Home Lates Rocksteady’s signature world-building is hindered by their pursuit of trends in Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League

Rocksteady’s signature world-building is hindered by their pursuit of trends in Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League

Rocksteady’s signature world-building is hindered by their pursuit of trends in Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League

Rocksteady’s Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League has had a difficult beginning. The game was formally revealed by the company in August 2020 after an early leak, but this came after allegations of sexual harassment. The co-founders of the company quit, the game was postponed, and rumors of a battle pass sparked a heated discussion. Finally, during Sony’s PlayStation State of Play last year, we were able to see the game in action, however the reception was not entirely positive and it was once again postponed. More recently, in December, an alpha tech test was conducted, but the video quickly went viral with spoilers.

“Having leaks is always upsetting. At a game preview event, Suicide Squad game director Axel Rydby told me, “I think it’s unavoidable in this day and age.” “To put it briefly, that’s unfortunate, but we also know that the game is excellent. And we are aware of how special this game is. We only hope that gamers’ choices to test it out won’t be impacted by leaks, even if they do occur.”

Regarding the wait time, Rydby said that it was necessary to improve and refine the game, address bugs, and make sure that playing as any of the four characters feels different from the others: moving between them “should feel like a new, fresh experience, but it shouldn’t feel like a completely different game”.

Additionally, Rocksteady knew how the State of Play would be received. “We knew that it was going to be a controversial game because it’s not Batman,” Rydby said. However, we also recognize that we are playing a really strong game. Furthermore, although being a radically different game, it yet seems to uphold the Rocksteady ideals of having tight gameplay and incorporating the larger DC universe.

Additionally, we realized that it wasn’t as strong of a display as we had hoped. Did it have an impact on studio morale? We considered it regrettable. We had hoped for a better reception. However, concurrently, we’re kind of thinking, “Yeah, let’s show them!” It will be fantastic!”

Suicide Squad undoubtedly have the Rocksteady gene. It’s an Arkham-verse continuation using the same cast of characters, style of artwork, and general melancholy vibe. Here, however, players assume control of the Suicide Squad, which adds a unique sense of humor, and face off against the Batman from the Arkham games as well as other Justice League members.

The exploring and melee fighting gameplay from earlier isn’t here. Although Rydby called Suicide Squad a “genre defying” game, in reality it’s an open-world four-player cooperative shooter. Selecting from Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Boomerang, or King Shark, players may explore Metropolis in two ways: online with three other players or alone with support from bots. You may have more than one version of a character in your squad, however in narrative sequences, their versions will be swapped out.

Is the game a live service? The game does include a battle pass, as was displayed during the State of Play and leaked earlier this year, but the bought goods are limited to cosmetics. This was reaffirmed to me by Rocksteady after the preview: new narrative material, playable characters, missions, gear, weapons, cosmetic items, and in-game events will all be included in regular season updates, which are earned by playing and come at no extra cost. During hands-on learning, I did see a shop listed on the menu, but the specifics were missing; I assume this is where the purchased cosmetics are kept.

According to Rydby, “it’s a live service game insofar as you need to be online to play it,” but he also said that an offline narrative mode would be added eventually, negating the necessity for an internet connection.

“Creating a community around this game was our main goal while creating it. Furthermore, we want players to have a sense of belonging not only to the Suicide Squad but also to the greater DC Universe. We have several social elements there that we’re not quite ready to discuss.”

The CEO of Warner Bros., the studio’s publisher, David Zaslav, said investors during a recent earnings call that the business intended to turn its greatest properties into “always-on” live service games. That seems to be the case with Suicide Squad’s sustained backing, but Rydby would not precisely address Warner’s intentions.

“I can say that this game is very much focused on making sure that players have this sense of freedom to play the way they want to,” he said. Therefore, playing it alone or in a group is not required; neither is it mandated by us. You may play the whole thing by yourself if you’d like.”

To begin with, however, gamers must choose which of the four characters they want to control. However, how did Rocksteady choose these four given the Suicide Squad’s lengthy comic book history?

“That was, of course, a long, intense debate in the studio, because there are so many interesting [characters],” Rydby said. “And it came down to: we picked characters that had the most interesting, antagonistic relationship with the Justice League.”

Because of this, every one of the four antagonists possesses a talent that was stolen from a hero. Harley Quinn employs Batman’s grappling hook, whereas Boomerang may use Flash’s Speed Force. Thus, traversal mechanics also contributed to the decision-making process. “And then finally, King Shark: who doesn’t want a shark in the group?” said Rydby. True enough.

