Where Does Injustice: Gods Among Us Go From Here?
It may be a little early to talk about an Injustice: Gods Among Us sequel: hell, we’re still waiting for NetherRealm to give us news on the next installment of the rebooted Mortal Kombat series. But with Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition out, and Ed Boon recently hinting at an eventual Injustice sequel, it begs the question: where can they go from here? What kind of sequel could they make? What could the story entail? How could next-gen tech expand on an Injustice sequel?
Note: Beware of Spoilers.
Injustice: Gods Among Us was a really good game. Despite its faults, it gave us a fantastic story mode and a variety of characters. So a sequel should keep up the storytelling legacy NetherRealm has been building up since 2011’s Mortal Kombat reboot and Injustice, and focus more on refining the mechanics, adding more characters, and diversifying the modes.
So with an Injustice sequel, NetherRealm could apply the “bigger is better” idea and expand upon the foundation they set up with this first game. Although Injustice: Gods Among Us was largely a self-contained story, an Injustice sequel like End of Worlds could start an ongoing tale that takes a page from DC Comics’ many cosmic crossover events, and take fans for a spin through the DC Comics multiverse. Doing this would allow DC to play with a variety of characters, worlds and ideas, setting up for an array of improvements to character development and diversity. But it could also cause a problem.
As a longtime DC Comcis fan, it pains me to say that most of DC’s cosmic crossovers get lost in their scope, taking readers through time and across galaxies against reality-destroying foes, concentrating less on the heroes and more on the colossal fights and deaths that are sure to follow. Thankfully, NetherRealm’s approach to splitting up the narrative amongst its characters should help with this. Nonetheless, the writers should keep in mind to keep the plot and cast down to a respectable size, so that each hero and villain can get their moment, while allowing for a fun cast of characters.
With the end of Injustice involving the defeat of the misguided Superman of the Regime Earth, the story could build from that to keep the game’s narrative moving.
After his defeat, a desperate and weakened Regime-Superman breaks out of jail, scavenging the Batcave for Batman’s reality-crossing ray. Regime-Batman shows up to put a stop to his plans, but not before Regime-Superman gets accidentally blasted by the ray. But he gets blasted not to the Earth of our heroes, but to the Multiverse itself. Stranded in-between dimensions, only one thing remains on his mind: to destroy our universe’s Superman, to him the “Great Pretender,” that destroyed his hold on his world. His plan: to takeover our world to make up for his losing his own.
Lost, he begins to travel across this realm between worlds, feeding off of the 4th dimensional sunlight of hyperspace and wearing a suit of armor to help channel all that power more directly. As he watches the various worlds, searching for the one where our Superman came from, he begins to see himself as a messenger, a king of worlds, a Monarch, whose duty is to “fix” each universe so that no other Lois would ever die again. DC Comics fans should recognize these references–a nod to the Armageddon 2001 event and the more recent Countdown event (and its various tie-ins).
And so begins the Monarch’s reign, traveling to unprotected worlds where his influence and power can conquer nations quickly, and where he can recruit other “heroes” to be soldiers of his vast interdimensional army. And in no time at all, the Multiverse becomes a no-man’s-land of superpowered carnage.
Or does it?
One time-traveling, reality-hopping hero named Waverider comes back to warn the heroes of our world and time about the horrible future to come, claiming that it’s their responsibility to stop the horror of the Monarch from starting. But he’s arrived a little late: the power-mad Monarch has already begun his recruitment drive, and while his army isn’t vast yet, it’s certainly large enough to be formidable.
With an army as powerful as the Monarch’s, it’ll take an alliance of heroes and villains alike across multiple worlds and realities to save the day, forcing Superman to make uneasy alliances with such enemies as Lex Luthor, Brainiac, and Darkseid if he has any chance of stopping his evil-self. Because if they don’t stop the Monarch, his constant travels through time and space could end up destroying every world and era in existence.
Most of the characters in Injustice were very different from one another, especially considering that most had unique special power moves, combo strings and specials. But a good portion of the initial characters were Bat-Family characters (perhaps a product of the popularity of The Dark Knight Batman movie trilogy), and the remaining characters were a mix of much desired or out-of-place characters.
The best thing about having a story set across multiple realities is that the developer can include not just a host of characters from DC’s main continuity, but a host of completely different takes on those same age-old characters. If NetherRealm decided to use the Atom, for example, they could decide to ignore the simple nerdy scientist schtick and lame size-reducing abilities, and make an entirely new version of him. Perhaps their Atom comes from an Earth where he’s a badass science-hero (in the vein of characters like Doc Savage or Tom Strong), who carries a utility belt of his own design that has various weapons shrunk down and waiting to be used as part of a large, diverse moveset.
This sort of takes a page from the arena-based Infinite Crisis game from developer Turbine Games, which include a chainsaw staff-wielding Wonder Woman and a magically-based Green Lantern knight alongside their more traditional characters.
Taking this idea of alternate worlds, along with a variety of characters skins, could make for an easy way to superficially expand the cast for the story. An evil version of Black Canary, for example, could be Silver Bansee on another Earth. A variety of skins could easily turn Superman into Wildstorm’s Mr. Majestic or Apollo (complete with glowing nimbus).
