This week, Marvel’s Avengers released Hawkeye as a new hero, who arrived with campaign missions and a new zone. It’s been a three month wait for him, as Kate Bishop launched in December, and before that it was a three month wait for her. And now it’s six months, at least, until Black Panther arrives.
The problem? The way Avengers content drops are structured means that you can wait three full months for Hawkeye’s release, play with him for a few hours, and then feel like there’s little else to do because of the nature of the release.
How does this work? So in this case, you get a new Future Imperfect campaign for Hawkeye, which consists of 4 or 5 story missions including a final boss fight against Maestro. I wrapped all that up in about an hour and forty five minutes.
Then there’s the grind to level 50, so you can unlock his full kit and all of his skills. Tasked with doing a bunch of stuff in the Wasteland, I re-ran a singular, post-campaign mission there a bunch of times and got to level 50 in maybe another two hours, gaining 3-5 levels per mission. Despite supposed nerfs to the XP curve, I didn’t notice them at all, and that process is still very fast. And I think that’s good, considering you want to get a character’s full range of abilities as soon as you can.
There’s another part to the Wasteland quest which will get me a new artifact, but it requires timegated Maestro villain sectors that appear to be bugged, as daily villain sectors have been bugged in some form or another since launch. And then there’s the much, much longer grind to gear level 130-150 (I’m at about 60 now), but that would have to be done using almost entirely old content, the same Hives and such I’ve run a hundred times before on seven other characters.
So after four hours it seems like the right move is to simply set Hawkeye down until other content in the roadmap arrives. And of course I still have nothing to do on the other 7 characters I’ve already maxed except chase more god roll gear for endgame content that doesn’t actually exist yet.
This problem reminds me of the way that Destiny’s DLCs used to work back in Destiny 2 year 1. They’d drop something like Curse of Osiris and Warmind and the bulk of players would beat the campaign missions and then put the game down for another few months until the next release. But even those had at least a few things to potentially farm (Escalation Protocol), while Avengers’ Wasteland seems to have launch with a tiny amount of missions, and a promised “Patrol” version of the zone to farm not coming for many more months. And in the meantime, there’s nothing like a raid to run utilizing your other maxed characters, as Avengers’ Omega-level threats still aren’t here and don’t have release dates.
This is the live service conundrum. Hawkeye is fun to play as, the new zone and missions are cool. But without some sort of clear farming loop utilizing new content, you’re stuck doing mostly stuff that’s been available since launch, and the game lacks true endgame content outside of its sprawling 40+ floor Mega Hive, which is not so much a challenge as it is a test of patience.
I think Avengers needs to solve its “loop” problem before it can drop more story content or focus on limited time events like some that are now on the roadmap. Without it, player retention will continue to be a problem, even if people come back briefly for new drops.
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I’ve been writing about video games, television and movies for Forbes for over 10 years, and you may have seen my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. I cover all