Traversal, in reality, is a crucial distinction among all the characters and influences the player’s decision. We evaluated all four characters in an introduction portion during our hands-on preview before choosing one. I went with Boomerang, who, upon releasing his namesake, teleports to its designated place after flinging his own with a grip of the right bumper. You may easily mount buildings by adding double leaps and dashes. Then, you can use the boomerang for melee attacks and the shotgun for blasting. I thought his moveset was the most logical.

There’s a chance that other gamers may disagree. Although a touch primitive, Deadshot’s usage of a jetpack to hover above battlefields and snipe from a distance was easy enough to understand. King Shark has powerful weaponry and can jump enormous distances like the Hulk. I found Harley Quinn to be the most fidgety. She is able to hook up to Batman’s Batwing and swing, but in order to leap off at the highest point, she has to click another button. It is possible to combine all three techniques to continually swing and generate speed, but I found this particularly difficult to execute. She can also use the grapple to pull up to building edges and jump over.

Naturally, personality plays a big role in character selection, and with her quirky, caustic remarks, Harley Quinn is sure to win over fans. King Shark is a merciless joker, Deadshot is a more somber character, and Boomerang is a quirky wild card.

Furthermore, Rydby informed me that the four characters were intentionally balanced via rigorous playtesting, despite not falling neatly into standard cooperative playstyles like healer or tank. “At the start of it, what we really wanted to do is make sure that each character has their own unique traversal,” he said. “Therefore, playing them need to feel special. And I believe we take it as far as we can without having the game feel significantly different when you swap characters.”

The characters certainly seem unique to themselves, but they also don’t seem to function well together. Although it’s true that these characters are antagonists compelled by circumstance to cooperate, playing as a group doesn’t always seem like playing together. There are merely four players competing with one another to control the battlefield.

Furthermore, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is still fresh in our memories and established a high bar for superhero games—possibly even its pinnacle—with its smooth, intuitive action and accessible superhero fantasy. This is not meant to start a corny Marvel vs. DC discussion. Suicide Squad, on the other hand, falls short of that level due to its complicated controls and likeable but uninspiring characters.

Additionally, the wide world pales in comparison to Spider-Man 2. Naturally, Metropolis is Rocksteady’s interpretation of a fictitious metropolis that isn’t immediately recognizable—for once, an Arkham-verse game that lets us see the light—but it’s a vast, vertical, dirty labyrinth of structures devoid of obvious paths or landmarks. It’s a challenging environment to fight in without the help of a basic radar minimap to locate both allies and adversaries. It all seems a touch too complicated to understand with all of the intense explosions, special effects, damage figures, quest marks, and more shown simultaneously on screen. It’s likely that your colleagues arrived before you as you search for targets to shoot.

Suicide Squad does, at its heart, provide some entertainingly spartan fighting. Every character has a variety of weapon types at their disposal, including shotguns, machine guns, pistols, and more. Combining a melee attack with a gunshot will always result in a critical strike. The flow of battle rapidly clicks in when you add hits to recharge shields, countershots, grenades that are hilariously powerful, a reload reminiscent of Gears of War, and a highly rewarding Suicide Strike special. Unfortunately, traversal doesn’t exactly match—at least not right away.

Rocksteady also shines in the narrative domain. The studio is more than happy to add their own unique touch to these well-known faces despite the obvious affection for the original work. A large cast of characters, both good and bad, a story worthy of a blockbuster, excellent acting and production, welcome diversity (I was especially pleased to see a Pride sign that read “we welcome all heroes” prominently included in the Justice League base), and even a tribute to the late Kevin Conroy, who played Batman’s voice, are all present. There will undoubtedly be many Easter Eggs for DC fans, but even those who aren’t familiar with the series will find it hard not to be enamored with the center four and their brittle relationships and playful jabs at one other.

Wonder Woman is also there, however Rydby won’t say whether or not this specific version has anything to do with the upcoming game Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor from the Monolith team. “What I can say is that the Wonder Woman in our game is Rocksteady’s take on Wonder Woman,” he said. “And you get to see a lot of her during the game and get to know her a bit better.”

While maintaining ties to the studio’s history, it’s evident that Rocksteady is eager to attempt something different with Suicide Squad. However, as an online shooter with live service components, it may be more of a trend chaser than a return to the studio’s strengths. This may not be the superhero fantasy you’re hoping for, despite its superb character-driven plot and strong ties to the Arkham universe.


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