Marvel's Avengers Academy — A 30 day followup
I got caught up in Avengers Academy almost as soon as it came out. When I sat down to write about it, it had only been available for a few days though so there hadn't been much time to really delve in and decide if this was a game I could enjoy in the long haul. There were some serious questions about whether the in-app purchases were too steep, and whether the game expected you to grind through quests in order to level up.
Here's where I am 30 days later.
One of the initial questions that I had was whether the entire game would feel like grinding. Getting through the first few levels was nearly painful, until I started to gather more students at the Academy. Since you level up by storing xp collected by completing quests, the early game is slow. You have access to fewer characters, buildings, and actions. As you build up your Academy, level up your existing heroes, and invite new heroes to the campus this becomes much, much easier. At that point the feeling that you're grinding fades away.
I've found that your best bet for getting the most coin is to run through all the short and easy quests, until higher level quests with better rewards show up on the bulletin board. That's a pretty simplistic way to put it, because as you play through you'll end up with tons of quests making it more difficult to parse which ones should be done first. Still, the law of low-hanging fruit applies here. There are also character or scenario specific quests that further the storyline in Avengers Academy, rather than just giving you more coin and XP. More difficult quests take more time, but they also give you an exponentially better reward in the process.
One thing that Avengers Academy really loves, is running limited time events. These events run from a few days, to a few weeks and give you the chance to pick up some awesome limited time characters, and items. In the last 30 days we've seen three different events launch, each offering something unique and interesting. The last one gave you the option of acquiring Pepper Potts as a playable character — complete with RESCUE armor — and right now there is a 3 week long Guardians of the Galaxy event running. Each event offers some different perks, specific in-app purchases, and new characters.
Each event works in a similar fashion, without being actually identical. There are specific quests, and items you'll need to collect in order to complete them. Most of these quests will trigger story shorts that explain what's going on and lead to the next quest in the chain. If you successfully complete the string of quests, you'll be able to bring new characters into your roster. These quests aren't necessarily easy though, not by a long shot. You only have so much time to complete everything, and many quests may take 8 hours — and multiple characters to complete. This doesn't mean you're tethered to your screen for 8 hours, just that you need to check in a few times in that window.
Now of course in a game this size, and free to play, there are in fact in-app purchases. Marvel Avengers Academy never really tells you that you need to buy in-game items. Instead they'll tell you about a new character, or item and when you check out that character you'll see it requires several hundred shards to purchase. You'll never pick up that many shards in game, which means your only option to acquire special characters like Vision, requires an in-app purchase to get. You can also purchase more coins, which are needed for upgrades to characters and buildings alike.
You can also speed up quest completion times, building upgrade times, and use them to fill in the gap of items you need when inviting new characters to the academy, all using shards. You won't get many of these shards organically, but a few will pop up when you go up a level. 100 shards is the smallest number you can buy at a time, up to 7,000 shards, these purchases run anywhere from $1.99 to $99.99. Special characters run for several hundred shards each, so it works out to be about $10 for each special character that you purchase this way.
Thankfully, coins are much easier to come by. While you certainly can pony up the cash to purchase coins, I haven't found it to be necessary. Most quests that you complete will reward with coins. In the beginning these amounts are fairly small, but as you upgrade your characters they will earn more coins from each quest that you complete. That means that just by playing the game, you'll earn plenty of coins. This doesn't mean that you'll have all the coins that you ever need though. Making strategic choices about when and how you spend the coins you've earned is definitely you'll need to do.
Avengers Academy has easily become one of the games that I keep playing. I've wandered away for a few days at a time, but I always find myself coming back again. The events continually add new, if temporary, ways to play the game. I'm still miles away from exploring everything the game has to offer, and I'm enjoying watching as the story unfolds. Marvel Avengers Academy is a fun twist on a genre of game I've never enjoyed overmuch, the town builder game. With a story to entice you to keep playing, and plenty to do, this is one game I'll be playing for quite a while.
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Jen is a staff writer who spends her time researching the products you didn't know you needed. She's also a fantasy novelist and has a serious Civ VI addiction. You can follow her on Twitter.