***Updated, because a new Harley Quinn trailer dropped yesterday.***
Rocksteady Games’ Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, originally slated for release in 2022, is now set to launch on February 2, 2024.
The London-based studio recently released the first episode of Suicide Squad Insider, a sort of developer diary with new clips of gameplay and story details. After several delays, it’d be easy to get cynical and complain-y about the game’s prospects, but I prefer to offer scenarios in which a game focusing on the Suicide Squad fighting a mind-controlled Justice League could be really excellent. Because we all need something to look forward to, right?
1. Maybe the game will live up to the promise of its premise? At its first announcement (back in August 2020), the concept screamed ambition, an Endgame-level DC Universe event in the video game space. Open world. Two super-powered teams, one of them uber-over-super-powered. Rocksteady’s high-class animations and cinematic storytelling. SUPERMAN is one of the bosses? Playable Harley Quinn and Deadshot? Hell yeah, sounds epic, intriguing, and… difficult! When did you say it was coming out?
2. Maybe the fanservice will be great? Rocksteady’s always been good at appealing to the picky needs of both comics fans and gamers. In this latest video, the villain-protagonists walk through the Hall of Justice (the League’s canonical headquarters) like tourists in Las Vegas. The self-deprecating humor seems to hint at plenty of Easter eggs for the DC Universe faithful.
3. Maybe Captain Boomerang will get cool alternate skins? Dude’s been rocking that boomerang-print smock forever. Begging the larger honest question, did we have to have Captain Boomerang? Since the Squad’s late-1980’s comics reboot, the Australian hurler has been a core member of the team, I get that. But James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad was as spiritually faithful to source material as a comics adaptation can be, and even Gunn had the sense to leave Boomerang largely out of the picture, because he’s got a grating personality, and his weapons/costume are goofy. But then, the Arkham games managed to make Mad Hatter kind of compelling. I’ll be happy to have my misgivings proven wrong.
4. Maybe the gun menu will not be such a big deal? Earlier this year, this behind-the-scenes look caused an uproar (apparently strong enough to justify delaying the launch date a second time) by emphasizing every dubious trend in live-service gaming: fussy customization menus, oblique loot systems, pay-more-to-play battle passes. It was honestly a shock at the time, because you’d think the selling point of the game would be the unique features of the comics’ DNA. Plus, and I cannot emphasize this enough, NO ONE CARES WHETHER KING SHARK CAN CUSTOMIZE A SUB-MACHINE GUN.
5. It’s one of those projects where it’s all in the title. Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League, a.k.a #SSKTJL, a.k.a. a title so long it self-SEOs and you can’t fit any more words into the article heading! In the comics, the Squad is always over-matched by the League’s array of aliens and demi-gods, but they fight ’em anyway, because, y’know, suicide mission.
6. Maybe the story will be as beautifully-executed as the Arkham games? If SS:KTJL was Rocksteady’s first superhero game, all skepticism would be be fully justified, but they (under different leadership) made the Arkham games, which are among the finest Batman stories in any media. Arkham Asylum, Arkham City, and Arkham Knight proved that superhero games could have the cinematic and creative excellence of the film versions, and in other aspects surpass the films.
7. Even if it’s not a masterpiece, it will probably be better than Marvel’s Avengers and Gotham Knights. The optimist in me really wanted to love Crystal Dynamics’ Avengers and WB Games’ Gotham Knights, but neither game handled the switching-between-multiple-superheroes aspect as well as, say, the Marvel Ultimate Alliance series. Insomniac’s beloved Spider-Man 2 comes close, but only has two playable superheroes to deal with. Will the diverse roster feel like a blessing or a burden in SS:KTJL‘s gameplay?
8. Maybe the shift in marketing for this game is an elaborate meta-fakeout, as with Spider-Man: No Way Home? The tone of Suicide Squad Insider suggest public relations damage control, but I hope that Rocksteady, which has always known its audience, is up to something cleverer. Remember how Marvel conscripted Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire into the plot to lie to journalists, to their faces, for a year, just so that audiences would be surprised? “I’m not in the movie, I swear I’m not in it, oh, wait, I’m actually in it.” That all worked out in the end, que no? So maybe, just maybe, the Suicide Squad game is saving its bigger surprises to be revealed around about Christmas?
9. Maybe every set piece on my personal wish list will actually happen? Again, potentially, SS:KTJL is everything I’d want in a video game. Harley steals Green Lantern’s ring and does loopy stuff with it. Deadshot beats Batman and inherits his Arkham gadgets. King Shark brawls with Aquaman (heretofore unseen in the trailers). Captain Boomerang fights Superman with a Kryptonite boomerang. Injustice in a fully 3-D arena is what I’m pining for here.
10. If nothing else, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League will feature Kevin Conroy’s final voice performance as Batman. So in a sense, the closing chapter of a legacy.
11. Maybe it’s the Harley Quinn playable experience we kinda wanted more of after Arkham Knight? Rocksteady dropped another trailer yesterday, focusing on Dr. Quinn, whom I consider the nexus point for the complicated DC Expanded Universe.
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is scheduled to release on Playstation 5, PC, and Xbox Series X/S on February 2, 2024.