Marvel’s Avengers Review (Xbox One)


Marvel’s Avengers Review (XBOX One)

Marvel’s Avengers is here!

I remember when the “Avengers Project” announcement trailer dropped on YouTube in 2017 to mass excitement. Crystal Dynamics rebooted the Tomb Raider series, breathing new life into the title with impressive narrative skills. Once they were announced as the team pursuing this project, I was all in! Fast-forward to the MCU’s Infinity Saga coming to an end – it was nothing short of time to capitalize on the money-making giants that are the Avengers.

With Marvel’s Avengers in our hands, Crystal Dynamic’s dive into the Marvel Universe’s limitless potential has been rife with longevity issues. There’s promise, but potentially great games fail on promise alone. The game keeps me curious about its future so stick with me as I go over the good and the bad!

The Campaign: Ms. Marvel, front-and-center

Marvel’s Avengers is a tale about the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D., and one young woman’s hand in rebuilding both for a world in desperate need of the Avengers. At its core, it’s a tale about the accountability – or lack thereof – that our Heroes live by, and it asks the interesting question, “Are the Avengers dangerous?” Sure, we’ve been presented with this plot before, but it’s done equally well here.

The Avengers use “Avengers Day” to reveal a new Headquarters in San Francisco. Avengers Day, or “A-Day,” is a celebration that takes place aboard a festively decorated Helicarrier called the Chimera, powered by an energy source called Terrigen. It’s their prerogative to make it a massive event for citizens because that’s what the Avengers do, no doubt with excessive nudging from Tony Stark.

Marvel's Avengers Kamala Khan
Credit: Square-Enix

You attend this event as the young and eager Kamala Khan, a massive fan of the Avengers, and the future Ms. Marvel. When I say massive fan, I’m talking fan-fiction writing level of fan; She enters her “Avengers versus the Evil Sewer Lizards” story for best fan fiction! This is a trait taken directly from her comic counterpart, and it’s why she is the perfect candidate to experience A-Day through. We relate to her wonder, her frantic energy, and her fearlessness when standing up for herself, and it translates well! It’s a mystery why Crystal Dynamics didn’t promote her character more when marketing this game.

Once everything falls into disarray, you take control of the Avengers one-by-one in what should be a pulse-pounding introduction to the combat system. Admittedly, I played this intro in the beta, and it was lackluster due to the linearity of the environment. There’s also a QTE sequence that sucked out all thrill from the moment. That aside, it’s an effective scene to kick off the narrative and eventually introduce us to A.I.M.


A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) has long been a villainous organization in the Marvel Universe. With a network of brilliant scientists, A.I.M. dedicates themselves to developing power through technological means for global domination. The organization has been adapted many times, including a largely inaccurate film debut in Iron Man 3. Marvel’s Avengers brings them front-and-center as a credible threat.

The conflict against A.I.M. spans the entirety of the story, of course, but does give you room to breathe and get to know the characters. Watching our heroes struggle with their hand in disassembling the Avengers while Kamala attempts to convince them to work together is engrossing! Their inability to come together imperils them against a callous A.I.M., making every step toward their reformation difficult but rewarding.

Marvel’s Avengers and Marvel Knowledge

A vibrant cast of villains will be employed by A.I.M. I can’t help but hype myself when Superheroes and Supervillains with long-standing rivalries will be thrown into the mix. I haven’t read Marvel comics in a long time, but these characters are established to me. Simply knowing about the involvement of villains such as Emil Blonsky (Abomination) had me waiting with bated breath for an encounter with him as Hulk.

My enthusiasm is the rub, though.

If you’re not an avid fan of Marvel or the MCU, any connective tissue or Easter Eggs will be meaningless. Generations of history are at Crystal Dynamic’s disposal, but some may feel left out without any knowledge of the Marvel Universe. That may make the adventure into Marvel’s Avengers less exciting for casual fans, but don’t let that deter you. There’s plenty to catch your interest.

The Avengers Initiative (Multiplayer)

Marvel's Avengers Quinjet
Credit: Square-Enix

Multiplayer missions are stunning examples of how a brawler can produce hours of fun. Playing in a group of four as the Avengers is nothing short of thrilling. Inconsequential distractions when you’re playing with horrible A.I. bots are elevated to epic bouts once you’re in a full Strike Team. It never got old unleashing their terrific abilities to aid one another in combat. Too bad matchmaking takes up a lot of time between these moments.

If you don’t have your own Strike Team, Marvel’s Avengers puts you at the mercy of the matchmaking system. Bring friends or prepare to stare at the screen as it searches for players. Adding in a difficulty selection further confuses the process. I’ve queued up for higher difficulty missions, only to have lower level players join (meaning I can’t start the mission), or the difficulty drops back down automatically.

