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Iron Man punching a robot in Marvel’s Avengers Image: Crystal Dynamics/Square Enix

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Marvel’s Avengers’ grind is good, but what’s it all for?

Could the AIM Secret Lab be Marvel’s Avengers’ Vault of Glass?

Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

Since the launch of Marvel’s Avengers, I’ve put about 60-65 hours into the superhero loot game. I’ve completed the campaign twice — once on PlayStation 4, once on Windows PC — hit the gear soft cap with Thor, and completed all the postgame missions. I’ve had a great time so far, and I can’t wait to play more with another character. But all this time, and I’m still not sure what it’s all for.

Marvel’s Avengers is off to a promising start for a loot-based game. But while we know that raids are coming, it’s impossible to say if the game’s multiplayer is going to pay off after all my investment.

Gearing up

Ms. Marvel slams an enemy with a huge fist in Marvel’s Avengers
Leveling up my heroes always nets me a noticeable new trait.
Image: Crystal Dynamics/Square Enix

In Marvel’s Avengers, whenever I play the postgame, I load up, collect some minor side quests that I’ll complete naturally as I play, and dive into one of the game’s dozens of multiplayer-centric War Zone missions.

There are numerous types of War Zones. Some take just five minutes, while others can take 45. Some I stomp through without any worry, and others leave me struggling to survive. I spend most of my time as Thor. And while I can swap between the game’s six heroes between missions, it behooves me to stick with one until I’ve maxed them out, so I can complete more difficult assignments.

After every mission, I level up my Thor a little more, picking up new skills and customizing existing ones. Enemies drop loot — color-coded based on how powerful it is — and each new loot piece makes my Thor’s numbers go up. Each hero has their own unique loot and level, so while my Thor is nearly complete, my Ms. Marvel is still fairly weak.

Marvel’s Avengers does the gearing process right. When I get a new perk on Thor, I notice the improvement. And when I level up my low-level Captain America, I get instant gratification from my new skill.

But no matter how much fun I’m having leveling up my characters, is it meaningless if there’s nothing waiting for me at the end of it all?

What’s it all for?

a screenshot of Thor and his gear in Marvel’s Avengers
My Thor, fully kitted out and waiting for what’s coming.
Image: Crystal Dynamics/Square Enix via Polygon

Marvel’s Avengers developer Crystal Dynamics has already spoken — albeit cryptically — about some secret, postgame activities. In a now-deleted AMA prior to release, the developers revealed that the game will offer some kind of raid stand-in a few weeks after launch. During a War Table stream, they also spoke about the AIM Secret Lab activity, which doesn’t have a release date yet. It’s currently unclear if the AIM Secret Lab is the game’s first raid or a completely different mission type.

The endgame sounds interesting so far, with Crystal Dynamics saying it will only be on the weekends, only playable once a week, with a limited timer on the mission — suggesting that players will get kicked out if they can’t complete it in time. There is also exclusive gear for players to earn from some of these activities, and unique mechanics only found in the Secret Lab mission. There are also data mines that suggest another raid set in Wakanda, meaning that players will eventually have more than one late-game activity to keep them busy.

While all that new raid information is exciting, I’m still worried that upgrading my gear is a waste of time — and a good endgame mission is the only thing that can alleviate that worry. Late-game activities like raids can make or break a game like this.

The Vault of Glass raid arguably saved the entire Destiny franchise a week after launch, giving players a look at what the game would eventually become. Destiny launched in a pretty rough state, and many gave up before hitting the endgame. But those who kept going and played the first raid discovered something special — a kind of co-op experience that console players had never seen before. Will Marvel’s Avengers get its own Vault of Glass? Or will it get an activity not worth the grind it took to be able to participate in it?

The first Incursion for The Division launched as a massive disappointment. Players expected a raid, The Division’s very own Vault of Glass. But it turned out to be a single, disappointing boss fight against an APC. The Incursions improved over time, but that first, bad late-game experience killed a lot of momentum for an otherwise promising loot game — something that developer Ubisoft Massive had to work hard to regain over the years, partly by eventually adding true raids in The Division 2.

Marvel’s Avengers has arguably cleared the biggest hurdle: The grind is already fun. I’ll likely put another 60 hours into the game leveling up the rest of my characters, just like I did in my golden days of World of Warcraft. But whether Marvel’s Avengers has legs, and brings me back whenever it has a new update, depends entirely on the quality of this first endgame experience.


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