The 'Marvel's Avengers' Beta Isn't Making a Very Good First Impression

Progression systems won't save a game from clunky combat mechanics.
August 26, 2020, 1:00pm
Screenshot from Marvel's Avengers, the Hulk, a huge green muscular man, screams at the camera
Image courtesy of Square Enix

As a Destiny 2 player, I’ve become accustomed to dealing with a million different resources. From Upgrade Modules to Ascendant Shards, they tie into an ongoing treadmill of content, meant to give a sense of progression as you upgrade various pieces of gear, or use them to get more gear.

It’s important, though, to know that gear does. Destiny’s loot includes myriad weapons that feel distinct, and so the loop from combat encounter to reward can amount to new core gameplay experiences and not just a series of numbers going up. So when the Avengers beta ran this past weekend, I had a hard time engaging with the progression systems because the core gameplay felt barely influenced by any of the loot I was attaining, and that core gameplay felt bad.


We discuss the beta, Games as a Service, and more on this episode of Waypoint Radio. You can read an excerpt and listen to the full episode below.

Austin: And then there's the meta-layer; can I read you a list of 11 things? These are 11 things you're expected to care about in this game. Ready?

Patrick: Okay, in order of importance.

Austin: I don't know the order of importance. I'm gonna guess DNA keys is the most important.

Patrick: All right, that seems important.

Austin: Fragments, nanites, catalysts, nanotubes, plasma, polykorans, uru which I think is a myst game I'm pretty sure.

Patrick: Uwu?

Cado: Uwu.

Austin: Uwu.

Austin: Upgrade modules, credits, and units. These are the 11 currencies or resources that this game is tracking.

Patrick: How many are currently in Destiny right now Cado?

Cado: Double that, basically. It's fine.

Patrick: Okay. How many did it start with, do you think?

Cado: Oh, started with, I can remember basically: three, glimmer, shards, and–

Austin: You're wrong, there's one for every planet in Destiny. That was what they were doing, this is what this is doing. In Destiny, every planet had a resource and you needed those resources to upgrade your gear, right?

Cado: Oh, right, I didn't think of those as currencies.

Austin: And that is what's happening here, you're not going to that place to get the thing. This is me trying to remember, not 100% [sure], but nanotubes are good for melee weapons, you need 12 nanotubes to upgrade your melee weapons.


Cado: But as far as you can tell there's no way to specifically be like “I'm gonna go get just nanotubes,” you just get a random smattering from whatever chest you open.

Austin: So you played it. too. is what you're telling me.

Cado: Yes, yes. At least in Destiny it was: you go to Earth to get the spinmetal whenever you need that specific thing, where [in the Avengers] every time you open a box it's like, “Here's some uwu, here's some fucking nanotubes, but I needed DNA keys instead!” It's just another random number generator of who-knows-what I'm gonna get every time. Does it matter? Eventually I guess I'll get enough to upgrade these things? I still don't know what [upgrading] does, what does it do when you boost [items]?

Austin: It gives you better power level.

Cado: Is it just the gear score number?

Austin: The gear score goes up which presumably means you're doing more damage I guess? The number goes up. Some stuff you unlock a different perk on it when you first upgrade it. The Epic level gear has two unlockable perks so you spend your nanotubes on it or whatever.

Cado: Oh, I never got any of those. I got like one blue.

Austin: Yeah, the truth of this thing is yesterday, I sat down to play this around lunchtime, I put two hours into it and I was like, “oof, I'm done.” And then last night after dinner I was like “let me give it another shot, let me do the due diligence, let me put another few hours into it, let me put something on in the background that way maybe I'll feel better about this.” I did not feel better about this. There's the degree to which playing this made me feel like the two pathways in front of me were: the only thing that separates this from all other AAA games which is an indictment of them is spending the year to make the axe feel good when you catch it, throwing a lot of money and time at UI/UX design. Polish, right?


The bones of this thing make the bones of all of the other games around it look worse. That's how bad of a time I had with this five hours, and you might be able to make the case that like…that's just true. That yes, what separates a good product from an unsuccessful product is a bunch of little marginal improvements all added up. [But] what a bland way to respond to the challenge of, “hey, let's make something that connects to people.” The thing that separates this game from other big AAA games is not super original thought, it's just that they failed to tighten up the graphics on level five. And that to me is the worst experience I can have with a AAA game, when it makes me not want to play other AAA games because of how poorly it reflects on the general mode.

This transcript was edited for length and clarity. Discussed: Avengers Beta 26:12, Gotham Knights 53:35, Suicide Squad 1:02:36, News 1:10:53, Emails 1:27:32

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