Injustice 2 Director of Art chats to me about the female game characters
Injustice 2 comes out on Friday (19 May). I’ve been pretty stoked for this game for awhile now. Not only because of the Esports tie ins but just because I love the mashing of button bashing Mortal Kombat style fighting with my geek loves. It is a combination I’m pretty sure I’ll go mad for and am excited to play.
The game itself is set to have a Story Mode, all your favourite super heroes and evil villains on offer to play and the opportunity to add a social element as well. You’ll be able to form a guild with other players and share gear and earn rewards. Injustice 2 has a somewhat unique gear system which works a bit like loot boxes? You’ll get gear dropped in game which ultimately boosts certain aspects of your chosen character.
I had the chance to chat to Steve Beran, the Director of Art at NetherRealm Studios (the team behind Injustice 2). I decided to get a bit more information about the gear system in the game and also to pick his brain about the female characters we see in Injustice 2 as well as their portrayal.
You were able to bring a few superheroes to life who would be well known to comic book fans but less so to more mainstream geeks. How do you determine which characters you add to the game?
We spent a lot of time determining our character roster for Injustice 2. Ed Boon (NetherRealm Studios’ Creative Director) pulls a bunch of us in a room and we start talking about characters we want to see. Fighter abilities, size range, heroes/villains, and character rivalries are just some of the factors. For Injustice 2, we intentionally chose a lot of characters that players weren’t all that familiar with. DC has such a vast catalog of amazing characters and we really wanted to bring those characters in to the spot light. Of course there are some DC characters that MUST be in the game: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc. What made this game so fun for us was developing those less well-known characters like: Atrocitus, Cheetah, and Blue Beetle (to name a few).
Is there pressure to mold characters to the demands of the public now that many of the superheroes have their own tv shows, movies and the like? Or are these characters developed with the game in mind first and foremost?
To be honest we didn’t feel pressure to cave in to any outside demands. The game has to come first. We are always focused on what is cool and what will be the best experience for the player. I know that sounds cheesy but it’s true. I feel there is this unspoken sense of competition at work. People always want to top each other with something that will get a reaction out of someone whether that be awesome artwork or the latest Super Move.
Could you explain the thinking behind the Gear options and how it will impact game play?
Gear is one of the main pillars of Injustice 2. From the start of the game, Ed Boon (Creative Director, NetherRealm Studios) wanted players to be able to create their own version of their favorite characters. It was a monumental task designing and creating thousands of pieces of gear for the entire roster, but we did it and it turned out better than we could have ever imagined. Each piece of gear not only looks cool, but has attributes that will affect gameplay; making your kicks stronger, giving you more defense, and even unlocking additional moves.
Who is your favourite female character in the game and why?
I love Harley Quinn. She’s such a playful, unpredictable, and funny character. She also has some of the best gear in the game. I really like that she has a history of being a Super-Villain, but in this game, she has partnered up with Batman and is trying to change her ways. Plus I am very happy with her character design overall.
Here’s a trailer introducing some of the female characters in Injustice 2 – to get you up to speed:
Judging by the trailers the female characters, much like in the comic books, are just as powerful if not more so than the males. Is that a decision made during development or one already made based off the comics?
That is a fair statement. I suppose I wouldn’t necessarily say the females are more powerful but I feel they are just as powerful as the males. I feel we focus on every character’s powers/abilities and play those up in the game. For someone like Catwoman for instance, she doesn’t have super powers but she is very fast, agile, and clever. We focus on those abilities and really design her gameplay around that. The same goes for males. In order for a “normal” male like Captain Cold to go up against a Super Hero like Wonder Woman, we designed some crazy, over the top abilities for him and his ice guns. In the end, our goal is to make the game feel balanced. Our designers spend a TON of time making sure that one character doesn’t over power another.
I usually send out a weekly mailer with a recap of blog posts but also some personal anecdotes. If you want to know about competitions or just catch up in a more personal setting then you might like to receive the mailer.