Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League has not had an easy time on social media. Since its cinematic trailer reveal, fans have been skeptical of the four-player cooperative third person shooter (especially since they were looking forward to a Superman game). It gave some of us flashbacks to Marvel’s Avengers, which only made us wonder: Is it really true that Rocksteady, the legendary studio behind the Arkham series, is making a live-service game?
Those doubts only amplified as more details were unveiled, confirming suspicions with a battle-pass, live-service elements, a continuously evolving story, new characters added over time, and paid cosmetics. Yes, when you boil the game down to these key points, this sounds exactly like Avengers.
But Avengers wasn’t bad because it included live-service elements. Crystal Dynamic’s superhero game was a fundamentally repetitive and unsatisfying experience. Stripping away the battle pass and live service structure would not save the game from how poor the environments, combat and movement felt.
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League has shown us a decent bit of gameplay, and it looks significantly more advanced than what Avengers offered. But not everyone on the internet agrees, and while I found the latest gameplay demonstration fun, many thought it looked awfully unappealing. Leave Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League alone!
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League seems fun
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League has the monumental task of convincing fans who don’t want a four-player cooperative third person shooter that they actually want one. But in PlayStation’s latest State of Play, the game seemed to do the exact opposite, with many pointing out how shallow the gameplay is.
Some say that the third-person shooting amounted to nothing more than “firing at purple dots,” and while that does seem to make up a bulk of what was shown, that statement is a little reductive. Suicide Squad’s gameplay trailer made it clear that the focus of the experience is jumping, running, swinging, flying, and teleporting around the world.
One clip showcases Captain Boomerang blowing four guys to bits with his shotgun while suspended in mid-air through carefully timed teleports before landing on the platform and doing a nosedive off the edge of the rooftop. Another clip shows Harley sliding away from an enemy executing a jumping ground pound before she swings in the air to get enough distance, all while lasers are pelting her from all over the arena.
It’s hard for me to watch this and not go “that looks awesome,” and while I totally understand where people are coming from about the enemies appearing like bullet sponges with one-note weak points, movement is the crux of this game.
Suicide Squad looks no different than Destiny or Borderlands in its focus on loot alongside bullet-sponge enemies, but with those games, a lot of the movement is simple strafing and jumps. Rocksteady is actually letting the player utilize the world as a mobility playground, which makes it more appealing to me than other titles of this kind.
There’s one clip that people like pointing out as “poor gameplay” where we see Deadshot floating in the air, unloading three-or-so clips of machine gun rounds and a grenade before destroying a weak spot. Yes, it looks like a long time in the trailer, but in the heat of gameplay, this is something a lot of other titles do well. I’ve experienced similar moments in the most electrifying games I’ve played, especially in key moments where the player is trying to melt through the last chunk of a boss’ health.
I can easily imagine being put in a situation where my teammates are pinned down and I’m the only one who managed to get close enough to a specific body part to deal good damage. Feeling like every moment that I spend on this thing holds the potential for my teammates (or me) to die is intense.
It all boils down to the level of chaos within the moment-to-moment gameplay. It could be great fun as a bullet hell, where the player is overwhelmed by relentless waves of enemies and they have to constantly be on the move to survive — all while taking pieces of their foe’s army out one by one.
That sounds awesome, but the potential for this game to be boring has nothing to do with giant purple weak spots and enemies taking a long time to kill: It’s about difficulty balance. If there’s no risk to your livelihood while running around Metropolis, it will quickly get stale regardless of how satisfying it is to move through the world.
But if you’re struggling for survival while balancing movement and fighting, it can be very exciting. If Suicide Squad is a difficult game that forces you to learn the intricacies of the movement to survive some of its encounters, what about it would be boring? Jumping and running around with such vigor to defeat waves of foes seem like a blast.
There’s a noticeable potency to the energy of every swing and dash when watching Suicide Squad’s gameplay, and if Rocksteady puts players in a position where they have to play that way during most encounters, I could see many falling in love with it.
This isn’t to say Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League looks phenomenal, but many are criticizing the game for the wrong reasons. People are keying on those big purple weak spots and every member of the Squad lacking their signature weapon and using guns for some reason.
But Avengers had none of those issues. It had enemies that weren’t just weak spots with a few special bosses, alongside every hero having attacks that felt accurate to their characters, yet the game was still a nightmare to play, so none of that saved it. What matters is how it feels to shoot these guns and move around the arena rather than what the game is designed to be. If it feels good, the fundamentals of why it exists don’t matter. It’s still fun!
Suicide Squad also benefits from offering a colorful and creative open world with Metropolis. Avengers had an issue where it trapped players in a hub between small mission areas, but being able to enjoy a (hopefully) uninterrupted stream of gameplay with friends seems like a blast. It’s also clear that the city is designed with plenty of verticality, which will only make the movement even more satisfying as you hop or swing from rooftop to rooftop.
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League could have big issues
While the movement and gunplay within the Suicide Squad trailer looks fun, there’s plenty that does worry me about the game. Investing into a $60 experience with battle passes and live-service elements is not something that sits right with me, but at the very least, the game will feature post-launch missions and characters.
But even that’s worrying, as many live-service games use the promise of future content as a method of launching a less-than-complete experience. Even if Suicide Squad’s gameplay is fun, it will ultimately feel vapid if there’s not much to do or if key components of the experience are not present at launch.
If Rocksteady does plan to go all-in on the live service aspect of this game, it would be great to see the company borrow some of the genre’s ideas from other titles. I’m specifically referring to things like dungeons and raids, where the developers intentionally create a hardcore experience designed to bring a group of friends together and force them into trying their hardest to emerge victorious. It would also be a great way to give actual value to the game’s seemingly redundant loot system.
My favorite part of Destiny was its raids and strikes, while my biggest disappointment coming away from Avengers was its lack of launch content that accomplished something similar. While the game did receive its first raid a year after launch, many (including myself) were already bored of the game before we could try it out, which is a danger of launching an incomplete experience. Rocksteady needs to sell us on why this game needed to be live-service at the day of launch rather than six months after it comes out.
Battle passes also suck, even if they’re exclusively for cosmetics. I understand that if Rocksteady plans to keep this game afloat for a number of years, the company requires a decent source of revenue, but it would be nice if there were a healthy amount of cosmetics available immediately or through progression as players already spent $60 on the game.
I’m not saying Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is going to be Rocksteady’s next Arkham-level masterpiece, but I strongly believe it will launch in an enjoyable state, far more so than Gotham Knights or Avengers.
Regardless of the negative perception of the game being spouted by many, it looks fun. Running around an open-world Metropolis, vigorously blasting foes using an assortment of weaponry appears to be a far more compelling gameplay loop than people are crediting. Sure, the game could still suck, but I have high hopes that it will launch to a generally favorable reception.