OpinionVideo Games

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League’s Delay Is a Band-Aid on a Bullet Wound

The latest delay of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League doesn't seem like it's enough to fix the core problems with Rocksteady's game.

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League will now be released on February 2, 2024, which I believe makes it the first concrete date of next year. This delay marks the latest setback in the long and arduous development of Rocksteady’s next entry to its acclaimed Arkhamverse. And while I’m a firm believer that delaying a game is always better than releasing a half-baked pie – insert “Miyamoto” quote here – I’m afraid that this extra eight months isn’t enough to fix the troublesome foundation that was shown off earlier this year. If anything, Suicide Squad’s delay feels like Warner Bros. is placing a Band-Aid on a bullet wound.

Rocksteady remains one of the defining developers of the early 2010s. Arkham Asylum delivered one of the best 3D Metroidvanias without the word “Metroid” in the title. Arkham City then took the formula and expanded it into an open world, cementing itself as an iconic superhero game. And despite some bloat, 2015’s Arkham Knight still remains a visually stunning spectacle to this day.

After three bangers in six years, everyone assumed that Rocksteady was only getting started. Sure, maybe development time would expand in the new generation, but the promise of its next game always felt like it was on the horizon. Sadly, that horizon never seemed to come, and as years became the better part of a decade, questions started to arise at just what the hell was going on at the studio.

Cut to August 2020, and we got our first teaser for Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. And right off the bat, a bit of worry started to creep in. The trailer very much made it seem like a four-player cooperative experience, and a lot of signs pointed to its trying to capitalize on the “ongoing game” trend that so many developers and publishers were gravitating towards. The problem was 2019 saw the release and subsequent failure of BioWare’s Anthem, showing that no developer was too big to fail at this trend-chasing endeavor. And just a month after Suicide Squad’s reveal, Marvel’s Avengers launched, and we all know how that turned out.

The latest delay of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League doesn't seem like it's enough to fix the core problems with Rocksteady's game.

Suicide Squad was originally slated to release in 2022, and the past few years saw a slow trickle of trailers and delays, with the game eventually landing on a launch date of May 26, 2023. But after a full gameplay blowout was shown off at a February 2023 State of Play, it was clear that this was not the successor to the Arkham trilogy that most fans were hoping for.

What we saw closely resembled the shaggy mess of a live-service game filled to the brim with cumbersome menus, different currencies, bland loot, battle passes, gear scores, and all of the hallmarks of that aforementioned trend chasing. It felt like the years of goodwill that Rocksteady had earned in the Arkham trilogy melted away in an instant, leaving us in the state we’re in now.

This whole situation is a bummer. Rocksteady is clearly full of talented and passionate creatives, but at some point many years ago, the decision came down from up on high to create an ongoing game that could replicate the formula du jour that we were seeing from stuff like Destiny. But the problem with chasing trends at the AAA level is that it takes the better part of a decade to make these massive games. By the time Suicide Squad was ready to be shown off, the general public had grown tired of said trend.

As for the delay itself, I’m certainly no game developer, but the eight months that Suicide Squad was pushed isn’t enough time to rework the bones of the game. A done bun can’t be undone, and the structure that disappointed us all at the February reveal is too entrenched in every facet of the experience to be removed.

The latest delay of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League doesn't seem like it's enough to fix the core problems with Rocksteady's game.

Now, some good things can, and probably will, come of this delay. This extra time allows the team to deliver a more polished experience, and it also feels like enough time to rework the previous “always online” necessity and give us an offline mode. It also allows Warner Bros. and Rocksteady time to figure out just how the hell to market this thing that fell so flat on its face before.

It’s hard to imagine a world where Suicide Squad stuck to its initial May 26, 2023 release date. The next two months are crammed with the latest games in some of the biggest franchises on the planet, many of which have already received incredibly positive previews. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor and Final Fantasy XVI have shown off strongly, hundreds of thousands of players have gotten hands-on time with Diablo IV and Street Fighter 6 in beta form, and Nintendo just crushed it with the latest Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom trailer.

So many aspects of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League have left a bad taste in my mouth over the past few years, and February’s gameplay reveal did nothing but exacerbate that. Maybe there’s a world where this most recent delay is a miracle cure that allows Rocksteady to fix everything. But after witnessing what happened with Anthem and Marvel’s Avengers, it’s clear to me that mandating a talented developer of single-player games to chase the false promise of an ongoing money-printing product is a fool’s errand.

About the author

Marty Sliva
Marty Sliva is the Deputy Editor of The Escapist. He's been writing and hosting videos about games, movies, television, and popular culture since 2011, and has been been with The Escapist since 2019. In a perfect world, he'd be covering Zelda, Persona, and the hit TV series Lost on a daily basis.