“He Just Shoots Arrows Really Well” – Marvel’s Avengers Devs Explain Why Two Hawkeyes Are Better Than One

“It was originally planned that Hawkeye [and Kate Bishop] were supposed to be echo fighters, like they were supposed to be clones, but that idea was quickly thrown out the window” Keano Raubun, narrative designer for Marvel’s Avengers, tells me. “We said ‘okay no, let’s realise Hawkeye is his own person, a really good character with his own skill set. All the animations and everything are all unique for Hawkeye.”

It might seem like a strange decision to choose two Hawkeyes – the soon to arrive Clint Barton and the already present Kate Bishop – as the first two extra characters for Marvel’s Avengers, but to hear developers Keano Raubun and Jurjen Katsman (owner of Nixxes Software, the company behind the Avengers’ narrative design) speak on it, that’s because of how organically they were chosen. Initially conceived as echo fighters, the decision to stick with the pair was because they grew from the same branches of the “Avengers family tree.”

“It’s always an interesting challenge to figure out which pairings of characters you want to have,” Raubun says. “Of course, if there’s a new character we’ll focus around that character, and anyone who comes to them along with the ride, but it’s never really a problem [to have similar heroes] because we always try to highlight as many of the Avengers being linked to the new character. So we figure out who Clint Barton is on that tree. Is he the crazy brother that always shows up? Or is he more like an uncle type? And then we try to figure out how the other Avengers relate to them. What are their past histories based on whatever the history was in the comics? And okay, what’s our take on that?”

As for the fear that players wouldn’t respond to two similar characters one after the other, that’s something the devs had to deal with too. “I was not a comic guy, but I imagine that’s what I would be thinking, ‘Okay, how do we make this arrow guy [different] from the other arrow person we just released?” Raubun says. “But I think in general, we have that challenge, right?” Katsman adds, “It’s a game of lots of different heroes, they’ve all the different Avengers, but I think we’ve succeeded at making them all feel unique. And I think it’s interesting, I get a lot of feedback sometimes from people that like the heroes like, ‘Oh, this one is so much better than the other one’. And the irony to me is they will say that [about all the] other heroes. I think that to me means that it has been a success that we have all those different heroes, different play styles that everybody likes as their own favourite, in terms of how they play, and so I feel Kate did that as well. And hopefully Clint will be able to do the same thing, right? Some people will love the way he plays and his movement, and he will be their favourite, but others will have their own favourite Avenger.”

Speaking of Clint’s movement, that’s something the devs feel will help distinguish Barton from his protege Kate when he arrives in the game soon. “He’s very much an ‘on the ground’ character,” Raubun says “He stays in his position, most of the time shooting because that’s what Hawkeye does, he just shoots arrows really well. I think heroics play a part in that too. He can get a healing field which makes people get around him, but for you as a player, it’s in your best interest to stay within that healing field so you can get the benefits of being damaged for rage attacks while you keep shooting. When it comes to his abilities, they’re all tied around him shooting most of the time. You get special arrow types, and your movement is slower by default when you’re aiming your bow – which you’ll be doing most of the time while you play as Hawkeye. So those factors make you less mobile than others.”

Even though Avengers is a game often played at speed, there’s still a place for Hawkeye’s precision, because he’s there to offer something new, rather than replicate the heroes that already exist. “We’re going to make sure all the heroes have their own way to get along on the field and certainly have benefits,” Katsman says. “From the teleporter that Kate has; that’s certainly a little faster than, say, the grapple that Kamala has with her stretchy arm. But it’s important that they all have their own ways to traverse space. I mean, some can do certain things that others cannot but then in the level design, we always try to make sure that for every type of character, there is a way where that character can really traverse that space and make use of that. And it also makes it slightly more interesting to play again as another character because the other character might be able to do it in a slightly different way. And maybe explore some other things that the previous character could not.”

“Yeah, I like Clint being modest, honestly,” Raubun adds. “I don’t think I would want him to fly around or something like that. That’s for Iron Man who just ignores level design [and] just flies over everything, he skips the jumping puzzles like ‘Nope, just fly over’. Because that’s what Iron Man does. Tony doesn’t care.”

Neither Raubun nor Katsman expect the recent controversy over the XP grind to dampen enthusiasm for Hawkeye, with both feeling it has been blown out of proportion. As for what Hawkeye adds to the game as an entity, Raubun was coy, “I’m just gonna stick with you probably want to play Clint. You really want to play as Clint. Or at least I hope people do.”

It’s a vague answer, but it’s in step with Marvel’s Avengers to date. Once you find a rhythm, the game can come alive a lot more, but too few people have stuck with it long enough to find out. Kate Bishop caused a mini revitalisation, but we’ll have to wait and see if her mentor can do the same.

Next: The Best Thing About Horizon Zero Dawn Is The Damage Feedback

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Stacey Henley is an editor for TheGamer, and can often be found journeying to the edge of the Earth, but only in video games. Find her on Twitter @FiveTacey

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