At E3 2019, Square Enix finally gave fans the first glimpses of the long-awaited Marvel's Avengers, formerly known as The Avengers Project). Announced in 2017 as part of a multiyear, multi-game deal, Avengers promises to deliver a cooperative cinematic experience for fans of Marvel's premier superhero team.
The story centers on Captain America, Black Widow, the Hulk, Thor and Iron Man as they reveal an experimental new energy source to the public while celebrating “Avengers Day” (or A-Day). A supervillain attack, used to frame the Avengers, causes widespread destruction and panic, taking the heroes' goodwill and, seemingly, Captain America with it. With the team dispersed and superheroes outlawed, the disassembled Avengers must pick up the pieces five years later to discover the truth behind the attack.
Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will definitely recognize this roster of Avengers, but the story within the game is touted as wholly original, and follows neither the comics nor the movies. That's evident in the character designs: While Black Widow and Iron Man are easily recognizable, Captain America and Thor have been redesigned by developer Crystal Dynamics. The thunder god sports hubcap-like designs on his Asgardian armor, whereas Cap resembles a riot cop.
The trailer shown at E3 primarily showcased the setup for the story, with much of its gameplay remaining a mystery. However, it's known Marvel's Avengers will be a third-person action/adventure title, and what gameplay was shown featured plenty of dazzling flying, laser and lightning blasting -- and, in the case of one character in particular, smashing. Much of this gameplay seemed to take place near the beginning of the game, on San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, featuring black-clad enemies seemingly led by Taskmaster. Captain America is also shown in the footage, making his potential death early in the game that much more cryptic.
Players can join up to three of their friends for online, four-player co-op. Square Enix plans to continue adding to the game post-launch through DLC. This will include new areas to play through, as well as new heroes and villains. All of this is promised to be freely available to players, not featuring any loot boxes or “play-to-win” elements that have plagued recent online games.
In terms of these additional characters, Hank Pym, a.k.a. Ant-Man, can be spotted in the trailer, and Taskmaster and The Abomination are also confirmed villains. Given that the rest of the “first wave” movie Avengers are playable, the (much-requested) appearance of Hawkeye would be an obvious addition. Although many have inquired as to the possibility of a shared universe with Insomniac's Marvel's Spider-Man, that title's exclusivity to PlayStation 4, and the different developer, makes such a connection unlikely.
The use of Terrigen, an energy source associated with Marvel's Inhumans, suggests those characters could be included. The devastating effect Terrigen has on the wider world within this universe is evocative of both the recent Marvel comic book storyline Inhumanity and the dark alternate-future story of Earth X. The framing of superheroes for destruction is also similar to the comic book and movie versions of Civil War.
The trailer also revealed the game is planned to be released on May 15, 2020, meaning Marvel's Avengers is more three years in the making. Along with being on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, the game is also releasing on the recently showcased Google Stadia. There's no word yet on a version for the Nintendo Switch, but it's unlikely because that system already has its own exclusive Marvel title in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3.
Players who preorder will receive access to the game's free beta release. PS4 owners have first access to this beta a week earlier than everyone else. Preordering at Best Buy earns players $10 reward credit if they are "My Best Buy" members. So far, only a standard edition of the game has been announced.
Marvel's Avengers will be released on Friday, May 15. 2020, by Square Enix for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Google Stadia and PC.