Today during the Avengers War Table stream, Crystal Dynamics gave us a further glimpse into their version of the Marvel Universe. No new playable characters were featured, but there were a number of cameos and the head of the villainous AIM was revealed.
First up, it looks like the primary villain will be MODOK, a character first teased in a leaked trophy listing. Scientist George Tarleton was caught in the Terrigen explosion disaster that creates the Inhumans and causes the Avengers to disband. Tarleton gains the power to control machines, but also becomes disfigured, with his head growing in size. He blames the Avengers and the stream kicked off with a trailer where he tries to convert Kamala Khan to his cause.
The name MODOK is actually an acronym standing for "Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing". The character first fully appeared in "Tales of Suspense" #94 back in 1967, where he was primarily a Captain America foe. He then moved onto become an Avengers villain and primary leader of AIM. According to Crystal Dynamics, Tarleton and Kamala are two sides of the same theme running through Marvel's Avengers.
"It created the best conflict of the two opposing themes: Are these people really superheroes? Or are they just mostly dangerous, powerful beings? Can we use science and technology to control and harness that power? Or is it their humanity, their empathy, or their differences that truly make them the greatest protectors of Earth?" Avengers creative director Shaun Escayg told Game Informer. "It was the perfect recipe for conflict and to showcase these opposing themes."
Other familiar Marvel characters appeared during the trailer as well. Agent of SHIELD Nick Fury seems to factor into the repeatable War Zone content, alongside fellow SHIELD agents Dum Dum Dugan and Maria Hill. Thor seems to have hidden out on Earth under the alias "Donald Blake", a reference to the human that Odin originally tied Thor's soul to way back in "Journey into Mystery" #83 (1962). The news caster shown in the trailer is also a deeper cut: that's Phil Sheldon, a long-time reporter who was the focus of the limited series "Marvels", created by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross in 1994.
The Avengers were also sporting some new costumes and looks during the stream. Iron Man popped up briefly in his Hulkbuster armor—that's probably just for a single sequence—but there was also the Bleeding Edge from Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca's run in 2010. Hulk has a version of the Green Scar from the Planet Hulk and World War Hulk storylines. Thor not only had his civilian Donald Blake look, there was also a small glimpse of an outfit that's either inspire by Thor's current costume or the outfit from the J. Michael Straczynski, Olivier Coipel, and Marko Djurdjevic run. Crystal Dynamics says that costumes can be unlocked in the game, but some will be available through the online store. The studio has committed to further levels and heroes being free though.
"Then, as we start adding more heroes and more regions, we actually will add more stories – like full stories that actually have a front and an end and like, ‘Hey, we’re introducing a new hero, and here’s an actual story arc through that particular region they may be a part of.’ That also includes new villains. We’ll actually get new villains – named villains – will start showing up. This world continually expands," studio head Scot Amos told Game Informer.
Marvel's Avengers is coming to PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on September 4, 2020. The game will also be coming to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, with free upgrades for previous generation owners. We played an earlier version of Marvel's Avengers last year and found an experience that improved or faltered depending on which hero you were controlling. Hopefully Crystal Dynamics has tightened up on that aspect ahead of launch.