Injustice 2 is a fighting video game developed by NetherRealm Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. It is the sequel to 2013's Injustice: Gods Among Us. The game was initially released in May 2017 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One; a Microsoft Windows version was released later in November 2017. Similar to the previous installment, a companion mobile app was released for Android and iOS devices.
Cover art for the standard edition of the game, featuring Superman
|Publisher(s)||Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment|
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3
Unreal Engine 4 (mobile)
The core gameplay remains similar to its predecessor, albeit with minor adjustments to returning game mechanics. Injustice 2 introduces a new feature called the Gear System, a loot-dropping system that rewards players with costume pieces and equipment that can be used to customize characters' appearances and modify their abilities and stats. According to developers, the idea for implementing a role playing game (RPG)-style progression system into a fighting game had existed since before the fall of Midway Games, the original publisher for the Mortal Kombat series. Director Ed Boon also sought to incorporate gameplay mechanics used by multiplayer shooter games, such as personalization, character creation, loot, and leveling up, into the fighting game genre, which led to the development of the Gear System.
Injustice 2's storyline centers around Batman and his insurgency's attempt to restore society after the fall of Superman's regime; however, the arrivals of the newly formed supervillain group "The Society" and the alien Brainiac forces Batman to consider freeing the imprisoned Superman to help combat the threats. The game received positive reviews from critics, who praised its story, presentation, improved gameplay mechanics, abundance of in-game content, and character customization options, while criticizing its random loot and microtransaction systems.
Injustice 2 is a fighting game in which players compete in one-on-one combat using characters from the DC Universe and other third-party franchises. Using different combinations of directional inputs and button presses, players must perform basic attacks, special moves, and combos to try to damage and knock out the opposing fighter. Injustice 2 retains numerous gameplay mechanics from Injustice: Gods Among Us, including environment interaction, stage transitions, clashes, and character traits. The trait system, like before, provides a temporary buff or ability that compliments each character's playstyle. The super meter, which allows players to execute enhanced special moves and unlock powerful "super moves" when fully charged, also returns. Players can expend meter to perform new techniques, such as an evasive forward roll, which provides a way to overcome enemy keep-away tactics, or an air recovery, which lets characters escape an opponent's combo early. Most environmental attacks, which were completely unavoidable in the first Injustice game, can now be blocked; however, certain environmental attacks with large amounts of startup, such as throwing a car, will remain unblockable.
Injustice 2 introduces a loot-dropping system, known as the "Gear System", which offers character-specific costume pieces and equipment with status-altering effects. The Gear System uses RPG-like mechanics to reward players with experience and loot after every match. Every playable fighter is given four base stats: strength, defense, health, and ability, the latter of which impacts special attacks. As players collect experience points and subsequently level up, their characters' base stats will increase. Players can enhance their base stats even further by equipping gear obtained through loot drops, which also lets players customize the look of their characters. Rarer gear can include one or more bonus augmentations, which range from new visual effects for special moves to higher yields of in-game currency or experience points. Players can receive additional bonuses by equipping their characters with all five pieces of a single gear set. Gear comes in three varieties: equipment, shaders, and abilities. Besides the random loot earned at the end of a fight, all three types of gear are available to purchase in loot crates, known as "Mother Boxes", using in-game currency. Each character has five equipment slots for donning new costume pieces, which include their head, torso, arms, legs, and an accessory; two ability slots for equipping new or modified special attacks; and one shader slot for altering their color scheme. The game will also include five separate gear loadouts for each character, allowing players to switch between their setups at the beginning of each match.
The game also includes a microtransaction system. Players can buy "Source Crystals" using real-world money to purchase cosmetic adjustments for fighters, such as premier skins and shaders, instead of waiting to obtain them through normal play. Source Crystals can also be used to buy "Transform Gear". Transform Gear lets players apply the visuals of one piece of gear to another, allowing them to match their preferred stat modifiers with their preferred costume pieces. Lastly, once players have reached Level 20 with at least one character, Source Crystals can be used to level up other characters to their maximum levels. NetherRealm representatives clarified that any purchases made with Source Crystals are strictly cosmetic and offer no gameplay advantages.
