The final Marvel’s Avengers beta has only just finished and we recently got our first glimpse of Gotham Knights in action, so we thought it's about time to resurrect that decades old argument: Marvel or DC?
James | Gotham Knights
While Marvel have had a fairly firm stranglehold on the film universe for over a decade, their gaming past has been less successful.
Enter Marvel's Avengers, trotting out by now very familiar characters, Kamala aside, and asking the gaming public to love them.
While designs have been tweaked slightly since the initial reveal (see Thor's new hair do), the gameplay feels like an abstract mix of gameplay ideas which don't quite hang together convincingly.
Contrast that with DC in general. Not only is there the stunning Injustice games beating out Marvel efforts in the fighting genre and more charismatic portrayals in their LEGO games, there's the Arkham series, which took superhero games to a whole new level back in 2009.
Where Marvel has an ace in the hole though, as in the MCU, is Spider-Man. The Miles Morales-led expansion of the 2018 PS4 outing for Spidey looks shiny and will make the most of the PS5. Arguably though the combat that made the first so compelling is strongly influenced by the aforementioned Arkham series, giving DC the last laugh.
Batman taught Spidey everything he knows.
Sam | Gotham Knights
Having played the Marvel’s Avengers beta over the weekend, I was left pretty underwhelmed. In fact, I couldn’t even be bothered to finish all of the missions and quit out before the end. Throw in the controversy surrounding Spider-Man’s PlayStation exclusivity and, somehow, Square Enix has managed to turn this Marvel fan away.
Gotham Knights, on the other hand, came as a nice surprise. The game’s DC FanDome reveal was expected in advance, though with Warner Bros. Montréal at the helm and not Batman: Arkham custodians Rocksteady I half feared the worst. WB Montréal’s Batman: Arkham Origins is hardly the acclaimed series’ highpoint, after all.
Granted we need to learn more about Gotham Knights to draw reliable comparisons, but the co-op gameplay shown in the reveal showcase puts what we’ve seen (and played) of Marvel’s Avengers to shame. There’s a veritable mix of combat and stealth, along with thoughtful use of gadgetry and teamwork; Avengers just tasks players with barrelling in and mashing buttons instead.
You can argue that there’s a place for that and you’d be right, but it got boring over the course of a single evening with the beta. When Marvel’s Avengers plans to stick around for years to come, that’s serious cause for concern.
It's not real co-op without fancy tag team abilities.
Liam | Gotham Knights
I missed out on the Marvel’s Avengers beta, so I’m still judging where I’ll get my next superhero fix with information gleaned from trailers and gameplay footage. Having just caught up on the deluge of justice coming our way, I can say that Gotham Knights has edged it.
The fact that it’s made by Warner Bros. Montreal and not Rocksteady doesn’t bother me the slightest. I know Arkham Origins is not held in as high regard as Rocksteady’s efforts (even though it still has its fans), but what I’ve seen of gameplay looks solid and reassuringly familiar.
I also think ditching Batman is a good idea, as not only do we get an opportunity to play as some of the lesser known heroes, but it eliminates the inevitable arguments that would have come about (at least in co-op) from everyone wanting to play as the Dark Knight.
But the inclusion of the Court of Owls and their Talon assassins as potential big baddies was by far the most exciting part of the Gotham Knights reveal trailer. Having read the comics in which they debuted as antagonists, they make an excellent ‘hidden hand’ type organisation, and Chris will be glad to know they’re also quite fond of psychedelic torture.
Whoever the Court of Owls are, you can be sure they're up to no good.
Are you more hyped for Marvel's Avengers or Gotham Knights?
The latest State of Play was a rather toned-down affair. Sony had previously confirmed that it was, once again, all about the games, with no news on the upcoming console, but were those games enough?
Ol' Big Face returns for a walloping.
Sony’s latest State of Play was the first time I’d seen Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time in action, and I have to say it impressed me. I’m not the biggest platformer fan out there, but the lovely art-style and slick gameplay certainly has me tempted (I especially liked the gameplay changing new game+ modes). Even though it might not be a day-one purchase, the footage has got me thinking about going back and exploring a series I’ve yet to fully appreciate.
Other highlights included The Pathless. As a big fan of Abzu, I’m definitely interested in Giant Squid’s next project. The fluid traversal system, in which you hit targets with a bow to keep up momentum, looks like it’ll be incredibly satisfying, and, like Abzu, I like the whole wordless mystique surrounding the game’s setting (not to mention the adorable eagle companion and big boss battles).
I wasn’t so sure about HITMAN 3 and it’s virtual murder (a bit too grim for me), but the inclusion of VR news (and Vader Immortal) in the stream was welcome, although my last lingering hopes for a potential PS VR 2 reveal ahead of the PS5’s winter launch seem a bit fruitless at this point.
Oh, how we've missed the dulcet tones of Aku Aku.
Sony managed expectations going into its latest State of Play, though it was still somewhat underwhelming. By no means bad, but just okay.
HITMAN VR is intriguing, though since getting the supremely convenient Oculus Quest I struggle to muster much enthusiasm for PlayStation VR. Same issue with Vader Immortal, which has been available on Quest for quite some time.
When it comes to games you play on the telly, indies won the day. Braid: Anniversary Edition is the perfect reason to experience or revisit one of the inaugural indie darlings; Spelunky 2 looks like it’ll be a faithful continuation of the punishingly moreish original; meanwhile, The Pedestrian is one of those ingenious-yet-simple concepts that make you wonder “Why didn’t I think of that?”
