The next-gen upgrade for Marvel's Avengers has given the scrappy superhero fighter a chance at redemption, which is a strategic game the developers have played well. After a rocky start, with adverse reactions to Spider-Man being a PlayStation exclusive character and a rapid drop in active players, the chance to showcase the game at its technical peak on PS5 gives developer Crystal Dynamics a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a second impression is a rare opportunity.
For the most part, it's a well-executed one, with plenty of additional touches that help make a much stronger argument for the popcorn beat-em-up. There's a lot the Marvel's Avengers next-gen version does to significantly boost the wow factor, from the 60fps frame rate that gives the action a better flow to the way the DualSense has been tightly incorporated into play. But does it go far enough to persuade us that it has the legs Square-Enix desires? That's a complex subject, but it's at the centre of everything the game does right and poorly.
When compared to the PS4 Pro's quality level, there are visual upgrades in addition to the frame rate boost. This begins with significantly improved texture assets on PS5, as well as a minor improvement in texture filtering quality and a more dramatic increase in texture streaming speed. Particle effects and alpha transparencies also have far more excellent quality than Pro at its peak, which contributes a lot to the game's overall aesthetic, especially considering how prevalent these aspects are. On PS5, the flat plane effect on last-gen water is replaced with an actual geometric surface with undulation and deformation, giving it a considerable boost.
However, it isn't a perfect increase in every area; shadow quality is essentially unchanged, while post-processing quality on features like depth of field and motion blur is mainly unchanged from the PS4 Pro. However, 60 frames per second is promised, and aside from a few tiny blips, it is primarily fulfilled, with only the most extreme destruction causing a brief frame-rate drop during gameplay. Yes, there is a performance option for last-gen PCs, but the resolution is low, and there is a CPU restriction that can be devastating - PlayStation 5 looks and works fantastic, at least in the campaign we thoroughly examined.
The quality mode disables checkerboard rendering in favour of native rendering, aiming for a 4K30 appearance. However, the game still relies on the dynamic resolution to keep the frame rate steady - which it is, as I learned after hours of gameplay. The DRS modifications are so minor that the lowest pixel count I could discover was 2088p, which was barely undetectable. The quality mode enhances shadow quality and filtering, adds screen-space shadows for added depth, and improves the quality of screen-space reflections, in addition to switching to native resolution rendering and running with a much tighter DRS window.
Improvements in view distance have also been made; they were subtle where I could see them, but they were lovely nonetheless. My favourite improvement to the quality mode is the enhanced destruction effects. Particle effects are improved, debris is denser and less likely to vanish into thin air, and physics is also used. It adds to the spectacle of the Hulk's tremendous rampages.
You can now upgrade for free to the next-gen version (within the same platform family) if you already own Marvel's Avengers on PlayStation 4. So, if you have the PS4 version, you can play the PS5 version. You'll get a digital code for the next-gen version if you own the game digitally. If you have a physical copy of the game, you'll need a console with a disc drive to recognise it, and you'll also receive a digital copy. All of your progress will be carried over to the next-generation consoles, including your profile and saved games.
I'm impressed by Nixxes' work in that you're getting an actual upgrade over last-gen enhanced consoles and a night and day difference in all areas when compared to their vanilla counterparts. But, in the end, the Foundation Engine has never looked better, and it's fantastic to see so much work and attention put into these PS5 conversions.
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