In addition to the campaign, online, and arcade modes, Injustice 2 introduces a new "Multiverse" mode. Similar to the "Living Towers" mode from NetherRealm's previous title, Mortal Kombat X, the Multiverse allows players to travel through series of parallel worlds within the DC Universe and battle against opponents with various handicaps, stipulations, and goals. Online multiplayer will feature the option to disable Gear System upgrades and modifications, reducing all base stats to their default levels, turning any equipped gear into purely cosmetic items, and providing more balanced gameplay for competitive matches. Players can also form online "guilds" with up to 50 other players. Guild members can collaborate to complete daily and weekly cooperative objectives to earn and share gear exclusive to guild gameplay and climb the worldwide leaderboards.
The base roster for Injustice 2 includes 28 playable characters, consisting of both new and returning heroes and villains. The game also features 13 additional characters available as downloadable content (DLC).
New playable characters are listed below in bold.
- Black Adam
- Black Canary
- Black MantaDLC
- Blue Beetle
- Captain Cold
- Doctor Fate
- Gorilla Grodd
- Green Arrow
- Green Lantern
- Harley Quinn
- Poison Ivy
- Red HoodDLC
- Swamp Thing
- Wonder Woman
Additionally, several characters are playable as "premier skins", which transform characters from the existing roster into other DC Comics characters with unique voices, dialogue, and in certain cases, altered super moves.
- Bizarro (Superman premier skin)
- Black LightningDLC (Raiden premier skin)
- Grid (Cyborg premier skin)
- Jay Garrick (Flash premier skin)
- John Stewart (Green Lantern premier skin)
- Mr. Freeze (Captain Cold premier skin)
- Power Girl (Supergirl premier skin)
- Reverse-Flash (Flash premier skin)
- Vixen (Cheetah premier skin)
Five years after Superman's defeat, Batman and his collaborators attempt to piece the world back together. However, a new faction, the Society, composed of villains spearheaded by Gorilla Grodd, emerges and plans for world domination. With several of his allies either victims of or collaborators with Superman's failed regime, Batman is forced to create a new team to combat the Society. He sends Black Canary, an alternate Green Arrow, and Harley Quinn to combat them in Gorilla City, where Doctor Fate warns Green Arrow and Black Canary of an incoming threat towards the planet. After defeating Grodd, the two are abducted by Brainiac, the true mastermind behind the Society. Having previously collected and destroyed Krypton, he had intended to reclaim Superman, but became interested in adding Earth to his collection. After Brainiac takes over Batman's communications hub, Brother Eye, Batman searches for allies to combat him.
Catwoman, Batman's double agent within the Society, frees Harley from Gorilla City. Flash and a reformed Hal Jordan reunite before joining Batman, who sends the latter to Atlantis to gain Aquaman's assistance. Aquaman refuses to cooperate at first, but relents after Brainiac attacks Atlantis. Meanwhile, Black Adam, Wonder Woman, and Supergirl plan to free the Regime. When they witness Brainiac's forces attacking Earth, they attempt to free Superman from his prison. Desperate to stop Brainiac, Batman releases Superman from custody and forms an alliance with the Regime.
Cyborg, Catwoman, and Harley Quinn return to the Batcave to free Brother Eye from Brainiac's control and coordinate civilian evacuation efforts. Wonder Woman takes Supergirl to Metropolis, and openly challenges Batman's plan. When she comes close to killing Cheetah and Harley Quinn, Supergirl stops her and heads to the Fortress of Solitude to confront Superman on the matter, learning the truth of her cousin's tyranny. With several of Earth's cities abducted, Brainiac prepares to eradicate the planet. The alliance attempts to take on Brainiac's ship, but his shields are too strong and he seemingly kills Superman in the process. They concoct a plan to weaken Brainiac's shields by using Aquaman's trident as a conduit for the magic of the Rock of Eternity.
