Where fighting games, superheroes, and loot collide, writes Heidi Kemps
Nether Realm Studios has had a pretty eventful year. Besides hosting the massive ESL Mortal Kombat X Pro League – a globe-spanning tournament series that young fighting game prodigy SonicFox won days before E3 opened – the studio’s been busy planning their next one-on-one fighter – the sequel to 2013’s Injustice: Gods Among Us. While the original Injustice was a fairly straightforward fighting game, albeit one with a very dark take on the DC superhero universe, Injustice 2 looks to shake things up by upping the stakes – and the rewards – on every battle you engage in.
The tyrannical Superman has been imprisoned by Batman at the end of the first Injustice, but things have hardly returned to normal in this alternative superhero universe. As Bruce and others struggle to reconstruct society, those who still believe in Supes’ regime are working to counteract their efforts. All the while, a new, bigger threat is rapidly approaching: one that puts all of Earth at risk.
At the time of writing, eight members of the 28-strong roster had been revealed. Besides returning favourites (and DC icons) Superman, Batman, and Aquaman, three new characters were introduced to the mix. Supergirl is a fan favourite that was surprisingly absent from the original game’s cast, while the other two characters, Gorilla Grodd and Atrocitus (with cat companion Dex-Starr) are some rather out-of-left-field villains who, nonetheless, make for very interesting additions to the character collection. Flash and Wonder Woman are also set to make a reappearance, though they were not playable in the E3 demo we sampled.
In the demos we played of the game, several familiar systems made their return. The clash system, where players wager their super meter for a life or damage advantage, is once again a key competitive component. Stage transitions make a reappearance and, in the case of the revamped Atlantis stage, new transitions have been added to make the fights even more dynamic. Interactables, the environmental elements that players can attempt to utilise to get an edge in a fight, also return.
The biggest addition to the game, however, is the all-new gear system. The slogan for Injustice 2 is, “Each battle defines you,” and this comes true in the form of rewards granted to both victor and loser at the end of each fight. Every hero or villain comes with numerous slots to equip gear they have acquired in their fighting career: armour, weapons, accessories, and more (Atrocitus could put DexStarr in a variety of kitty costumes). Gear drops vary in rarity and have assorted effects like stat boosts, increased health, even granting access to certain special abilities. This system allows for players to personalise characters, and for two of the same character to look and fight in very different ways. (A 'tournament' mode that keeps the playing field level has been mentioned by series showrunner Ed Boon, though specific details on it are still scarce.
It’s clear that Injustice 2 will offer comic fans a heaping helping of fan service – the pre-battle dialogue, which varies with every character combination, is enough proof of that. But with a new rewards system and some welcome new character additions, Nether Realm is also showing that they’re here to please fighting game fans, as well, be they casual warriors or diehard tournament competitors.
DEVELOPER PUBLISHER PLATFORM RELEASE DATE NetherRealm Studios Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment PS4, Xbone TBA 2017