Marvel's Avengers Developers Don't Think Players Will Have Level-Grinding Problems
Christopher Baggett
Players getting ready for Marvel's Avengers are already facing a problem. There are six playable characters at launch, with many more planned for the game's future. So how does level grinding work?
Every hero has a Power Level and a Hero Level that is raised individually, but DLC characters present a problem. Will players have to continually grind levels with those characters, even when new DLC is being released months or years from now? Crystal Dynamics has accounted for this, though, and built the idea of the level grind into the game to make it more enjoyable for players. We had the opportunity to speak with Scot Amos, Studio Head of Crystal Dynamics and Lauryn Ash, a game designer on Marvel's Avengers about their early-access Beta and how level grind affects the main game.
Level grinding was, for years, just a problem RPG players faced. Long sessions of doing nothing but fighting in open fields to get a party up to level 99 was common in games like Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest. In the more modern age, the popularity of games like World of Warcraft has led more games to adopt an MMO-like structure. The result is more games today that have a gameplay loop centered around taking every character you have and spending hours working on getting them to a level cap so you can tackle endgame content such as raids and co-op missions with friends.
Fortunately, the team behind Marvel's Avengers is aware of this, and has taken the concern of endless level grinding to heart while making the game. "We do have those affordances in the system to allow these new heroes to become a little bit easier and a little bit faster in that progression. Not by much, but by enough to where you will notice it," game designer Lauryn Ash explained to CBR. The developers also assured us there would be items and strategies to help level up characters that weren't available in the Beta.
Crystal Dynamics studio head Scot Amos explained, "Say I'm playing Iron Man, and I get to a high level of Iron Man. When I start playing Black Widow, I want to go back to learn all of her skills...Now I have a high powered Iron Man with me as well. That will change my experience if my team is geared up and powered up."
Amos is referring to Companion AI, the game's flagship system for solo players. The idea is that, when playing Marvel's Avengers alone, players can use the characters they've already leveled up and customized as AI-controlled party members. This means that even when a new character is on your team, the remainder of your party will be comprised up of high-level characters who can easily help you tackle bigger challenges to maximize XP gains. "If you have a maxed-out Hero Level 50, Power Level 150 Iron Man on your team, he's on your team," Amos explained. "So if you're playing as a new Black Widow or as a new Hulk, having these giant cannons with you that are working as part of your team will help you accelerate those curves as you're going through the content."
This means solo players can have just as much fun as those playing with a squad, something for which Ash expressed her passion. "I'm also a solo player that does a lot of companion based games [and] MMORPGs. The heart of this is being able to play your team. Leveling up one of your favorite heroes is already going to make it easier to level up your other heroes as well, and hopefully, they'll become your favorites as well."
Regardless, the experience is all building up to a story-driven, launch-day experience that is just the beginning of something bigger, which is what Amos hopes will be the drive for Marvel's Avengers' future. "I think people will enjoy it when they see it...You get the sense that the end of the campaign is just the beginning of the Avengers Initiative. When you end with all your heroes at a certain Power Level, at a certain Hero Level, you've learned their core mechanics and now you have to ask yourself who do I want to invest in? Where do I want to take them? I think there are some surprises that people will delight in on launch day." While we don't know the full extent of Crystal Dynamics' DLC plans or how long it plans to support the game for, what we have seen indicates that Marvel's Avengers' future is bright.
Developed by Crystal Dynamics and Eidos-Montréal and published by Square Enix, Marvel's Avengers arrives on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Google Stadia and PC on Sept. 4.