Injustice 2 Preview

Injustice was actually one of the most hyped games of my first E3, so when I was told I could check out Injustice 2 for MMOGames, I gladly took the opportunity. For those who don’t know, the game is basically DC’s Civil War, with everyone having a taste of Superman’s power to ensure that the fights are somewhat balanced. There’s also some multi-universe stuff going on but that’d take a whole article to explain. While I barely got to play the original game, I did enjoy the cut scenes, some of the comics, and watching to see which comic icons would enter the fray. Injustice 2 may also not be something I end up playing, but I have to admit there’s still some temptation after getting to watch a live demo of several of the game’s new systems.

 

Sequel Expectations

injustice 2 kick

Let’s start with what we normally expect from a sequel: new characters and mechanics. While this is another super hero fights, like it’s predecessor, it’s a bit more brutal than we’d expect from these characters. There’s fire-blood spewed out as a weapon, face eating, using human beings as attack objects… it’s not permanent damage, but the idea is still painful to watch. It’s not a hero fighter for kids, and I personally felt like the game pushed the characters into more brutal physical relations.

It probably helps that the characters comment to one another before each fight. These aren’t strangers but people who know each other. Batman protects his mind against newcomer Gorilla Grodd who has psychic powers, red lantern core new-comer Atrocitus tells Superman his “order” looks more oppression, and a new sups, Super Girl, reminds Atrocitus that she packs more punch than her size indicates. It makes the story come alive more, though I can’t imagine what the plot will despite the hint at the end of the game. The current demo roster was limited to Batman, Superman, Atrocitus, Gorilla Grodd, Supergirl, Flash, and Aquaman, but there were  28 slots for characters, so I’m expecting a big roster.

The Clash Breaker system is back, allowing players to gamble their Super meter (think ultimate attack). If they win, the attacker does some serious damage while a winning defender gets health back. The super moves for even old characters like Superman have been spiced up.

We also have character leveling added, probably after the game pushed its mobile game so for (what felt like) much longer than the base game. The level cap was 20 but specifically “for this demo,” but there’s no word on what the official cap will be. There’s also additional attacks unlocked along the way, plus a new feature that kicks in whether you win or lose that may help make the game more sticky.

 

The Loot Equation

One big game changer is the addition of loot, which of course means loot grinds, something that I can understand in a fighting game but kind of dislike. We’ve seen there’s ways around it in other fighters, as Super Smash Bros also had character customization via loot and options to turn it on or off. Injustice 2 is doing the same with a tournament mode to ensure a level playing field for those who don’t want to play the loot grind game, though, well, if you’re reading this article, you’re probably used to it in your genre of choice with few exceptions. There may also be ways for this to affect ranked play, but it’s yet to be seen.

However, the addition of the loot system in Injustice 2 isn’t just about abilities and cantrips like in Smash Bros 4. While the game did have it for Miis, Injustice 2 will have different appearances for all characters. Most still ensure that each character retains its core appearance but may make use of alternative universe costumes, like Batman’s Batman Beyond black/red combo, one of my personal favorites. It’s not a simple whole costume change, but individual gloves, boots, capes, etc. The color scheme is unified to ensure that no one’s in clown outfits like the starting days of the MMO.

Gear is won at the end of each match, win or lose, but leveling up increases the variety of gear you can earn. DLC’s supposed to be a thing, but it makes me wonder what the that might involve. One of the issues we MMO players know is that power creep is kind of a thing, and not something we tend to associate with fighting games.

This is why for MMOs players, the gear addition might be welcomed, as we’re used to a grind, whether directly for gear or supplies. It’s a two edged sword for me, as I don’t have as much time to grind as before, but, let’s face it, the allure of gear can be tough to ignore. It allows for those of us that invest time in the game to gain at least some advantage from those who don’t, though skill will obviously be a factor. I have some nice gear on my Smash Bros Wii U characters, but as I take huge breaks from the game before going online, I get crushed a lot. I know despite my Gengar being maxed out in Pokken, I still lose to players who simply out classed me. However, I go into fighting games assuming this. Traditionally, these games aren’t about stats, just skills, so it remains to be seen how NetherRealm Studios will balance this out. Done well, it’s just a fun addition. If done poorly, it could become abandoned. Power creep could cause the highest level players to constantly “take a break” once they’ve got their best gear and come back only to maintain their reign. Lower level players may avoid the mode altogether. Worse, if other modes don’t award gear, it could prevent other players from jumping in down the line to renew the player population outside of tournament mode.

We may not often cover fighting games, but as MMOs become more fractured and the RPG aspect attached to more genres with online play, it’s feeling like our MMO experience at least helps us stay flexible in added content, even if that content is traditionally viewed as something at odds with our playstyle.

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