Black Panther has arrived in Marvel’s Avengers with the War For Wakanda Expansion. This is the latest addition to the game since Kate Bishop and Hawkeye were added to the game shortly after the main release in September 2020. Today I am checking out the War For Wakanda and I’ll give you my first impressions.
As a little background on my experience with Marvel’s Avengers, I played through the main campaign and then fell off shortly after. I didn’t get into the endgame content as much as I would have liked, given the loot isn’t very well represented in the game. I did enjoy the main story and treated it like a single-player game. Since the game launched in September 2020, a PS5 upgrade has been released, plus the new expansions are free content, so I thought I’d jump back into the game and see if The War For Wakanda would be enough to bring me back in.
The War For Wakanda is the biggest expansion to Marvel’s Avengers so far. One great feature of the game is you don’t have to level up your existing characters, as Black Pather’s adventures act as a stand-alone story, so you can jump in immediately. This is different from other live-service-style games where there’s a certain amount of leveling up necessary to get into the new content, there’s none of that here so as soon as the expansion arrived, I could start it immediately.
The War For Wakanda is an original story and the team at Crystal Dynamics collaborated with Evan Narcisse, a writer from the Black Panther comic series. The story picks up after the events of A-Day (the base campaign in Marvel’s Avengers). King T’Challa has closed the borders of Wakanda, however, Ulysses Klaw has somehow found his way in. Klaw wants the country’s vibranium, and T’Challa has to team up with the Avengers to push him out of the kingdom.
Black Panther is the new playable character introduced in the War For Wakanda and he’s a close-up, all-action character who plays in a similar way to Black Widow. You can attack with punches, kicks, but you also have a ranged attack too. He has a lethal Pounce, where you can leap towards enemies and pin them to the ground. Percussive Blast attacks with a blast of kinetic energy and there’s the Devastating Daggers, a ranged attack with knives.
There’s a couple of Heroic attacks too including the Assualt King’s Mercy, where you summon a vibranium spear and throw it at your enemies, pinning them to the ground. The Support Heroic is Kimoyo Beads, which act as support by stunning enemies. T’Challa’s Ultimate Heroic summons a spectral projection of a panther, which grants Black Panther a major damage buff.
As well as Black Panther himself, Wakanda is another huge component of the expansion. This includes the lush jungle as well as a new outpost called Birnin Zana, the capital city of Wakanda. The new environments are huge, filled with enemies and secrets to find too. In my first few hours of gameplay, I enjoyed some of the environment puzzles, like identifying the correct runes to unlock areas in the jungle. This felt more like a Zelda game than the previous installment of Marvel’s Avengers. There are new enemies to accompanying Klaw. He has vibranium powered mercenaries and soldiers with sonic abilities. There are spider-like crawler enemies too, which offer a nice variety to the combat and enemy types.
The production value of the expansion is huge; there’s a great cast of voice actors, the environments look and sound great. It really feels like you are playing a part in the Black Panther movie. I liked the original story, although I’m not the biggest Marvel fan, so anything outside the movies is pretty new to me.
Finally, there are some important UI updates too. The character menu has been updated with all the important information on one screen, and this allows quick access to gear and upgrades, spending less time in menus and more time in the action.
The War For Wakanda promises 25 hours of gameplay, a new single-player campaign over a series of stories, plus events coming soon.
My initial impressions of the expansion are pretty good. It’s been a minute since I played and the combat feels good, and this offers a unique gameplay experience. I don’t know of another game where I can jump in and play as Black Panther, whereas there are plenty of games where I can play as Hulk, Iron Man or Captain America. Black Panther feels great to play, he’s a close-up martial arts style character, and you’ll be jumping around the enemies in no time at all. I did find the opening levels a little tricky, but I am putting this down to me being rusty having not played the game for nearly a year. The environments are lush and the story content so far is entertaining, and the set pieces are pretty spectacular.
Having said that after only a few hours I did feel that familiar sinking feeling coming back again. The gameplay is repetitive, and although entertaining at first I can’t imagine this holding my attention for much longer than the campaign. The enemy AI doesn’t feel that smart and the boss battles are fairly basic when compared to other games that are out there on the market. The game was and still is very button mashy. I’m going to stick with it for the campaign and finish that up because I’d like to see where the story goes and also Black Panther’s interactions with the other Avengers.
If you, like me, haven’t picked up The Avengers in a little while, now is the perfect time to jump back in. The expansion is free, plus if you have a PS5 you can upgrade your game to the current-gen. I originally bought the game back on PS4, half because of the promise of Spider-man sometime in the future, but it’s great to get that next-gen upgrade plus The War For Wakanda for free. After some time away from the game the fatigue of the original gameplay has gone, and the story is entertaining. I’d love the game to succeed, however, I’m not sure there’s enough here to bring me back past the campaign. It’ll be interesting to see where the game goes from here.
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PS4, PC
Release Date: 17th August 2021