Jordan Jones speculates what The Avengers Project, published by Square Enix, could possibly be like…
I think it’s safe to say that we were all a bit surprised by Marvel’s announcement the other day. With the Marvel Cinematic Universe revealing new nooks and crannies almost weekly, it seemed likely that this announcement would be related to Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, etc. What most people weren’t expecting, however, was a multi-game collaboration with Square Enix. Not only that, but Eidos Montreal, and Crystal Dynamics will be participating in development. The first announcement has been codenamed The Avengers Project.
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It seems like disaster has already struck in some fashion. After watching that teaser, it’s easy to get the sense that Marvel is really stepping up their game (pun intended). DC has definitely had an edge in the gaming sector with their excellent Batman: Arkham series. While games like Marvel: Ultimate Alliance were awesome, a lot of Marvel games haven’t shared that same success. Not since the ’90s, at least. The teaser reveals little, but does seem to imply a strong narrative is taking the front-seat this time around. Which is fitting, as both Eidos Montreal, and Crystal Dynamics are both known for being excellent storytellers. With that said, what predictions could we, the general gaming public, make based on pedigree alone? Perhaps, by looking at both developers’ recent (hit) series, and break them down to their core elements, we can get the smallest idea of what The Avengers Project will be like. Throughout this list, I’ll provide some thoughts on how these ideas could apply to Marvel’s upcoming game.
Let’s start with Eidos Montreal’s successful reboot of a classic series…
DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION/ MANKIND DIVIDED.
A huge part of the Deus: Ex series is enhancing your character with various augmentations. Want to be a run-and-gunner? Great. You can augment yourself into a human weapon, and cause as much carnage as you desire. Do you prefer stealth instead? There are augments that allow players to silently, and invisibly move through a level without killing a single foe. Beyond that, players can upgrade hacking, speech options, etc. Upgrades play a crucial part in making players feel like they are in control.
… Iron Man is a character that goes through major upgrades all the time, and it would be a ton of fun to attach, and detach various suit upgrades throughout the game. These upgrades could all greatly affect Iron Man’s look, and playability. Beyond that: Superheroes are always in need of good upgrades, and I could see a deep customization system available for every member of the team. This customization could keep in line with the comics, or the developers could create new looks entirely.Iron Man is a great fit for a game with customization.
MULTIPLE PATHS/ CHOICE-BASED NARRATIVE
Just as there is more than one way to upgrade your character, there is always multiple ways to reach an objective in the Deus Ex series. Impatient players can blast their way through levels, obliterating everything in sight, or simply take the stealthy route and slip through vents. Hacking is always an option too: browsing private computer files, and gaining access to locked doors is an extremely satisfying way to complete an objective. This isn’t exactly an original idea in gaming, but the Deus Ex series has always done this well. Throughout the game, Adam Jensen is tasked with making important decisions that have small, and larger impacts on the story. These don’t feel like empty gestures either: choices really feel like they have weight.
… Heroes have to weigh the pros and cons of their actions. Once your foes are defeated, do you save them? Do you join the fight in London, protect New York City, or is your time best served beyond our planet? The Deus Ex series is known for its political intrigue, and if this game is (maybe!) taking place post-Civil War (no confirmation there!), Eidos Montreal are definitely the right team for the job. I could see characters having to carefully choose who they side with, and who they fight.Pick a side.
CLEVER USE OF PLAYER PERSPECTIVE
One amazing strength of Eidos Montreal’s Deus Ex series, that sometimes gets overlooked, is it’s effortless transitions of player perspective. For example, remember how clunky it was to climb a ladder in the Half-Life series (I’m sure they will fix that in Half-Life 3)? Eidos Montreal fixes that problem by switching to a third-person perspective, making climbing up and down ladders an effortless feat. The developer wisely switches perspectives wherever it feels beneficial: cut scenes, stealth take-downs, climbing, etc. It helps avoid the clumsiness of a limited perspective while allowing players to see all of the action.
