Platforms Android, iOS, Playstation 4 (reviewed), and Xbox One
With Injustice: Gods Among Us, NetherRealm Studios delivered an experience that could be enjoyed by longtime fighting fans and those new to the genre equally. With Injustice 2, the developers have taken this design philosophy to an even greater extreme. Injustice 2 features quite possibly the most single-player content ever included in a fighting game with a wealth of loot to obtain for every character. Factor that in with a fantastic online service and you have one heck of an impressive package.
The story picks up a few years after the events of the first game. Superman is imprisoned for his crimes as head of The Regime with the rest of the members scattered to different parts of the world. Batman has been spending his time trying to pick up the pieces when a new threat appears in Brainiac. To combat him, the heroes and villains from both sides of the previous conflict will have to band together in a fight for the planet. The narrative seamlessly transitions between fights and cutscenes to give it that cinematic flair NetherRealm Studios has become known for. It does eventually boil down to yet another Batman vs. Superman story. It stands on its own thanks to its continued take on Superman’s swift fall from grace and its liberal use of explosive set pieces.
The fights can be quite the sight to behold. The roster is a strong mix of DC staples and the more obscure ones that longtime fans will appreciate. The Super Moves make a triumphant return and retain their fun and over the top nature. Some might be a bit annoyed that these moves don’t actually kill, but I think it adds to the charm and is right in line with the developer’s sense of humor. Character speed has been increased to keep fights from feeling a little too sluggish. A few new meter burn moves have been added in the form of an evasive roll or an air escape, but otherwise the fighting system is nearly identical to the first game. This is in no way a complaint as it is a very accessible system with something to offers longtime fans and those just in it for the good old fashioned comic book silliness.
Loot in a fighting game immediately raises a lot of questions. Will it ruin the character balance? Will the loot have a meaningful impact or will obtaining it feel hollow? Is the grind for loot boxes too oppressive? I’m happy to say that NetherRealm was able to avoid all of these possible pitfalls to create a loot system that is constantly rewarding the player and giving them a reason to keep coming back. A steady stream of experience points, currency, and loot boxes gives a nonstop feeling of accomplishment, win or lose. The loot itself drastically changes the appearance of characters so that you rarely see two that are exactly alike. I do wish the icons for each piece you get wasn’t generic so you could know what it looked like without having to go into another menu, but that is only a minor complaint. These assorted pieces of armor and extra abilities all come with their own stats that can have a huge impact on a fight from larger health pools to extra meter to burn when performing special moves. The game also offers currencies that will allow you to level up gear to your current level or change the appearance of your high leveled gear to something else you have and find more aesthetically pleasing. Thankfully, when taking your character online, these stats are not present in ranked matches. Your character does keep his/her unique appearance but everything else is balanced out.
There is quite the selection of modes on hand to help you obtain all of this gear. The most notable of which is The Multiverse. Similar to the Living Towers in Mortal Kombat X, it is an always updating single player focused series of challenges lasting anywhere from a week to only a few hours. The challenges vary from the classic arcade ladder to more exotic ones such as the lights on the stage turning off intermittently or getting a support character to call on to help extend combos. Doing a single event will net you multiple loot boxes and help to level up your characters. The updates help to make sure it remains fresh and never feels like a grind. It is the mode I expect to be spending the most time with and one that I hope other fighting games adopt in the future
For those hoping to take the fight online, Injustice 2 offers ranked and unranked play. In ranked, as stated previously, all gear is merely cosmetic, but in unranked, anything goes. You can opt into a single fight or try your hand at dethroning a player in King of The Hill with all the gear you’ve acquired. You can join a guild and take part in guild-specific Multiverse events rewarding you with more loot boxes.There is even an AI battle simulator in which you outfit three characters to attack or defend. If you choose to attack, you can watch the fight in normal speed, 2x speed, or 4x speed. Win or lose, each player receives a loot box. Your defenders will wait until they are attacked by another player and will have yet another loot box waiting for you when you next check in. All of this is held up by a rock solid net code, so that will keep your matches flowing in at a steady pace with little to no lag.
Fighting games have always been hard to recommend to those that don’t normally play them. The steep learning curve can feel daunting, especially online against those that have been playing for years. Injustice 2 might just be the game to break that trend. The sheer breadth of content on hand for players of all kinds is remarkable. With its fun superhero campaign, quite possibly endless single-player offerings, wonderfully rewarding loot system, and strong online service, it is hard to find bad things to say about it that aren’t just nitpicks. Injustice 2 is the most complete fighting game experience I’ve ever come across and the new gold standard for content in the genre.