This week at E3 2019, two and a half years after announcement, Square Enix has properly unveiled Marvel's Avengers. The game is developed primarily by Tomb Raider creators Crystal Dynamics. It'll also feature work from Eidos Montreal, responsible for both recent Deus Ex games and Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Crystal Northwest, and Nexxes Software.
This is the first part of what's described as a "multi-year, multi-game partnership" between Square Enix and Marvel. Avengers won't be the only Marvel game you'll see from Square Enix, then.
When is Marvel's Avengers coming out?
At E3 2019, Square Enix announced that Marvel's Avengers will release on May 15, 2020 for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Google Stadia.
Watch the dramatic E3 2019 Marvel's Avengers reveal trailer
Marvel's Avengers will have singleplayer and four-player co-op
From what we gather from Square's press release, Marvel's Avengers will have separate missions designed for single player and co-op. There will also be an extensive multiplayer component. "Master extraordinary abilities, customize a growing roster of Heroes, assemble into teams of up to four players, and defend the Earth from escalating threats," the press release reads.
"Featuring regular content updates, the game will take players on an epic journey delivered over multiple years. This is what’s next for the Avengers." This makes us think it's probably going to be a Destiny-ish game with a lot of repeat play, but we'll know more about this leading up to release.
Here's the Marvel's Avenger teaser trailer from 2017
"They say the time of heroes is over," says this moody, 51-second trailer. We're then shown some iconic Avengers imagery: Mjolnir, Thor's hammer and Captain America's shield, as well as other items associated with Iron Man, Hulk and Black Widow. This trailer was shown all the way back in 2017.
Who's developing Marvel's Avengers game?
Crystal Dynamics, creators of Tomb Raider, with Eidos Montreal (creators of the last two Deus Ex games), Crystal Northwest, and Nexxes Software. Considering the game has big plans for post-launch content and multiplayer, it makes sense that so many hands are on deck to make Avengers work.
Marvel's Avengers has an all-new, original story disconnected from the MCU
We've known for years that Marvel's The Avengers would have a unique story disconnected from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but now we know what that story will look like.
Marvel's Avengers begins during A-Day, a celebratory day for the Avengers coinciding with the unveiling of their new headquarters and helicarrier. After a tragedy resulting in death and destruction, the Avengers are blamed for the incident. "Five years later, with all Super Heroes outlawed and the world in peril, the only hope is to reassemble Earth’s Mightiest Heroes."
In the reveal trailer, we also see that Captain America perished in the blast that wiped out a chunk of New York. Crystal Dynamics made a point to say that you would be playing as Cap in the game, so unless they're only talking about the opening mission, we doubt he'll stay gone for long.
Despite Marvel's Avengers being its own thing, if some of these story beats are starting to sound like Avengers: Endgame, you're not the only one. Both projects have been in development for years, so similarities are mostly likely a coincidence.
Marvel made a big song and dance of the talent involved with the development of The Avengers game back in 2018, and cemented the point about "a completely new and original story". That's when it was revealed that Shaun Escayg, who worked on Uncharted and The Last of Us games at Naughty Dog, will be the game's creative director.
What kind of game will Marvel's Avengers be?
After the E3 2019 reveal, we have a good idea of the kind of game Marvel's Avengers will be: a continuously singleplayer and co-op 3rd person 'action-adventure' game, with what sound like a few RPG elements. You can "master extraordinary abilities, customize your heroes to fit your playstyle, and combine powers", after all, which all sound kind of RPG-ish. We also know that you can unlock "powerful skills and new gear to build your ideal version of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes." Mention is also made of an 'ever-expanding world under constant threat'. Could this be another entry on the growing list of 'living games'? We'll have to wait and see.
Some further details can be garnered through Crystal Dynamics' careers page. The listing for a Camera Designer role (assuming this is for Avengers and not something else, which isn't made clear by the page) mentions that the right candidate will ensure "a smooth and seamless player experience through a rich and epic narrative experience. A successful Camera Designer will be able to collaborate with Artists and Designers to create tools and camera solutions to create a dynamic and living world." 'Living world' is usually a term we associate with open world games.
The same listing asks for someone with 3-5 years of working on "3rd person action adventure titles." That's a pretty vague steer as far as genres go, but it suggests this'll be a third-person action game, which is clear from the trailer anyway.
Marvel's Avengers combat will make use of QTEs
When Samuel went hands-on with Marvel's Avengers at E3 2019, his demo leaned on QTE (quick time events). He thought it somewhat tarnished the more epic moments of gameplay, but Crystal Dynamics was clear in their reasons for that direction.
"For us, this audience is so broad. This isn't just some hardcore gamer's game." Matching button prompts to specific actions is meant to remind players of the controls in a natural way, too. "It's a way for us to integrate QTEs in a kind of tutorialised way. They're also cinematic moments we want to make sure land from a narrative perspective. So there might be a point where we use them just to give that moment for players to get the best experience on the narrative side."
Other Marvel heroes will likely make cameos in Marvel's Avengers
Crystal Dynamics makes it seem like Marvel's Avengers won't be taking focus away from the 5 core heroes associated with the MCU's Avengers: Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Thor, and the Hulk. But that doesn't mean other heroes won't make an appearance at some point.
In fact, during Square Enix's E3 2019 conference, we got a taste of Hank Pimm (the original Ant-Man and Scott Lang's mentor in the movies) testing out some sort of shrink cannon.
Marvel's Avenger's voice cast is stacked with talent
Crystal Dynamics brought in a pretty stellar grip of voice talent for Marvel's Avengers. From left to right in the image above, that's Troy Baker (The Last of Us, 1000 other things) as Bruce Banner, Jeff Schine (Telltale's The Walking Dead: Season 3) as Captain America, Travis Willingham (Critical Role) as Thor, Laura Bailey (Uncharted 4, Critical Role) as Black Widow, and Nolan North (Uncharted, Assassin's Creed, everything else) as Tony Stark.
These are pros that have lent their voices to all sorts of good stuff, but there does seem to be a theme of D&D and Uncharted in the building. In fact, the reveal trailer includes a clip of Bruce Banner and Tony Stark speaking over Captain America's grave. The two actors also play Nathan and Sam Drake in Uncharted 4, a fact I was constantly reminded of every time they said anything.
A Guardians of the Galaxy game is rumoured to be in the works at Eidos Montreal
While Eidos Montreal is helping with The Avengers game, the developer behind Shadow of the Tomb Raider and the recent Deus Ex games is also reported to be working on a Guardians of the Galaxy game. Kotaku reported this in January 2017, when the Square Enix partnership with Marvel was announced, but no official announcement has been made about any games beyond Marvel's Avengers yet.