Grodd pursues Aquaman and Black Adam with a brainwashed Black Canary, Green Arrow, and Blue Beetle. After Aquaman kills Grodd, the pair successfully weakens Brainiac's shields enough for Batman and Supergirl to break in. The two are captured, but Batman is rescued by Superman. He and Batman defeat a brainwashed Firestorm and Swamp Thing, they are confronted by Doctor Fate who is turned into Brainiac's servant by the Lords of Order. Fate is defeated and his helmet is destroyed, removing the Lords' influence. However, he is impaled and killed by Brainiac. After incapacitating Brainiac, Superman takes control of the ship. He manages to restore most of the cities back to their original locations, while Metropolis and Coast City are lost permanently.
The heroes are divided over Brainiac's fate: Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, and Supergirl want to spare him in order to restore the rest of the cities; Superman, Aquaman, Black Adam, and Wonder Woman want to kill him to eliminate his potential threat and use his ship to re-establish the Regime's control over Earth. Batman attacks Superman with a gold kryptonite-laden dagger and a battle ensues. Batman and Superman defeat each other's teammates before engaging in a final battle against each other in the Batcave. The final battle has two endings, depending on which side the player chooses.
- If Superman wins, he kills Brainiac, bonds with the ship, and reestablishes the regime with the help of all of Brainiac's captives. He offers an imprisoned Supergirl the chance to join his army, claiming he restored the remaining cities and put Earth at peace. When she refuses, Superman then brings out a mind-controlled, neurally-implanted Batman and explains that she will join one way or another.
- If Batman wins, he depowers Superman permanently with Gold Kryptonite and imprisons him in the Phantom Zone. He decides to create a new Justice League with his allies and offers Supergirl a membership within it.
Injustice 2 was announced by NetherRealm Studios and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment on June 8, 2016. Following the release of Injustice: Gods Among Us, NetherRealm Studios sought to do "something unexpected and long-term" for its sequel, as well as give players "a level of control that makes playing [their] games a truly personal experience." Ed Boon also wanted to infuse various gameplay mechanics used by recent multiplayer shooter games, such as personalization, character creation, loot, and leveling up, into the fighting game genre. According to Producer Adam Urbano, the idea of creating a fighting game utilizing a role playing game-like progression system had been floating around the studio since before the fall of Midway Games, the original publisher for the Mortal Kombat series. Due to the success of the original Injustice, which earned NetherRealm Studios the trust of Warner Bros. and DC Comics, the development team decided to pitch their progression concept for the sequel, which was approved, leading to the implementation of the Gear System.
The Gear System was designed to encourage players to develop unique personal playstyles, while consistently rewarding them for investing time into the game. According to Senior Marketing Game Manager Brian Goodman, the developers wanted the Gear System to cater to both the casual and hardcore audiences. They hoped that hardcore players would appreciate the different mechanics offered by the system and create new strategies and fighting styles for each character, while casual players would enjoy the variety of visual customization options. NetherRealm also foresaw the potential issue with newer players being dominated by veteran players who have obtained rarer gear sets. To address this, the developers attempted to implement various solutions, such as giving players the option to disable stat modifiers during matches and the ability to buy rarer gear through the assorted tiers of Mother Boxes. A "balance team" was also consulted during development to try to prevent players from clustering around a small number of optimal builds.
NetherRealm Studios collaborated with DC Comics throughout Injustice 2's entire development process, including conceptualizing characters and determining the direction of the story. As with Injustice: Gods Among Us, NetherRealm was afforded extensive freedom with DC Comics' properties when designing characters. Lead Designer John Edwards stated that all of their design ideas had to pass through DC Comics' approval process; though, the company had rarely rejected them. This allowed the developers to create a large variety of costume variations and visually distinct items inspired by decades of source material. “It's a mutual respect,” explained Art Director Steve Beran. “They respect what we do, and we respect all their characters. We are fans of their characters and, I think, art-wise and design-wise, we put a lot of detail that hardcore fans will like. We tried to really honor every character.”
