Marvel's Avengers Comic-Con Panel Reveals New Gameplay, Story Details

Crystal Dynamics showed an updated gameplay demo of Marvel’s Avengers at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, providing a better sense of what the game will be like for players and revealing a little more about the game’s story.

Creative director Shaun Escayg ran down the entire game with a quick elevator pitch. “In Marvel’s Avengers, you get to play an original Avengers story, you get to customize your hero as you want, and you get to assemble online with your friends and play,” he said. The gameplay footage made that a little bit clearer, dividing the game between a story campaign and a cooperative portion. In the campaign, you’ll play as all the Avengers; co-op is where you’ll customize your Avengers character and play with friends.

The footage Crystal Dynamics showed is the prologue of the story campaign. In it, San Francisco is attacked on A-Day, a celebration during which the Avengers are preparing to open up a West Coast branch. An explosion during the battle ravages the city and kills Captain America, leading to a disbanding of the Avengers as they struggle with picking up the pieces in the aftermath.

The story sees players taking on the roles of each of the Avengers in turn. You start battling across the Golden Gate Bridge, brawling as Thor, before transitioning into flying and shooting as Iron Man, smashing as Hulk, and beating down boss character Taskmaster as Black Widow. The demo also featured a cameo of Kamala Khan, also known as Ms. Marvel, but it’s not clear how much of a role she’ll play in the story, or if she’ll be playable.

Kamala’s brief moment on screen teased a major potential plot point, however. The explosion on A-Day results from a reaction in an experimental Terrigen generator, which bathes the entire A-Day celebrator in Terrigen mists. That includes Kamala, who was prominently featured as she was knocked out and surrounded in the swirling green gas.

In Marvel’s comics, the Terrigen mist is the catalyst needed to create Inhumans, triggering the activation of hidden Inhuman genes in select people. The process tends to be traumatic, involving a monstrous cocoon-based metamorphosis that usually results in some very confused, very scared, newly empowered Inhumans coping with powers they can’t control or understand. Kamala undergoes the process and is transformed into Ms. Marvel in the comics.

It’s unclear whether or not Marvel’s Avengers will play up the Inhuman angle in the game’s story at large, but it certainly seems likely given the catastrophic events of A-Day and the growing distrust of superheroes that appears to be brewing in the world of the game. A sudden boom in the metahuman population would cause some significant unrest and tension, and an unavoidable conflict for the remaining Avengers to handle, regardless of public opinion. We also know more heroes than just the core Avengers will appear in the game, so we’d guess there’s more Ms. Marvel on the way, and it could pave the way for the likes of Medusa and Black Bolt, who were considered as the leaders of the Inhumans.

The story campaign footage appeared to be a more complete version of the Marvel’s Avengers hands-off demo we saw at E3 2019. As the story of A-Day unfolded, the player took on the role of each of the Avengers as they fought various minions of Taskmaster, each using a different set of signature moves and play styles. Thor’s moves channeled his thunder god abilities, allowing him to control and take down groups of enemies when he wasn’t pummeling individual goons with his hammer, Mjolnir. One move saw lightning blasting across the ground to nail a group of enemies, while another caught them in tiny tornadoes that lifted them off the ground and took them out of the fight. When the action switched to Iron Man, play changed to a much more range-focused style as Iron Man blasted away at guys individually, before laying waste to several with a shot from his Unibeam, which blew up the vehicles housing enemies.

Hulk, by contrast, used several aerial moves to come crashing back to earth like a meteor, sending people flying. He could also grab two enemies and smash them together, pick up and throw one tank at another, or rip through several enemies in front of him with his Sonic Clap. Cap, meanwhile, hucked his shield around quite a bit, with it bouncing around to take out several enemies at once. All the characters had a quick dodge move that briefly slowed time to let them get out of the way of danger or reposition to catch enemies from another angle.

Black Widow’s battle with Taskmaster took a page from games like God of War or Marvel’s Spider-Man, with the spy taking on the boss by herself. To start, Widow flung herself off a collapsing portion of the bridge to catch Taskmaster in the air as he rocketed around with a jetpack, pummeling him with punches as button prompts appeared to help her dodge obstacles and get hits in. When the pair finally landed, Widow had to avoid Taskmaster’s fast-moving attacks so she could find an opening to land attacks. Taskmaster’s photographic reflexes allow him to adapt to whomever he’s fighting, so Widow finished the fight by activating some active camouflage tech that turned her invisible. That allowed her to close the gap on the boss and hit him from behind. But as Black Widow mentioned after taking Taskmaster down, the whole fight felt like a distraction. When the Avengers reassembled a moment later, it became clear she was right. The team watched a SHIELD Helicarrier, where Captain America had been fighting, explode and crash into the San Francisco Bay–taking much of the city with it.

The footage also demonstrated some of the cooperative portion, where you can customize your own roster of Avengers. The panel included footage of skill trees for characters like Iron Man and Thor, allowing you to change their abilities and stats to fit your play style. You’ll also to be able to customize their appearances. The panel showed off quite a few different possibilities for each Avenger. The two most notable were a Mr. Fixit getup in which Hulk sports a suit and Fedora, and a Planet Skaar look that was heavy on animal skins.

Escayg said that you can take your customized versions of the Avengers into a co-op version of the game with friends, creating your own Avengers teams. He didn’t detail what exactly the co-op portion will entail, but brief footage showed Iron Man and Thor, controlled by different people, brawling against enemies.

There’s more Marvel news coming at Comic-Con beyond upcoming games like Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 and Marvel’s Avengers. Check out the full list of Marvel panels at the convention, and keep an eye on our Comic-Con hub for complete coverage throughout the week.

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