Avengers Review: A single-player game ruined by GaaS elements

Avengers is out now in early access, and Stevivor will continually update this review in progress as we work through each section of the game.

2 September 2020 — Straight off the bat, Avengers offers up a far stronger experience than in its beta. While we slammed Crystal Dynamics for painting Kamala Khan as a starstruck fangirl, the character is properly well-rounded in the retail release — her introduction at the start of the game is a near-perfect experience that not only defines her, but the famed superteam as well.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Avengers kicks off at A-Day, a monumentous event that not only celebrates the Avengers and their fans… but introduces a new source of power to the world too. Before you can question why a superteam is doing both of those things at once — “hey kids, come play around this experimental power source” — things go awry, Captain America dies and the Avengers disband. You start off at A-Day as Kamala Khan, and you pick up with her story years afterward too.

We’ve been playing Avengers as much as possible over the past day, and it’s best to summarise it so far as having amazing moments mixed in with tedium. There’s a lot of walking around — and that’s of the “down a linear path to complete a mission” variety and not even taking exploration for chests and resources into account — with an abdundance of filler missions padding things out as well. As Khan, you need to go and hit a switch and then punch cameras that have popped up because of the switch at one point, and I honestly can’t remember (or care) as to why.

The good bits so far really revolve around the introduction of each hero back into the team (including Khan), especially an adrenaline-filled romp as Tony Stark in an effort to reclaim some of his former glory. For the purposes of this review, we’ve stuck to the beaten path as much as possible, though we’ve indulged in a couple HARM missions as each of the heroes that Khan brings back into the Avengers’ fold. Wherever possible, we’ve stuck with the character (and cosmetics) suggested by the game, and already that’s causing cause for alarm: there are so many heroes to get through — with more coming — and the grind associated with powering up each is rather nausiating.

On the topic of loot: yuck. I’m sick of pausing while running down linear paths in order to pick up collectibles and open chests, and I’m sick of having to then enter the Gear menu to hold down LT to pick my highest-numbered equipment. This early in — nowhere near proper multiplayer action or endgame activities — I question dumping resources into anything to power it up, and I also note that so many resources are shared between all in your hero pool, again increasing the overall grind. In short, the loot system doesn’t work, at least, not this far.

All up, Avengers is turning out to be a pleasant surprise so far, a game with more narrative and heart than I expected thanks to a lacklustre beta. There’s till the sense that it’s trying to be and do far too many things, and time will tell if that proves true.

If you’re playing the early access bout of Avengers, feel free to comment on your experience below. Otherwise, head back for continued updates as we continue to put Crystal Dynamics’ latest through its paces.

3 September — One more day in, and the game’s campaign (or at least the lion’s share) has been completed. What started out strong certainly declined, with even more linear “run away from thing” or “run full speed at thing” sections rearing their ugly heads. All the while, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remark upon the multiple collision detection issues encountered. Or the times where, in performance mode, I kept falling through levels that hadn’t actually loaded in order for the game to keep running at 60 FPS. C’est la vie.

While still relatively strong, the campaign gets a bit generic and has some obvious flaws. A character you think will return does (shock! surprise!) and so much of the remaining narrative is then heaped upon that person you’re left wondering why they sat most of the game out. You’re then forced to play as this character for a large portion of the finale, and if you’ve been plowing through the campaign and not diverging into side-missions you’ll find them to be woefully underpowered.

Said character also spotlights some pretty forced level design that requires the addition of random anti-grav pads to make up for the fact that some of the Avengers can’t fly and that Crystal Dynamics has placed far too many objectives up in the sky. The pads are fine to use, but you’re left wondering why AIM would have conveniently placed them for our heroes to use.

Anyway, the campaign’s done and we’re heading full tilt into endgame. Stay tuned.

5 September — Unlike the film of the same name, Avengers‘ endgame is muddled, confusing and so far not very fun. I’ve ignored specific characters’ iconic missions and jumped straight into The Avengers Initiative, the missions purposefully designed to incorporate multiplayer action.

So far, I’ve been paired with players either ridiculously above or below me with respect to my character’s Power level — and I’ve been using Ms Marvel exclusively to get those numbers up (and also because she’s OP as hell). While our mismatched, matchmade team manages to get the job done, you’ll usually have to ID the player with the lowest Power level and make it a priority to stick close to them for revives.

The real problem with the endgame though is that there are so many systems, missions and the like going on without any real explanation of what you actually need to do. I was told to complete a mission chain by playing War Zones, though there’s not a single mission on the map actually called that (PSA: anything with “Zone” at the end of it is a War Zone). Once I figured that out, I was stuck for a long while on a SHIELD Cache, as I thought the strongboxes I was opening in each level were indeed just that. They’re not. You’ll need to run around a level until you get a radar ping pop-up on the left-hand side of your screen.

Avengers is also buggy as hell, at least on Xbox One. We’ve already brought to light that a large number of the game’s Achievements won’t unlock when earned, but I’ve found that something will go wrong with every second mission I play. Sometimes the game crashes. Sometimes, the screen goes black, with only UI elements remaining. Sometimes I just drop out of matchmaking. These problems usually happen 25 minutes into a 30-minute mission, which is frustrating beyond belief. Short, sharp 5-minute missions seem to run just fine, though you’re practically loading into and out of them longer than you’re actually playing them.

Stay tuned for final thoughts.

6 September — Avengers is a broken piece of garbage. I’ve literally just spent two hours playing any mission I needed to complete… and then simply any mission I could find on the map or via quickplay in multiplayer… and I can get right to the end of whatever I’m playing before the bosses fall through the map, out of reach. Restarting checkpoints doesn’t help. Restarting the Xbox doesn’t help. It’s simply broken. See here. Or here. Or here. Or here. Or…

I’m about done. Avengers would have been a great story-driven title but its Games as a Service elements completely destroy it. Steer well clear, at least until Achievements and progression are fixed. To date, Square and Crystal Dynamics haven’t even bothered to officially acknowledge the issues the game is facing. For shame.

16 September — A recent flurry of patches have made Avengers playable in single- and multiplayer, so we’ve made the decision to adjust our scoring accordingly. In the last three days, I’ve only fallen through the game’s world once and only had to restart a Hive from an existing checkpoint two times in order to continue progression. Achievements are largely fixed, though anyone who was playing ahead of corrections will have a mountain to climb before unlocking things they rightfully have already completed.

With three characters at Level 50 and one at Power 147, I’m ready for Avengers’ endgame, though there’s not one available as yet. While a multi-level Hive and something akin to a Dungeon were announced, they’ve yet to appear. To be honest, I’m not looking forward to more of the same, as Hives and their challenges — beat up enemies, beat up turbines, stand on a plate — get incredibly monotonous as it is. It’s also frustrating that in any level you’ll freeze in place when completing a final objective, meaning you miss out on any gear drops that’ve popped up as you’ve been fighting. They don’t go to the Avengers‘ equivalent of Destiny‘s Vault as reward for your effort.

With bugs largely corrected, our stance on the game is this: Avengers is two games — an incredibly competent single-player affair that’s been Frankensteined with a Games as a Service title that’s wholly underbaked. It’s repetitive, shallow, and could have been so much better. Moreover, first impressions matter, so Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix should have delivered the game we have now weeks ago.

5 out of 10

The good

  • A great single-player campaign.
  • When things are working, they work well.

The bad

  • Two games in one… and that’s a shame, because one’s pretty good and the other is garbage.


Avengers was reviewed using a promotional code on Xbox One, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.

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About the author

Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist for the past ten years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.