Injustice 2 continues the storyline established in Injustice: Gods Among Us. Unlike the previous game, which centered on a multi-universe conflict, the plot for Injustice 2 takes place entirely within the alternate, dystopian universe. According to Injustice: Gods Among Us Cinematic Director Dominic Cianciolo, the story from the first installment provided a solid foundation for adapting the canonical histories of the game's newer cast, allowing the writers to fit their stories within the Injustice universe. The biggest challenge presented to the writers was extending the series' narrative without repeating the core Batman versus Superman conflict. This led to the inclusion of Brainiac as the game's central antagonist, as there were few characters in the DC Universe that could top "Dictator Superman" as a foe for Batman.
According to Goodman, the playable characters were decided upon by NetherRealm Studios in collaboration with DC Comics, similar to the previous title. The developers considered the characters' lore, personalities, abilities, popularity, participation in the story, and relationships with other characters during the roster selection process. Creative Director Ed Boon stated that Injustice 2's roster would contain more relatively obscure characters, since Injustice: Gods Among Us had covered most of DC Comics' most notable figures. He teased the possibility of third-party DLC characters, which were well-received in Mortal Kombat X, eventually resulting in the inclusions of Dark Horse Comics' Hellboy and Mirage Studios' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Due to the success of Scorpion in the previous installment, who was the most downloaded DLC fighter, Boon also entertained the likelihood of NetherRealm including other Mortal Kombat characters as downloadable content, leading to the inclusions of Sub-Zero and Raiden. As with Scorpion, Sub-Zero and Raiden were given new costume designs by comic book artist Jim Lee.
Characters' facial animations were created with a custom photogrammetry facial scanner, which utilized 44 DSLR cameras with 50 mm fixed lenses. Character Art Lead Brendan George stated that 16 facial expressions were captured to create a single character; the 16 scans then took two to three days to process through their workstations. The data from their new scanner allowed the artists to produce a more advanced facial rig. All motion capture was performed in-house at NetherRealm Studios in Chicago, Illinois. According to Senior Technical Artist for Cinematics Andy Senesac, the animation team used four head-mounted camera systems in its motion capture shoots, each equipped with a choice of three different 4 mm, 5 mm, or wide-angled lenses that were used depending on the actor's head shape. The motion capture was then modified with manual animations to obtain the final result.
The online infrastructure for Injustice 2 utilizes the same rollback-based netcode introduced to Mortal Kombat X in its XL update. An online multiplayer beta test for both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions was announced on January 19, 2017, which began soon afterwards on January 24 and lasted until February 21. The game's original soundtrack was composed primarily by Christopher Drake, with additional compositions from Richard Carle, Dan Forden, and Dynamedion.
Injustice 2 released in North America on May 16, 2017; Australia on May 17, 2017; and the United Kingdom on May 19, 2017, for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Aside from the standard edition of the game, a Digital Deluxe Edition and an Ultimate Edition were available for purchase. The Digital Deluxe Edition included three downloadable content (DLC) characters, the Power Girl premier skin, and one exclusive gear shader pack; the Ultimate Edition included nine DLC characters, the Reverse-Flash, John Stewart, and Power Girl premier skins, and two exclusive gear shader packs. Pre-orders of the game featured Darkseid as a playable DLC fighter.
On May 8, 2017, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment announced the Injustice 2 Championship Series, a global eSports program. The series offered amateur and professional players throughout North America, Europe, and Latin America a chance to compete in different programs for a portion of a US$600,000 prize pool. These included the Injustice 2 Pro Series, an international tournament; the GameStop Hometown Heroes tournament, set in the United States; the Path to Pro tournament, set in Europe; and the Liga Latina, set in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Peru. The top players from each program qualified for the ELEAGUE Injustice 2 World Championship, which featured a US$250,000 prize pool. The event took place at the Turner Studios facility (or in ELEAGUE's case, the ELEAGUE Arena) in Atlanta, Georgia, from October 21 through November 10, and was streamed worldwide through the ELEAGUE website, Twitch, and YouTube; matches were also broadcast live on TBS in the United States.
