Story spoilers ahead
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Reviewed on: PS5
Also available on: PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC
Release: March 18
Marvel’s Avengers has been through a lot over the past number of months, to say the least. From the many delays, to lingering performance issues stemming from the launch, Crystal Dynamics has found themselves in the midst of an uphill battle ever since. That being said, Marvel’s Avengers has taken great strides in overall improvement since launch. Shortly after the initial release, various content updates and performance patches were added to stabilize the game. Kate Bishop was then added along with a new story chapter known as Taking AIM which marked the first DLC expansion to the title. The quality and longevity began to look better from that point on, bringing hope to the future of the game. This brings us to our next hero.
Hawkeye is one of the original Avengers who had disappeared for years. Though, we were able to catch a glimpse of him exiting through a portal from a distant and apocalyptic future and then subsequently passing out at the conclusion of the previous DLC. Working with AIM, the antagonistic organisation facing the Avengers, Hawkeye had to travel to the future where an alien civilisation known as the Kree have destroyed the Avengers and left the world in ruins. Upon being saved by Kate Bishop in the previous DLC, his task is to now make contact with Nick Fury, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D, in order to help stop the future invasion from coming to fruition.
The mechanics are what you’d expect, there are new moves but don’t expect a reinvention of the wheel. Hawkeye’s bow is his base range attack, allowing you to shoot a flurry of quick arrows of charge up each arrow for more damage. There are also three arrow types to choose from. Razor, Cluster and Pulsar arrows will let you deal rapid damage, fire energized arrows or fire explosive arrows. Hawkeye is also equipped with a sword he can use to devastate enemies in quick succession. The selection of combos and finishers is quite expansive considering he’s the eighth playable character that most people would be using at this point. I found myself discovering new combos in each level I went through. In addition to these intrinsic abilities, he’s also able to perform a number of Heroic moves, which basically operate as super attacks. His Assault Heroic is called Nightstorm Arrows which sees Hawkeye shoot a trick arrow that acts as a beacon for an airstrike of arrows. I found this extremely helpful against clusters of enemies. Recovery Arrows, his Support Heroic, can be fired to let out a swarm of healing bots to aid yourself and nearby allies. While it’s a useful ability in a pinch, I never found myself really needing it as the health pickups in the levels were enough to keep me going. Hawkeye’s Ultimate Heroic is the Hunter’s Arrow, an auto-targeting arrow that’ll fling around the area to hit multiple enemies at once. This is best move Hawkeye has. It’s the right amount of devastating and stylish and looks even better if you’re trying to deal with a large group of drones or weaker enemies.
It’s pretty easy to draw comparisons to Kate Bishop, given that she’s also a bow and arrow character, but I’d say that Hawkeye’s attacks are far more chaotic and feature more explosive capabilities than Kate’s attacks. The Hawkeye DLC is a nice expansion overall that brings a fun new character to play as while also adequately advancing the overall narrative.
Alongside the release of this DLC is the PS5 upgrade, free to anyone who already owns the game on PS4. It features sizeable graphical enhancements as well as greater damage physics and particle effects. You’re also able to play the game at 60fps with checkerboard 4K rendering or at 30fps at a native 4K resolution.
At launch, while I was a fan, I’ll admit that this game didn’t boast a whole lot outside of the main story campaign. There were a vast collection of glitches and performance issues and not a whole lot of replay value unless you were interested in heavy grinding to max out each character through a handful of short levels. The updates that we’ve seen thus far, such as the two DLCs and various fixes, show that this game won’t be abandoned. Crystal Dynamics is still clearly committed to making this game more enjoyable and should be for the foreseeable future.
If you haven’t played this yet or held out due to its rocky beginnings, I’d give it a shot on PS5 because it’s certainly a better game than it was six months ago and things are looking bright for the evolution of Marvel’s Avengers.