The Suicide Squad Might’ve “Killed” Rocksteady’s Reputation Instead
Five years of radio silence later, the beloved Arkhamverse developers finally spilled the beans about what it had been working on all this time, a spin-off sequel to Batman: Arkham Knight titled Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League.
The reveal teaser that accompanied the announcement during the DC FanDome event in 2020 didn’t show all that much, but the sneak peek at our titular protagonists, and their getting afraid of a mind-controlled Superman on a murder spree was more than enough to get fans stoked.
If I’m being honest, it was never the premise of the game that had us excited back then. Our subconscious kept telling us “if it’s Rocksteady, it must be amazing“, and believe me, mine wanted to pre-order Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League on the spot. However, now things have taken an unexpected turn as the more we know about Rocksteady’s latest, the more we want to believe it’s a joke, and here’s why.
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League’s Release Is Shaping Up Badly
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is currently scheduled to release on May 26, 2023, for the Xbox Series X/S, PS5, and PC. Hopefully, that turns out to be the case, but some reports state otherwise.
Sony’s State of Play Event in February 2023 was the first time we got an in-depth look at the game. It was a 14-minute deep dive into the Suicide Squad’s story, gameplay, and co-op experience, and oh my, was there a lot revealed and a lot said by fans.
In contrast to the iconic Arkham series’ free-flow combat system, the game boasted looter-shooter gunplay, with the only innovation being it’s more flashy and colorful. Even Captain Boomerang, whose signature armament is a literal Boomerang, was using guns as his primary weapon.
Enemies were generic mobs that had purple color weak points you had to shoot, the UI was riddled with gear scores, and on top of that, we’re also getting a battle pass for cosmetic items. As for the shooting, similar to what you’ll find in any other game but here, there was a heavy emphasis on aerial combat, and it just didn’t seem to work brilliantly, at least not on par with how good things were last time in Batman: Arkham Knight.
A lot of eyebrows were raised and the general consensus appeared to be that Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League was initially pushing for the “Game as a Service (GaaS)” model, but when others doing the same such as Marvel’s Avengers bombed so hard, the studio backtracked on what it could.
Some users who checked the statistics of the YouTube trailers found that over 75% of the impressions were negative, and that also seems to be the case across all social media platforms. Now credible rumors have started surfacing that a delay is imminent as a result of the backlash, but so far the studio hasn’t commented. That’ll be the second delay the game has faced since it was originally set for 2022. Whatever ends up happening, things aren’t looking good for Rocksteady’s newest piece.
From Inspiring Others To Becoming A Mimic
After 8 years of waiting tirelessly for Rocksteady’s next masterpiece, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League has left innumerable fans of the Arkhamverse underwhelmed, and apparantly, the game still needs time for “polish“.
The Arkham games are credited to this day as inspiring countless AAA titles. The melee system in Marvel’s Spider-Man is basically a reskin of the Arkhamverse’s Freeflow Combat. Batman: Arkham Knights’ graphics are hailed to be better than most current-generation games, and that’s saying something.
The plot of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League looks awesome so far, I’ll give credit where it’s due, but that can’t be used as an excuse for its shortcomings. Fans are calling it just another looter-shooter, and that’s true since the entire game is uplifted only by the already-established DC characters and Arkhamverse.
Most anticipating the game either want to check it out because of a select few reasons; Rocksteady’s reputation, their love for the Arkhamverse, or to witness the late Kevin Conroy voicing Batman one last time. There’s barely anyone interested in it for the leading group itself. It’s a great vision, but the uninteresting gameplay and design choices have butchered the title as a whole, but let’s just hope we’re wrong.
Rocksteady Co-founders Are Leaving The Studio
A couple of months back, Rocksteady co-founders Sefton Hill and Jamie Walker announced that they will be leaving the studio right after Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League launches. It came as shocking news to all, especially because Sefton Hill has directed every game made by the studio.
