December 8th marked the release of the first character DLC for Marvel’s Avengers – Operation: Taking AIM. When I originally reviewed the game, it had its fair share of issues. Kate Bishop enters the scene as a very well-balanced character and carries her storyline with charismatic wit that challenges even Tony Stark. Be that as it may, with the reported decline in the game’s player base, many gamers are wondering if Kate is worth giving the game another shot?
Note: I am playing on the Xbox Series X.
Taking AIM is an ambitious DLC piece that reminds us that Marvel’s Avengers has strength in its narrative. The Avengers are still reeling from the campaign’s events, and Dr. Rappaccini’s own machinations are pushing forward. She doesn’t seem interested in the Avengers. They may be the occasional thorn in her side, but she shows few signs that they are any more than powerful inconveniences.
We pick up the story through Tony Stark. The Avengers are certain that Dr. Rappaccini is behind the Tachyon Storms, disturbances in time and space that are the in-game explanation for the Tachyon Rift missions. So, they make it their mission to storm a newly discovered AIM facility. The mission’s environmental assets are familiar but are reintroduced to us differently, such as the Mission’s Winter weather.
“And uh… That’s my cue.”
It’s only once unlocking Kate that we’re treated to an engrossing experience. She, and many others, were left to fend for themselves when the Avengers disbanded. The events of A-Day have left her relationship with our Heroes strained; She felt abandoned while the Avengers assumed she was dead. Regardless, they put all of it aside to search for another of their own: Clint Barton, the original Hawkeye.
I won’t get too specific because it is part one of a story that is pleading with players to give it a shot. Kate Bishop is wonderfully voiced by Ashly Burch, putting to rest the idea that the voice acting would be rushed. Crystal Dynamic’s team of writers excel at making these characters believable.
A Thrilling Character
Kate Bishop’s toolkit sees her able to adapt to any situation. She resorts to melee and ranged combat while using her teleportation device to navigate the battlefield. The creative team was given a lot of room to figure out her character, so comic fans may wonder why she’s teleporting, to begin with.
Trained by Hawkeye, she would let her mentor down if she didn’t handle the bow and arrow so well. She is very satisfying at long distance or in close quarters, weaving together her bow and arrow skills with punishing sword strikes. As expected, she has an arsenal of trick arrows at her disposal that excel at increasing an enemy’s stun meter. Between her teleportation and her holographic decoy, she is fully capable of escaping any sticky situation.
Read Square-Enix’s reveal post for the full rundown of her abilities.
To be blunt, there isn’t much new to the game besides Kate Bishop and her campaign. The modes within may not be carbon copies of missions past, but the differences are minute. Saving hostages now involves striking a melee component and then hitting the ranged targets. A vault mission in Taking AIM changes the layout, making it a slightly more difficult undertaking than usual. This was the first time an enemy managed to reset a vault on me. There are also new hazards in her missions, but I haven’t seen them in the Avengers Initiative.
A few characters from comic book lore appear; I will leave that as a surprise. Taking AIM’s Super Adaptoid was revealed before release, and while it is an impressive boss, the same cannot be said for a Warbot side-boss. The narrative makes it sound like a new villain. While that’s IS the case, the enemy is presented in a Warbot with a color palette swap.
Our first new Hero Challenge Card
I, unfortunately, activated the hero challenge card before taking this screenshot. It costs 1000 credits, and once you do activate it, previously grayed out items are labeled “activated.” If you progress forward without activating it, the items you would have collected will automatically unlock once you decide to activate it.
On the DLC front, Crystal Dynamics handles the hero challenge cards so that I did not have to spend a single penny beyond the game’s purchase. I advanced through the other challenges cards to receive enough credits. That’s not to say the stellar execution will hold when character releases drop faster.
There is another basic training session, Kate’s Iconic Mission Chain, and her personalized HARM training. Crystal Dynamics included mechanics in the game that weren’t explained upon release. This training rectifies that, going over apply status effects, the stun meter, how to perform critical attacks, etc. Players figured much of this out on their own or through communications with the devs, but an official in-game tutorial is the best option.
Yes, there are glitches
There were three glitches I encountered while playing the game.
While teleporting in mid-air during a drop zone mission (Avengers Initiative), Kate’s character model froze, slowly hovering forward. Her direction could not be changed, but she was naturally descending. After 10 seconds, Kate touched the ground, and everything was back to normal. You’re supposed to step on pressure plates in the same mission to open the door to a treasure chest. I stepped on the plate, it lowered, and then immediately popped back up. I was unable to open it.
The last glitch I encountered happened so quickly that I wasn’t able to register what occurred fully. I received an item, but it said something like “Warning: Missing Item Name.” So far, that doesn’t seem to impact my game negatively.
Marvel’s Avengers has been struggling with its player base, and the introduction of Kate Bishop may not remedy that. The content is of good quality, but the game could use quantity. Crystal Dynamics is well aware they can craft a thrilling storyline, but once her campaign is done, it’s back to the lackluster Avengers Initiative.
Their plans are taking shape, though. There are ample teases of a future storyline that will excite comic fans and newcomers alike. If Marvel’s Avengers hopes to maintain its relevance in the gaming community, releases like Kate Bishop will need to happen more often.