For a video game touting a live-service, I expected the illusion of community to expand beyond a multiplayer lobby. Those were the only moments you were side-by-side with other players outside of combat. Everything else feels uninhabited, with a constant impression that the Avengers Initiative is tacked on.


Now, this is where the game really shines. Combat is an absolute treat! I wasn’t even scratching the surface of the combat system while progressing through the campaign. That’s because you’ll barely advance through the skill system by the time the credits roll for the story. This gave me the idea that I was dealing with a simple button masher. Once starting the Avenger’s Initiative, I started to see just how diverse those trees can make your character.

I fully expected each Avenger to carry out every action with near-identical animations, with their differences tied only to special abilities. Instead, I found each Avenger created individually as if thrown into different systems powered by the same graphical engine.

Marvel's Avengers Combat
Credit: Square-Enix

The Technical Side

Survivability is tied to your HP bar. Once that’s depleted, you’re downed and must wait for a teammate to stand near you for a revival. There’s no holding a button to bring you back up. There’s a heroic meter for each of your abilities that increases through combat, acting like a cooldown meter. Each Avengers has a specialty meter, such as Hulk’s Rage and Thor’s Overcharge, that adds to their uniqueness.

You have standard light, heavy and aerial attacks. Some of the characters have parrying mechanics or the ability to vault over enemies for others – the execution of the vault needs work. There’s also a skill tree system that further enhances your combat abilities, giving you control over how your Avengers grow. There’s still a button masher element to it all, but there were many moments where I genuinely felt I was using the mechanics as expected. I was getting good at the game!

Various things done in the game will earn massive amounts of experience, pushing you toward the character level cap of 50. There happens to be another leveling mechanic tied directly to your gear called a Power Level, capped at 150. If you’re familiar with Destiny’s Light Level, you know how this works. I will talk more about this once I get into the loot.

Mission Design

Launching your missions is done from the War Table, where you’ll often communicate with the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Maria Hill. A sense of immersion should come from the S.H.I.E.L.D. surveillance network screen that shows up, but it’s your standard Mission Select screen. Here, you choose from six initially available regions and may also visit the game’s Outposts. All Outposts are functionally the same in their vendor offerings, providing equipment and resources, as well as giving quests to fill your day.

The multiplayer missions are wholly designed after operations you’ve completed in the campaign. Map designs are reused, expanded upon through side quests such as rescuing allies or finding chests during your missions. I was suddenly thrown back to that same bitter discovery once experiencing Dragon Age 2’s map design. While not as dismal a selection as DA2, there’s much to be desired for the game’s locations.

Mission Design

Launching your missions is done from the War Table, where you’ll often communicate with the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Maria Hill. A sense of immersion should come from the S.H.I.E.L.D. surveillance network screen that shows up, but it’s your standard Mission Select screen. Here, you choose from six initially available regions and may also visit the game’s Outposts. All Outposts are functionally the same in their vendor offerings, providing equipment and resources, as well as giving quests to fill your day.

The multiplayer missions are wholly designed after operations you’ve completed in the campaign. Map designs are reused, expanded upon through side quests such as rescuing allies or finding chests during your missions. I was suddenly thrown back to that same bitter discovery once experiencing Dragon Age 2’s map design. While not as dismal a selection as DA2, there’s much to be desired for the game’s locations.

Welcome to the S.H.I.E.L.D. Surveillance Network

The Game Modes

Drops Zones

Marvel’s Avengers has the classic objective-based missions you’d find in numerous video games; Conquest style point holding, destroying certain key pieces of an environment, eliminating all elite targets, with more promised.

Iconic Missions

I go for the more narrative-focused Iconic Missions that provide a side-story for your chosen Hero. I feel these should have been plentiful rather than reduced to one quest chain. It would capitalize on the single-player experience if we get this kind of content rather than the usual serving.

Priority Missions

There are Priority Missions, weeklies you can complete to earn unique gear. The catch is they have special modifiers to make the mission more difficult, with the occasional blessing thrown your way, such as increased shock or cyro damage from the player. As there is an array of different effects, gear choices matter in the greater difficulties. Don’t let this fool you; These Priority Missions are from a pool of content you’ve already dominated.

Villain Sectors

Villain Sectors chain objectives together and eventually lead to a boss battle, with different ones featured each day. I was excited to repeat these battles until I realized I’m fighting only two of the game’s iconic bosses on the same rooftop. But wait! To give you a break from those two, the next day, you may very well be able to repeat battles against two giant A.I.M. Robots! On the bright side, you get a break from that rooftop view.

