Marvel’s Avengers is only a few months away, but despite numerous streams and videos, it’s not immediately obvious what kind of game Marvel’s Avengers is. Is it a loot game like Destiny 2? A combo-based action game? A co-op game? Or a story-focused game? The answer to all of those questions seems to be: yes.
Here’s everything we know about Marvel’s Avengers, from the single-player story to the game’s post-launch content.
Marvel’s Avengers doesn’t take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And while it certainly seems to draw inspiration from the cinematic versions of Earth’s mightiest heroes, the game draws more from on the long legacy of Marvel comics.
The story starts with “A Day,” as the Avengers parade around San Francisco for the opening of their west coast Avengers HQ. But things go wrong: The Avenger’s helicarrier explodes, spreading an infectious Terrigen Mist around the city.
Captain America appears to die during the disaster, and the Avenger’s disband — blaming each other for the catastrophic event. A new scientific organization called Advanced Idea Mechanics (better known as AIM) assumes the role of protector in the Avengers’ absence, claiming that it’s researching a vaccine for the Inhuman plague that’s giving some humans superpowers.
Kamala Khan (also known as Ms. Marvel), a local fan of the Avengers, is one of those new Inhumans, and discovers that AIM’s motives aren’t entirely pure. She attempts to re-assemble the Avengers. During the game, players will piece the team back together to take down AIM and the nefarious MODOK.
During the campaign, players will work to rebuild a helicarrier named the Chimera. Marvel’s Avengers has two different kinds of missions. There are Hero Missions, which usually involve playing as a single hero, tailored to that hero’s special abilities. These are single-player only, and focus on telling each Avenger’s personal story.
There are also War Zone missions. These seem to be the primary cooperative multiplayer missions in the game, and look similar to Strikes in Destiny 2 or dungeons in many MMOs. Players can come together, select different heroes — the game doesn’t allow for duplicate heroes — and dive into the mission with friends. If players want to play solo, they will fight alongside AI companions.
War Zones are repeatable missions, and much more open than the Hero Missions. They feature large environments, tight indoor areas, and bosses. Players can even combine the power of two heroes to beat down on an AI enemy with a team move.
Players can also select different regions to adventure around, which may change the biome or location on the War Table. It’s also possible there are larger multiplayer missions, similar to raids in Destiny 2 or The Division 2. But Crystal Dynamics hasn’t spoken much about endgame activities.
During these missions, you’ll be working with The Resistance. Players will also work alongside different factions like the Inhuman Alliance and former SHIELD agents. The stream specifically mentions heroes like Nick Fury and Dum Dum Dugan. Players can rank up their reputation with these factions to unlock new rewards.
On these different missions, players will take control of different heroes. There will be six playable Avengers at launch:
- Black Widow
- Captain America
- Iron Man
- Ms. Marvel
Each of these heroes plays differently, and has a unique skill tree and different loot. In a more traditional loot game, these heroes seem to be entirely unique “classes,” each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Customization, abilities, and loot
If you’re looking for a complete breakdown of the characters, and more video, check out Quest Mode’s comprehensive breakdown for Marvel’s Avengers.
At its heart, Marvel’s Avengers looks like a detailed loot game, very similar to Destiny 2. Players will embark on missions, get new pieces of gear, and equip them to specific heroes. These different gear pieces have perks that can change how abilities interact. And some gear is even part of a set, which can give players a bonus when combined.
Like other gear games, loot is color coded — with gold “beyond Legendary” pieces offering the most unique properties. Loot is also specific to certain heroes — players will get drops for Iron Man gloves, which only he can use. Players will use various different currencies to unlock perks on their gear, encouraging a kind of investment in player loot.
Each hero also has his or her own suite of abilities, and multiple skill trees for upgrades. Heroes battle with light and heavy attacks, as well as special traits, like Iron Man’s missiles or Thor’s hammer. Players can upgrade combos in certain areas, to help build out their heroes. According to Crystal Dynamics, players have enough customization options to create unique hero builds. So while players can’t play duplicate heroes in a War Zone, the Thor your friend plays may have different strengths and weaknesses than the Thor you usually use.
Players can also customize their look in Marvel’s Avengers. But a hero’s gear does not affect their aesthetic. Instead, players can don different costumes, which work like skins in something like League of Legends. These are purely cosmetic and offer no power bonus.
There are two ways, that we know of, to earn these costumes. You can complete special story missions or in-game events, and you can purchase some costumes from an online store. Crystal Dynamics previously announced no loot boxes or pay-to-win items in Marvel’s Avengers, so these costumes will likely be direct purchases.
In terms of unique looks, we’ve seen tons of classic costumes for characters like Ms. Marvel, Grey Hulk for Hulk, and a variety of Iron Man suits taken from the comics.
Once Marvel’s Avengers arrives in September, players can dive into the game’s story and start improving their heroes. Crystal Dynamics plans to update the game regularly, with new heroes, regions, missions, and stories. All of this new content will be free — presumably supported by the costume marketplace.
In terms of what heroes they may add, the studio has already started to tease Hank Pym, better known as Ant-Man. In a special teaser trailer (shown above), we see Pym shrink a giant tank with some kind of shrink-ray cannon. It is possible Pym plays a role in the story and won’t actually don the Ant-Man suit, but he seems like the most likely first addition.
Head of creative at Marvel Games, Bill Rosemann, also responded to Hawkeye fans on Twitter, saying “we hear you ... and we love Clint too. Stay tuned, true believers.” Crystal Dynamics has also teased the in-game version of Captain Marvel, a hint that she may also come to the game. In its latest War Table stream, Crystal Dynamics mentioned plans to unveil their first post-launch hero soon.
Crystal Dynamics will launch Marvel’s Avengers on Sept. 4 for PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One. Console players who purchase the game on current-gen hardware can upgrade to the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X versions of the game for free later this year.