Marvel's Avengers: First hands-on preview from PAX West 2019

It's time to hit the ground for A-Day, as Shacknews goes hands-on with Marvel's Avengers for the first time from this year's PAX West.


What happens when Earth's Mightiest Heroes assemble, but aren't prepared for the threat at hand? What happens when the heroes fall short and ultimately fail? Can the world function without superheroes? What happens when the superheroic void is filled by something far more dangerous? That's the premise behind Marvel's Avengers, the long-awaited action game from Crystal Dynamics based on Marvel's top superhero team.

Prior to Gamescom, Square Enix released a more complete look at the prologue stage for Marvel's Avengers. They witnessed the full events of A-Day, which started out as a day of celebration and quickly became a day of infamy. It's one thing to watch, but it's another thing to personally jump into the game and get a first-hand look at how the upcoming game feels. Shacknews had an opportunity to do just that at this year's PAX West, going hands-on with Marvel's Avengers for the first time.

Marvel's Avengers - PAX West

Having grown accustomed to the third-person combat of Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider series, one would expect there to be a few similarities between that franchise and Marvel's Avengers. Visually, the two do strike a similar feel, specifically the third-person perspective and the size of the character models. That's where the commonalities end.

For the prologue mission, players will switch off between each of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. They'll all have their own specific skill set and area where they excel. Let's break them down one-by-one:

  • Thor: Asgard's God of Thunder proved to be the most fun of the bunch to control, able to string together long combos. He could also throw Mjolnir with the right shoulder trigger and call it back with the left shoulder trigger, offering the best take on the enchanted hammer in a video game yet.
  • Iron Man: Tony Stark's central feature is flight. Flight controls feel smooth, even if aiming and firing his repulsors can feel a bit inelegant sometimes. Iron Man's Unibeam can take out multiple enemies at once in one massive blast.
  • Hulk: As one might imagine, Hulk is the team's tank. He can absorb heavy damage, but can also traverse areas quickly with his powerful leaps. Using his heavy attack (mapped to Triangle on PS4) in mid-air, Hulk can nail an effective ground pound for crowd control. If you want to take out multiple enemies in front of you, you can use his massive thunder clap.
  • Captain America: The Sentinel of Liberty is a proficient fighter, with or without his shield. When his ultimate ability is at full charge, he can toss his shield at homed-in targets, bouncing off the walls in a scene reminiscent of his various MCU apperances.
  • Black Widow: Widow can fire at enemies from a distance, but can get up close and personal if she has to. In fact, if she's near an enemy, she can use her grappling skills to wrestle them to the ground and subdue them. She also has a stealth ability that allows her to go invisible, leaving undetected.
Marvel's Avengers - PAX West

It wouldn't be a superhero game if there wasn't an element of Batman: Arkham Asylum in place. And sure enough, Marvel's Avengers incorporates one key element of that pioneer title's combat, warning players when they're about to take an incoming hit. If there's an exclamation point that pops up, players can hit the dodge button to get out of the way and keep their combo going uninterrupted.

The A-Day prologue is where the playable portion of Marvel's Avengers ended, but that's certainly not where Crystal Dynamics plans to stop. Following A-Day, Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM) will have the nation under surveillance, prompting the Avengers to come out of hiding and reunite. They'll operate out of a dilapidated Helicarrier, which players can gradually restore as they complete missions. These missions range from Hero Missions, which focus on a specific hero and play out in a traditional campaign style, to Warzone Missions, which can be played with any hero and with up to three other players. All missions will move the overarching story forward.

Players can upgrade their heroes over the course of the game. Each character will have a detailed skill tree, one that looks similar to the one seen in 2018's Marvel's Spider-Man game. They can also find character-specific gear, which can offer different stat buffs and power increases. With differing rarities, the gear system looks like something very similar to Bungie's Destiny. And of course, there will be plenty of cosmetic outfits to find throughout the game. Crystal Dynamics will look to pull from 80 years of Marvel history, using iconic outfits from Marvel's comics, movies, and television. Example outfits include Iron Man's armor from the Original Sin comic storyline and the Hulk's Joe Fix-It pinstripe suit.

There are still a lot of details about Marvel's Avengers that are shrouded in mystery, including the additional heroes that will join the core five members. Crystal Dynamics will reveal more of those details in the months ahead, specifically noting that they'll reveal more about co-op play in early 2020.

Marvel's Avengers are preparing to continue their fight and assemble once more. Keep it on Shacknews for more details as they come in. Marvel's Avengers will release on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Google Stadia on May 15.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    September 1, 2019 6:00 AM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Marvel's Avengers: First hands-on preview from PAX West 2019

    • reply
      September 1, 2019 7:52 AM

      I'm having a hard time getting past the non actors playing the parts of the MCU characters. They have the same outfits and look but none of their facial likeness nor do they sound like them. It's very off-putting. Perhaps when I play the game it would wear off but damn if it doesn't bother me on the offset.

      • reply
        September 1, 2019 9:19 AM

        It bothers everyone lol

        At least the hands on previews so far have had positive reviews.

Hello, Meet Lola