If you‘re a Marvel fan eager to step into the boots of Earth‘s Mightiest Heroes and explore an open world, Marvel‘s Avengers may seem like a dream come true. But the 2020 superhero game from Crystal Dynamics has divided players on just how "free roam" its experience really is. While offering some open zone side content, overall Marvel‘s Avengers takes a more constrained, mission-based approach.
So before you assemble to smash AIM robots or defend humanity, let‘s dig deeper into what this action game delivers in terms of gameplay freedom. As your gaming advisor, I‘ll compare it to truly open world titles, and help you decide if restricted levels will leave you feeling trapped instead of triumphant.
What Type of Game is Marvel‘s Avengers?
At its core, Marvel‘s Avengers is a story-driven, level-based beat ‘em up game blending action combat with gear upgrades and skill customization. Here‘s a quick snapshot:
- Genre: Action-Adventure
- Perspective: Third-Person
- Playtime: ~12 hrs Main Story, 40+ hrs Completionist
- Gameplay: Mission-based levels focused on combat, gear and progression
- Setting: Original Avengers story by Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix
Unlike a full open world experience that lets you explore a vast, continuous environment like Spiderman on PS4, the Avengers game features self-contained locations. Think of it more as a series of arena battles connected by story.
But within those arenas await plenty of super-powered combat as you assemble Earth‘s Mightiest Heroes! Now let‘s look at how the campaign, gameplay and post-launch support stacked up.
Assembling Earth‘s Mightiest Campaign
The main single player campaign offers an original Avengers story written by Crystal Dynamics rather than Marvel Studios. Spanning about 12 hours, here‘s how the linear mission-based gameplay unfolds:
12 core story missions form the "Reassemble" campaign. Average length per mission is 10-15 minutes.
Locations like Stark Tower, Siberian labs, Utah Badlands, Pacific NW Forests and more become arenas for objectives.
Setpieces punctuate missions like a Golden Gate Bridge battle or attacking an AIM skycarrier.
Cinematics utilize motion capture for character models to express the original story.
No exploration freedom during missions – objectives guide you through set sequences and scripted events.
After completing the story, all missions unlock for replay in "freeplay" mode.
While the campaign stays focused, overall reviews criticized the story for a lack of impact and depth in its characterization. Without the star power and charm of the MCU, the original narrative struggled to resonate.
Free Roam Zones Provide Some Exploration
Okay, so the main story keeps you on an objective-driven track. But what about some open world freedom? Here‘s how Marvel‘s Avengers provides limited exploration options:
Side missions open up free roam zones on some levels, often expansions of the story locations.
These optional areas allow you to explore and take on self-directed goals like investigating landmarks or defending strategic points from enemies.
The zones offer light resource gathering from containers and chests with loot drops.
Expect to spend maybe 25-50% of your 12 hour playtime enjoying the free roam zones.
So in certain levels, you can venture off the main path and tackle extra objectives. But there is no continuous open world or ability to uncover the full map and roam endlessly. The scope remains contained, not country or planet-spanning.
Avengers Assemble! Playable Characters
One highlight Marvel‘s Avengers delivers on is letting you suit up and battle as your favorite superheroes. Here‘s the launch line-up and how they play:
Iron Man – Ranged/air superiority fighter using repulsors, lasers, missiles. Agile flyer.
Hulk – Heavy hitting tank who smashes everything in sight. Jumps across the battlefield.
Black Widow – Agile martial artist who can turn invisible. Batons, pistols and agility.
Thor – Divine melee hammer strikes and shock damage through lightning. Also takes to the skies.
Captain America – Balanced fighter employing shield throws and hand to hand combat.
Each feels true to their superhero archetype with unique movement and attack mechanics. Later updates added:
Kate Bishop – Trick arrow archer with both ranged and melee abilities.
Black Panther – Claw and dagger attacks enhanced by kinetic energy technology.
The gameplay really shines once you assemble your squad of Avengers favorites. Their contrasting abilities encourage you to swap often to match the challenge at hand. Unfortunately…
Exclusive Spider-Man Drama
While the base roster covers Marvel‘s biggest heroes, controversy erupted over Spider-Man. Originally announced as a PlayStation exclusive character in 2020, the webhead was eventually delayed until 2021.
This fractured the playerbase between PlayStation owners who could play Spidey, and those on Xbox/PC who could not. While exclusives are common, limiting major heroes upset many fans eagerly awaiting the wall crawler.
And sadly, Spidey‘s debut proved underwhelming. Restricted to PlayStation and arriving post-launch, his inclusion felt more divisive than celebratory. A shadow of the excitement greeting his amazing open world adventure on PS4.
