PAX AUS 2019: Hands-on with Marvel’s Avengers

It’s no secret that Marvel’s Avengers appearance at PAX Aus 2019 was one of the biggest, if not the biggest title on the show floor; so you just know we had to hit it up. My 20 minutes with Marvel’s Avengers was an eye opening experience to say the least, as I had shared some of the widely spread criticisms and concerns others shared for everything we had seen up until this point. Yes, each Avenger looked different enough from their film counterpart that some were annoyed, but Thor, my goodness, what did they do to you? He honestly looked like a default Nord from Skyrim. But our criticisms have been addressed, as Marvel’s Avengers stood up to the plate. It may not have hit a home run, but this is indeed a solid strike. Let’s dive in.

Before we get started, it’s worth noting that most of what we played was most of, if not all of what was shown in the recent A-Day gameplay trailer. The PAX demo begins with very much the same way, with the Avengers arriving for A-Day, a day of celebration dedicated to the success of the super team. A distant explosion on what seems to be the San Fransisco bridge alerts the Avengers, as both Iron Man and Thor fly over to check it out. Gameplay begins soon after, as players are given control of Thor. Enter God of War ‘Lite’. In addition to Thor’s traditional light and heavy attacks, Thor can also hover and throw the mighty Mjolnir, his mighty hammer which sends enemies flying well into the next post code. It’s pretty standard far at this point, but as the gameplay soon shifts to Iron Man as he flies overhead, control seamlessly shifts to Tony as you fly after your enemies, the on rails shooting mechanics do seems a bit bland if I’m honest, but as you land, you are soon treated to Iron Man’s full arsenal as you punch, shoot and blast your arc beam at surrounding foes. the variety here is impressive, but what’s more impressive is the way the game throws you into a new character using the same controls. As these two characters share similar abilities through their traversal techniques, you would be surprised as just how accessible the controls feel between characters.

Soon after, players are treated to their first look at the Hulk, as Bruce drops down to take care of the increasing enemy forces. From this small introduction to the character, I already feel as though they’ve hit the nail on the head, balancing aggressive combat with engaging traversal mechanics, as Hulk jumps between trucks and barrels his way forward. While the sense of power is at its peak here, I also like how small nuances have been added to make the character feel familiar, as enemies can be picked up and slammed like Loki was in the first Avengers film. It’s satisfying stuff. While the Hulk lacks any real ranged combat, the level design doesn’t really present you with any challenges from afar, which may change once the game opens up in later missions. The focus soon shifts to Captain America, who is responsible for the most satisfying hand-to-hand combat so far in the demo. Hits just feel heavy, and his hero ability utilises the shield by knocking out everyone in the room, which looks amazing in action. The only issue I had here was that this felt like the shortest portion of the demo, as I was left wanting more time with Cap.

You do however spend the most time with Black Widow as you take on the Taskmaster in the final confrontation of the demo. Things start of with Black Widow chasing Taskmaster through the skies, hanging off his jetpack, triggering some admittedly awkward yet infrequent quicktime events. Her gameplay is well balanced between ranged and close combat, with her dual pistols doing most of the damage at a distance. Close combat engages her dual batons, as the cinematic triggers force you to grapple and attack the Taskmaster at certain times in order to do the most damage. I felt as though Black Widow’s portion featured the most cinematic sequences, as the camera pans in during the fight’s more intense moments, as the battle ends with Black Widow activating her invisibility cloak as you circle the Taskmaster, knocking him senseless from behind. It is honesty impressive how cutscenes transition to and from gameplay, making everything seem natural in the process. But ultimately, the Avengers fail, as the Heli-Carrier is destroyed, taking half of the city with it.

An alternate trailer plays soon after your time is up, showing some of the customisation options along with the multiple tiers of missions that can be completed throughout single and multiplayer modes. However, it’s unfortunately too early to comment on these additions as I felt like we really didn’t get enough, but you check out the A-Day gameplay for yourself down below:

I’m certainly interested to dive back into Marvel’s Avengers when it hits shelves on 15 May 2020.

Matthew Arcari

Matthew Arcari is the games and technology editor at The AU Review. You can find him on Twitter at @sirchunkee, or at the Dagobah System, chilling with Luke and Yoda.