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Marvel’s Avengers Interview – Talking Loot, Skills, and Combat with Crystal Dynamics
Post by KostaAndreadis @ 05:08pm 07/07/20 | Comments
Marvel's Avengers are teaming up later this year, in a brand-new adventure built from the ground up for PC and console. With the a talented folks at Crystal Dynamics at the helm, we recently had the chance to sit down and talk about all things superhero.

With the talented team at Crystal Dynamics at the helm, Square Enix is prepping to release Marvel’s Avengers in a few months’ time. Dropping September 4 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, it presents a slightly different take on the superhero genre. More Bungie’s Destiny than Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham trilogy, players will be able to don the suits of multiple Avengers and team up to take on AIM – the nefarious organisation being led by the original chrome dome MODOK – in a third-person cinematic action-RPG.

So, what does this mean for how it all plays? Well, as per the recent Marvel’s Avengers War Table digital stream – where the team at Crystal Dynamics broke down the structure of story missions, the more open co-op style Warzone missions, and how gear, perks, and skills are all tied to a hero’s abilities – there’s a lot to unpack.

In fact, drawing on 80 years of comic book history, this is an action-RPG with thought and care put into everything from the character designs to the environments and the origin story behind a particular cosmetic or look of a piece of gear.

More Bungie’s Destiny than Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham trilogy, players will be able to don the suits of multiple Avengers and team up to take on AIM.

Sitting down with Vince Napoli, Combat Director on the game, we were immediately drawn to the game’s relationship with that style of experience we’ve come to call the ‘looter shooter’. Taking on the role of iconic heroes like Thor, Iron Man, and Ms. Marvel – one must wonder what the skill trees will look like, and how they’ll work. How these underlying systems will connect to the superheroes we’ll get to control in the impressive looking game.

“The way the skill trees work, we think of it almost like a precursor to the loot system,” Vince Napoli explains. “As you're levelling up these characters and you're unlocking skills and getting all of their core abilities in line and sort of unlocking their full potential, that in of itself, we want it to be a long and massive journey. One where we slowly introduce you to the depth and nuance of each hero.”

For a good portion of the skill system in Marvel’s Avengers, you’ll have direct control and choice over how each ability will perform – with a branching system that can go in one of three directions. That you can switch between at any point. For those expecting the game to put you in control over Hulk, Black Widow, Ms. Marvel, Thor, and Iron Man in an action-RPG highlight reel, Crystal Dynamics has treated each of the playable heroes as the star of their own game. Giving everything from traversal to their abilities the attention they deserve.

“How Mjolnir can be thrown and how Mjolnir's charge attack can work are two examples of that,” Vince tells me, as we discuss the cinematic story mission that was shown called ‘Once an Avenger’ (embedded below). “You can completely change the way the charge attack works to add some additional gameplay elements on top of it,” Vince continues. “Once you complete that initial pass of levelling your hero, and sort of customise them the way you want - the gear and perk system is built on these core concepts.”

And here’s where the loot side of the game’s action-RPG-ness comes into the picture. Perks that are essentially legendary affixes or stats you’d find on an item – augmenting an existing skill. In a way the team hopes will encourage trying out different builds and playstyles. That is, in addition to getting the best possible version of your Thor.

“We have the ability for Thor to use his Odin force, he can use it offensively, defensively, and he can channel in a bunch of different ways,” Vince adds. “So, let's build an entire perk that supports accentuating Odin force, giving you bursts of energy or overcharging - via lightning that lets Thor supercharge Iron Man's abilities like you might've seen in the MCU.”

“Once you complete that initial pass of levelling your hero, and sort of customise them the way you want - the gear and perk system is built on these core concepts.”

From a design perspective, getting the abilities in the game came first, and from there the different skill variations followed and finally perks and gear. An approach that makes sense, and one that should lead to more rounded action-RPG experience come launch.

“The gear system really is an extension of the characters and those ideas only came about once we had sort of locked them down,” Vince explains. “Once we built the powers, and added all that depth, we went back through each character, and said, what would we like to see? How would we like to tweak the heroes? We had this massive list that we went through as a team, people coming with pitches and ideas – some out of left field - and you're like ‘That's awesome, that's exactly what we should do’.”

Even here the passion that the team has for the Avengers can be found, when prompted for an example of a piece of gear and how it plays specifically with an existing skill, Vince brought up something that should delight Marvel and Thor fans the world over.

“We have the Bifrost Throw that Thor does and you’re able to select which realm you can bring back with you,” Vince excitedly explains. “In-game it will be this big radius around where you return. If you return from Muspelheim the air will get super-heated and there'll be this intense fire everywhere. From that that there are perks allow those effects to be highlighted, specifically with blessings from various Asgardians that increase those realm effects.”

“Let’s say I'm going to bring in Alfeim and focus on its regenerative healing support properties because I’m all about protecting my team,” Vince concludes. “Oden's Blessing on top of that might add an instant heal. Once you've made that selection and you start finding these perks, which might be a part of Set Items that focus on Bifrost, you can make what’s already there that much more awesome.”

Marvel’s Avengers is Out September 4 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It will also be enhanced for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series later in the year, with cross-save and cross-gen support.