NetherRealm Studios' "Injustice: Gods Among Us" was a hit in 2013 due to being an impressive fighting game with a fun cast of classic DC Comics characters and a rather compelling story. Now the sequel, "Injustice 2," will expand on the original when it’s released in May, keeping many core aspects of the first game while improving and expanding with new features to give players more control over the characters they play.
CBR attended an event in New York City where we were able to briefly get hands-on time with both the console and mobile versions of "Injustice 2." On console, it was nice to see even more variety among the characters to choose from this time around; playing a Supergirl versus Superman battle for example. The gear system was the most interesting addition to the game, allowing players to change how characters look in numerous ways. It really felt like there were many different ways you could make a character your own through gear, and not just through looks. The gear, which you can get whether you’re playing single player or if you’re playing online, also changes your stats so you can build a character to fit your play style, and if you have a complete gear set, you’ll get special bonuses. Gear makes an appearance in the mobile version as well, though to a smaller degree.
The free-to-play character card collection mobile version with its three versus three battles allows you to put together a fun team from the DC Universe, and it doesn’t take long to get the hang of the touchscreen gameplay. It looked like there’d be something for everyone with the various modes available too. There will be a campaign mode, a multiplayer mode broken into seasons that last a week, training missions offering different types of experience points, an operations system where you can send characters on quests for intervals of 30 minutes to 12 hours in real time for rewards, a league feature that will be like a guild system that they’re working on for the summer, and even a story mode. Also, having played the mobile version after the console version, mobile looked just as good graphics-wise, which was a bit of a surprise.
At the event, CBR spoke with NetherRealm Studios community specialist Tyler Lansdown during the console demo and NetherRealm Studios associate producer Ray McCaffrey during the mobile demo, to learn more about what gamers can expect from "Injustice 2."
CBR: I’m very interested in hearing more about this new gear system on console.
Tyler Lansdown: It’s costume pieces or armor and things like that, that both give a new look to your character and also changes how they fight or what their stats are like. It’s good for looks and it also helps you in gameplay. All characters can get to level 20. Gear can be leveled as well, so you have to wear gear that’s the level you’re at. As you play the game in offline modes or online modes, after you fight you’ll get gear drops, ability drops, or shader drops. For instance, there’s head, torso, arms, legs and then the accessory [for gear.] The accessory you can look at as sort of the iconic piece from each character. For Wonder Woman it’s her shield, for Superman it’s his crest, for Deadshot it’s his sniper rifle. We have some cool epic, rare, and common gear.
We wanted to put the power in the player’s hands to make the character fight the way they want them to and to be able to say “this is my Wonder Woman” is pretty cool. I feel like you’re more attached to a character if you have input on how it’s put together.
Was this gear system something you knew from the start you wanted to include in the game, or did the idea come up later on in development?
Lansdown: The gear system was very early. It’s always been a dream of the designers. They always wanted to give the players a little more power into how they can play, and this is a very good way to do that. There are thousands of pieces [of gear] throughout the entire game and you might find a piece of gear again and the augment number might be different. Those numbers are randomly generated…I play online a lot so when you’re playing online, you won’t see the same Wonder Woman twice because people are going to have their own opinions on how they want to do this, so just being able to tell a fan of comics and games that you can create your version of Batman, that’s fun. It’s cool because the way the artists and programmers figured out the gear, nothing looks bad together. Everything sort of functions together, even if they’re totally different looking pieces. I haven’t put two things together that look bad yet, which is nice. That was a conscious decision with how they built the system…
Also, let’s say you love that shield and sword [for Wonder Woman], but you get a better shield and sword. But you want that shield and sword! There will be a way in the game, which we’ll discuss in the future of how you can find the stats of another piece you have and kind of imbue them into the one you have now so you can continue using what you want to use. We don’t want players to be like, “well, got something better.” Something else that’s very important to us that I want to stress, you cannot buy gear with real money. You cannot pay to win this game. You have to find gear. You can’t buy a new piece of gear. There's also these Mother Boxes you get. You get coins when you win and you can buy these Mother Boxes that give you gear as well. You can’t buy Mother Boxes with real money. It’s very important for us to do that because we don’t want people to break the system. We want people to experience it and follow up with their character and get all the gear they can.
You have a great cast of playable characters this time around. How did you choose who to include in the sequel?
Lansdown: First and foremost, it’s the story. We pride ourselves on having a really robust story with the characters, so the characters who are going to make the story work are always first and then we have a partnership with DC and everyone decides.
Can you tell me a little bit about developing the story for "Injustice 2," and what gamers can expect compared to the first game?
Lansdown: People who play our games know we’re really into robust stories, so this is a follow-up; a sequel to the story. It’s a story where you’re going to play a multitude of different characters, and we also have a couple of things in our story mode that we haven’t done before that we haven’t talked about yet. The cool thing is, you’ll receive gear during the story. We don’t wear gear during the story because we want them to have their story costumes on to tell the story right, but you’ll get gear from the story and some other surprises we haven’t talked about yet.
Were there any challenges you faced with this game that you didn’t have with the first one, such as with the new gear system or story?
Lansdown: There’s always growing pains in any sort of game, but truthfully the gear system, once they figured out how everything fit together so well it started going really fast. Obviously, there’s always going to be stuff you have to get past, but it’s been a really fun and interesting development cycle.
How does the story tie things together in the mobile version, if at all?
Ray McCaffrey: It’s part of the "Injustice 2" universe. One of the things that’s new is we’re working on a story mode to put on mobile. We’re working on that now. We don’t have a release date on it, but the plan is to release chapter by chapter in subsequent updates. This is a free-to-play game, so you would get the whole story for free.
What were the challenges of bringing this "Injustice 2" universe to mobile?
McCaffrey: The biggest hurtle that we’ve had to get over, and we’ve always improved, is just the combat. As a fighting game, it is intricate and highly skill based. You can pick up a controller and you might button mash for a while but then you start to get the hang of it you know? The biggest challenge is taking that intricate, detailed sort of input system and putting it on a flat screen. That’s why we have the swipes and the taps and some characters can lay traps and bombs on the fight line. We’ve added the ability to string all that stuff together.
The other big hurtle I’d say is obviously we put a lot of effort into making these characters look as good as they do. For mobile, it’s always kind of a challenge to make something that you’re really happy with from an art perspective and especially when you’re dealing with such iconic characters with their own amazing looks. Making these unique versions of these characters with their gear and then making them look as good as they do on mobile was a challenge but something I think we definitely achieved this go around.
"Injustice 2" is scheduled for release on May 16 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS and Android.