'Marvel's Avengers' thinks you’re stupid and wants to waste your time

There are so many better adventures to go on.

You've probably played Marvel's Avengers before.

It was previously called Batman: Arkham Whatever, Marvel's Spider-Man, The Division, and Destiny 2. This new version is an attempt to squish these previous iterations together and add a layer of needless complication in order to motivate children to beg their parents to pay for microtransactions.

The beta for Marvel's Avengers was a disaster, if we're being honest. In an earnest attempt to work out the game's bugs, Square Enix allowed consumers to try out the worst, most craven parts of the game: Multiplayer grinding. While this allowed the company to plug various holes in its work, it also revealed its priorities: Make this glorified mobile game churn out as much cash as possible.

Make this glorified mobile game churn out as much cash as possible.

The actual retail release of the game is far larger than the beta would have had you believe. The combat portion, in which you play as one of a handful of Avengers, button mashing your way through fights alongside other heroes, is designed with the lucrative multiplayer market in mind. To that end, character's skill trees and cosmetics are needlessly complex so as to give consumers ample opportunities to feel inadequate in their progress and incentivized to spend more time on the game.

This is unfortunate, as this half of the game is fused with a surprisingly fun narrative campaign with great controls and nifty ideas about how to differentiate each character's play styles. Though it holds the player's hand far too much and can be a bit heavy on the quick time events, the actual story buried beneath the cynical game mechanics is perfectly fine. Essentially the events of the plot follow Kamala Khan, a young Muslim woman given polymorphic powers, as she goes from worshipping The Avengers to fighting alongside them against a villain who presents an existential crisis towards superheroism itself.

What results is a story about how great the Avengers are — which I'm sure Disney was incredibly pleased about. Is it anything you haven't seen before? Probably not — but the game's trite themes are made easier to swallow by virtue of seeing a young brown girl lead the pack. Is it transparently manipulative identity politics on behalf of several exploitative multinational corporations masquerading as an anti-corporate, anti-fascist call-to-arms? Yes. But it's better than Call of Duty!

The serviceable campaign and gorgeous visuals are completely torpedoed by the obsessive grafting of Destiny-like grinding to every aspect of gameplay. There are always more loot boxes, more costumes, more skills, more heroic skills, more master skills, more levels, more gear, more heroes, more missions, more multiplayer matches, more points, more in-game currencies, more challenge cards, more resources to be managed.

There's a lot of this. It stops being exciting.Square-Enix

This would be fine, great even, if the game were honest about this focus. Many people enjoyed FarmVille or Kim Kardashian: Hollywood and if that is what you want to make, go forth and shill. The problem with this game is that it attempts to bait fans of story-driven, single-player titles and then switch the game out with a grind-fest at the last second, which is not what grind-fest fans nor story-driven fans are looking for. But, hey, at least it's not another open-world game.

While it can be tempting to engage in anything that chews through time during quarantine, do not waste a moment on Marvel's Avengers. That is what the worst people working at Square Enix want you to do. Go outside for a walk and have your own adventure. Watch The Boys. Play Final Fantasy VII Remake. Collect real life resources and then cook a new recipe. Play Carrion. Listen to an artist you've never heard before in a genre you are unfamiliar with.

Please do anything but buy this game and encourage these people to further degenerate interactive storytelling.

A copy of Marvel's Avengers was provided to Input for review by Square-Enix. Marvel's Avengers is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Google Stadia, and Steam.