Following the advent of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, superheroes have reached a popular unseen since the golden age of comics, so it's no wonder that Marvel's Avengers will be releasing shortly after the end of the Infinity Saga. Of course, the game announcement did not come without its fair share of controversy. For example, some are upset with The Avengers' look, as it is less like the Marvel Cinematic Universe and more like adapted comic runs, which not all fans are familiar with. On top of that, one of the biggest points of contention is that the latest Avengers game will launch with only 6 playable characters, which is a far cry from the massive cast of Avengers: Endgame, but this could be for the better.
For those who didn't hear the E3 announcement, Marvel's Avengers is being developed by Crystal Dynamics, a studio well known for its work on the Tomb Raider series reboot. Square Enix will once again be publishing its work. The game will release on May 15th of next year, but fans are apprehensive about the small roster, which will consist of only Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hulk, and Ms. Marvel.
Crystal Dynamics has already confirmed that there will be no further characters available at release. There will be additional playable characters added to The Avengers' team overtime for free, however, the first of which has been confirmed to be Ant-Man. Crystal Dynamics' approach may be hinting at how it will be handling the game as a whole.
Limiting the number of playable characters fans have access to at the start may not be such a bad thing. If Crystal Dynamics' work on the Tomb Raider franchise is anything to base it off, Marvel's Avengers' should have a very engaging, character driven story. By keeping the cast smaller, it can spend more time developing each character and exploring their stories. This will be a departure from previous Marvel games like Marvel's Ultimate Alliance, which had a massive cast of characters.
This is a classic dichotomy between character driven stories and story driven characters. When stories contain large numbers of characters, it is necessary to put their motivations to the side to a certain degree, and allow the story to be the main focus. In this situation, the story would likely be the same regardless of who the characters are (It didn't matter who the players selected as their characters in Marvel Avengers Ultimate Alliance). This can be great for telling large scale stories, but often leaves some fans unsatisfied. One of the biggest complaints with Avengers: Endgame was the the very small amount of time spent on Black Widow's death. Despite the movie being significantly longer than a standard film, there simply wasn't time to explore the consequences of this event.
By contrast, stories with fewer characters have the freedom to dive deeper into their emotions, actions, and the consequences of those actions. The story is shaped by how the characters react to the events that unfold, and they have a direct impact on the outcome. Though neither approach is wrong by nature, this seems to be the preferred method in gaming at the moment. An upcoming game that showcases this perfectly is Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot. Dragon Ball games are notorious for having incredibly expansive playable character lists, yet Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot will feature only 9 playable characters, or so that is what has been revealed so far. This is because the developers want to make the story a priority.
Beyond this, more characters mean more balance issues. It is a lot easier to make six characters feel different but still be around the same power level than it is 30 or more. The low number of characters will allow developers to make every characters unique, while also establishing a baseline so that the process of adding new heroes is smother. Introducing characters overtime will also build excitement, help to maintain player base, and imbue the game with longevity.
The home of longevity is endgame content and replayability, and it's possible that an evergrowing roster and expansive Warzone mode will fill that role. This would be incredible, as great cooperative experiences are somewhat hard to come by now. There's no shortage of material to pull from, given that there are literally hundreds of Marvel heroes and stories from comics and movies that developers could utilize.
Of course, it's understandable why some would be upset, six here is very few, and many consider Ms. Marvel as a strange choice for the sixth. It's easy to think of plenty other more mainstream choices than her, but as with the character designs, her inclusion is more a homage to the comics, in which Ms. Marvel is a very important character. But given that the developers have promised free dlc characters down the line, there's really nothing to worry about. The roster will inevitably fill out more and fan favorite such as Hawkeye, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and more are all likely candidates for additions.
Marvel's Avengers' measly six playable characters may seem like a weakness at first glance, but digging deeper shows that it may come with many strengths as well. In-depth character development, better balance, and opportunity for exciting future releases are just a few of the possible benefits that come with keeping the list short to start. Hopefully, more information about Marvel's heroes to be added will show up in the coming months before the game's release next year.
Marvel's Avengers releases May 15, 2020, for PC, PS4, Stadia, and Xbox One.