Sefton’s practically the bread and butter of Rocksteady, and is a major basis for why their games have gone on to receive critical acclaim. The reason for their departure is that both Jamie and Sefton want to start their own studio and pursue independent IPs, but to me, it reeks of abandon ship. The co-founders leaving signals a big loss for the studio, and though we can’t be sure why, I do have a hunch. Call it paranoia if you will, but it might be the future direction of Rocksteady has pushed them to this.
There’s no exact culprit to blame for Suicide Squad’s GaaS approach, but it’s possible that it wasn’t Rocksteady’s team that chose that but some Warner Bros. executives who saw the Fortnite fever running wild in 2020 and decided the game needs microtransactions. It’s arguable that Suicide Squad’s impending doom is what Jamie and Sefton might have spotted early on, and it later led to their decision, but I may just as easily be wrong.
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League Is Gotham Knights All Over Again
Not too long ago, WB Games Montréal, another subsidiary studio of WB Games like Rocksteady, released Gotham Knights, a AAA action RPG focused on Batman’s sidekicks. WB Games Montréal previously developed Batman: Arkham Origins, and helped in the making of Batman: Arkham Knight, so when fans heard about Gotham Knights, expectations went through the roof.
Long story short, Gotham Knights’ launch went down as one of the worst ones for any AAA game to date, and it wasn’t a mystery why. The story was predictable, combat was clunky, the open world was dead, and there was genuinely no fun in playing it. Gotham Knights ultimately flopped and left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth, and now when they look at Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, the same feelings of disappointment begin to emerge again.
Granted that the story for Suicide Squad looks fresh with the Justice League being the baddies, and the baddies being the good guys. You’re facing off against The Flash, Superman, Arkham Batman, Wonder Woman, and all your childhood heroes, so that’s definitely a win right there. We might even get to see the Flashpoint Paradox, which makes it all the more mind-blowing, but the gameplay in itself is too generic to make it worth playing. In that department, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League has all the hallmarks responsible for Gotham Knights’ failure, and at this pace, history might just repeat itself.
Hogwarts Legacy Proves Narrative-driven IPs Are Only Getting Better
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League will only be the second AAA game released in the past 8 years based on DC characters, with Gotham Knights being the first. Oddly enough, both of these games are not only AAA titles but also aim for the 4-player co-op experience.
It’s perplexing why in the timespan of 8 years WB Games would greenlight two AAA co-op projects. It’s like competing against yourself. Yes, they do have a story mode, and there’s a decent campaign, but opting for co-op elements always sacrifices the single-player experience to some degree, and here it’s clearly noticeable.
Instead of two games that have multiplayer and single-player modes that fail, WB should’ve opted towards focused versions of each. It seems to me like the company was too desperate to get in on that Fortnite co-op, and battle royale trend, and in an act of generating more revenue, they chose the exact opposite of why they were respected as game developers in the first place.
The proof is in front of everybody. WB’s latest release has been Hogwarts Legacy in early 2023. It’s a fully narrative-driven experience that has absolutely zero microtransactions. It has got great writing, a stellar gameplay system, and an expansive open world. Hogwarts Legacy kills it in every regard, why? Because it isn’t plagued by the GaaS design choices Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is. It’s also why Hogwarts Legacy has sold 12 Million copies already, that’s an $850 million turnaround, and it’s close to outselling Elden Ring as we speak despite being only a few months old.
Single-player games have never been so alive, and that’s clearly what Suicide Squad should’ve went with. The likely scenario now is that Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League will release in 2023, even if there is a delay. It’ll undersell and will fail to reach the profit threshold set, and as a result, the studio and the company will re-evaluate this past decade of flawed choices until ultimately, they revert to what they’re actually good at, making narrative-driven titles.
Tayyab’s an anime & gaming enthusiast, and since he can’t make them (yet), he loves to write about why he finds them amazing.
Also, he’s a huge Hideo Kojima fan, and everything else that’s Japanese for that matter.