Most of the show was dedicated to PS4, though Sony did throw us a bone with some PS5 gameplay. The Pathless looks lovely, and I appreciate the lack of a map to encourage spontaneous exploration. We finally have an idea of what Bugsnax will be outside of an internet meme as well, which might be something akin to Slime Rancher? Maybe? It wasn’t immediately clear what Hood: Outlaws & Legends is either, though it at least looks more entertaining than fellow next-gen brawler Godfall.
We're hoping for Slime Rancher meets Red Dead Redemption 2.
While the return of Crash Bandicoot seemed inevitable after he returned last year in remastered form, a title I don’t know, but have heard a fair amount about, is Braid, and that commentary track seems interesting.
Really it was the in-game, PS5 footage from The Pathless which really demanded attention by showing off a more deliberate art style, though admittedly one that is very possible on current gen, with the gameplay shown giving off a real Breath of the Wild vibe. The climactic boss battle with one of the cursed spirits in particular had a great sense of scale to it as well.
The Star Wars VR title Vader Immortal gives an impression similar to the one Star Wars Kinect did a fair while ago, which leaves me extremely sceptical. HITMAN 3 on the other hand offers a neat spin on the tried-and-tested franchise with its first-person VR perspective.
The Pokémon Snap-inspired Bugsnax is looking just as quirky as it did on first impression, though not as Pokémon derivative as TemTem. The Pedestrian fares better with its slightly overdressed puzzling and a final highlight for me was the snippet of Control’s latest expansion, which is almost enough to claw me back in...almost.
There's something familiar about The Pathless...
What did you think of last week's State of Play?
During the latest Marvel's Avengers War Table livestream, Hawkeye was announced as the first post-launch DLC character. Spider-Man has since been confirmed as a PlayStation exclusive. With a long list of other superhumans to choose from, these are the heroes (and villains) we'd like to see added next.
There's no need for myriad customisation options when you already look like this.
Liam | Damage Control
Damage Control has been around for a long time, but I only discovered the stories a couple of years ago when someone handed me a collection of comics for Christmas.
Although I was initially sceptical, it turned out stories about a company formed just to clean up the chaos caused by rampaging heroes and villains could be surprisingly entertaining, and I think the concept could work just as well (albeit as a bit of a curveball) in the upcoming Marvel’s Avengers.
I don’t think it would be fair to pit a bunch of technicians and middle management up against the likes of AIM and its armies (though it could be sadistically fun!) so Damage Control missions would instead be used to break up the action, with players given the opportunity to unwind and de-clutter the ravaged streets.
Perhaps as an extra incentive to play clean up, players could uncover hidden items left behind by heroes and villains in the rubble of destroyed structures, or come across some of the more fantastical characters that crop up in Damage Control lore - such as sentient buildings that want to go travelling - and have to negotiate solutions to these types of bizarre problems.
The behind-the-scenes workers of the Marvel universe deserve more credit.
Sam | Professor X
Professor X is the eponymous leader of the X-Men and a beacon of all things good in mutantkind. Charles Xavier insists that Homo sapiens and Homo superior can coexist, despite his species’ greater power and humanity’s many flaws. If that isn't a noble enough cause to earn the Oxford graduate a place on the heroic Marvel’s Avengers roster, I don’t know what is.
Xavier would fit narratively, serving as a leader to help reunite the team during the A-Day Aftermath that’s explored within the upcoming action game. He’s also the perfect counter to leading villain M.O.D.O.K., possessing his own great intellect and suite of mental powers that are used to opposite ends.
Professor X is most commonly depicted with a disability, and keeping him confined to a wheelchair would add diversity to both the in-game representations and mechanics. Having spent the last week wreaking havoc in Destroy All Humans! (2020), it can be a lot of fun to fling enemies around telekinetically and telepathically extract brains. There’d be far fewer cranial extractions, granted, but with a little expansion on the core concept a mentally-powered combatant with limited mobility could work.
He’d especially shine in co-op, serving in a befitting support role. A more direct comparison here would be to Bleeding Edge healer Zero Cool, who also occupies a chair, if this time entirely by choice.
Few heroes are better suited to taking on the mind-bending M.O.D.O.K.
James | Gambit
Unloved in the cinematic world and a fairly consistent background player in video games over the years, the X-men’s other gruff-voiced loner, Gambit, could be a fun - if unlikely - powerset to throw into the Avengers’ mix.
Given the characters already on the team, Gambit could be a quieter presence, almost a Solid Snake-like presence to tackle a more covert type of mission, on the Black Widow end of the spectrum, compared to the bombastic action of The Hulk or Iron Man.
You might think it’s all about throwing a few playing cards around, but in fact, Gambit’s ability to turn potential energy into kinetic energy could be applied to almost anything. It could be difficult to balance without breaking the game, presenting a challenge for developer Crystal Dynamics, but could make for some really interesting gameplay.
How well he’d play when teaming up with the rest of the group could be interesting too, combining with other powers, and we know from the trailers alone there’s plenty of story time when the group aren’t diving into battle, which could bring an interesting twist to the story side of the game as well.
A fan-favourite hero for many from back in the 90s cartoon days, this could be Gambit’s chance to get some time in the spotlight.
It's been too long since Gambit had a chance to shine.
Who would you like to see added to Marvel's Avengers?