Injustice 2, the follow-up to Mortal Kombat X and the original Injustice, has just arrived on Xbox One.

The new Injustice brings together more than 20 iconic DC heroes and villains in a battle for the fate of the world. With an exciting story mode, addictive Multiverse mode, robust gear system, and smooth online play, this is one game that fighting game and comic fans alike are going to love.

Story

Injustice 2 Xbox One Story

Injustice 2's expansive single-player story mode takes place shortly after the last game. Having banded together to topple an evil dictatorial version of Superman, Batman and his team of heroes continue fighting to rebuild their world. Meanwhile, Gorilla Grodd (a super-intelligent gorilla and nemesis of The Flash) forms a team of supervillains called The Society in their own attempt at domination.

Another key player is Supergirl. We initially meet Kara Zor-El in a dramatic flashback as she escapes Krypton just before the evil android Brainiac destroys it. Returning to the present, Supergirl has been rescued by the remnants of Superman's evil team. Will she follow her cousin down the path of authoritarianism, or break away to side with the heroes?

Injustice 2 Xbox One Story

Both sides will eventually have to set aside their differences in the face of a greater threat: Brainiac. The destroyer of worlds has set his sights on the earth! But what sacrifices will they have to make, which dark allies will they embrace to save the world?

Story mode runs 4-5 hours, most of which is consumed by high-quality cinematics punctuated by brief fights.. It's divided into 12 chapters, each of which follows one or more characters. Players will make several choices over the course of the game, culminating in a choice between good and evil that affects the final outcome of the game.

Fighting mechanics

Injustice 2 Xbox One

Injustice 2 plays similarly to its predecessor, building on the core gameplay of Mortal Kombat while diverging in interesting directions. One welcome difference is the lack of a block button; you simply hold back to block.

Three of the face buttons are dedicated to low, medium, and high attacks, with the fourth button activating character-specific powers. These vary dramatically between characters. Green Arrow can fire arrows and even switch to trick arrows; Harley Quin can unleash one or both of her pet jackals on enemies; Batman summons three Batarang drones with multiple applications; and many more.

Injustice 2 Xbox One Swamp Thing Super Move

Both fighters have a Super meter divided into four blocks. Once all four blocks have filled, pulling both triggers will unleash a devastating super move. Catch the opponent with your super, and you'll enjoy a cinematic beatdown on a massive scale.

These include Darkseid throwing his opponents into space and shooting them with his eye beams; Swamp thing pulling a foe underground and beating them with gigantic root hands; Scarecrow turning into a massive fear gas-induced hallucination; and more. Getting hit by a super move doesn't automatically end the fight like a Mortal Kombat fatality would, but it sure does sting.

Injustice 2 Xbox One

As exciting as super move are to land and watch, the actual super meter has several other fascinating uses. For starters, the Meter Burn button (right trigger) can add extra punch to normal special moves. Hit the button right after the special move input and you'll sacrifice a bar of meter to deliver a modified version of the move. These always add extra hits and set up foes for additional combos.

Meter can also be used to perform three types of escape moves. In the air, hitting the meter burn button will get you out of an aerial combo. On the ground, you can break out of a combo by tapping forward, forward, meter burn for a roll escape. Or you can use the meter burn button while blocking to push an opponent away, giving yourself some space. These escape moves really increase defensive options, but they all cost a bar of the super meter.

Injustice 2 Xbox One Clash

Finally, clash moves use the super meter for both attack and defense. Either opponent can initiate a clash during a combo by pressing forward plus meter burn. Each side then has the chance to wager up to four super meter units on the outcome. Whoever spends the most meter wins the clash. This either gives the attacker extra damage or restores some of the defender's health.

With so many applications for the super meter, using the whole thing on a super move isn't always the best route. But casual players can still have a good time by using the meter just for super moves and to defend against clashes.

Gear and customization

Injustice 2 Xbox One Character Select

Injustice 2 ships with 28 characters and one DLC character, Darkseid (see our Darkseid character guide). Each of these characters can be upgraded and customized with the brand-new gear system.

As you complete daily challenges across all modes and Multiverse-specific challenges, you'll win loot crates known as Mother Boxes. These come in five different rarities, each offering multiple pieces of gear (also of varying rarities) for random characters. You can also buy Mother Boxes with credits earned from battles.

Injustice 2 Xbox One Gear

There are hundreds of pieces of gear for each character. This equipment not only allows you to customize appearance, it also provides stat boosts. Don't worry about leaving behind cool looking gear because of low stats; gear can be transformed to look like other equipment. Collecting gear to strengthen characters is extremely fun and addictive, but it does create some imbalances in multiplayer. Thankfully, both players can agree to turn off stat boosts, evening the playing field.

