The release of Marvel’s Avengers is so close we can almost hear the sound of Iron Man’s repulsors screaming past our heads. Following a disastrous attack by a covert band of mercenaries led by Taskmaster on the Golden Gate Bridge during the opening ceremonies for the Avengers’ new headquarters in San Francisco, the team’s Terrigen-powered Helicarrier explodes – decimating the city.
With the team blamed for the thousands of deaths, including one of their own, they disband. Years later, a clever, plucky new Inhuman shows up with suspicions of a conspiracy behind the incident and attempts to reunite the team. But with such a versatile squad of Super Heroes comes a number of different combat styles.
Farewell, Cap, we barely knew you. Unfortunately, Super-soldier Steve Rogers is the unexpected casualty of the San Francisco incident, known as A-Day. Fear not true believers, players will still get to wield the shield as the Star-Spangled Man for (at least) the introduction to the game.
Whether he returns later on in the story remains to be seen… But this is a version of Steve who’s mastered his heightened abilities, with players being able to use wall-running and double jumps to manoeuvre their way through the battlefield. But of course, his iconic shield is his primary weapon – boasting ranged attacks that also work like combos. One of them is his impressive kickback ability.
Players can use his charged throw to hit a chain of enemies, but if you get the timing right Cap can kick the shield back out and it’ll hurtle back at the targeted enemies once again.
After the devastating A-Day incident, Tony Stark leaves his vast fortune and technology behind before Kamala Khan convinces him to don the Iron Man suit once again years later. In his absence, the nefarious organisation Advanced Idea Mechanics, also known as AIM, have become a global military force, as Super Heroes have become outlawed.
But once Stark starts using his huge array of armours, players can use the flight system to attack enemies from all angles. His classic repulsors alongside missiles mean his armour lets players utilise a combination of ranged moves and melee attacks that can change depending on if they’re in the air or on the ground.
Also, all of Iron Man’s weapons can be used regardless of if players are hovering, or using his ‘sprint flight’. But what about a grand finale? Well, his heavy combo finisher fires a ‘Pinning Missile’, which grabs a targeted enemy before hurling them through the air and sending them flying. Nice.
The game finds the God of Thunder riddled with guilt after San Francisco was decimated, and he turns to serve the people of Midgard in other ways. But when he returns to action, players are going to have a lot of fun combining his legendary hammer Mjolnir with his Odinforce ability.
By triggering the Odinforce, players can electrocute themselves (in a good way?), which instantly has a different impact on every enemy. It’s not simply lightning damage either, it completely modifies every attack.
Mjolnir also comes with pretty unique attacks and can be used to target multiple enemies in a chain or even thrown like a grenade. Although, instead of shrapnel, throwing Mjolnir causes a lightning-based explosion. Queue up your favourite classic rock tune on your playlist and live out all your Mjolnir-action fantasies!
In the A-Day aftermath, Hulk questions the role of Super Heroes in the world and is reluctant to revert back into Bruce Banner as he goes into a self-imposed exile. This new version of the Big Green adds some incredible powers to his skill set that will make any player a weapon of mass destruction.
Hulk can rip chunks out of the ground and radiate them with the gamma energy that courses through his body. If you’re in a rush you can throw this chunk at enemies, or – if you want to be flamboyant about it – you can dive-bomb off a high point in the map while holding the debris and can cause an incredible amount of damage.
The developers aimed to bring the unpredictability of the Hulk to life and it seems like they’ve mastered it. He can even pick enemies up to use them as weapons, bashing them together or throwing them at other opponents. So, contrary to popular belief, you DO want to make Hulk angry. It’s a lot more fun that way.
Don’t write-off Black Widow just because she lacks superpowers; mastering her abilities will make players a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. Natasha Romanoff is one of the only heroes to keep working after A-Day — she returns to her espionage days and becomes a legitimate spy once again after the Avengers disband.
She doesn’t quite have superpowers, but her acrobatic agility makes her a deadly weapon, and she has the fastest melee attacks out of the entire team. Players can quickly switch between her electric batons and either dual automatic pistols or a heavy-duty Magnum.
But what makes her really special is her cloaking ability, since she can drift in and out of invisibility across the battlefield. Move through the combat using Black Widow’s grapple ability and combine her ultra-fast melee attacks with invisibility to cause havoc on the enemies; they’ll never see you coming.
Finally, it’s time to look at the newcomer on the team. Kamala Khan is a teenager born in a world that celebrated the Avengers. Even after the San Francisco attack, she never gave up hope and idolised the team, particularly Captain Marvel. Once the Terrigen crystal exploded, she discovered she was an Inhuman and has the ability to ‘embiggen’ her body as well as having heightened strength.
Her melee attacks allow players to sweep their enemies away or push them back with her extendable limbs. There’s also the option to stomp on them too, just like the Hulk. Has she been studying the Avengers moves?
Players can use Kamala’s extendable limbs creatively in battle, allowing them to blend a number of different play styles into one character. Going straight for the offence? Those fists will come in handy. Prefer to keep mobile around the map in a fight? She can move pretty quickly when she needs to. And obviously, outstretched limbs are perfect for ranged attacks.
We knew that Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics would be adding characters as new content post-launch, but we didn’t know which heroes they were targeting. But in an impressive reveal trailer, we got our first look at Hawkeye himself, Clint Barton.
Although there’s not much to go on about his moves and combos just yet, it seems obvious that he’ll mainly use range-based attacks with his signature bow and arrows. Is that a sword strapped to his quiver? Hmm… That suggests Barton will have some devastating melee moves available for hand-to-hand combat.
One of the stunning concept designs even showed off an inspiration from the brilliant Matt Fraction and David Aja Hawkeye run, My Life As A Weapon, so read up before you play. The archer’s story chain can be played both as a single-player and in co-op, so make sure your aim’s on point!
So who are Earth’s Mightiest Heroes up against? Well, so far we know that the skull-faced Taskmaster is the one leading the charge on San Francisco during the introduction. His photographic senses allow him to memorise anyone’s fighting style and replicate it instantly.
But in the absence of the Avengers, George Tarleton leads the nefarious AIM as they police society with their advanced drone technology. Comic fans will obviously know that Tarleton becomes the giant floating head, M.O.D.O.K (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing). It’ll be interesting to see how the developers make him a realistically credible threat for the team.
The trailers so far have briefly shown off Hulk clashing with Abomination, too. He’s essentially a warped and deformed version of the hero, so expect some destructive battles between the pair. For now, these are the only villains we know of – but since Marvel’s Avengers will deliver more post-release content for players, it’s likely that we’ll see some more classic villains cause havoc for the team.