Earlier this year, I finally had the opportunity to complete Marvel’s Avengers when the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S versions launched on March 18th. While I was very intrigued by certain aspects of the story, the repetitive missions, graphical hiccups, and continuous grind of leveling up characters greatly diminished my overall experience and made me feel as though Crystal Dynamics fumbled on the opportunity to create a quality Marvel game. When Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy was revealed during E3 2021, I had the same concerns and wondered how this game would be different from anything we’ve seen previously.
After spending some hands-on time with the upcoming title, I feel confident in saying that Guardians of the Galaxy also feels repetitive at times but definitely offers an overall much better experience than Avengers and might be a standout game this fall. Here are more of my thoughts on the demo along with a quick description of what this Marvel comics-inspired game has to offer to fans of the quirky superhero team.
Developed by Eidos-Montréal, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a single-player action-adventure game that puts players firmly in the shoes of Peter Quill aka Star-Lord. After an interstellar war leaves the entire universe full of peril and uncertainty, Peter is tasked with coming up with a solution and being the responsible leader that Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, and Drax the Destroyer can all rely on. As expected, further chaos ensues and shortly thereafter, the Guardians must work together to save the galaxy by eradicating every new threat that comes their way.
The demo that I participated in took place 4 hours into the game and followed the team as they escaped Lady Hellbender’s fortress en route towards a nova corps station to pay a fine. Prior to starting the mission, I was able to spend time exploring the Milano and engage in conversations with the other team members. Having these optional discussions are absolutely essential because they reveal further backstory information on both Peter and whoever he may be talking to at the time. The decision to add this dynamic is also smart because it allows the writers to expand the overarching narrative and provide more context to fully flesh out characters that newbies to the series might not yet be familiar with.
When it comes to playing the game, the controls are fairly straightforward and easy for anyone to dive into. Here is a quick rundown of the control mechanics based off of the controller that I used during my session:
- Press R3 to use your visor (highlights areas of interest and provides additional info)
- In Visor mode, compass displays current objectives at the top of the screen
- Double press X to activate your jet boots
- Press R2 to fire your element guns
- Use the R stick to aim, hold L2 to lock on a target and then press R2 to shoot
- Press square to perform a melee attack
- Press circle to do a quick dash
In addition to everything mentioned above, Rocket Raccoon also serves a very special purpose in the game as his workbench is used often to organize components and craft weapon perks like rapid reload and charged shot. Given that you are the squad leader, Star-Lord is able to access a mini wheel menu to command specific team members to perform certain actions as needed. When engaging in combat with enemies, for every 1000 XP earned you’ll be granted an ability point that can be used to unlock new skills for teammates.
When the huddle gauge is filled, pressing L1 and R1 brings the team together and allows you to set their mood as they go deeper into battle. Say the right thing and the entire team will receive a damage boost. Say the wrong thing and only you will receive the boost. Some enemies do have stagger bars below their health bars which makes them more resistant to damage. This means that you may have to work harder as a team in order to pull off special attacks and successfully defeat more challenging foes.
Talking a little bit more about the demo, once the Guardians arrive at the nova corps station they discover that it is completely abandoned. In an effort to learn more about why this is, they end up trespassing and after going through a series of puzzles, come face-to-face with some unrelenting adversaries. Throughout this entire experience, all of the controls and details that I mentioned above come into play. It is also worth noting how your response to subtle conversations could impact how the others view both you and your leadership skills moving forward. The demo only provided a very small glimpse into this aspect but was more than enough to make me eager to see how it progresses over the course of the full game.
When it comes to graphics, performance and overall presentation, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is pretty solid all around. The look and feel of the characters are inspired by the comics as opposed to the movies. As a fan of the MCU, I was worried that this might take some getting used to but the killer musical soundtrack, constant banter and voice acting among the cast pulled me back in fairly quickly. Furthermore, I didn’t encounter any overwhelming glitches that derailed my experience so in many regards this is definitely one Square Enix published Marvel title that they got right.
As I mentioned at the very start of this preview, the one area of concern that I do have about Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy lies solely within how repetitive certain aspects of it might end up becoming. It’s hard to tell for sure in a short hands-on session, but the team huddle option specifically is something that seems like it can get old rather quickly. While I do feel it is a cool idea that essentially involves you giving a pep talk to your colleagues, it does feel like it might grow stale after awhile if it doesn’t evolve into something more meaningful over time. If you continue to fail hyping up your team, there should be some consequences related to how they react to you. Again it’s hard to tell if this will be the case going just by the demo but luckily we won’t have to wait too much longer now to see if there is more to this concept in the actual finished product.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy launches on October 26th for Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. Stay tuned for our review and more details later this month.
This preview was based on a PC demo of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy provided by Square Enix.