H.A.R.M. Challenges

H.A.R.M. (Holographic Augmented Reality Machine) is a virtual training room.

H.A.R.M. challenges are Marvel’s Avengers wave combat modes. You’re against 10 waves of pre-determined enemies with increasing difficulty as you move forward. The more difficult version of H.A.R.M. challenges (Priority H.A.R.M.) brings you back to the H.A.R.M. room with a few twists. Game-changing modifiers stack to shift the odds as you battle through an arena strewn with environmental hazards you became accustomed to through the Campaign. A larger number of enemies boosts the challenge.


Vaults and Elite Vaults changed it up enough to renew the excitement. Thrown into a mission zone, you must search for a hidden S.H.I.E.L.D. Vault. Once inside, your objective is to secure the vault by defending the point from enemies while you and your team initiate other points to input a combination. Once you’ve done this three times, the vault opens for you to collect your rewards. That’s it for this mode and does not differ between regions. On to the next one!


Once introduced to the game’s H.I.V.E.S, I thought things were going to turn around! Hives are A.I.M. strongholds you must discover in the world, and then work your way through a marathon of missions to disable them. With the promise of teaming up with up to three other players to try to survive five or more floors of content, I must have found the endgame content I was starving for!

It’s higher-level content, proportionally higher than the rest and the reason for the Power Level grind, but it falls flat because it offers nothing new. Elite Hives offer more daunting modifiers and enemies but are no different.

Mega H.I.V.E.

The Mega Hive is solo endgame content and appears as the only guaranteed source of exotic gear. It is a gauntlet of eight missions, with each having six rotating objectives. I’ve gone as far as the third mission and I couldn’t tell whether or not the mission types were varied at all.

I haven’t finished a Mega Hive and I’m doubtful I will.

Mega Hives switch up the formula in that once your selected hero goes down, you switch to another. A mechanic like that pushes you toward leveling up every character, but I was never down as Thor. Therefore, I never felt the need to prepare the other Avengers for the task. It’s a lot of repetition to face alone, so I can’t tell you if the exotics are worth it.

Elite Heroic Hive

The Elite Heroic Hive, what I thought would be a multiplayer extravaganza, was another single-player mode. I don’t know why they highlight solo content locked behind a Power Level. I’ll explain that once I get to talking about loot.

Tachyon Rifts

A higher Power Level (140+) cooperative mode that recycles Iconic Missions. However, you take constant damage and you’re on a timer. You’re able to increase your timer by interacting with temporal anomalies that appear at random across the map. Your only benefit is that your Heroic energy generation is rises, so unleash those special abilities!

More to come… for free!

Crystal Dynamics wants to release new content to the masses for free. All it will cost is the time to download a patch, of course.

The Loot!

Marvel’s Avengers is a loot-based game and I’m a sucker for them, but it’s a chore in the live-service realm. You see, it’s not that there’s a lack of loot variety. It’s that we’re tasked with chasing hundreds of pieces of gear through repetitive missions to increase our Power Level. It’s a distinct stat from your basic character level that determines what content you can undertake. This simplified loot into a number that needs to be replaced.

In the image below, you will see the number 28 above Power. That’s the number you’re looking to increase.

Marvel's Avengers Ms. Marvel's Gear
Screenshot via Worn Out Gaming

There are Rare (Blue), Epic (Purple), Legendary (Gold), and Exotic (Red) class gear, but those classifications only gave me pause for a moment. I didn’t pay attention to stat boosts or losses or what special perks I was missing. It came down to me holding Y to discard my items like a quick-time-event. There’s a reason to dump your old items like that, and that’s replenishing the resources you shouldn’t spend until later.

There are also Artifacts with more bountiful perks and additional functions added to LS and RS. Minor Artifacts factor into your power level while Major Artifacts add a flat power bonus. These can turn the tide in any battle, should you find difficulty. I liked their inclusion, especially because they are so wildly different from one another.

The Graphics

The graphics for this game struck me as beautiful at first. They still do, often. The longer I played, the more I began to realize everything looks too clean and glossy. Environments are not all that inspirational, apart from a few iconic mission sites that are memorable. There didn’t seem to be much originality and imagination between locations.

The Avengers themselves sport greater detail, but closer inspection reveals flat textures with the impression of detail for certain clothing pieces. However, when I can see the veins in Hulk’s neck pulsating as he roars, I have to give some level of praise. You can see the imperfections of their skin, which lends to the touch of realism for their appearance. On the other hand, the characters retain their unscathed look through battle. I would have liked some change in appearance to reflect the wealth of damage I take through each mission.

The game’s surroundings could be more interactive, with stationary objects capable of moving. Inanimate objects that should have movement are stiff, and items that should roll around stay in place.

