Injustice 2, the dark take on the DC Comics universe from Mortal Kombat developers NetherRealm Studios, is out now, and I’ve spent the last week trying out every character in the huge roster to learn their strengths and weaknesses. While it’s a bit too early to say if one or two stand above the rest in terms of competitive potential, that won’t stop me from ranking them on more arbitrary terms.
So read on for my completely biased, unscientific Injustice 2 character rankings! You’ll find my five favorite and five least favorite picks below, and might learn something cool in the process.
Let’s just get this out of the way: Captain Cold is kinda dorky. Just like Mr. Freeze’s unfortunate turn in the live-action Batman & Robin (sorry, Arnold), the Flash villain’s Injustice 2 appearance is rife with low-temperature puns. That said, Captain Cold is a cool cat otherwise, with a spiffy jacket and goggles to boot.
While his gameplay may frustrate players sick of taking on zoners like Deadshot, Captain Cold just looks so damn great. He has a multitude of ways to freeze opponents, setting up situations for highly damaging combos, and can even drop icicles and huge blocks of ice on his enemies from any distance. Apart from Gorilla Grodd (more on him later), Captain Cold may be the most exciting character from a pure spectator position, and I hope more top players pick him up in the future.
Aquaman is cool, okay? He’s being played by Khal Drogo in the upcoming Justice League movie, and doesn’t have a robot arm anymore. I’ve always been a Sub-Mariner kinda guy, but Aquaman is definitely underrated.
The king of Atlantis was a strong contender in the first Injustice, and brings much of the same gameplay to the sequel. Aquaman utilizes his trident for long range strikes that can convert to big damage, and conjures a freaking monster shark during his super. Sadly, his trait is broken at the moment, but that shouldn’t stop you from winning matches on the back of his strong normal attacks.
Okay, I’m gonna level with you here: Atrocitus is pretty lame. Of the entire spectrum, the Red Lanterns have never been my bag, and his “RAWR I’M ANGRY” aesthetic doesn’t really do anything for me. The real star here is Dex-Starr, an average house cat that was imbued with the power of rage during a painfully sad backstory. Now, he travels the universe with Atrocitus puking blood on people.
Atrocitus can fight pretty well by himself, but really shines when you activate his Dex-Starr trait. The scary little feline adds an entire new dimension to his gameplay with fireballs, shields, and more, allowing the big brute to extend combos and counter keepaway strategies more reliably. Keep an eye on this one.
The first time I heard of Gorilla Grodd is when he was announced for Injustice 2, but I’m already in love. He’s a hulking gorilla in armor who can speak English and commands powerful psychic abilities. He’s a brute, naturally, but the combination of keen intellect and immense strength makes Grodd a formidable enemy.
Grodd’s gameplay is just as compelling. While he hasn’t been as prevalent at high level competitions as some other characters, a particular competitor known as Coach Steve has been adamant of showcasing his interesting skillset. The brawling ape has a rudimentary infinite at his disposal, and the inclusion of moves like a clothesline, stampede rush, and the classic “stop hitting yourself” maneuver from childhood make Grodd one of the most hype characters in the Injustice 2 roster.
A lot of people were shocked by the Joker’s design change in Injustice 2. Instead of maintaining his basic dud from the first game, NetherRealm Studios updated the clown prince of crime with a more emo (for lack of a better term) look in the sequel. His side bangs are particularly egregious, but there’s something endearing about Joker turning into a shitty emo boyfriend.
I’m gonna level with everyone here and say that Joker is probably my main character at the moment. I love the attacks he has at his disposal, and he can set up some devastating mixups with his chattering teeth special. Joker’s damage output isn’t the best, however, so players will need to make good use of his tricky gameplay to get the edge on their opponents. Never stop laughing!
Oh, Deadshot. Injustice 2’s shooty bang bang kill man is nearly identical to the previous game’s Deathstroke, only he has more guns. I think Will Smith played him in Suicide Squad, and I like Will Smith, but I’ve never seen the movie. Anyways, Deadshot is lame and I’m not sure how he got around being ranked dead last.
Ah, right, it’s because Deadshot is pretty damn good. Due to his wide array of projectile attacks, he can keep opponents at bay for entire matches, winning rounds without ever getting close. This has drawn ire from the more casual fighting game players, but competitors have been working on ways around his zoning since last week’s release, so don’t expect him to get “easy” wins for much longer.
A number of sidekicks have been saddled with the Robin mantle over the years. Injustice 2 sees a teenage Damian Wayne, son of playboy millionaire Bruce Wayne (you know, Batman), attach his prepubescent moodiness to the overarching storyline. While his skills surpass previous Robins’ by a country mile, Damian is like the dark, brooding, little brother you never wanted.
As far as gameplay goes, Robin is pretty solid. By adding a sword to the mix alongside the gadgets cooked up in his father’s labs, the boy wonder makes use of quick, devastating offense that can catch even the most careful of players unawares. Too bad he’s completely lame otherwise.
NetherRealm Studios isn’t known for their amazing animations, but Injustice 2 bucked that trend thanks to improved lighting and character models. Unfortunately, no one told the artist designing Blue Beetle, and what we’re left with is a bloated caricature. Poor Jamie Reyes.
Blue Beetle’s strength lies in his unique air mobility. By switching to his flight mode, players can get the drop on opponents from out of nowhere, and it’s even possible to cancel into flying from airborne attacks for trickier setups. Just, really, don’t look at his face. It’s horrifying.
Cheetah’s name is Cheetah because she looks like a cheetah (kinda). Clever, huh? I guess she’s in Injustice 2 because they needed a Wonder Woman villain more forgettable than Ares, who was playable in the first installment, but I can’t really be sure.
Despite being one of the game’s faster characters, Cheetah’s speed belies her reliance on a strong throw game. With a number of grabs at her disposal, Cheetah players need to keep opponent’s on their toes. The more you can make the other player second-guess themselves, the better.
The only thing I know about Firestorm is that he’s the result of Dragon Ball Z-style fusion between a high school student and an old man.
His gameplay in Injustice 2 isn’t nearly as interesting. The only thing I have written in my notes on the character is “unremarkable” because he’s one of the most milquetoast fighting game cast members in recent memory. One would expect more from a superhero that’s literally a nuclear explosion made flesh, but his Injustice appearance should have been given to someone else. Anyone else.
Ian Walker is a freelance writer who is trying his best to cover the world of fighting games even if he’s not all that good at them. You can find him on Twitter at @iantothemax.