‘Avengers’ Journal: Wishlist for the Initiative

Not too long ago, I shared my experience with the single-player campaign of Marvel’s Avengers. Reassemble tells the story of Kamala Khan, as she reunites the Avengers five years after the A-Day incident. It is a surprisingly heartfelt and grounded coming-of-age story. Kamala becomes the emotional anchor for the team. Now that the campaign is over, we enter the Avengers Initiative. Here, I was able to explore what the game truly has to offer. We get quite a few missions teasing future storylines. There are even unique mission types like HIVE raids to add some variety. Sadly, live-service games have a certain reputation due to past experiences. Avengers isn’t innocent of sticking to those conventions. Yet, Crystal Dynamics has a chance to grow beyond those tropes. Here are some aspects that I believe will accomplish that goal. 

A Loot of Issues

So, the loot system isn’t great. It is used to level up the power of your character. Like classic RPGs, the stat changes are the focus. To put it in comparison, Destiny adds different visuals to gear. Yet, I have to confess that I didn’t care much for this aspect. When I finally found a design I liked, I had to replace it with something more powerful anyways. So, it was a bit pointless to me. When Avengers revealed the loot included different abilities based on Marvel’s history, I loved this approach. It gives you an incentive to find them with unique attributes to enhance your playstyle. Yet, at the end of the day, the gear is mainly just to upgrade your stats. You go through so many different versions that you can’t stick to a specific style throughout. I mean, you could if you are willing to grind it out for hours-on-end. Especially with the necessity of power levels for missions.

There’s a lack of incentive to invest time in grinding for gear. For some, it’s the design changes. There supposedly is Epic Gear in the game that does add some visual flourishes. I do believe that this addition would be enough to make it worth the time. It could be something small like Iron Man’s arc reactor glowing green if a Gamma-based gear is attached. This way it doesn’t affect the skins. Also, give people the chance to create or add effects to existing loot. Would love to see the tech lab add a new station. You can combine gear to create a new one. If you gather enough resources, you can even add your preferred effect to the weapon. Giving players a bit more freedom would also give them more of an incentive.

A Feeling of Déjà-vu

So, I am currently going through the endgame content. Taking my time to go through the character-specific missions and post-game content. I was excited when I finally unlocked my first HIVE raid mission. It felt like every time I was going through the story, I was opening up new aspects of the game. The only problem was that you start to realize a pattern between these missions. They commonly consist of multiple parts that are in a different order. You start by destroying an elite squad of A.I.M. goons. This is then followed by a hacking mission where you get bombarded in a small circular area. You might also have to protect three defecting A.I.M. scientists, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, or hunted Inhumans. I love the gameplay and the missions but it’s hard to deny that they tend to repeat. Just switching the order doesn’t make it less noticeable. Especially if you tend to retread familiar ground through recycled A.I.M. bases.

We know that we will get a lot more content when Kate Bishop is released next month. While I do believe it will great to have various content additions alongside new characters, I hope they don’t restrict themselves here. Hopefully, this game will see years of content to come. It doesn’t always have to be in the form of a new character or story mission. A concept like the Avengers lends itself to a major variety of possible conflict. It could be something as simple, as a mission getting interrupted by a brand new enemy type. Maybe HYDRA has returned and you end up in a conflict between them and A.I.M. that sets up a future storyline. Even just adding a new faction like former A.I.M. scientists that want to help you and formed after Black Widow’s unique story.

A Faction of Conflict

Factions are an interesting addition to the game. It’s something that was obviously inspired by Destiny. After taking on different objective types, you can rank up your connection to either S.H.I.E.L.D. or the Inhuman resistance led by Hank Pym. On paper, this is a great idea that gives you an incentive to replay missions. It even unlocks unique Villain Raids where you take down a boss you encountered in the main story. My only problem lies in the fact that you barely really get anything out of a Fraction rank up. You get some resources, maybe even unlock some collectible and you get access to more purchasable weapons. It doesn’t change much as you also have two available vendors. It sadly is just a bit underwhelming from what they could’ve done with this concept.

I hope they expand it with new factions, as the world continues to grow. Also, it opens up rivalries and unique story moments. Inhumans don’t trust A.I.M. scientists after the experiments. So what if a faction of A.I.M. defectors is founded. Supporting them ends up decreasing your alliance with the Inhuman faction. It isn’t until you solve a unique mission line that they learn to work together. Also, it lets your activities within the game have actual consequences. How about you can invest in the factions that see their outposts grow. Maybe the Ant Hill gets some upgrades. Crystal Dynamics could add some mini-games that are unique to the base. Players can win some free resources or credits. As of now, the only reason you need to visit the Ant Hill is to get the faction missions. It’s a shame that there isn’t much to them as of now.

A Chimera of Potential

I believe one aspect of this game has the biggest potential. The Helicarrier Chimara was a huge selling point for me. Just the idea of exploring your own Helicarrier was fun. I couldn’t wait to see it back in the air after resting in Utah. One of the best missions in the story was when the Helicarrier got attacked by A.I.M. Suddenly, everything you repaired throughout the story was gone. The S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and Inhumans that joined you vanished. It reflected the story’s narrative and was a great way to add something to the story. Now, in the post-game, the Chimera lost that charm a bit. You mainly use it as a hub for small interactions and accessing the War Table. Yet, there is so much more Crystal Dynamics could do with this concept.

Now that you have a base crew together to keep the Chimera flying. With a war with A.I.M. on the horizon, it is time to build up a team. Let our activities with the Factions allow us to recruit Inhumans or S.H.I.E.L.D. agents with different abilities. They can either act as support during missions or be sent out on their own to gather resources. You can build up an entire team that has their personalities as you talk to them on your flying battleship. Perhaps they even give you rewards if you regularly talk to them and build up their loyalty. Maybe some will become new vendors that specialize in specific gear like cryo or gamma. All that is up to your decisions throughout your journey. After a time, you can even customize and specialize your Helicarrier. Maybe you are more focused on mobility or firepower for your team’s missions. Invest some time to upgrade the Quinjets that let you call in for backup during a mission.

A Sign of Growth

I won’t deny that Avengers is a bit barebones as of now. Yet, the price of admission was worth it. The story and gameplay alone hooked me in. Thes ideas are just ways that could really make this game stand out. It would add so much more variety. This way. Plus, it would just offer some variety to the core gameplay that keeps you coming back. The game’s biggest issue is the lack of polish. Of course, the bugs are the most apparent issue alongside the rather high costs for the marketplace. With a lack of diversity in skins, there is no real incentive to buy anything especially at some of these prices. It’s also a waste for the marketplace not to be available in the actual Chimera. They could add a meta-joke with the CEO of Square-Enix as the vendor. It would be quite funny and similar to how he was a secret boss in Nier: Automata. The potential of the game is the whole reason I aim to keep up this journal. Hopefully, Crystal Dynamics will stick to it and we will have years of content to come. I’ll also be selfish and hope they actually implement some of the ideas I’ve mentioned here.

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