On October 24, 2017, Warner Bros. announced that a Microsoft Windows version developed by QLOC, who had previously taken over development for Mortal Kombat X's PC port from High Voltage Software, was due for release in Q4 2017, with an open beta stage beginning on October 25. However, the beta was postponed for unspecified reasons, ultimately running between November 6 and November 11. The Microsoft Windows version was released on November 14, 2017.
Like its predecessor, a free-to-play mobile app based on Injustice 2 was released for iOS and Android devices on May 11, 2017. The app was soft launched in the Philippines App Store in February 2017. It maintains several gameplay features from the original, including the swipe-based fighting mechanics, card collection, and three-on-three battles, but introduces various changes to the game's overall formula. Players are now given the ability to move around the stage freely during combat, as well as use jumping and crouching attacks. The stamina management system returns; however, instead of each character receiving their own allotment of stamina, the player is given a single pool of stamina which depletes after every match. Fights also require higher levels of stamina than the previous game. The app includes login bonuses; daily objectives, which offer experience and coins; and achievements, which are long-term goals that reward players with premium gems and "hero shards" used for unlocking and leveling up characters. It also features game mechanics similar to those found in the console versions, such as ability and gear upgrades. The app includes a story mode, which will be released chapter by chapter in subsequent updates. According to Google Play, the Android version of the app has been downloaded at least five million times since its release.
According to Boon, NetherRealm Studios planned to take a more "aggressive approach" for downloadable content in Injustice 2 compared to their previous games. "One of the things we’ve been doing, trying to do more and more with every game...is to support it for a longer period of time," Boon stated, "With DLC characters, we’ve had four with Mortal Kombat, six with Injustice, eight with Mortal Kombat X, and with Injustice 2 we plan on continuing that pattern." On May 5, 2017, NetherRealm Studios announced Fighter Pack 1, which includes three DLC characters: Red Hood, Starfire, and Mortal Kombat's Sub-Zero. Red Hood was released on June 13, 2017; Sub-Zero was released on July 11, 2017; and Starfire was released on August 8, 2017. Fighter Pack 2, consisting of Black Manta, Mortal Kombat's Raiden, and Dark Horse Comics' Hellboy, was revealed on August 23, 2017, at Gamescom. Black Manta was released on September 12, 2017; Raiden was released on October 3, 2017, alongside the Black Lightning premier skin; and Hellboy was released on November 14, 2017. On October 3, 2017, during the finale of The CW's documentary television series Chasing the Cup: Injustice 2, Atom was revealed as the next DLC addition. The third DLC pack, Fighter Pack 3, was unveiled during the finals of the ELEAGUE Injustice 2 World Championship on November 11, 2017, which will include Atom, Enchantress, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles protagonists Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael. Atom was released on December 12, 2017.
During NetherRealm Studios' Injustice 2 panel at San Diego Comic-Con International on July 22, 2016, Boon announced a digital comic book series which will detail the backstory to the events of the game. The series is written by Tom Taylor, who had previously worked on the tie-in comic books for Injustice: Gods Among Us. Bruno Redondo is its lead artist, with contributing artwork from Juan Albarran, Daniel Sempere, and Mike S. Miller. Beginning on April 11, 2017, the series was released in weekly chapters through various digital retailers, including ComiXology, Google Play Books, the Kindle Store, and DC Comics' own mobile app. Print versions became available for purchase on May 3, 2017, each containing multiple digital chapters.
