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Monday, February 26, 2024

What we learned about Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League from the State of Play stream—it’s a looter shooter alright

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We’ve been waiting patiently these last eight years for Rocksteady’s next game, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Warner Bros. has been pretty sparse with the details about Suicide Squad since its formal announcement in 2020, only really going as far as to say it has four-player co-op. 

After today’s 15-minute State of Play presentation, we now know that Suicide Squad is definitely not a Batman-type stealth action game: in fact, it’s a bombastic third-person looter shooter that seems to have more in common with Crackdown than Arkham Asylum. A few quick facts based on the State of Play showcase:

  • One “core” of Suicide Squad’s gameplay is traversal: every character has a different but similarly floaty means of getting around
  • There’s loot, gear scores, and six weapon classes: assault rifles, SMGs, shotguns, miniguns, sniper rifles, and pistols
  • There are also vehicles, but we didn’t see those in action
  • More characters, weapons, and missions are planned for DLC
  • There is a battle pass, but it’s cosmetics only

Maybe I should’ve seen it coming, but I’m surprised at just how chaotic and loud the Suicide Squad game is. It’s a major departure from Rocksteady’s methodical Arkham series and a stark contrast to WB Montreal’s recently-released Gotham Knights. 

Judging purely by the gameplay shown today, I think you spend about half of the game flying through the sky: Harley stays airborne with a grapple hook, Deadshot has a jetpack, Boomerang has a teleporting boomerang, and King Shark is very good at jumping. Mid-air combat seems like a big deal—Harley had a long window to aim and shoot at glowing purple weak spots before the floaty gravity brought her down.

Those glowing weak spots are actually what worries me most about the Suicide Squad. Dumping thousands of bullets into spongey bosses isn’t my idea of a great game (though everything is less boring with friends). It’s not all guns all the time—every character has melee moves as well (apparently King Shark specializes in melee), but most of the moves I saw looked more like a canned execution animation than an active combat system. We’ll have to wait to hear more on that.

I’m more on board with the Suicide Squad than I was immediately after watching the gameplay. My friend group is always hungry for a new co-op shooter, and it’s not every day one with a massive budget comes along. On the other hand, after 50 hours of looting identical scarves and juggling a pointless gear score in Hogwarts Legacy, I’ve had it up to here (imagine I’m holding my hand very high) with half-baked RPG systems. Finding a new gun/sword/wand with a slightly bigger number has become a shortcut for meaningful progression.

I recently restarted Batman: Arkham Knight and was reminded of how gracefully Rocksteady dials up Batman’s capabilities over one long night with new gadgets and abilities—no gear score required. Hopefully Suicide Squad can pull it off too.

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is releasing May 26, 2023.

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