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Feature Articles

Hulk-smashing the mould: An interview with the developers of Marvel's Avengers

By Tim Augustin & Kenneth Ang - 26 Jun 2020

Look good, play good

Avengers, suit up!

Now that we’ve got a team of heroes ready to bash MODOK's head in, we picked the developers’ brains about the various types of Missions, and the environments in which these fierce battles ensue. In the War Table stream, two mission types were detailed: Hero Missions, and Warzone Missions. 

Hero Missions basically refer to the single-player content, while Warzones refer to the various co-op missions players can team up to tackle. We’re shown an example of the former featuring Thor during the War Table stream, where he faces off against A.I.M. robots alongside the Hulk, Kamala Khan and Iron Man. That’s all pretty straightforward, but where it gets interesting is when we take a look at the expansive maps where the Warzone instances occur. 

When quizzed about the general layout of these levels, Warzone director Phil Therien gave us a rather detailed walkthrough of the process. He said, “The way we built this game is with Regions, which are basically subsets of bigger worlds. That urban environment was one of our Regions. It’s hard to describe the Regions in actual size, but let me put it to you this way: You’ll start a mission, and several hundred meters in front of you will be the primary objective. Before you get to that, there are several city blocks to explore. We have an in-game mechanic called Tactical Awareness, so if you press up on your D-Pad, you’ll see question marks pop up. 

"Assuming that your primary objective is ahead of you, then on your left there could be an event with Inhumans that need help fighting A.I.M., and to your right there could be a rare enemy. Past the objective, you could find resources or a stockpile to acquire. If you’re Iron Man, you can fly around the buildings and if you’re Hulk, you can bound all over the place.”

Image: Square Enix

Therien goes on to add how these “movement” considerations factor into future DLC additions, which are especially noteworthy considering Marvel’s diverse repertoire of characters, some of which might have unique modes of travel. As he put it, “You’re given the option to tackle your objectives however you want - with ranged attacks or in close combat, because the spaces are pretty big. They’re built to accommodate all the Avengers - not just in combat, but in movement. There are several different regions as well, set in cities, forests, deserts, the Arctic, underwater areas and places in orbit over the Earth. The game is built in a way for us to keep adding to those regions.”

Basically, his point is that size really does matter when it comes to the maps, and Crystal Dynamics opted to make them as big as they needed to be in order to accommodate the scale of various character movements. To put it into perspective, while you could have Kamala Khan scoot through a narrow alleyway and still be as badass as she needed to be, you can’t really appreciate the Hulk’s full strength and absurdly high jumps in that same environment. 


What is this, a looter-smasher?

Image: Square Enix

In a Destiny-like twist, the game will also involve a lot of gear tinkering. Players will find gear drops throughout the game, which can affect their playstyle with each Avenger. Iron Man’s Repulsors are a great example of gear. Players will occasionally find other Repulsors types that look different, have a higher power level and come equipped with certain perks. You’ll have to swap out different parts of each Avenger’s gear to get more powerful as the game progresses. 

But how can players earn all these different types of gear in-game? Combat director Vince Napoli explains, “We have a bunch of different ways to progress and acquire items for your characters. As you’re playing through the missions, finding all those nooks and crannies in Regions will reward you with gear, cosmetics and other items. Completing missions of a certain type, objective and difficulty also factor into a pretty dizzying array of rewards that are all over the place.

“We also have resources and specialised vendors that will sell you specific types of gear, and those vendors are behind various mission types and rewards. Rebuilding the helicarrier for example, will open access to those vendors - who will exchange certain resources for loot. There are a bunch of different ways to do it, and that was important to us when coming up with activities for players to do - making sure there was enough reason to do them. If you want to go in and collect a certain comic that is dropping at double the rate today, or if you’re looking for certain resources that unlock artifact upgrades, you could do that. Finding gear is one small facet of progression, really.”

Image: Square Enix

Gear certainly is one small facet of progression. After all, what’s the point of fighting well if your Avengers can’t look good doing it? To that end, Marvel’s Avengers features ‘dozens’ of unlockable skins for each playable character, referred to as ‘outfits’. Eagle-eyed comicbook fans will spot a plethora of easter eggs in these Outfits - from the Hulk’s Joe Fixit suit to Iron Man’s Original Sin armour. 

We were concerned that the Gear system would interfere with how these Outfits look in-game, but Scot Amos put those worries to rest. “Gear and character costume customisation are different. We embody the motto of ‘look good, play good’, so your equipment won’t change how your character looks.”

Everyone working hand in hand

Of course, as the team from Crystal Dynamics notes, this enormous endeavour we call Marvel’s Avengers couldn’t have been possible without the various contributing parties helping out in their respective roles. Eidos Montreal was on top of the list, and Scot Amos weighed in once more, giving us a rough once-over of what each of the contributors put into the game. 

“Well, if we were to break it down, let me first say that none of this would have been possible without everyone working hand in hand. The team at Eidos Montreal largely handled the Hero Missions, and after they passed that over to us, we took over for most of the other content, like the Warzones, co-op and the remainder of the campaign. After all, they’ve got their own projects to work on, and we didn’t want to impose. Of course, our other associates and the external vendors who worked with us also helped to make this game possible - the folks at Nixxes Software provided us with most of the tech support and expertise, while Square Enix weighed in with their own feedback from time to time. Last but not least, we also have some guys from Marvel to thank - they gave us information on what the fans like or would like to see, and it all factored nicely into this game that we’ll be presenting in September.”

A lot of work and passion is being put into the development of this game behind the scenes, and it won't be long before fans can experience what all the fuss is about. Marvel’s Avengers is shaping up to be a wonderfully unique superhero title, and that September launch can’t come any sooner. 


Marvel's Avengers will launch on September 4, 2020 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Google Stadia and PC. The game will also arrive on next-gen consoles at a later date.