DEVELOPERS: Crystal Dynamics/Eidos Montreal
PUBLISHER: Square Enix
REVIEWED ON: PlayStation 4 (Slim) from a copy purchased by the author. Add-on content is free to download.
Marvel’s Avengers has struggled to retain an audience with its Games as a Service offerings, but something that has caused players to come back, at least or a few hours, are its single-player “Operation” expansions. Say what you will about Square Enix’s take on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, but what’s nearly universally loved about it was its main campaign, something that can thankfully be replayed thanks to its latest update. When you strip away the cynicism brought on by its desire to keep you playing forever, the developers at Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal have proven they have a love and understanding of the universe they get to play around in.
The first “Operation”, Taking Aim, introduced Kate Bishop to Marvel’s Avengers small roster of characters, and upon completing Kate’s accompanying missions, it teased the arrival of her mentor, Clint “Hawkeye” Barton and hints about the future direction of the game’s ongoing narrative. Like Taking Aim, Hawkeye’s “Operation”, Future Imperfect, puts another great character into play, however it doesn’t really move the needle story wise in the same way that Taking Aim did, especially considering that it’s now known that players will have to wait awhile for the next Avenger to join the fray.
Taking place directly after the events of Taking Aim, Future Imperfect opens in the new apocalyptic wasteland environment where you control an older version of Hawkeye, inspired by the character’s appearance in stories like Old Man Hawkeye. From there, it jumps back to the present as a younger Clint, awoken by these visions, works with his fellow teammates and protégé to stop them from coming to pass.
Along with Old Man Hawkeye, Future Imperfect also borrows from, obviously, the comic story of the same name as well as the Hawkeye run from writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja. All are mere window dressing, however, so don’t expect this expansion to adapt them in a meaningful way. There is an underlying message about an individual, no matter how small or insignificant, making a difference which is developed throughout the brief runtime that’s at least a good takeaway for the audience in this small adventure though.
About the most that you get from the Fraction/Aja stories outside of Hawkeye’s t-shirt is a brief stop to Clint’s apartment, which looks just like every other building from the Eastern Seaboard maps, with the unforgettable Track Suit Mafia replaced by the game generic jetpack goons that players have been tussling with since launch. Thankfully though, Lucky, Clint’s dog introduced in the story, becomes a permanent resident of the Chimera helicarrier who you can indeed pet once you rescue them, with each Avenger getting their own unique animations when interacting with them.
Future Imperfect’s big additions are a new environment, the wasteland, and a new villain in the Maestro, an intelligent Hulk who is the last surviving super being in it. After months of the same maps, it’s nice to get some fresh scenery to play around in, but the wasteland feels like the badlands just with an orange hued sky and filled with dilapidated buildings and rundown cars. Regardless, AIM’s robotic forces have survived, the Taskmaster is back with a slightly adjusted costume, and there are still plenty of chests with gear nearby so it’s still business as usual.
The Maestro himself is the end campaign boss, and while he’s certainly tougher than Abomination, the tactics you use to confront him are exactly the same. As you don’t really see the character much throughout Future Imperfect, the battle itself also holds little weight as you chip away at the mighty behemoths flesh with your arsenal of arrows.
Clint is now the second character added to Marvel’s Avengers post launch, and while there’s certainly some similarity with Kate Bishop – they’re both sword wielding archers after all – there’s enough differences between the two to make him exciting to play with. Like Kate before him, Clint is Future Imperfect’s greatest asset as his moves, both in traversal and combat, are a lot of fun to experiment with.
Whereas Kate added stolen AIM tech to her arsenal, allowing her to briefly teleport and create a holographic duplicate to assist her, Clint relies far more on his athleticism, becoming a mixture of Captain America and Black Widow in that he can wall run and use grappling hook arrows. Depending on how you chose to power him up, Clint can be helpful in a lot of different team-up scenarios when engaged in combat.
His sword makes him a deadly close-quarters fighters, while his arsenal of arrows allow him to do everything from creating a healing field to launching a volley of explosive arrows down upon a clustered group of enemies. His Ultimate attack even sends a flurry of homing arrows about that’s not unlike Yondu in the Guardians of the Galaxy films. Your patience with Marvel’s Avengers still mostly repeated content might keep you from staying with it upon completing Future Imperfect, but how fun and versatile Hawkeye’s abilities make a compelling case to keep going, at least or a little while.
If you’re expecting Future Imperfect to be a game changing expansion to Marvel’s Avengers, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment. Given the games rocky launch and post-release content drought, there’s perhaps a little bit too much pressure but upon the “Operation” expansions, at least in the case of the first two. The real game changer will perhaps be the War for Wakanda scheduled for later this year.
Like Taking Aim, you’re getting a terrific new character that’s highly enjoyable to play around with, however the story itself and the new additions in Future Imperfect won’t exactly change your mind on Marvel’s Avengers if you have since moved on from it. Still, whether you have it in your digital library, sitting on the shelf, or you’re just now coming to it because of the next-gen upgrade, it’s at the very least worth jumping back in if but for the handful of hours Future Imperfect lasts just to play around with Hawkeye alone.
Marvel’s Avengers is available now on the PlayStation and Xbox family of systems as well as Google Stadia and PC.