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Marvel's Avengers game release date, characters, trailer and gameplay

And thus, a journey that began and ended with the words "I am Iron Man" has come to a close. With 22 films, all of which are blockbusters in their own right, a finale that currently owns the all-time worldwide box office record, the complete domination of pop culture, and a fond farewell to several of our favorite heroes on film, the saga of the Avengers is finally over.

On film, that is. On consoles, Earth's Mightiest Heroes have literally not even begun to assemble. Crystal Dynamics, however, is looking to change that, with their upcoming game, which will be taking a much different direction with these characters we all now know and love. It's been a couple of years since Marvel and Square Enix perked everyone's ears with an all-too-brief teaser trailer, but E3 2019 finally delivered the goods. We now have a pretty decent grasp on what exactly the Avengers are going to get up to next year, and we've collected everything we know into this handy guide.

The release date for Marvel's Avengers

Marvel's Avengers will be hitting PS4, Xbox One, PC, and yes, even Stadia, on May 15. At the moment, it's got the month all to itself, but as we all know, no matter how mighty you are, someone's always going to try and take a swing at you. Eventually, someone's going to step in that game's path, plant itself like a tree, and say, "No, you move." It won't, but bless whatever that game turns out to be for trying.

Having said that, as we saw at E3, 2020 is still shaping up to be absolute chaos for video games. Never mind the giant gorillas in the room like the Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Cyberpunk 2077, and Halo Infinite, E3 flat out buried us in outstanding-looking big games all set to drop sometime during the course of the year. And that's on top of the looming threat of the official announcements for the PlayStation 5 and whatever final name Microsoft winds up giving Project Scarlett. That's all to say, an Avengers video game dropping in the middle of all that means it'll be right at home. 

The trailer for Marvel's Avengers

The big coming out party for the game was the above trailer, dropped at the tail end of Square Enix's big E3 presentation. It's only three minutes long, and there's just so much to unpack, but it is, exactly, what it sets out to be: a too-brief look at the set up of the game, our heroes in action, and enough elements to ask some major questions. Out of the din of E3, though, the one thing nobody seems to be asking is who exactly is the unseen narrator?

Still, beyond that, we also get a taste for the action, and even though the game's trying to distance itself from the films, there's no doubt that's where Crystal Dynamics is taking their cues from as far as the way each character looks, moves, and acts. In that aspect, if nothing else, these are the moving interpretations we've spent the last ten years watching.

The cast of Marvel's Avengers

As you might've noticed, that's not Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johansson playing Tony, Steve, and Nat, much to the chagrin of many a fan. That decision rightfully demands answers.

Well, to hear Crystal Dynamics tell it, that option was never even on the table. Right from the start, it was a conscious choice to give the studio the freedom to tell the story it wanted to. That makes sense, considering how meticulously the films have crafted their continuity. It's the same freedom that allowed Insomniac's Marvel's Spider-Man on PS4 to take the character risks it did. Same can be said for Into the Spider-Verse.

In addition — and this is really the more important thing — Crystal Dynamics have definitely assembled all-stars appropriate to the medium. Tony, Bruce, Nat, and Thor are being played by Nolan North, Troy Baker, Laura Bailey, and Travis Willingham respectively. As far as video game performer royalty goes, that's an A-list full house right there. We could be here all day listing off not just their credits, but games they've all been in together.  Combine that with the fact that the game is being directed by Shaun Escayg, a Naughty Dog veteran who directed Lost Legacy, and that points to a game in good hands.

The Square Enix/Crystal Dynamics pedigree

Marvel's Avengers is coming from a developer and publisher combo that's worked — ahem — absolute marvels in the past. After Square Enix bought Crystal Dynamics' parent company Eidos back in 2009, the first AAA title we got was the exceptional Tomb Raider reboot, completely redeeming a franchise that had been wallowing in a gutter of quality for almost a decade. They'd go on to make two more major games in the series, which both pushed the envelope in their own ways. 

But really, Square Enix itself is a seal of ambition, if not quality. This has never been a company content with letting anybody under their umbrella rest on their laurels and pump out things we've seen before. From Final Fantasy wildly flitting between aesthetics and ideas game after game, to quietly supporting little experiments like Life Is Strange and Left Alive, Square has a track record of pushing ideas into weird and exciting places. It's not a bad idea to keep some faith that letting those folks held shepherd and steward a new take on The Avengers was a smart move. They've already delivered some exceptional takes on these heroes in statue form. No doubt some extra TLC is going into the game. 

The story in Marvel's Avengers

Thankfully, unlike the movies, it doesn't look like it's going to take six games to get the group together here. No, in this case the Avengers have been doing their superheroic thing for a while and are being honored with their own little holiday called A-Day. But suddenly, there's an attack, led by Taskmaster. Our heroes all spring into action, but unfortunately, something in the chaos triggers a catastrophic blast which levels half of San Francisco and (seemingly) kills Steve Rogers in the process. 

