Injustice 2, Warner Bros' big DC Universe fighting game, has just arrived on mobile ahead of the console version. We recently got a chance to play the mobile version and interview Ray McCaffrey, Associate Producer at NetherRealm Studios, the game developer, to bring you this detailed preview!
The Injustice 2 story comes to mobile
Although the original mobile Injustice game boasted impressive visuals that closely resembled those of the console version, it didn't retain its big brother's impressive story mode. That changes with Injustice 2. The new game's story will be delivered episodically over time, but we'll eventually get the full narrative on mobile.
NetherRealm took the actual models from the console game (which look fantastic, a few strange costume designs aside) and optimized them for mobile devices.
That raises some concerns about storage space, given that Injustice 2 features a complex narrative with lots of fully voiced cinematics. The first chapter of the story (which features Batman) will simply be built into the game at launch, but future chapters could potentially eat up a lot your phone or tablet's storage. NetherRealm is currently debated whether to make new chapters available as optional downloads or via streaming. Whatever they decide, players won't be forced to download the full story just to play the game.
What will the story be like? Injustice 2's expansive story mode takes place shortly after the last game. Having defeated the evil High Chancellor, Batman and his team of heroes continue fighting to rebuild the Injustice world. Meanwhile, Gorilla Grodd (an evil, super-intelligent gorilla and nemesis of The Flash) forms a team of supervillains called The Society in an attempt to take over this war-torn world.
Grodd's Society is only the first menace our heroes face. Eventually, both sides must cease hostilities to face a greater threat: Brainiac, the extraterrestrial android bent on capturing or eliminating all life in the universe. Soon Supergirl, also an alien, becomes embroiled in the conflict. She plays a key part in the new story, NetherRealm tells us.
The mobile version of Injustice 2 will feature most of the characters from the console version at launch, with each character coming in a regular version as well as 1-2 elite versions with different outfits and stats.
NetherRealm took the actual models from the console game (which look fantastic, a few strange costume designs aside) and optimized them for mobile devices. The result is characters that feature an amazing level of detail for a mobile game. Playing the preview build on a tablet, I certainly couldn't spot any obvious visual downgrades to the characters.
You'll have to collect and upgrade your character list to get to where the console versions begin.
Unlike the console version, in which the full roster is unlocked from the start, here you'll collect and upgrade characters – just like in the last mobile Injustice. Characters are broken down into shards that you'll receive by completing fights and objectives in the various modes. Collect enough shards and you unlock the character to use in battle. Additional shards can be used to level the character up.
Characters also have classes in this version, such as Superman and Wonder Woman falling into the Might class. Some classes have advantages over others, creating a paper-rock-scissors dynamic.
Although NetherRealm hasn't announced the full mobile lineup, the following characters were unlocked in the preview build:
- Deadshot: An assassin who never misses a shot, as well as the lead character in the Suicide Squad movie.
- Gorilla Grodd: As seen on TV's The Flash!
- Green Lantern
- Harley Quinn
- Scarecrow: This Batman villain wields a chain-and-sickle.
- Wonder Woman
Injustice 2 plays much like the first game did on mobile. Controls have been drastically simplified compared to the console game, but they still offer a decent array of options during combat.
Swiping left and right moves your fighter; up jumps and down ducks. Tap the screen to perform a punch or kick. One corner of the screen has a block button, whereas the other corner has three buttons to perform special moves. It's quick and easy to learn.
Super moves, Injustice's version of the X-ray moves from Mortal Kombat, return in a big way. Every character has a unique super move that can only be performed when their super meter (the button in the bottom-center of the screen) has completely filled. Catch the opponent with your super, and you'll enjoy a cinematic beatdown on a massive scale. Witness Batman's Batwing jet blasting Gorilla Grodd through the sky in the screenshot above.
Like the first mobile game, fights are three-on-three instead of one-on-one. You can select teammates to complement each other or simply pick your highest-level fighters. Tap a character's face to tag them in. Tagging out a character allows him or her to regain health while not in use.
Gear and elite characters
Like the console version, Injustice 2 features a gear system. Each fighter can now equip five different pieces of gear, including items for the head, chest, arms, legs, and accessories. This equipment not only allows you to customize a character's appearance, it also provides stat boosts. Thus gear of higher rarities will provide better bonuses than common gear.
In the mobile version, each piece of gear can be leveled up independently. If you fully level up all five pieces of a character's gear, the character model and card art changes to the elite version of that character. Elite characters look different and are more powerful than regular fighters. A few elites we saw include Speed Force Flash, Emerald Green Lantern, and Horrific Scarecrow.
The mobile version of Injustice 2 features a variety of modes to play:
- Campaign: Play through a series of increasingly tough battles, winning gear and character shards.
- Training missions: Daily rotating mission that give class XP (Might class on Mondays, etc.).
- Operations: Send characters out on missions for a specific period of time.
- Arena: Asynchronous player-versus-player battles.
- Challenges: A series of rotating events, similar to Multiverse mode in the console versions. Challenges last for a few days and offer characters as rewards.
- Leagues: Form leagues with friends and team up to take on raids and other league-specific content.
- Story: Experience the same story as the console versions as heroes and villains are forced to team up to stop Brainiac from destroying the world.
Free to play elements
Injustice 2 is free to play on mobile. Like many free to play games, it will feature two currencies: credits (soft currency earned from battles) and gems (premium currency). All characters and gear can be earned without buying premium currency, NetherRealm tells us. But buying gems will certainly speed things along, allowing you to buy XP boosters, character shards, and other items.
The game will also use an energy system. We're not sure whether all fights use energy or just fights you lose – hopefully energy isn't so limited that it hurts the fun factor.
An epic superhero battle approaches
The Android version of Injustice 2 looks like it will be a fine sequel to the original Injustice. The first game's addictive character collection element returns, this time enhanced with a gear system that lets you unlock elite characters. The controls are still fast and simple, and the graphics look better than ever. And the story mode will provide even more reason to keep playing beyond simply collecting characters.
A big part of the appeal in these games is the roster of fighters, but we only saw eleven characters in the preview build. Hopefully the final roster of characters will include more of the console version's new characters like Swamp Thing, Firestorm, and Captain Cold. If NetherRealm squeezes in more characters and balances the energy system fairly, Injustice 2 could become one of the best mobile fighting games around.
Injustice 2 is out now on Android and iOS, a week ahead of the console versions, which arrive on May 16. Grab it and let us know what you think!
Disclosure: Our travel to the Injustice 2 preview event was provided by Warner Bros. Studios.
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