Marvel’s Avengers becomes a different game once you wrap up the campaign. Though the fundamentals—punch evil robots while on a never-ending quest for better gear—are unchanged, the game shifts from narrative-driven, third-person action game into a never-ending feedback loop: find better gear to level up enough to find better gear so you can level up enough to find even better gear to level up enough to, well, you get the point. Here’s what to expect—and how to make the most of it.
Light spoilers for Marvel’s Avengers.
It may seem counterintuitive, but you should start your quest through the endgame from the beginnging: with the tutorials. Marvel’s Avengers showers you with tutorials: First, there’s that lengthy opening segment, where you get to test drive five of the six starting heroes. The next hour or so revolves largely on learning the ropes for Ms. Marvel and, to a degree, the Hulk. As more heroes flit into your roster, you’ll go through tutorial sessions—even though, again, you already get a handle on each of them in the game’s opening mission.
You’d think that after all this hand-holding, you’d be done with tutorials, but nope. Each hero has a dedicated training mission in the Holographic Augmented Reality Machine (H.A.R.M.) on the Helicarrier. Since these are optional and seemingly unexciting, it’s all too easy to skip them. By the time you unlock Captain America, well into the third act, it’s almost an insult that the game signs you up for another lesson. You just went to space! Do you really need to learn how to throw a punch?
But if you missed any of the remaining tutorial missions—a likely occurrence, given how extraneous they feel—you should swing back and mop them up. For starters, you’ll earn a comic book for each one you clear. (Comic books are collectible items that grant you small, but permanent, stat boosts.) You’ll also clean up your quest log; H.A.R.M. missions are listed piecemeal, which contributes to a needless sense of clutter. And who knows! You might even get to test out some moves you didn’t get a chance to master in the main story. Thor’s, in particular, is key, since you only get to play as him for all of 16 seconds in the main campaign. You can go into the endgame knowing the God of Thunder’s basic move set without grasping just how rewarding his combos can get. Playing through his dedicated H.A.R.M. mission will give you a taste.
In Avengers, each character has two levels: a character level, and a Power level. The character level more or less dictates when you get skill points for a certain hero, and little else. The Power level, meanwhile, governs everything from what missions you’re able to access to what Power level new gear drops at. Once you’re in the endgame, you probably know all this. (Destiny players will especially feel right at home.) What you might not know is that Power level is hackable, to a degree, and is the foundation of Avengers’ feedback loop. Here are two tricks for kicking things into overdrive:
- Invest in your gear. Each piece of gear can be leveled up a set number of times by spending a modest amount of common resources. Doing so will increase that gear’s Power level. Since a character’s Power level is calculated by averaging all of their equipped gear, it helps immensely to invest in every piece, even if it’s just a lowly green-tier set of placeholder gauntlets. This, in turn, will cause higher-Power gear to drop, which you can then level up to spawn even higher-Power gear. Given that resources are a dime a dozen, it won’t cost you much to maintain a Power level baseline, unless you plan on leveling up all six currently playable characters in tandem.
- Check out the faction vendors. Through completing missions and defeating enemies, Avengers gives you more gear than you can keep track of. You’d be forgiven for writing off the faction vendors as extraneous, but, by and large, the gear they offer is of a higher Power level than the gear you’ll find in the wild. Shops update with startling frequency—some slots update daily, while others update hourly—so, if you’re interested in supercharging your Power level, don’t sleep on them.
Marvel’s Avengers, like the movie series it totally doesn’t draw on, features brief scenes buried in the credits. Those who stuck around for the credit roll likely saw one in which Monica Rappaccini, the presumed second-tier villain, assumes the top post of Scientist Supreme at AIM. Once you beat the main story, you’ll unlock the “Reigning Supreme” mission chain. Narratively, it’s all about uncovering what presumably nefarious activities Monica is up to.
For anyone invested in the game’s plot, these missions should be prioritized. But even if you couldn’t care less about AIM’s feeble attempts at global domination, “Reigning Supreme” is well worth your time. Completing the whole quest line grants you a staggering faction point bonus for both SHIELD and the Inhumans. You’ll also open up some SHIELD vaults—elusive areas that grant high-power gear—and earn an exotic artifact.
Much ado has been made about Avengers’ multiplayer mode, a series of replayable co-op missions called War Zones. All of these missions require a strike team of four heroes, with the computer controlling any hero without a human pulling the strings. The AI in Avengers is impressively competent—and notably far more attentive about revives than any human-controlled hero—so there’s no shame in running these solo. But, if you want to play with real-life human beings, you might have to make some compromises. Trying to match up with players on the mission you want to tackle while playing as the hero you want to play as is just too narrow a search parameter. It’ll take you ages to find other players (if you find one at all).
Instead of trying to launch specific missions with specific heroes, relinquish some of your control. At the War Table, tap up on the D-pad (on PS4) and make sure you’re on the “Avengers Initiative” operation. On the bottom of the map, you should see an option to select “Quick Match.” You won’t be able to select which mission you want to play, but you’ll have an easier time finding players to match up with. Further, you can choose to either play as a hero of your choosing, or leave it up to fate and go as any hero from your roster.
Currently, since Avengers doesn’t allow for duplicate heroes on strike teams, the latter seems to work best. I’ve yet to find a match while trying to select the hero I want on the mission I want. On the flip side, dropping into a quick match as a random hero has been relatively seamless. It doesn’t queue up as fast as, say, a Halo match, but I’ve reliably paired up without issue. If you’re comfortable playing as all six Avengers, that route’s your best bet.
As a small consolation, choosing either Quick Match option also grants you a minor experience bonus. It won’t help you level characters at the speed of light, but it does help speed up the process for any lower-level heroes. (For even more experience points, tackle missions on higher difficulty levels. I’ve found Challenge III to be a nice sweet spot that grants a noticeable boost without being unmanageably punishing.)
Kate Bishop (voiced by the inimitable Ashly Burch) is the first confirmed playable hero to join the Avengers roster. As Hawkeye’s mentee, she’s as skilled an archer as her teacher. But, in a divergence from source material, she also has the apparent ability to open portals. Her addition to the game will come with a dedicated Operation called “Taking AIM.”
Hawkeye himself is joining the roster, too. At the moment, the Weakest Avenger doesn’t seem to have any shiny new powers outside of “bearing a strong resemblance to Commander Shepard from the first Mass Effect.” He’ll come with his own dedicated Operation, too, called “Future Imperfect.” Square Enix hasn’t announced a release date for these characters but did describe their two respective missions as a “double feature.”
Spider-Man will come to the game early next year, but only for PlayStation players.
Beyond characters, a new hub area is en route. Called Substation Zero, it’s helmed by SHIELD commander Maria Hill and will launch alongside a narrative element involving temporal anomalies. Presumably, this will introduce a bunch of mind-bending quests. In the department of moonshots, I’m hoping you’ll finally be able to talk to both SHIELD and Inhuman faction vendors in one spot, as opposed to the current system that requires you to travel to the Helicarrier, talk to Alisande Morales, snag all of the SHIELD assignments, head back to the War Table, load up the Ant Hill, find Sarah Garza, and accept all of the Inhuman assignments, just so you can earn some faction points in the background as you tackle other tasks. But hey, maybe that’s just me.
A raid-like mode called AIM’s Secret Lab will be available at a soon but unspecified date. It’ll only be available once per week and is billed as a “true test of late-game co-op gameplay,” culminating in a boss fight that Square Enix says will call for more strategy than simply unleashing a torrent of superpowers. Best increase those Power levels now!