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Marvel’s Avengers Black Widow leveling and skills guide

Make the most of Marvel’s Avengers’ super spy

Image: Crystal Dynamics/Square Enix
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.

Black Widow is all about zipping around the arena in Marvel’s Avengers, dealing tons of damage and disappearing from fights. She also has a unique fighting style that’s is more reminiscent of action game stars like Dante from Devil May Cry than her fellow Avengers.

You don’t get to spend much time as Natasha in the Reassemble campaign. You’ll play as her for about half a mission, and then get the chance to pick her back up once you reach the Avengers Initiative. It’s hard to get a good idea how she works until you get to the endgame. But once you’re there, Agent Romanoff has some serious damage potential.

In this Marvel’s Avengers guide, we’ll teach you how to avoid some harsh lessons we’ve learned in our time as Black Widow. Here are some tips for leveling Black Widow, including how to use some of her abilities and which skills to pick up first.

Five quick tips for playing Black Widow

Here are some quick tips to set you up for success with Black Widow.

  • Mix in your guns. Add Black Widow’s melee to with her ranged attacks. Try finishing off a combo and then dumping some ammunition into your target before it can recover.
  • Why walk when you can zip? Black Widow’s parry ability is just a grappling hook, but you can use it for more than blocking. With practice, you can use this dodge to zip around to nearby enemies, starting a different fight every few seconds. And it sure beats walking.
  • Stay on the move to stay alive. Like Iron Man, Black Widow doesn’t have a ton of health. Don’t stand still, and use your grappling hook to get you out of bad situations.
  • Invisibility is the perfect revive tool. Black Widow’s invisibility lets you beat on bad guys who have no idea you’re there, but it also lets you stealth your way into reviving allies. You can basically turn yourself invisible and help your friends up before you enemies realize where you are.
  • Don’t worry about your Intrinsic bar. Black Widow’s Intrinsic bar, Shadow Ops, isn’t as immediately useful as it is for other heroes. When you fill it up, you’ll deal bonus damage. But you have to fill the entire bar without getting hit, and it moves very slow at first. As you level up, you’ll earn abilities that make it easier to get, but at the start, it’s OK if you feel like you’re rarely activating it.

10 best Black Widow skills

Image: Crystal Dynamics/Square Enix via Polygon

When you reach level 50 in Marvel’s Avengers, you’ll have unlocked your hero’s entire arsenal of abilities. But getting to 50 is a commitment, and there are some skills worth picking up as early as you can.

You can’t access most skills in the Mastery tree until you reach level 15 or 20, so you won’t be able to grab them immediately. Some skills also require prerequisite skills above them, so think of this as 10 skills to work toward. Acquire and use these skills early to help you get a real feel for your hero’s potential.

Baton Strike (Primary, Heavy Attack)

Rapidly press attack, attack, attack, attack, heavy attack to chain the light attack combo into a heavy combo finisher that slams into the ground and sends targets flying.

This combo is really effective and pretty stylish. It lets you deal a bunch of damage and breaks your enemy’s block.

Full-Auto Shot (Primary, Ranged Attack)

Extended magazines and full-auto trigger system allow for pistols to be fired at an extremely high rate. Hold aim then hold attack to shoot a continuous stream of bullets that decrease in accuracy over time.

Like Iron Man, pick up your bonus guns early, as they have different uses in different situations. Full-Auto Shot deals almost no damage, but it’s really great for stunning large groups of enemies, giving you more chances for Takedowns.

High-Caliber shot (Primary, Ranged Attack)

Dual Pistols are swapped out for a single, high-caliber pistol that has considerable stopping power. Hold aim and press attack to shoot.

The High-Caliber Shot does serious damage. It’s great for taking down enemies at a distance and for putting the final nail in your enemy’s coffin while battling up close.

Shadow Walker (Specialty, Support Heroic Ability)

Defeating enemies while Veil of Shadows is active will extend the duration of the ability by 1.2 seconds.

Sure, 1.2 seconds doesn’t sound like a lot, but smart use of your Veil of Shadows can help you stay invisible longer. And the more time you spend invisible as Black Widow, the more likely you are to survive. You also don’t have enemies attacking you, which means you’ll build up your Shadow Ops bar with decreased risk.

Shadow Gifts (Specialty, Support Heroic Ability)

Enemies defeated while Veil of Shadows is active have a 35% chance to drop Heroic Orbs.

Shadow Gifts plays nicely with Shadow Walker. The more enemies you defeat, the longer you’ll stay invisible, and the more likely you are to drop Heroic Orbs for yourself. Since Heroic Orbs recharge all of your abilities, that means you can potentially create a situation where you’re fully recharging your next invisibility while you’re invisible.

Wrist of Stingers (Specialty, Assault Heroic Ability)

Hold a second additional Widow’s Bite dart. Extra charges of the ability are shown as dots next to the Heroic meter.

Widow’s Bite has a lot of powerful upgrades. Prioritize upgrading the base ability to have multiple charges.

Superstatic Dart (Specialty, Assault Heroic Ability)

Increases the range of the electrical field generated by Widow’s Bite by 35%.

Widow’s Bite is a great stun ability that deals damage, staggers enemies, and keeps them shocked while inside. Increasing the range lets you basically fire it into a group of enemies and then attack while they’re getting shocked — and therefore not hitting you.

Paralyzing Bite (Specialty, Assault Heroic Ability)

Widow’s Bite inflicts 40% more stun damage, increasing the chance to stun enemies.

With so many charges of Widow’s Bite, you can use the bonus stun — and range when combined with Superstatic Dart — to perform Takedowns on multiple enemies in a group.

Heroic Takedown Mastery (Mastery, Utility, Takedown Specialization node)

Performing a Takedown spawns a Heroic Orb.

Most heroes have this ability, and it’s always worth picking up. Because Heroic Orbs grant you energy for all three of your abilities, they’re extremely valuable. This couples well with your super-stunning Widow’s Bite and desire to stay invisible all the time.

Invisible Stun (Mastery, Invisibility, Stealth Attack Specialization node)

Increases stun damage while invisible by 15%.

This ability finishes off our Heroic Orb heavy build. While you’re invisible, you can stun enemies faster, kill them to stay invisible longer, and spawn Heroic Orbs so you’re getting your next invisibility back. It works together wonderfully.

How to level and get gear

With your first character in Marvel’s Avengers, you’ll have a bunch of different quests to complete. They’ll point you in the right direction and net you some serious gear in addition to the mission rewards. But on your follow up characters, you have a bit more freedom on how to gear and level.

Most missions are usually good for one grind and not the other:

  • Hive missions and HARM Challenges net some serious XP, but there are very few chests inside, so you have to rely entirely on enemy drops for new loot.
  • Vault missions are easily the best gear grind, with plenty of chests to loot around each map and multiple chests in the final area. But you only fight a lot of enemies toward the end, so you won’t get a ton of XP.
  • Priority missions, which rotate weekly, usually offer a good mix of both. However, some of them require a pretty high Power Level, so you won’t be able to complete them all until later in your journey.

Focus on gear and Power Level over your Hero Level. We haven’t had a single case of getting to the soft cap of 130 before hitting level 50. Plenty of missions gate you by your Power Level, but nothing requires you to be level 50.

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