Shortly after, all heroes appear to be outlawed, without even a Sokovia Accord to let them off the chain once in a while. That doesn't stop the world from being in peril, though, and somehow, some way, the Avengers are going to have to reassemble to save the day again.

In addition, the game has indicated that Terrigen Crystals are in this story. In the comics, these have been used to awaken dormant superpowers in supposedly ordinary people. How will all of this fit in? We'll just have to see.

The gameplay in Marvel's Avengers

Here's where things get a little tricky. A lot of buzzwords were dropped at E3, but not a whole lot of hard and fast specifics, which is a bit weird. Still, we do have a couple of good solid facts, and some dots can be connected. 

For starters, as is obvious, the game will be a third-person action game with some QTEs, right in line with what we've seen each character do in other moving media. The devs swear they'll go go easy on the QTEs, though. The game can be played single player but also supports up to four players in co-op missions that get unlocked along the way. Sadly, no couch co-op is included. Crystal Dynamics is also promising regular content updates, and "nearly limitless" ways to customize its roster of heroes, which is nice, as long as Square Enix doesn't get greedy. This all points to Avengers being a live service, and there's a right and a wrong way to pull that off. Choose wisely, Crystal Dynamics. 

None of that really answers the question of how it flows in action, though. While not ideal, some of the footage from Square's Comic-Con presentation has leaked, which gives a clearer look. In a word: promising. 

Who's in this version of the Avengers?

From what it looks like, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hulk, and Captain America are going to be the focus, at least at first. Yes, Captain America supposedly dies early on, and if you believe he's staying dead, we have some IRL stolen vibranium to sell you. 

The core group may be the focus, but they're most certainly not going to be alone. A brief clip shown during E3 has Hank Pym show up with an unwieldy-looking shrink ray to make quick work of a giant crawling spider mech. Given they're planning to support this game for years upon years after launch, right in line with the regular content updates, Square Enix is promising that even more heroes will be joining the fight. Even better, they won't be couched in loot boxes or paid purchases or any of that nonsense. That's definitely a blessing.  Course, that does beg the question of what exactly they are planning to charge for, given that there still will be microtransactions. But that's a future problem.

More Marvel games may be coming from Square Enix

Even though new heroes are definitely in the cards, the Avengers game isn't necessarily the only place where they show up. See, Square Enix's big fancy deal with Marvel is not only for multiple years, but multiple projects. One of which, according to a source who's talked to Kotaku, is apparently a Guardians of the Galaxy game. 

Granted, that news has the side effect of reminding everybody that we're not getting a sequel to Telltale's underrated Guardians series, but look, if we weep over everything Telltale could've done — looking at you, Stranger Things — we'll be here all day. But the news does hint that Crystal Dynamics' Marvel universe is about to be a much more expansive thing that the trailers thus far have let on. At bare minimum, it'll involve going to space eventually, with a whole ton of DLC characters in tow. At most, a Marvel Video Game Universe is not out of the realm of possibility. Hopefully, Insomniac's Spidey gets an invite to the party.

Special editions for Marvel's Avengers

At this current moment, there are no special or collector's editions planned for the game. Really that's kind of a blessing. Square Enix hasn't exactly been, shall we say, subtle about pushing pre-order and super fancy editions long before the games are even out there. Gaze upon how many Final Fantasy 7 Remake editions there are already, and despair. 

So, it's actually not the worst thing in the world that Marvel's Avengers hasn't been spread out eight ways from Sunday just yet. Then again, it's Square Enix; editions are coming and you know it. Instead, at the moment, there's just one nice little bonus for pre-ordering the game from your retailer of choice: you'll get first crack at the game's beta when it happens. In addition, the PS4 will actually be getting the beta about a week before all the other platforms

What to play before Marvel's Avengers

So, before the game is in our hands, we'll all need to kill some time. What else have we got? Well, for starters, there's a new Team Ninja-developed Marvel: Ultimate Alliance out there if you own a Switch. Pity for Switch folks that game is all they'll ever get, but it's a pretty nice consolation prize. 

For those on the bigger machines, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, for the time being, is still on Xbox One and PS4. These huge licensed titles don't last forever, though, as folks who owned Marvel vs Capcom 2 and Marvel vs Capcom Origins can attest. Best jump on it while you can. 

Oh, and yes, Marvel vs Capcom Infinite still exists. And you didn't know that, because that's literally the first time anyone's thought about Infinite in two years.

Other than that, it's rather slim pickings for Marvel games at the moment, despite the soaring success of the film franchise. That's part of why Marvel's Avengers will be such a big deal when it finally does arrive.