Marvel’s Avengers: 5 takeaways from the E3 gameplay demo

Whatever fans thought of the reveal of Marvel’s Avengers at the Square Enix E3 showcase on Monday night, the question remained: How does it play? That question has been answered, at least partially, by a hands-off demo available to view on the E3 show floor. EW checked out that demo, and then sat down with lead designer Philippe Therien and lead producer Rose Hunt to find out more about what it will be like to take control of the superhero team.

Gameplay is a “hybrid melee and shooting game,” says Therien.
Building on the San Francisco scene from the trailer, the demo featured melee combat sequences for each of the game’s current Avengers — Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, and Black Widow — along with some specialized sequences based on their individual skills. Melee combat sequences appeared to be fairly standard third-person action with some added Avengers flair. Thor has plenty of special abilities related to throwing and recalling his hammer, Iron Man hovers above the fray, firing projectiles at opponents, Hulk smashes, etc. Iron Man’s specialty section appeared to be sort of an on-rails shooter in the vein of Star Fox or Panzer Dragoon, while Hulk’s involved some light platforming and Black Widow’s became a one-one-one martial arts boss fight between her and the demo’s villain, Taskmaster.

Some levels are designed for specific Avengers, but others let the player choose.
The demo on display showcased a very linear section of gameplay, but Therien and Hunt promise other missions in which players will be able to approach situations however, and as whoever, they want. Throughout the campaign, certain story moments will require players to embody specific heroes, but for other missions, they will be able to choose their favorites. Even in the context of single hero, Therien teases some degree of choice. “You’ll be able to pick the skills that you like,” Therien says. “So you might play your Captain America differently than mine.”

The game will cover plenty of ground the MCU has never touched.
From the beginning, this game was designed as a new take on the Avengers story (hence the lack of MCU likenesses). Eventually, the game could host team-ups that have only happened on the page, if at all. “This is our own take on the Avengers, so who ends up joining the Avengers is really up to us,” says Therien. Adds Hunt, “We’re certainly going to have some villains that you’ve only seen in the comic books before.”

New heroes and regions will be added at no additional cost.
In addition to the core five Avengers, more heroes will be added, along with new areas to explore and new villains to combat. All of these additions will come at no additional cost to players who own the game. “We’re going to be expanding this roster for years to come,” says Hunt.

The game will be balanced to let every hero stand out in co-op play.
With someone like Thor and someone like Cap working toward the same objective, things could potentially get a little unbalanced, but Therien says the level design has been crafted with each hero’s strengths in mind. “You’ve got Black Widow who is a human with amazing skills, and then you’ve got Hulk who’s nearly indestructible, and you’ve got a god. So putting all that together, [balancing for co-op play] couldn’t just be numbers,” Therien says. “When you’re playing co-op, the environment and the enemies create situations where, at any given time, somebody can shine.”

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