So I wanna take a break from all the industry nonsense to have a bit of real-talk about a really good game and what makes it designed well.
Injustice: Gods Among Us came out this past week from NetherRealm Studios, or as they are more commonly known as, “those guys who make Mortal Kombat”. It’s a 1v1 fighting game featuring DC superheroes. While I could talk for a while about what makes the gameplay itself great those kinda of details might not make a whole lot of sense to those not into this sort of thing (long story short: it’s really fun, balanced, and feels good. And despite taking elements from basically every fighter for the past 15 years it feels really new), thats not what I’m here for. I wanna talk about the things it does right that aren’t exactly part of the game itself.
The main thing I want to touch on is the amount of single player content there is. What NetherRealm realizes is not everyone who likes fighting games buy them to be the best of all time. Most games from, say, Capcom, lack any serious single player content and rely heavily on the market of competitive players to drive the game. Nothing is really wrong with that, but the amount of things I can do in Injustice on my own is pretty staggering. There is the decent length story mode, broken up into 12 or so acts (each one played by a different character) complete with cutscenes, voice acting, etc. It’s written in an incredibly over the top and silly way as one would expect from NetherRealm (which I honestly love. Sometimes dumb can be amazing if the creators are aware of it). Beyond that there is a classic arcade mode style where you fight the AI in a random order, but also a large number of unlockable variants of this mode to add challenge and reward you if completed. Going through this mode with each character unlocks more alternate costumes for them as well.
There is also a challenge mode where each character has about 10 or so missions, and you can earn up to 3 stars on each one if certain conditions are met. These range from silly minigames to fights with special rules and beyond. There are also almost 200 of these stages currently and more to follow with DLC.
Another thing I think this game does right is not hide any information from its players. When you go into training mode in this game, it tells you specifically what a move does and its properties, and also tells you information such as frame data, meaning how much a move will leave you at an advantage/disadvantage based on frames of animations when someone is hit by it or blocks it. This is important for competitive players and also help other players improve. Games like Street Fighter provide no such resources. There is also a very useful-to-beginners that explains all the game’s mechanics and has the player do it themselves, another thing other games tend to lack.
It also has a good roster with lots of personality and accuracy to the source material. While it probably goes without saying that a fighter with a lame roster is probably not going to be fun or interesting, its pretty obvious that the people at NRS did their homework and love comics. Alternate costumes reference different moments in the character’s past, character specific banter mid fight adds a lot of charm (for example, Solomon Grundy making comments toward Green Arrow, calling him “arrow-man!” in his simple speech).
So yeah. More fighters should have this level of content. People do like this sort of thing.