This may not be the ideal method to widen the roster, reminiscent of perhaps Marvel Ultimate Alliance‘s alternate costume heroes, like Beta Ray Bill as an alternate costume for Thor, and Sharon Ventura as an alternate costume for Ms. Marvel. But with the cost of making unique characters sometimes high even for big studios like NetherRealm, this could help to at least artificially increase the cast. NetherRealm could also employ the Smash Bros. and Capcom method, using another character as a template and then tweaking them, so that–for instance–Mr. Majestic or Apollo have a moveset full of more roughhouse versions of Superman’s moves.
Either way, efforts should be made to bring in a wider range of DC heroes, including its street level characters equipped with an appropriate power-increasing plot device as in the first Injustice (like Black Canary, Damien Wayne and Grifter), its superpowered set (like Vixen, Static and Steel), its magical and supernatural beings (like Constantine, Andrew Bennett, Etrigan the Demon and Swamp Thing), its comical heroes (like Plastic Man and Ambush Bug), its cosmic heroes (like Starfire and Captain Comet) and other unusual characters (like Jonah Hex).
These heroes should be offset by DC’s best villains, including Injustice‘s Lex Luthor and Black Adam, along with new possibilities like Bizarro, Black Manta, Captain Cold (in place of Killer Frost), Circe, Despero, Hank Henshaw (the cyborg Superman), Mongul and the mighty Darkseid himself.
New Stages and Features
The DC Universe is so full of interesting locations and time periods that omitting these in future titles would be a travesty. Especially considering the idea that this is a multiversal game, a new Injustice game could and should include alternate dimensions, parallel worlds, and stages from all over DC Comics’ continuity.
Besides the typical Gotham, Metropolis, and Watchtower stages (which are pretty much mandatory in most DC Comics games), imagine:
- A battle on Thanagar, with transitions that have angry Thanagarian Hawk-soldiers raining down on your foe;
- Taking on your foe while armies of humanoids animals battle Kamandi, the Last Boy On Earth, in the background of an Earth devastated by war;
- Fighting in Limbo with a bunch of dead or lost-to-obscurity characters floating about the stage (like writer Grant Morrison’s take on the Animal Man series);
- Warring along on a WWII battlefield with the Justice Society battling Nazis in the background;
- Breaking down your enemy in the land of The Dreaming while the Sandman himself, Lord Morpheus, watches on from a distance;
- Battling on Skataris, where Warlord battles away sorcerers and dinosaurs in the background, which can be used for stage hazards;
- Taking on enemies on an exploding Krypton, with the victor of the battle escaping, while the loser…well, doesn’t make it.
All these and more should be a fun part of the experience, making players want to revisit stages again and again, to find new things to interact with or sights to see when pummeling the heroes and villains DC has to offer. With 75 years worth of parallel worlds, characters and time eras, DC has a lot to offer if NetherRealm really dives into their history.
A new game should also bring some more content to the game and the S.T.A.R. Lab Missions would be ideal, adding Mortal Kombat ‘s Tag Matches and Test Your Luck matches, as well as more multilayered stages. There could even be a multiversal “Arena” mode (a nod to the Countdown: Arena miniseries, where players taking on a a slew of enemies until they get defeated). This Arena mode could even be a way to unlock new characters, by having them appear and needing to be defeated to be earned.
Much like both Mortal Kombat (2011) and Injustice: Gods Among Us, an Injustice sequel could and should have some cool DLC, for characters and missions alike.
Imagine an Adam Strange: Man of Two Worlds pack, which comes with a rocket-boosting, space-tech wearing Adam Strange character, and a Zeta Beam “Battles” mode that randomly beams in and out the character you’re playing against and the character you’re playing with, a variant on the Arena mode idea that keeps you on your toes and forces you to adapt as you play.
This would be a perfect time for guest and licensed characters to show up, but ones who fit according to the DC Universe. Take Mortal Kombat‘s Freddy Krueger DLC, featuring one of the most famous horror movie villains of all time as a MK fighter: not only did he fit in with the game’s cast (to an extent), but he was a blast to play. Considering his 2005 DC Comics mini-series, wouldn’t it be awesome to get a Space Ghost in the game, complete with an assortment of power band special abilities, flight and invisibility? Or Hanna-Barbara properties like Blue Falcon, Birdman or the Galaxy Trio. Or, considering his recent miniseries, what about He-Man and the Masters of the Universe?
Taking this one step further, could there be special appearances from other DC and Warner Brothers-owned properties? To have V For Vendetta‘s V against Watchmen‘s Rorshach (considering that these characters also belong to DC Comics)? Or to have Morpheus from the Matrix take on Harry Potter‘s Lord Voldermort? (These may be extremely hopeful, but a man’s got to dream.)
And I know Scorpion is NetherRealm’s Batman or Wolverine, but if there’s any appearance from Mortal Kombat characters, let’s save them for characters who are more likely to be traversing the multiverse for a reason: like perhaps Raiden, trying to find heroes to save his universe, or Shao Kahn or Quan Chi, trying to find warriors to fight for them and their goals.
Any fan of DC Comics can tell you that DC’s characters have literally been to every end of every Earth, have been knights, cowboys, robots and more of every color, and have fought for or against truth and justice from the beginning of time to the end of the universe. If there’s any lesson to be learned, it’s that an Injustice game has an infinite number of possibilities, made all the more viable with next-gen technology and a wider scope. With the direction NetherRealm has taken recent games on building or streamlining strong narratives and trying new ideas, continuing on in this way should only bring success. And as a huge comic fan and a huge gamer, I can’t wait to see what comes next.