Marvel’s Avengers: Black Panther War For Wakanda is DLC content for Marvel’s Avengers, developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix. Even as the Avengers struggle to prevent a future that sees the Earth reduced to a wasteland, the African nation of Wakanda fights its own battle against AIM’s agents led by the vengeful Ulysses Klaue.
Over the past year, the debut of King T’Challa to Crystal Dynamics’ live service game has been the star on the horizon for many fans of the superhero action game. It promised to be bigger and better than any of the post-game content that had come before it. Having played “Black Panther War For Wakanda” I can say that it does a lot of stuff great. However, if you aren’t a fan of the basic concepts, gameplay, and style of Marvel’s Avengers, I don’t think this is going to win you over to its side. To get started, let’s talk about playing the newest Avenger himself, Black Panther.
The King of Wakanda delivers a nice balance of strong attacks and enemy debuffs that are delivered through a well-implemented group of special abilities that force the player to think about their situation. The single best example of this is Black Panther’s support ability, Kimoyo Beads.
Initially, when summoned, these beads spiral away from Black Panther and strike nearby enemies. However, with the purchase of an upgrade, the player gains the option to focus the beads on allies allowing them to heal friendlies rather than damaging enemies. Respectively, the choice is made by either tapping the LB button or holding it down. This forced me to be more aware of my immediate needs whenever I went to use the ability.
Black Panther’s range attack also gives the player choice with how to approach enemies. With the default thrown attack increasing the amount of damage an enemy takes, and a charge attack that deals high levels of stun damage, players can assess what they need to hit enemy targets with as they enter the fray.
His assault special ability allows the Avenger to throw a vibranium spear that can pin enemies to walls or the ground. With some upgrades it will even draw nearby enemies in, giving Black Panther a bit of crowd control as long as you can put the spear where you want it.
Lastly, his Ultimate ability, Bast’s Favor, both empowers the King of Wakanda to greater strength, as well as summons a gigantic black panther spirit that charges across the battlefield. The addition of the panther, and the fact that one must take some care to aim it, adds a bit of uniqueness that would’ve otherwise been another ultimate that makes the character hit harder. Though, as with all the abilities in Marvel’s Avengers, there are several add ons that can be gained for the ability, like adding summoned warriors upon activation or a pulsed debuff that further makes enemies susceptible to damage.
Along with his unique set of special abilities, Black Panther’s standard attacks bring some new tweaks to Marvel’s Avengers. Most notable is his unique pounce maneuver. This move lets him pin an enemy to the ground and claw at them repeatedly. The attacks are done by the player as they press the X button repeatedly. Don’t worry though, super-fast presses are not required as Black Panther only claws with a capped amount of speed. Alternatively, the player can opt to press the Y button at any time to deliver a more powerful blow that delivers high stun damage but ends the sequence immediately.
The missions bring some new puzzle-solving elements to Black Panther’s story, which helps break up the repetitive nature of gameplay that some players have complained about. And while these puzzles are not particularly challenging, they do serve as a nice break from the action when they show up. The other element Crystal Dynamics introduces to break up the gameplay, however, does not land so well.
There are a couple of platforming sequences in “Black Panther War For Wakanda” that struggle to deliver anything other than frustration. The floaty nature of jumps and small timing window made these sequences nothing but a detriment to the gameplay.
Also serving to bring some more variety to the game’s combat are some new types of enemy attacks. The most notable of these is the sonic damage feature. With Klaue’s signature style of attack being sonic, it only makes sense that his minions would utilize this style of attack. And while being bombarded by sonics creates an interesting effect for the game, I can see it being a frustration for some gamers. Particularly anyone with any visual impairments.
When the player’s character is being hit by the game’s new sonic effect, the outer third-ish of the screen becomes a mirky brown that is awash in a ripple effect making seeing objects and enemies difficult. Also while under this status effect, the player cannot lock onto enemies, further making combat more challenging. When this state is due to a burst attack, it quickly wears off. However, some enemies release drones that will hover around the player, bombarding them with sonic attacks, prolonging the effect. These enemies can be run from, but the only way to remove the drones from combat is to take out the controller, which can be difficult to locate with the aforementioned visual effects in play.
The story of “Black Panther War For Wakanda” is a solid story that focuses on Black Panther as he grows into accepting that he cannot be the sole protector of Wakanda. He realizes it is ok for him to lean on not only the Avengers, and his sister Shuri from time to time, but to be able to trust Wakanda to occasionally be able to take care of itself when the King has battles to fight.
While the story does a good job of delivering a coherent theme, it definitely could’ve been done with a bit more time. The previous DLC stories fit well because they were narrative-focused. They told a story, and then it was done. Because “Black Panther War For Wakanda” is a character story, it feels like it lacks the time for its star to make the progression that he does through the four to five-hour journey. It’s good, just a little rushed.
The stand-out element of the game’s narrative is the superb voice work. Starting with Christopher Judge‘s delivery of a unique, harder T’Challa, and ending with every new character, as well as the returning cast, they all deliver strong emotional performances in their roles. The only minor stumble that comes in the voice work is with the game’s main villain Klaue.
While Klaue is given a strong, unhinged voice by veteran voice actor Steve Blum (Cowboy Bebop) the character stumbles with the fact that the voice is unmistakenly Blum’s. Due to how well the rest of the cast manages to deliver unique voices for their characters, Blum’s inability to hide that recognizable voice can be distracting at times. Worse, many of Klaue’s lines are delivered over a comm signal, giving the voice an electronic tinge, sparking thoughts of the actor’s time hosting the Toonami block of anime as the character T.O.M.
So overall, Marvel’s Avengers: Black Panther War For Wakanda delivers a solid adventure that mixes up the gameplay with new elements, as well as brings some quality-of-life improvements to the game. If you are a fan of what the game has brought to the table previously, this will quite possibly be the best outing for the game yet post-launch. If, however, you were never sold on Marvel’s Avengers in the first place, I doubt this will bring enough newness to make you convert.
Marvel’s Avengers: Black Panther War For Wakanda is available now on PlayStation 4/5, PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
Marvel’s Avengers: Black Panther War For Wakanda
Marvel’s Avengers: Black Panther War For Wakanda delivers a solid adventure that mixes up the gameplay with new elements, as well as brings some quality-of-life improvements to the game. If you are a fan of what the game has brought to the table previously, this will quite possibly be the best outing for the game yet post-launch. If, however, you were never sold on Marvel’s Avengers in the first place, I doubt this will bring enough newness to make you convert.