When Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League was announced during the pandemic, there was a bit of a collective groan. At the time, it felt like DC’s answer to The Avengers, a now-delisted live-service action game that had only just launched to middling reviews. However, during a recent Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League preview event, I discovered that this third-person shooter has lots of personality and more in common with the immensely entertaining Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy than the rather dull Avengers.
Skipping ahead to the preview event, after enduring a particularly harrowing train ride, I received a quick briefing explaining the game and Rocksteady’s plans for ongoing support. We were thrilled to learn that DLC would include brand-new story content, missions, gear, in-game events, and even additional characters beyond the core four Suicide Squad members. While no specific details were given about what’s to come, it’s worth noting that paid items are limited to cosmetics, meaning the rest of the DLC will be offered for free.
Now, let’s dive into the action. As we entered a spacious room, I joined a squad consisting of fellow journalists and Rocksteady Studios staff, each choosing their favorite member of the Suicide Squad. Each antihero possesses a unique playstyle, borrowing elements from popular traversal methods found in other open-world games. Deadshot, for instance, boasts a jetpack that can kick into overdrive when it runs low on fuel. Harley Quinn wields a grapple shot reminiscent of Batman’s Arkham series, while Captain Boomerang uses a teleportation device tied to his thrown boomerang. As for me, I decided to play as King Shark, who possesses innate jumping abilities reminiscent of Alex Mercer from the Prototype series. His agility is so remarkable that he doesn’t require any additional gadgets.
Our journey begins within the hallowed halls of the Justice League headquarters, where statues and artifacts dedicated to each superhero stand, accompanied by informative recordings of their achievements. It’s here that I was reminded of the bittersweet fact that this game features the final performance of the legendary Batman voice actor, Kevin Conroy, who passed away just over a year ago. However, Conroy’s delivery as the now-possessed Caped Crusader is flawless, as he barks orders at Brainiac’s minions as their commanding officer. Meanwhile, the other three squad members quickly acquire and test their traversal gadgets. King Shark, however, decides to don the Riddler’s hat and, I must say, looks rather dashing in it.
We soon find ourselves on a rooftop overlooking Metropolis, a moderately sized open world filled with missions, activities, and secrets, but it’s in a state of ruin due to Brainiac’s malevolent influence. Amidst the chaos, the Suicide Squad’s trademark bickering ensues. These moments highlight the game’s distinctive personality, akin to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. The four teammates exchange jokes and quips with rapid-fire timing, and much like Starlord and his crew did a few years ago, this team of misfits charms players in their own darkly comedic way.
After a brief skirmish with Brainiac’s forces and a guided tour by Green Lantern, our assigned developer informed us that this section was concluding, and it was time to experiment with loadouts. Each character can access talents and weapons that drastically alter their playstyle. In the case of King Shark, he serves as a tank, focusing on gaining shields through melee combat. However, players can customize him with talents and weapons that prioritize combos to recharge his splash attack rapidly, or opt for a build that maximizes damage output.
Later in the day, I had the opportunity to try out Captain Boomerang, whose penchant for building damage by absorbing enemy shields manifested through his trusty boomerang. Additionally, he could spec into a build that caused a slowdown effect whenever he launched an enemy with a well-placed grenade. While I didn’t have the chance to explore Deadshot’s character in depth during my short time with the game, I learned that he offers a sniper-based build for maximum damage or a focus-time slowdown build akin to Captain Boomerang. Harley Quinn’s builds allow her to wreak havoc by slamming down on opponents or tearing through enemies with her firearms.
In the following hours, we completed relatively short missions to unlock new perks and weapons, hunted for Riddler trophies, and even engaged in Riddler time trials. While Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is fundamentally a co-op game, the squad leader, who is determined by the player with the highest score from the previous mission, controls waypoints. This competitive aspect adds a thematic twist to the cooperative gameplay. After all, why let others hog the spotlight when you’re teaming up to save the world?
Our adventures inevitably led to confrontations with the Justice League, but the squad also faced other formidable foes. One encounter involved applying pink gunk, known as Terminaut Bits, to the limbs of a spider-like tank to expose its weak points. This encounter felt like a culmination of the skills we had honed up to that point, and while I hadn’t fully mastered Captain Boomerang’s abilities at that stage, I could appreciate the game’s approach to boss battles.
With less than a month until release, I’m optimistic about Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League’s prospects, even though it differs significantly from Rocksteady’s Arkham series. The diverse playstyles of each character offer much-needed variety, and my initial experience left a lasting impression. While it remains to be seen if the game will maintain this level of quality and excitement beyond the preview section, I can’t wait to delve deeper and discover for myself. The fact that essential DLC will be provided free of charge is the icing on the tantalizing cake.