Gear, Progression and Post-Launch Support
Expanding your Avengers‘ capabilities through gear and skills unlocks much of the game‘s depth:
Gear – Rarity based equipment with perks that bolsters stats like melee, defense, heroic power. Drops from enemies, chests and missions.
Major Artifacts – Equippable items giving major bonuses like Willpower regeneration or damage buffs.
Skills – Spend upgrade points to acquire new combat abilities and passive bonuses as heroes level up through XP gains.
Power Level – Average gear level indicating hero strength. Raises by improving gear. Soft cap is 130.
Resources – Gather fragments, upgrade modules, polychorons and more to upgrade factions.
Cosmetics – Outfits, emotes and takedowns help customize your hero‘s style. Most are purchasable only.
Marvel‘s Avengers aimed to be an evolving "live service" game with years of post-launch support. But weak ongoing player count caused this ambition to falter.
Operations – Major content updates added new heroes, villains, events and missions on an inconsistent schedule
Shutting Down in 2023 – Given lack of profitability, further development ceased. Servers will shut down in 2023.
While expansions introduced awaited characters like Black Panther and missions like the Wakanda raid, overall the sporadic updates couldn‘t provide enough meaningful content. For a live service game, ongoing play felt hollow.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work in Multiplayer
Marvel‘s Avengers offers 1-4 player online co-op allowing you to assemble a squad:
Drop in/out – Players can dynamically join an existing session.
Missions – Tackle the full campaign or operations content together. More challenging with more heroes.
Faction Missions – Special co-op tasks for SHIELD, Inhumans, Avengers.
HARM Rooms – Virtual training gauntlets with challenges to complete cooperatively.
Teaming up mixes abilities for fun choreography, like Iron Man raining missiles while Hulk wades into crowds. Coordination helps on higher difficulties. But lacking structured raids limits the endgame appeal.
Unfortunately, no local co-op exists. With its arena-style levels, couch gameplay could have extended the lifespan.
How Does Avengers Compare to Other Hero Games?
Let‘s contrast Marvel‘s Avengers to other superhero titles to see why fans longing for an open world felt restricted:
Marvel‘s Spider-Man PS4
Full open world map of Marvel‘s New York City you can uncover sector by sector over 40+ hours.
Fluid web-swinging traversal lets you roam seamlessly across the massive map.
Deep lore and characterization staying faithful to comics and films.
Dense open world content like random crimes, collectibles encourage exploration.
Overall an unrivaled model for an open living city. Avengers‘ levels feel confined in scope by comparison.
Batman Arkham Series
Large contiguous maps of Gotham City that capture the urban sprawl.
Combat and stealth freedom supported by great gadgets and mobility like gliding and grappling.
Compelling stories and rogue‘s gallery true to the Dark Knight‘s legacy.
The benchmark for free flowing combat with great exploration. Avengers rigid mission design lacks this immersion.
LEGO Marvel Series
Lego interpretations of famous Marvel movie scenes and large hub worlds.
Lite open world traversal between mission markers capturing the fun Lego spirit.
Huge roster of over 200 playable Marvel characters once unlocked.
A family friendly, humorous take perfect for casual fans. Basic yet charming.
So ultimately, developers Crystal Dynamics chose a more constrained experience than players anticipated. While the gameplay found an audience, the lack of expansive, interconnecting worlds left many wishing the Avengers could roam further.
Final Verdict – A Passable Superhero Experience
At the end of the day, I give Marvel‘s Avengers a verdict of passable but not incredible. The satisfying combat and hero customization offer some solid weekend gaming hours. But repetitive mission design in confined levels lacks the bold vision you expect from assembling Earth‘s Mightiest Heroes. As a live service, the sparse post-launch content concerned about sustainability.
For a true superhero fantasy you can immerse yourself in, I‘d point you to Spiderman on PS4 or Batman Arkham Knight to benchmark the freedom missing here. But if you stay content battling through self-contained challenges as Iron Man, Hulk and more, Marvel‘s Avengers can still entertain thanks to some smashing gameplay foundations.
So while not the open world Avengers experience players dreamed of, Crystal Dynamics at least lays a framework future games could build upon. I hope one day we get the fully realized Iron Man flight, Thor thunder god adventure or Black Widow espionage that these icons truly deserve. But the journey begins here.
Let me know if you have any other questions about what Marvel‘s Avengers offers compared to other free roam superhero games. I‘m happy to provide more insights as your gaming advisor so you can make the most informed decision. Now get out there and avenge the earth!