Injustice 2 received generally favorable reviews, according to Metacritic. Reviewers lauded Injustice 2's story and presentation. Eurogamer's Wesley Yin-Poole praised the game's narrative and visuals, describing them as "impressive" and a "significant step up" from Injustice: Gods Among Us. Yin-Poole commended the story mode on a technical level, praising the motion capture, action choreography, voice acting, and facial animations. Destructoid's Nick Valdez shared similar views, stating that the visuals were "leagues above the first title". Valdez also complimented the game's improved writing and "more engaging narrative". Metro claimed it had "probably the best single-player experience ever in a fighting game". In contrast, while Game Revolution's James Kozanitis said the visuals were "absolutely jaw-dropping" and "set a new high bar for the [fighting game] genre", he lambasted the story campaign, which he labeled as "poorly written" and "contrived".
Reviewers also praised Injustice 2's improved gameplay mechanics and abundance of in-game content. Game Informer's Andrew Reiner praised the game's faster walk speed, the additions of the evasive roll and air recovery maneuvers, and the ability to block environmental attacks, stating that the game "[felt] tighter as a whole" and "offers a higher level of strategy". The Games Machine's Danilo Dellafrana stated that "the subtle changes to the combat system made for deeper gameplay". These points of praise were mirrored by IGN's Darry Huskey, who remarked that Injustice 2 "[struck] a fine balance between retaining the strengths of Gods Among Us and making smart changes to improve mechanics." Huskey applauded the "incredible amount of content", declaring that "hour for hour, Injustice 2 may have more content for solo players than any fighting game ever released." Reiner also praised the amount of content, acknowledging its "lengthy story-based campaign...great fighting experience, and...nearly endless supply of notable loot." Yin-Poole wrote that NetherRealm Studios "once again [proved] it's the best in the business at that old chestnut: content."
While the customization options offered by the Gear System received praise, critics expressed frustration with receiving random, undesired gear through loot drops and the game's microtransaction system. GameSpot's Peter Brown found collecting gear and outfitting characters to be enjoyable, stating that "watching a character's traditional outfit transform into something fresh or unexpected, and seeing their stats grow through leveling up and equipping gear, grants a satisfying sense of ownership over your accomplishments and possessions." On the other hand, Brown criticized the Gear System's use of currency, particularly Source Crystals, saying that spending real money seemed to be a "necessary evil" for players to have complete control over their inventories. Kotaku's Mike Fahey described the ability to create custom versions of characters as "quite satisfying"; however, he found the Gear System to be "complicated" and criticized the randomness in receiving desired costume pieces and equipment, uttering "sometimes random chance really sucks." Videogamer.com's Alice Bell also called the microtransaction and loot systems "needlessly complex", which require players to keep track of several different types of currency. In contrast, Polygon's Michael McWhertor called the interface "elegant", enjoying the simplicity of managing and selling of gear for each character.
Injustice 2 topped the United Kingdom's multi-platform physical sales chart during its first two weeks after launch, with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions simultaneously taking the first and second spots, respectively. This marked the first time a fighting game had taken the top spot since Mortal Kombat X in April 2015. Launch sales for the game in the United Kingdom were also roughly one-third higher than the debut of Injustice: Gods Among Us. Likewise, Injustice 2 was the top-selling game across all platforms in Australia and New Zealand during its first two weeks, and the best-selling game in the United States for the month of May 2017. It became the PlayStation Store's most downloaded PlayStation 4 title for May 2017, with Darkseid being the third best-selling DLC of the month. The Ultimate Pack and Fighter Pack 1 were both in the Top 10 downloads in June 2017. Three months later, Fighter Pack 2 also made the Top 10. By the end of May, Injustice 2 was the ninth best-selling game of 2017. Time Warner declared the game as ""the highest-grossing console game in the second quarter of 2017," selling approximately 1.5 million copies in the first three months of its release.
In June 2016, Injustice 2 received "Best of E3 2016" awards for "Best Fighting Game" from the Game Critics Awards, IGN, Game Informer, and GamesRadar. In December 2017, the game won "Best Fighting Game" at The Game Awards 2017.
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