Marvel's Avengers was one of the most talked about games coming out of this year's E3. The collaboration between Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics seeks to give fans a whole new version of the Marvel Universe to explore. It will also give players around the world the chance to work together and form their own Avengers team to protect the planet.
CBR got an extended look at the game at E3, as well as an exclusive interview with Crystal Dynamics' Creative Director, Noah Hughes, about the similarities (and differences) between the game and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, how they made sure players will have a unique experience and who his personal favorite characters to play are.
The story campaign of Marvel's Avengers opens with a tragedy known as "A-Day." While celebrating in San Francisco, a massive attack leads to the destruction of the city and the apparent death of Captain America. And while the story immediately sets itself apart in many ways, many fans also noticed that it bears a surprising resemblance to Avengers: Endgame. After all, this is a team shattered after suffering a devastating loss and a five year time skip. But according to Hughes, any similarity was completely coincidental.
"This is an original story for us, so [the time-skip] was a part of our story all along," he said. "It's always fun, in movies and comic books, to see parallels, and the campaign certainly takes inspiration from comics and movie favorites of all kinds. We had close collaboration with Marvel Vice President and Creative Director of Marvel Games Bill Roseman, and the whole group down there have been so great. But as much as there are individual parallels, this is very much its own experience. We wanted to feature things fans would know and love, whether it's from the MCU or the comics, but we also wanted to surprise them with things they hadn't necessarily seen.
"One of the things we liked about in the A-Day event was that it made sense for the Avengers to expand their footprint in this world; and yet, there's a feeling, after the catastrophe, that the Avengers are put in check. The world blaming them for that event essentially puts its people in a situation where they think heroes are the problem... until they find themselves in a world where they need the Avengers the most. This isn't the beginning of the Avengers story, but it puts the team in a state where they need the player to bring them back together. And I think that was the most important part of this story construct: that call to reassemble."
According to Hughes, and confirmed by the footage shown at E3, the game will launch with five playable characters -- Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk and Black Widow -- each of whom will come with his or her own unique play style and skill set. But each player will be able to tweak their own version of the character to make them unique. "One of the things the story campaign does," he explained, "introduces you to these heroes and takes you on this journey where you feel personally invested into where they are in their arc. But one of the things we're really excited about is that you can make that roster your own."
"The key way players will be able to do that is skill trees. As you level up these characters, you'll be able to choose between various combat or traversal abilities. In addition to that, you can earn gear and unlock elements that allow you even more customization beyond the skill choices. And that's where you get an even deeper sense of personalization because you can have gear that none of your friends have, that no one in your party has. The third layer is visual customization. The outfits aren't necessarily defined by the gear equipment, so the players can choose what the characters look like, based on what they've unlocked."
When prompted about the foundations of his own team, Hughes revealed with a chuckle that, "Lately, Black Widow is my favorite, but I generally use Hulk a little therapeutically. On certain days, just smashing stuff is the most fun thing to do." But of course, this is The Avengers, which historically has a roster that fluctuates with great regularity on-screen and in the comics. That will be true of this playable version, as well.
The released footage teased the arrival of other heroes, notably adventurer-scientist Hank Pym, aka the original Ant-Man. Although the cast will reportedly grow the longer the game is out, Hughes couldn't reveal too much about the future roster changes. "We have no further announcements, unfortunately. But we do have more in the game. What I will say is that the world is large, so we'll encounter villains and friends and heroes who are both playable and non-playable."
When prompted about Hawkeye (who was notably missing from the trailer, much to the consternation of many fans), Hughes laughed and said, "I assure you, we didn't forget about Hawkeye. We have plenty of roster and hero reveals down the road."
Featuring Nolan North as Iron Man, Troy Baker as Bruce Banner, Laura Bailey as Black Widow, Jeff Schine as Captain America and Travis Willingham as Thor, Marvel's Avengers, developed by Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal and published by Square, will be released May 15, 2020 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Google Stadia.