Marvel’s Avengers just isn’t very good. It gave us all high expectations when it was revealed, but they slowly dwindled the more we saw about the game and heard about its live-service model. When it arrived, it still fell short of those much reduced expectations. That’s not the end of the world though – game development is bloody difficult, my boss even had a little cry when he tried to make a door. Avengers isn’t even all bad – the single-player half was decent, and hopefully set the tone for Guardians of the Galaxy’s own story mode. The most interesting thing about Marvel’s Avengers isn’t just that it’s a bad game, it’s that it finds new ways to be even worse.
The sheer diversity of fuck up on display in Marvel’s Avengers is what makes it so compelling. Take the two most recent stories coming out of the game. First, it launched a new set of steampunk skins, that feature no steam and don’t look very punk. That’s a bit silly, and is easy to laugh at when the game has already fallen down, shit itself, clambered back up, and slipped in its own shit – but ultimately, it’s harmless. A more recent news story saw the game back in the headlines for displaying streamers’ IP addresses to their viewers with no way to hide them. This was clearly a mistake, but it’s a pretty huge one, especially for a triple-A game that has been out for almost a year and is struggling to maintain an audience. It’s also substantially more harmful than a terrible steampunk Hulk, since it leaves streamers open to being doxxed.
Even away from the stories and the bona fide mistakes like the IP address snafu, the game just seems like it’s trying to fail. It’s like someone involved asked a monkey’s paw for the Avengers game to be ‘the most memorable video game of all time’ or something, and the wish is coming true in the worst possible way. The game launched with the standard MCU Avengers, minus Hawkeye but plus Ms Marvel. That’s a decent enough line-up, but my god, how did every single one of these iconic, charismatic, beloved characters feel like they had all the personality of tinfoil? These are big name characters with huge stars of the video game acting world behind them, yet I’ve seen more personality in Avengers porn knockoffs. I mean, um, I’ve never watched Avengers porn knockoffs, I just assume… I watched it for the articles! Moving on!
Anyway, while the game gives us pretty ropey versions of the characters, the characters themselves are what you’d expect from an Avengers game. We were promised Spider-Man would be coming soon after launch – a year later not only is Spider-Man still not here, we’ve barely heard about him. Leaving Spidey aside (as Square Enix has), this launch roster was followed by Hawkeye, but not the Clint Barton one, the Kate Bishop one. That’s a nice twist on having Hawkeye there, keeping the team the MCU fans know while also adding in a new character. However, Hawkeye was soon followed by… Hawkeye. That’s right, after giving us something a little different in Kate, the game immediately reverted to playing it safe with Clint Barton. Just… why? What does Hawkeye number two add to the game that the existing and fairly popular Hawkeye in residence lacks?
The silliest part about all this is that the second Hawkeye came out right when WandaVision was the biggest topic in pop culture. Even if the Avengers game doesn’t have the license to use Elizabeth Olsen or Paul Bettany’s likeness, or to use a WandaVision storyline, surely adding Wanda to the game right when she is the biggest star in the MCU is a better bet than another Hawkeye? I know the pandemic will have impacted development and caused a rejig in Disney’s release cycle, but there seems to be no rhyme or reason to it. Square Enix doesn’t need inside info from Disney, we know the entire Phase 4 release schedule right now. Some dates will change, sure, but you can at least plan for vague windows.
Disney has a Hailee Steinfeld-led Kate Bishop show coming out in a few months – while I think Kate was a decent lead off hitter, surely holding her back for Steinfeld’s debut would have brought in more of a crowd? And Square Enix has just announced its own Guardians of the Galaxy game – I understand the desire to keep the two things distant so Guardians isn’t tarred with the same brush, but it feels like even Guardians skins for the current roster could have helped with a bit of cross-promotion. Yelena Belova should really be in the game right now ahead of Florence Pugh’s debut as the character next month, but alas no. Maybe there’s an issue with getting rights for tie-ins, but that seems like a fundamental problem if the Avengers company won’t let you play with all of the Avengers toys when you’re making an Avengers game.
Then there’s Black Panther. He’s coming, eventually. Him and Spidey will be here any day now, just you watch. Spidey said he was going out for cigarettes but he’ll be back soon, and Black Panther will be with him. You’ll see! You’ll all see! Black Panther is slated to arrive in August, and if he does, that will be great – but I refuse to believe even for a moment that his arrival won’t either bring with it another huge fumble, be delayed, or both. I love Black Panther, and following Chadwick Boseman’s passing the character has become even more important as an icon, so it’s crucial that the game does him justice. Based on everything the game has done so far, I’m very nervous that it won’t be able to shoulder Boseman’s legacy.
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