First of all, I was under the impression that this Beta was still only available to the press and maybe only a pre-order bonus because I hadn't really heard anything about it outside some impressions pieces, but turns out this is freely available to the public via at the very least the PSN store. Personally, I'm pretty let down by its initial showing, though I just finished the big Hulk sequence and switched to Ms. Marvel so I know there's a bit more to go and this is the character a lot of people have had good things to say about. Still, I'm not sure liking one character and disliking another will be enough to change how I'm feeling about this demo so far.
Above all else, it just feels kind of sloppy. The environments are frankly very unimpressive after playing Last of Us 2, Ghost of Tsushima, Death Stranding, FFVII Remake and what little I got out of DOOM Eternal this year. Sometimes (there's a specific arena with a waterfall that has a bit of a Naughty Dog walk-and-talk involved) I've found myself amazed that this is a game saying goodbye to this console generation rather than hello to it; I went scrolling through my trophy list and I'm really not sure that there's a game I've played that felt this uncannily stuck in between things as this game has at times.
It's also a pretty rigid gameplay experience, and so far has felt like it wants to remind older players of other superhero games of the past two generations (we know the one[s]...) without coming off inaccessible or overly difficult to younger players, and so everything feels loose and gelatinous in weird ways on Normal difficulty while also offering almost zero challenge because, at the end of the day, these heroes ought to feel relatively invincible, right? The Bombcast guys got into a bit last week but the Hulk scenario just doesn't feel right - you're constantly being stun-locked and booted from attack animations, yet you're never lacking for health, yet the fights take forever because every enemy takes four or five hits and they all have projectiles that arbitrarily force you to re position and stop the smashing.
But more than anything, I worry about trying to inject more narrative into a game with clear Destiny influences (as a guy that usually likes a "mouse cursor" UI and can look past having to hold a button to confirm a menial choice, this UI is trashy) given what Crystal Dynamics was willing to show here. This is some very barebones stuff that only feels of its time in any way thanks to some shiny visuals (that, again, don't always feel that shiny at all) but otherwise give me flashbacks to the format of PS1 and PS2-era superhero games.
Obviously I'll finish the demo, but as somebody who was tentatively excited for this to become my new time-killing game du jour as I inevitably fade out of wanting to play MLB The Show over and over in the late fall, so far Marvel's Avengers feels like a mediocre brawler at best and a potentially super scummy micro-transaction haven at worst. I loved the gameplay of Tomb Raider and Rise of Tomb Raider, as well as the general world building and level design, and I thought Crystal Dynamics did a fine job of aping the Naughty Dog school of prestige cutscene direction without steadfastly adhering to their "no, it's a movie, dude!" ethos. I had really hoped that they'd be able to pull all the disparate interests of this Avengers game together into something truly fun, cool and a unique twist on the Diablo sort of formula they seem to be going for here...but I'm now among the many who are worried this game is going to be a bland yet mind-numbingly crowd-pleasing dud of the highest order.