The reaction to the big gameplay reveal for Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is, for the lack of a better term, not going well. Most of the responses I’ve seen on social media have amounted to – this is what we’ve waited eight years for? From the developers of Arkham Asylum, Arkham City, and Arkham Knight… the next big co-op live-service third-person shooter?
Nobody has played the game yet, but a lot of worrying signs were shown in the reveal, with one of the key innovations described in the-behind-scenes footage being gear scores. Yes, there’s a whole segment in the video designed to sell you on gear scores and that, as you unlock new gear, you take on higher-level missions… like in Anthem, Marvel’s Avengers, Gotham Knights, Hogwarts Legacy, The Division, Assassin’s Creed, God of War Ragnarok… yeah.
To me, gear score mechanics indicate that there be a lack of unique level design in missions, no memorable boss fights, holding down the attack button to whittle down a health bar as an enemy repeats the same combos over and over again, lots of sifting through menus to remove the loot I don’t need, missions gated off behind un-fun progression loops, and, of course, battle passes to sell me on “cosmetics.”
I’m having a bit of deja vu having just written about this exact sort of thing with Gotham Knights just four months ago.
All of that was present in this recent Suicide Squad gameplay reveal, which felt about eight years (how long it took to develop) too late. The trailer even spends the time explaining all the different weapons “manufacturers” and customization options, as if we’ve never seen that gameplay mechanic before.
And the annoying part is that I really don’t have any issue with those mechanics being in the game. I don’t mind finding new pieces of armor to update my characters with in Assassin’s Creed, or new clothing options in Hogwart’s Legacy, or even a really cool new weapon with unique mechanics in something like Outriders.
It’s more what it means for the larger experience and the lack of any creativity when it comes to the actual game design. People wouldn’t complain about these mechanics if the games they were built around were memorable, but they’re just not.
When the entire focus is centered around “gear score,” then the gameplay just boils down to keeping up with these ever-increasing health bars and waves of enemies, rather than creating unique or memorable missions, combat encounters, boss fights, or moments in general.
Assassin’s Creed used to have memorable missions that involved using the environment as a puzzle to get to your target like the Cathedral from Unity. The Arkham games had great level design focused on stealth with scripted moments and thrilling boss fights like taking on Killer Croc in Arkahm Asylum. God of War had huge epic moments with boss fights that encompassed an entire level, such as fighting Cronos in God of War III.
These days you enter a room and just hold down a trigger until a loot box appears on the floor to give you gear you probably don’t even give a shit about.
Unfortunately for Rocksteady, the big gameplay reveal for Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League and the subsequent developer diary pretty much just laid out a checklist of all the things a lot of people are currently tired of in big AAA games. It’s especially disappointing coming from the developer that revolutionized comic book games and set a trend for years to come with the Arkham series. Now it looks like Rocksteady’s following the trend instead of setting a new one.