, with very few in between.
Critics were divided on the beta. Polygon and I liked it a lot. Kotaku and IGN seemed disinterested. And that split is pretty reflective of the public reaction I’ve been seeing. Some people, particularly many in the core community that were excited for the game from the start, seem to really be liking it. The game is scratching all the itches they hoped it would with its arcade brawler combat and its superhero movesets taken straight from the movies. Smashing through evil robots as heroes feels as good as people imagined it would be, and this early taste has a certain subset of fans excited for the final product.
But on the other side, there’s a deep disinterest in what’s been shown. Characters feel too “weak” to be superheroes (though I’d caution you really have to start unlocking additional moves and gear to change that). The environments and enemies are too same-y. The quasi open world mission structure is too repetitive. The loot, which doesn’t even show up on your character, seems pointless and shoehorned in to capitalize on recent gaming trends. And there’s this sense that these just feel like “off-brand” Avengers, as the game went for realism over cartoony looks, and none of them resemble their MCU actors, of course (I can definitely see that argument for say, Nolan North’s Tony Stark compared to RDJ).
The split is even found in the game’s visuals. I would say that Avengers does not always look the best in action, thanks to constant motion blur and screen shake that muddy the action with zillions of indicators all over the screen and pretty bad UI in general.
And yet, you look at the actual graphics of the game, frozen in time in photo mode, and it does look pretty incredible, and like one of the most gorgeous superhero offerings I’ve ever seen, this side of Spider-Man (which also looked stellar in photo mode, but also in motion).
My general feeling is that Avengers has an uphill battle ahead of it to win the majority of fans over. I am cautiously optimistic that this game will engage me long term for at least some extent, but I’m also someone who put at least 100 hours into Anthem, despite all its problem. The Anthem comparisons are pretty constant here with Avengers, but don’t underestimate the appeal of Marvel heroes, as once you’ve repulsor blasted an enemy off a cliff as Iron Man or slammed two robots into each other as Hulk, your other issues with the game might dissolve away to a certain extent.
I am cautiously optimistic about my own potential enjoyment of the final product, but for Avengers to be a large scale hit, it’s going to have to do more to convince people besides hardcore looter fans like me that it has something to offer them.