… Will the game be in first-person? Probably not, but who knows! I think both third, and first person perspectives could work in different ways. So, why not use both? Perhaps Eidos Montreal will incorporate both perspectives in the same way they do for the Deus Ex series? Perhaps Captain America is typically shown in first-person, but would need to switch perspectives to break through walls (something we see in Deus Ex all the time). Maybe Iron Man switches to third-person segments for flight, but switches to a first-person targeting system for certain weapons? Obviously, Hulk-mode in first-person would be endlessly entertaining. First-person also helps to immerse players in a narrative, and the Marvel Universe has plenty of great stories to tell.Deus Ex employs the use of third-person when necessary.
So we see that Eidos Montreal has lots of experience crafting immersive games with loads of customization, and tough decisions to make. What about Crystal Dynamics? Let’s look at yet another classic franchise brought back from the dead…
TOMB RAIDER/ RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER
One of the more impressive aspects of the recent Tomb Raider games is the stellar voice acting. Employing A-List talent, the characters speak with an emotional weight that helps players connect with them. This provides a coat of polish that many AAA games, even now, are lacking.
… It’s easy to see how Crystal Dynamics could apply the same type of banter from their Tomb Raider reboot over to The Avengers Project. Obviously, they would need to inject a heavy dose of wit. Wether or not the games will follow MCU continuity, it’s safe to say that characters like Tony Stark will be just as sarcastic, and charming as his movie incarnation.Expect plenty of witty banter among the team.
ACTION ON A MASSIVE SCALE
Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider games do not contain much down-time. Throughout the duration of these games, when she is not solving head-scratching puzzles, Lara Croft treks through truly hellish terrain. Plans often go awry, and when they do, the series shines with amazing action sequences. Lara is pulled, pushed, slammed, scraped, and flung all over the environment, and when the action is finally over, players often feel like they’ve made it through by the skin of their teeth.
… What the Deus Ex series lacks is action on a giant scale. Now, that’s where Crystal Dynamics’ experience with the Tomb Raider series will come in handy. The Marvel Universe is known for it’s massive (sometimes galactic sized) action, and I could see Crystal Dynamics contributing a great sense of scale for The Avengers Project.So… this, but with Marvel characters.
This one is a no-brainer. Even before the reboot, the Tomb Raider series has always been synonymous with elaborate environmental puzzles. Rise of the Tomb Raider, in particular, has tons of clever puzzles that require every one of Lara’s tools.
… This is where the avengers can truly (re)assemble. By using the same idea of environmental puzzles (albeit on a much larger scale presumably), players can use every member of the team to divert catastrophe.Complex environmental puzzles requiring every resource available.
A SENSE OF TEAMWORK
The Tomb Raider reboot could have easily kept Lara Croft’s mission a solo one, or written a bunch of cardboard characters destined to be bullet fodder. Some may even agree that the supporting characters shouldn’t have been there, but I disagree. Crystal Dynamics did an excellent job fleshing out an entire team of castaways, while also not shortchanging Lara herself. By the end, I felt that I had a solid sense of who each of these people were. Not an easy feat in a 12-15 hour action/adventure game. Also, It didn’t hurt that the game featured strong dialogue.
… When they aren’t suited up/ transformed, Tony Stark, and Bruce Banner could solve complex problems behind the scenes using their intellectual prowess. Not every puzzle requires brute strength. Lets not forget the all-knowing Vision either! It would be fun to see these great minds come together, and solve the unsolvable.Brains over brawn.
ADVANCED MOTION CAPTURE
The Tomb Raider reboot, and its sequel use motion capture to provide a life-like quality to characters. Honestly, it’s really hard to think of another series that feels this life-like. It’s really all in the details: wether it be the way a characters hair will sway, or how Lara suddenly staggers while running, it is the small touches that help provide a sense of realism to an otherwise fantastical story.
… A sense of teamwork is a crucial part of any Avengers game. If they are, indeed, keeping in line with the movies, are they going to use the actor’s likenesses? This is another reason the Crystal Dynamics team is a great fit for this project: imagine being able to play as characters with perfect likenesses from the movies? Uncanny Valley be damned: the character models in this game could look just as stunning, and detailed as Rise of the Tomb Raider.The use of motion capture could really elevate The Avengers Project.
Of course, this is all just speculation. All developers involved could be creating a game that bears little resemblance to their previous work. Still, it’s fun to let the mind run wild. So, what do you think? Did I get some things right, or am I way off track? Have I angered you beyond any hope of redemption? Let me know in the comments below!
… You can find Jordan on Twitter (@JordJJones), and Facebook.