The Voice Acting

Crystal Dynamics chose a great cast to bring the Avengers to life. There are some fan-favorite voice actors. From Nolan North as Iron Man to Laura Bailey as Black Widow, the talent pool isn’t lacking. Lesser known to me was Sandra Saad as Kamala Khan, but her performance was great! Even NPCs deliver their lines well enough. Let’s make no mistake – They are still NPCs, which brings me to my next point.

Audio glitches had me wishing there was a way to mute the NPCs. I’d often go to the Outposts to pick up my daily quests. After I communicated with the necessary vendor, I heard the same voice-lines one after the other, less than a few seconds apart, other times overlapping into a mess of word-vomit. This is so disrespectfully, though sometimes amusingly, annoying that I must classify this as a bug.


Marvel’s Avengers, like many games, has its own currency called Credits. Credits cost real-world money and allow you to purchase cosmetics for the Avengers. None of these items give a gameplay advantage. It’s the gameplay that will naturally nab you most of these, though.

I suspect many people will be saving their hard-earned cash for Hero Challenge Cards.

Hero Challenge Cards

Hero Challenge Cards are battle passes, no way around it. They allow you to gain extra resources, emotes, nameplates, and most exciting – the alternate outfits. All of this is done by completing dailies and weeklies tied to each character. All six available Avengers have their premium content challenges unlocked and ready for you to earn.

Marvel's Avengers Hero Challenge Card
Screenshot via Worn Out Gaming

There are 40 tiers of free rewards to unlock. For those who choose to pay for the post-launch Challenge Cards, you’ll gain access to the premium rewards and accumulate enough credits to purchase another pass. If you’re happy to level everyone individually, you’d have to make a single 1000 credit purchase.

There’s no ‘season change’, so hero card progress doesn’t disappear. You can coast through the Challenge Cards at your own pace and never sweat missing out on something in-game.

Every post-launch character will be free. In fact, new campaign content, war zones, and regions will be entirely free. I expected Crystal Dynamics to tie each character behind a paywall and extra content behind paid DLC, so it’s a relief not to feel robbed.

If you’re going to do a battle pass, this is how you execute it. When battle passes become a chore, I stop completing them.

Ms. Marvel’s Cosmetics

The Glitches

Marvel’s Avengers has come a long way from when it was first released, fixing many of the problems that plagued it at launch. I shudder to think of a time when enemies would sink through the bottom of the map, requiring me to restart the checkpoint. This was especially frustrating for any mode that requires you to ascend/descend floors.

Before the update, here’s what happened to me during one session of multiplayer: When activating the elevator to move on to the next floor, the game separated us from another player, so we had to restart the checkpoint. As we returned, I performed a heavy attack on an enemy, and I (as Thor) sank into the bottom of the map. This caused me to take near-fatal damage, but I was returned without a reload. A teammate was down shortly thereafter and was stuck in the ground, even after we revived him. After another checkpoint reload, we were told to “Defeat the enemy squad,” yet they never spawned. I shut my Xbox One off.

Since update 1.3.3, I haven’t faced these issues, but that was a disheartening experience that I had to talk about. Where glitches are concerned, the team at Crystal Dynamics is hard at work tackling hundreds of problems that we players have been very vocal about.

This is a growing game, and I’m going to come back to watch its development.

In Conclusion

The Campaign is where Marvel’s Avengers shines. Crystal Dynamics set out to create a world that will grow over the next 10 years with a massive amount of content, including storyline DLC. Even if the core story is a plain Superhero tale, the characters each have heart and complexity that I look for if I’m going to spend a lot of time with them. The care that went into crafting the six heroes available guarantees their commitment to the characters who will join us down the road.

Multiplayer offers hours of fun, but the repetitiveness gets distracting. There’s not enough multiplayer content to really dig our teeth into, leaving us underwhelmed once at the endgame. Additional content won’t rectify this unless it is a gigantic content dump. With the next-gen versions pushed back to 2021, it’s possible we just might be getting something special.

This is a growing game, and I’m going to come back to watch its development. There are a few games that bomb right out of the gate, only to rework to critical acclaim. What comes to mind immediately are The Elder Scrolls: Online, Final Fantasy XIV, and because of the similarities, Destiny. Whatever the plan is going forward, the number of players is dwindling, and I hope they manage to turn Marvel’s Avengers around.

I’m giving it 3 stars!

Interested in what I think could help Marvel’s Avengers turn around? Please read my article: Why Marvel’s Avengers needs the Multiverse!

Have you been enjoying Marvel’s Avengers? No matter where you lean, let me know in the comments!

[penci_review id=”2805″]