Developer Crystal Dynamics may not have deliberately looked to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for inspiration, but the way Marvel's Avengers might incorporate additional playable characters with near-identical powers to heroes like Hulk and Iron Man could resemble the Echo Fighter concept from Smash Ultimate.
On August 8, Reddit user 6plus4equals52 posted information leaked from a data-mine of the Marvel's Avengers beta by tracing the network data. The original post, which has since been deleted, included code listing known playable characters like Hulk and Iron Man, but it also seemingly reconfirmed Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, as a playable character alongside three previously unknown heroes: War Machine, Kate Bishop, and She-Hulk.
The same leaker published a new post on Thursday with a link to all the code in a Pastebin page explaining that each playable hero has a Challenge Card where players can use "AvengerCoins (Credits) to buy HeroTokens (Challenge Points). Not only are War Machine, Kate Bishop, and She-Hulk included in this particular batch of code, but there's also Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, and Captain Marvel as well.
Spider-Man was confirmed as a PlayStation 4-exclusive on August 3, but Captain Marvel is an exciting new addition. Marvel's Avengers will launch with only a handful of playable characters, but if it takes a similar approach to character creation as Nintendo has with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, we could wind up with far more playable characters in the superhero game than you might think.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate may have a staggering 76 playable characters and counting, but seven of those fighters are little more than reskinned duplicates that Nintendo calls "Echo Fighters."
Dark Samus looks like Samus painted her armor black, and despite the fact that she hovers rather than runs, her moveset is identical. When you look at Simon and Richter Belmont, the differences are purely cosmetic. You could say the same for Daisy and Peach, along with Lucina and Marth. Dark Pit, however, does deal slightly more damage with some of his moves compared to his non-Dark counterpart, so there are more nuanced differences at play here.
But the Smash franchise has a history of Echo-like character designs even before they coined the concept. Anyone who's played Mario, Fox, or Ness can easily see the parallels to Luigi, Falco, and Lucas, respectively. Across the board, the moves you can execute with all of these characters look and feel the same with some unique twists and tweaks to how they handle.
Marvel's Avengers may take a very similar approach to incorporating more heroes from the Marvel Universe into the mix by reworking pre-built systems for individual characters.
In a July interview with Inverse, Marvel's Avengers Lead Combat Designer Vince Napoli confirmed that entire combat systems were created for individual characters in the game.
"Each time we got to the heroes, we asked, 'What's the most difficult answer here?' It's to write a system, even if you're going to only use it once with one character," Napoli said. "That's how we pulled the core out of these heroes and make them each feel distinct. It's definitely not the easy route to take, but it is the most rewarding."
It stands to reason that if a character like War Machine is indeed playable in Marvel's Avengers that the developers would just copy and retool Iron Man's combat system. After all, the War Machine suit is canonically a modified Iron Man suit within the Marvel Universe. War Machine might be bigger and slower with more firepower, but the core combat mechanics should be almost identical. He'll probably shoot rockets instead of lasers, but they'll be pretty similar.
You might say the same for Hulk and She-Hulk. She will definitely be smaller — and probably faster — but core abilities and overall functionality will probably be the same. And even though Carol Danvers doesn't have a magical hammer to throw around, it seems possible that she'll handle similar to Thor with a mix of Iron Man's laser attacks. By far the most precise example of a Marvel's Avengers Echo Fighter, however, will be how closely Kate Bishop will have to mirror Clint Barton — they're both archers with no superpowers after all.
By taking this particular approach, Crystal Dynamics could keep Marvel's Avengers players entertained for years to come by offering character-based DLC on a rolling basis, just like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has done.
Marvel's Avengers will be released on September 4, 2020.