With War for Wakanda, Marvel’s Avengers offers its most ambitious expansion so far. At the same time, it’s hard to do otherwise when it focuses on Black Panther, a hyper-popular superhero since Ryan Coogler’s 2018 film. But while Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix have pulled out all the stops to the point of securing the services of Christopher Judge in the lead role, what is this new free DLC really worth? After completing the (short) main campaign, let’s find out.
For anyone unfamiliar with Marvel’s Avengers expansion model, here’s a quick reminder. Like the two former DLCs featuring Kate Bishop and Hawkeye, the War for Wakanda single-player campaign and Black Panther’s character can be accessed for free by all game owners. On the other hand, the paid section is for Black Panther’s battle pass. Actually, each character has its own weekly and daily challenges that award points to progress in the challenge map, the name was given to the game’s battle passes. But to access these rewards, you must first unlock this battle pass for the in-game currency. Basically, all the paid part of Marvel’s Avengers includes cosmetic items such as outfits, emotes, or finishing moves.
IN THE SHADOW OF THE MCU
That being said, Marvel’s Avengers: War for Wakanda is based, as its name suggests, in Wakanda, a fictional African country that is technologically advanced thanks to a unique metal, Vibranium. Obviously, because of the incredible properties of this material, the country is the target of numerous interests, which has led it to hide from the world for years. Despite this, a mercenary obsessed with Vibranium named Ulysses Klaue manages to infiltrate the kingdom in order to get his hands on the country’s reserves. King T’Challa, determined not to sit back and wait, puts on his Black Panther suit and decides to face the invader to protect his people. In his fight, he will be supported by the Avengers who arrive at the same time as the AIM, the antagonists of the game, to lend him a hand.
As you can see, War for Wakanda takes a lot of elements from Ryan Coogler’s 2018 film Black Panther. This is even felt in the characters introduced since we find Shuri, T’Challa’s sister, as well as Okoye and her Dora Milaje, the elite female warriors who make up the royal guard. If the story itself is quite classic and goes straight to the point, it’s mainly by its universe that this expansion brings a real breath of fresh air to Marvel’s Avengers. Whether it’s the hub at the heart of Birnin Zana, the country’s capital, the luxuriant jungles, or the Vibranium mines, the variety brought by these frankly successful environments is a pleasure to experience. At least, this new universe has the benefit of changing the eternal laboratories full of robots that players used to meet in multiplayer. Certainly, this is a good occasion to experience the unique futuristic Wakanda’s design that was already present in the MCU film.
This sense of diversity is also offered in the different gameplay phases during the single-player campaign. Thus, there are as many platform sequences as “tower defense” and also puzzles. If this is not revolutionary, these phases have the ability to bring a pleasant diversity between two fights which are still the heart of the title. However, this does not prevent certain portions of the levels from being reproduced identically from one mission to the next. The same is true for multiplayer operations, but this is not surprising since this was already the case after the previous DLC. In general, the online missions take elements from the story mode to offer shorter and more concentrated gameplay sequences to play with other players.
By the way, it’s time to make an update on the true life span of this expansion. Before its release, some media had understood that the expansion was supposed to last 25 hours, which was actually a big misunderstanding. In fact, the developers explained that the entire game offers a 25-hour single-player campaign, that is, including the base game and its three DLCs. Thus, the single-player adventure of War for Wakanda offers 5 missions for a playing time of more than four hours if you take your time. A duration in the average of the other free expansions, although a little longer. Obviously, this estimate does not take into account the multiplayer content on which players will have to spend several hours to increase the level of their hero and their equipment.
If the life span of this campaign is not very long, it still allows players to get used to Black Panther, the big star of this expansion. In terms of gameplay, the character can be compared to Captain America in the sense that he focuses more on hand-to-hand combat than ranged. Thanks to his Vibranium armor, Black Panther can build up kinetic energy and release it when an enemy attacks him to produce a counter. He can also rush at an opponent to tackle him to the ground or climb on a large enemy to strike with his claws. Concerning his powers, he can throw Kimoyo beads to stun his enemies or stab them with the spear. Moreover, his unique ability creates a black panther and grants him a special damage boost… A fairly nice character to play and that gives the feeling of playing as Black Panther. Like the other superheroes in the game, it will take some time to master him perfectly and manage to pull off fluid and effective sequences.
Despite all these new features, this new expansion doesn’t make Marvel’s Avengers free of all its flaws, starting with the numerous bugs. Although most of them are visual and not annoying, we still encountered a crash during our game session. Moreover, the single-player campaign is sometimes painful to go through because of artificial intelligence which is not always of great help. One thinks in particular of the “tower defense” phases where the objectives are difficult to defend because of the inactivity of your allies. Concerning the new enemies, including the two new bosses, they use sound attacks that blur your screen. Already the action in the game is often confusing, this new disturbance makes the fights even more confusing, even downright painful at times. However, it should be noted that the title has made efforts to make its menus clearer thanks to a brand new interface that makes it easier to upgrade and dismantle your equipment.
In conclusion, the most important asset of War of Wakanda is that it provides a great boost to Marvel’s Avengers thanks to its many new features. Characters, environments, enemies, bosses… Thanks to this expansion, the title finally shows some diversity compared to the endless labs full of robots encountered before. Moreover, if the story is not very original, we can only highlight the quality of the artistic direction which gives a real visual identity to Wakanda. In spite of all these new features, the title remains true to itself and once the single-player campaign is over, the experience only offers to replay the missions to improve your characters. Thus, those who have abandoned the game will find a new and pleasant adventure, while veterans will appreciate the new features of the expansion. In the meantime, players are still waiting for the arrival of the Wasteland Patrol mode and the next hero added to the game should be Spider-Man… exclusively on PS4 and PS5.