REVIEW: ‘Operation Hawkeye: Future Imperfect’ (XSX)

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Future Imperfect - But Why Tho?“Operation Hawkeye: Future Imperfect” is DLC content for Marvel’s Avengers, developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix. Having recovered master archer Hawkeye (Clint Barton) at the end of the previous DLC release “Kate Bishop Taking Aim,” the newly found Avenger summarily passed out upon returning to the helicarrier. Fearing the worst, Clint’s teammates rushed him to medical.

Picking up right where the previous mission left off, we find Clint unconscious in bed. What initially appears to be suffering from troubled sleep soon turns into a vision of his future self. Players are then transported to the apocalyptic future that has been teased before. But when the player assumes control of Hawkeye, this is a far older version of the character.

Taking clear inspiration from the Old Man Hawkeye comic series “Operation Hawkeye: Future Imperfect” sees this aged Hawkeye send a signal back in time, summoning the Avengers to his time in the hopes of locating the long-absent Nick Fury. Many hostile foes await the Avengers once they reach the future. The famed archer is going to need every arrow in his quiver before this journey is over.

Let’s start our deep dive into this latest DLC update with what you are undoubtedly most interested in: Hawkeye. And before you ask, no, he doesn’t play just like Kate Bishop. With both characters wielding the same weapon combination of bow and sword, it’s understandable that players may be concerned with these two characters being similar in skill sets. Happily, this is not the case. While Kate focuses on maneuvering around the map via her teleports, picking off enemies, Clint is much more focused on crowd control and support. Let’s take a look at each of Clint’s primary abilities so you can see what I mean. Let’s begin with his support ability.

Clint’s support ability allows him to fire a healing arrow. When the arrow impacts, it places a large glowing circle on the ground. Allies within the circle will receive healing for as long as the circle remains. This makes Clint the most effective team healer by far in Marvel’s Avengers. And while just the base effect is an awesome addition to the game, with upgrades, this ability becomes even better. From increases in area and duration to preventing conditions from affecting heroes in its boundaries, this support ability alone makes Clint worth having in any party.

Up next in our deep dive of “Operation Hawkeye: Future Imperfect” is Clint’s assault ability. This ability allows the player to fire an arrow that explodes mid-air, raining small explosives over an area. Great for slowing down hordes of enemies, the ability is also quite useful against some of the game’s larger enemies, since proper placement of the arrow will cause a large number of the explosives to hit the target causing significant damage.

Just like Clint’s support ability, his assault only gets better with upgrades. The most noteworthy aspect of this skill’s upgrade tree is the option to add an element to the damage dealt. While this isn’t unique in and of itself, what makes it so noteworthy is the visual that accompanies the player’s choice of damage type. Whether it’s lighting bouncing between the targeted enemies, ice shards raining down from above, or my personal favorite, a firey cyclone that lifts enemies into the air, the elemental effects for this ability look fantastic.

The final major ability in Clint’s arsenal is his ultimate: Hunter’s Arrow. This special A.I.-driven arrow initially targets up to 10 enemies and strikes each for big damage. And if there are fewer than the maximum number of enemies, the arrow will repeatedly strike enemies already hit. Or, if there are no enemies left, they will follow Clint for a short time in the hopes of finding more prey. A nice feature of this ability is a large reticule that appears on the targeted enemies. This lets players know who the arrow is going for so they can turn their attention elsewhere.

Aside from his major abilities, Clint has a plethora of smaller side skills, much like everyone else. All of the usual power attacks, as well as the various follow-up to movement attacks all the characters have in one form or another are present. I do like that the developers utilize additional trick arrows for several of Clint’s melee power attacks/combo finishers. This helps emphasize his arsenal and fluidly integrates it into his fighting style in a similar way to how Iron Man fights in the game.

The next biggest element inOperation Hawkeye: Future Imperfect” is the new biome. The future wasteland setting does deliver a different look to the landscape, though there isn’t any functional difference between it and the other locales the game has taken players to. I’m even fairly confident more than a few of the structures present are designed the same, they are just wearing a fresh coat of paint.

There are also some new factions to fight in the DLC. However, much like the terrain, these are mostly simple re-skins of other enemies. Despite that, I still find the combat and moment-to-moment action engaging. If, however, you find the combat stale at this point, there is little to freshen it up except the new character and the one new boss battle.

Aside from the marquee elements above, “Operation Hawkeye: Future Imperfect” is launching with several other noteworthy addons for the core game. Customizable HARM rooms allow players to tailor-make training scenarios by choosing elements like what sorts of enemies they’ll face, how many enemies will be present, hazards that will be present, as well as buffs for the good guys. Along with providing a change of pace for training, I imagine this feature will make finishing daily challenges that require you to fight a certain kind of enemy so much easier.

And lest I fail to mention, early on in the DLC’s storyline, Lucky the Pizza Dog takes up residence in the helicarrier. And not only can all the Avengers pet Lucky, but they each also have their own unique animation. And, as with everything she does, Ms. Marvel’s is absolutely priceless.

The last item worth noting is the much-anticipated release of the Xbox Series S|X and PlayStation 5 versions of the game. These updates, like the rest of the update (except parts of Hawkeye’s challenge card) are free for those who already own the game. Though be ready for a lengthy 100+ gigabyte download.

Once my update was done, I could instantly tell a difference in how the game both looks and plays. Textures and lighting are both greatly enhanced and the targeting for ranged attacks was notably smoother. And perhaps most importantly, the load times see a significant reduction, though they are still there.

With all this packed into a free update “Operation Hawkeye: Future Imperfect” delivers another solid chunk of story and gameplay. While I look forward to diving back into the game to do some level grinding with Hawkeye and the rest of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, if you never liked the core elements of this game, nothing here will win you over.

“Operation Hawkeye: Future Imperfect” is available now on PlayStation 4/5 and Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X and PC.

Operation Hawkeye: Future Imperfect
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

“Operation Hawkeye: Future Imperfect” delivers another solid chunk of story and gameplay. While I look forward to diving back into the game to do some level grinding with Hawkeye and the rest of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, if you never liked the core elements of this game, nothing here will win you over.