A small taste of what Injustice 2 has to offer
The Injustice 2 online beta has come and gone, and there is still a lot to learn about the upcoming DC Comics fighter. New characters were playable, new mechanics were accessible, but new expectations were made. There is a lot of good to expect from the final release of Injustice 2, but some questions still need to be answered regarding game modes, gear balance, and–of course–character roster.
Put plainly, access codes weren’t the easiest to come by. While Ed Boon and company did their best to share the love through four waves of emails and random batches of codes given away on social media, it was still a very limited affair. Not to mention that the only available game mode was Online Battle with random opponents. Without local multiplayer or practice mode, it was difficult to learn how to play the new characters without prearranging a truce with another player. The user interface was a little sluggish. It took a while to make selections in menus which, on its base, isn’t a game breaker, but there is a slight lag between inputs which can lead players to exit post-combat menus instead of changing characters or beginning a rematch. A minor drawback, but something that should be improved nonetheless.
Keep in mind that this is the first beta test, and many of the negative aspects are tiny snags in an overall polished experience.
The game is absolutely beautiful. The character models are leagues ahead of the original Injustice: Gods Among Us designs, thanks to the boon granted by improved hardware. The environments are filled with tiny details that breath life into each stage and make them a part of the story. The dialogue between characters is unique to whomever is currently fighting, which is a feature that all AAA fighters should have at this point. Following suit with the original Injustice, Easter eggs are everywhere, proving that the folks at NetherRealm hope to utilize as much comic book history as possible. The combat is solid, fast–and most importantly–fun. Every fight feels like it came straight out of the comic books, thanks to stellar visuals, impressive voice acting, and booming sound design.
The prospective promise of the gear system
One of Injustice 2‘s primary mechanics is its new gear system. On the surface, the gear system grants players an incredible amount of customization for their favorite fighters, both aesthetically and functionally. These new armor pieces boost characters’ stats to make them more effective in combat, and have the potential of adding entirely new attacks and abilities. Every fighter has five loadouts available for customization–which, through countless stat boosts and additional abilities, could create a nearly infinite number of variations.
Gear is unlocked frequently–in terms of the beta–at the end of every online match. That being said, do not expect to unlock gear just for the character that is being used. When the pool of characters was only six, this wasn’t too much to worry about. If players chose to focus mainly with Supergirl, for example, most of the gear unlocks would be for the chosen character. But from time to time, gear would unlock for characters never chosen, making one wonder: how will this play out with a roster of 20 characters, or even 30? It is already hard enough completing matching sets of armor, whenever gear is unlocked randomly.
To alleviate worries that the gear system will break the overall balance of the game, NetherRealm included a competitive option accessible right before the start of a match. This will disable any buffs that are added via the gear system, and leave players to face off with their default characters–new appearances still intact, of course. Both players must agree to play in the competitive mode for it to activate, however, which may prove problematic for those hoping to play without boosted characters.
To rectify this issue entirely, it would be extraordinarily beneficial for NetherRealm to include ranked and social matches to suit players’ needs. Surely this is probably something that will be seen in the final build, but with the default battle mode focusing on the benefits of the gear system, it will be interesting to see where NetherRealm focuses their priorities as the lifespan of the game progresses.
It’s all about the characters
The beta includes a couple returning fighters, with Superman and Batman, but those characters feel very similar to their original Injustice versions, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Thanks to the gear system, old characters can feel new again. The new talent adds a lot of variety to the battlefield and there’s a lot to learn about the newcomers Atrocitus (and his feisty feline Dexx-Star) Black Canary, Blue Beetle, and Supergirl.
The Red Lantern is an interesting addition to the I2 roster because he has a lot more to offer than brute strength. Atrocitus’ bread and butter special move is his fittingly named Bloodnado. It whips up the opponent from anywhere on-screen and can be used twice in a row, given the appropriate meter burn, to perfectly set up an extended combo. The fighter’s elemental attacks can be used to stack burns and bleed damage, all during setting up additional combos. His feline companion Dexx-Star is tied to his character trait and grants a host of additional attacks. Players can continue their onslaught by taunting opponents with Dexx-Star’s energy blasts, or unleash a devastating combo of furry fury. His super move is an upward slash, which is excellent for opponents exiting a low guard. Atrocitus is certainly a character that houses a lot of variety. It will be exciting to see how he is utilized in competitive play.
One of the founding members of the Birds of Prey, Black Canary uses her voice to knock back opponents with varying strength. Canary has three different levels of her classic “Canary Cry” that are determined by the number of bars saved up via the trait meter. At its strongest, the Canary Cry can blast the opponent back when under pressure. When in its weakest form, the cry barely stuns the target. The middle level, of course, lies somewhere in between. It’s up to the player to decide if its best to save up meter as a fallback or to utilize it often to set up combos. The Canary Cry makes another appearance via the character’s super which is activated when in air. This can be used as an excellent punishing opportunity. Canary has more than just a killer voice, her defensive parries and agile physical attacks make her a force not to be reckoned with.
This Blue Beetle is the third iteration of the hero, and he packs a pretty strong punch with his shapeshifting bio-suit known as the Scarab. His character trait shifts the fighter between two separate modes. One focusing mainly on his blasters, and the other devoted to his blade attacks. Different versions of the character’s specials are available depending on which stance is active, so be sure to try them both out to find out what goes best together and what fits your play style. The Scarab can also be used to boost in mid-air to close distance made by zoning characters. His super activates via a short stab with the Scarab, so be sure there isn’t a lot of distance between the opponent before activating it. Based on personality alone, Blue Beetle seems like a lot of fun, especially when played against a variety of characters to hear all of the unique dialogue this quipster has to offer.
Supergirl is an extraordinarily mobile character with a lot of zoning potential. While she maintains similar powers and abilities to her Kryptonian cousin, Kara Zor-El’s play style is all her own. Supergirl’s character trait is her signature heat vision which opens up a lot of opportunity for advanced spacing techniques. Players can utilize short bursts of heat vision to stop opponents from advancing, and create windows of offensive opportunity. A more powerful version of Supergirl’s heat vision can be used at the expense of the entire character trait meter and one segment of the super bar. This enhanced blast unleashes a more effective beam that does a pretty decent amount of damage to opponents while pushing them all the way to the edge of the screen. Her flight enables her to zoom to the opposite side of the screen, punishing those who leap unnecessarily. Supergirl has a lot to offer for those wanting a different take on traditional super powers.
In it for the long haul
The online beta was overall highly enjoyable, and a seemingly accurate glimpse of what is to come. With these six characters alone, there is potential for nearly limitless experiences thanks to the gear system and customization. The characters already announced are building a rather impressive roster before even considering the ten promised DLC characters (including the pre-order exclusive Darkseid) As is theNetherRealm tradition, Injustice 2 is bound to have an extraordinary wealth of content for both single player and multiplayer experiences. With the promise of an engaging continuation of the stellar story mode from the previous title, there is more than enough to look forward to.
The beta was a clear indication of what is to come: gear up, it’s going to be a wild ride.
Injustice 2 launches with three separate editions for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on May 16, 2017. Stick around for more coverage and announcements right here at Shoryuken!