Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy looks like what Marvel's Avengers should have been

There's no 'games as a service' bloat here. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy looks to be all story, showing that Square Enix is learning from Marvel's Avengers.


Sunday was filled with dozens of game announcements. Among the reveals that got a massive amount of attention was Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, the latest effort from Square Enix and Eidos Montreal. There were some understandable eye rolls from some people in the gaming world upon hearing this announcement. After all, Marvel's Avengers has had major issues dating back to its own E3 reveal a few years ago. While Guardians of the Galaxy didn't have a perfect reveal, what Eidos Montreal is putting forward looks like it's the sort of game that Marvel's Avengers should have been.

One question I had in regards to Guardians of the Galaxy was how the team's five characters would play. Eidos Montreal answered this by explaining that players would only get to play one character. On the one hand, that's a bit deflating. There are five Guardians. Shouldn't this be a four or five-player multiplayer game? Not everybody's going to be excited about playing as Star-Lord, especially considering that he wasn't exactly people's favorite character coming out of Avengers: Infinity War. However, the explanation from Eidos Montreal was sufficiently satisfying.

"It felt like a natural fit to put players in the boots of Star-Lord," Eidos Montreal Senior Creative Director Jean-Francois Dugas explained on the Square Enix website. "He's always at the heart of the group and in the center of the action, getting to interact with characters that have such strong personalities and calling the shots for them in and out of combat... Or at least trying to!"

What that told me was that this wasn't a class-based multiplayer game, where players would have to learn multiple character builds. Better than that, it's not a game where I have to worry about matchmaking, navigating unstable servers, and finding friends for online missions that feel mostly the same. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is no "games as a service" multiplayer title. It's a single-player story that follows a singular main character.

It's Guardians of the Galaxy's sense of focus that I wish Marvel's Avengers had when it launched. Before going any further, I should clarify that statement. When Marvel's Avengers has a focus, it's at its absolute best. Even some of the game's biggest detractors will admit that the Marvel's Avengers story was one of its biggest highlights. The reason for that is because it was focused on one single narrative, it mainly followed a central character (Kamala Khan) who drove the plot, and there was satisfying growth and progression throughout the narrative that culminated with a gratifying conclusion.

Kamala Khan drove Marvel's Avengers' campaign and gave it a focus

It's too early to say whether Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy will have any kind of satisfying growth and progression or a gratifying conclusion. However, I can at least see that it won't have an ending that sets up the "games as a service" component. It won't be dependent on any sort of online ecosystem. Instead, it's a self-contained single-player story, which is exactly what Marvel's Avengers should have been. In the past, I derisively referred to Marvel's Avengers as "Marvel's Destiny," just because the ideas and the user interfaces looked so strikingly similar. It aimed to be a "looter shooter" and it was so much poorer because of that. If Marvel's Avengers had scrapped its "games as a service" component and had solely been that single-player story that followed Kamala Khan reassembling Earth's Mightiest Heroes, it probably wouldn't have been viewed with the level of scorn that it was.

If anything, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy focusing on solo play should be seen as a positive sign that Square Enix is aware of some of its past mistakes with the Marvel license. This could have easily been "Marvel's Avengers, Except In Space." It's not like the Guardians don't have a massive roster over the course of their history. It may not be as extensive as the Avengers' lineup, but there are enough cosmic heroes to fill an extensive Guardians DLC roster. That's not what's happening here. Star-Lord's arc is a one-and-done story, much like the Guardians' two Marvel Cinematic Universe outings. That's the sort of thing that Marvel fans should be ecstatic about, because it makes this less of a Destiny 2 and more of a Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

Those fans who had their doubts about Marvel's Avengers should go into Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy with a little less trepediation. It's not perfect, by any means. Star-Lord's signature vintage soundtracks is a cool idea, but it's going to be a DMCA nightmare for anybody either streaming or even looking to share on social media. In the end, though, there's a lot to be optimistic about with this game. Marvel's Avengers got the House of Ideas' collaboration with Square Enix off to a rocky start, but the Guardians of the Galaxy look ready to right the ship. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy comes to PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on October 26.

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?

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