Another customization item you can win is shaders, character-specific alternate color sets. The most desirable type of shaders are called premiere skins. These make a fighter look like another character who doesn't otherwise appear in the roster.

Injustice 2 Xbox One Character Customization

Shaders and premiere skins are where in-app purchases come in, as many of them must be bought with a currency called source crystals. You earn source crystals just from playing, but they can also be bought with real money. A single shader/skin costs about $2 worth of source crystals. The presence of microtransactions doesn't harm anyone, as shaders and skins are purely cosmetic and can be unlocked through normal play anyway.

Multiverse

Injustice 2 Xbox One Multiverse

You'll visit many of the DC universe's worlds to do battle with variations of known heroes and villains (differentiated by their randomized gear and shaders) in the single-player multiverse mode. Players can browse numerous planets, each with its own set of challenges to complete.

A single challenge consists of multiple battles against specific opponents, sort of like an arcade or tower mode. Sometimes you can pick your character; other times, you'll play as a specific character. These can even include DLC characters, with one of the launch challenges giving everyone a taste of Darkseid, for instance. The character-specific challenges encourage you to try and level up new characters.

Injustice 2 Xbox One

Multiverse challenges are time-limited. Some are available for hours, others for days. Their ever-changing nature should provide loads of staying power, especially seeing as how Multiverse is the best way to earn gear and Mother Boxes. You'll get specific rewards for completing the individual challenges on a world and more rewards for clearing the entire planet.

Multiplayer

Injustice 2 Xbox One

The long-term potential of any fighting game comes from its multiplayer features, and Injustice 2 doesn't disappoint. Offline players have the option of battles with customizable settings or playing with standardized tournament settings. The latter may help Injustice 2 become a tournament and eSports mainstay, assuming the fighting game community buys into it.

Online, you can create and browse rooms for non-ranked matches, allowing groups of players to join and take turns competing. The room browser makes it easy to find a group to join without having to rely on matchmaking. Ranked mode simply finds an opponent of similar skill level to battle against, helpfully displaying your opponent's win/loss ratio, odds of winning, and ping.

Injustice 2 Xbox One

Quitting out of a ranked match hurts your rank right out of the gate. And win or lose, you always get player level XP, character XP, and credits — plus a chance of free gear.

Injustice 2's netcode has been excellent in my experience. The only disappointment as far as online features is you can't accept online challenges while playing single-player. Street Fighter and Dead or Alive both have that feature, which is a lot more entertaining than staring at a matchmaking screen while waiting for opponents.

Join the Windows Central Guild!

Injustice 2 Xbox One Windows Central Guild

One of Injustice 2's most exciting features for the social crowd is the addition of online guilds. Upon reaching player level 5, anyone can join a guild or create their own. Members earn Guild XP for every match, can earn and open Guild Mother Boxes, and more.

Of course we have our own guild on Xbox One, and we'd love for you to join! The member limit is 50 so eventually we'll have to start turning people away and/or removing inactive players. But for now, all are welcome. Once you reach level five, select Guilds from the main menu. Search for us by Guild ID JQ5PC. We look forward to fighting with you!

Achievements

Injustice 2 Xbox One

The Xbox One version of Injustice 2 includes a whopping 62 Achievements worth a total of 1,000 Gamerscore. These include one for each of the 27 unique non-DLC characters. You'll have to fire 10 shots as Deadshot in one match without missing; defeat Black Canary with Green Arrow's Target practice move; and many other finishes that reference character relationships. Those goals are fun, clever, and easy.

It's a good thing Story mode is enjoyable, because there's an Achievement for beating every alternate path in it. Multiverse has several Achievements of its own. There are several online Achievements, including winning 50 Player matches and 200 total matches. Independent of modes, other goals include opening 100 Mother Boxes, collecting 250 pieces of gear and performing every super move for the base 28 characters. Overall, completion will require a fair level of dedication and a bit of online proficiency.

Overall Impression

Injustice 2 Xbox One

The amount of single-player content in Injustice 2 is unprecedented. Not only does it have one of the best story modes in the genre, but Multiverse mode has the potential to entertain (or at least warrant an occasional visit) for months on end. Decking out your heroes in stat-enhancing gear is both a great time and a way to make the occasionally ugly costume designs look much cooler. Seriously, what is up with Batman's default mask?

In my short time with Injustice 2 so far, it has also excelled as a multiplayer game. Online performs super well and has robust lobbies for non-ranked play. Because the game appeals to superhero fans in addition to the fighting game crowd, you can also play against much more casual players than your online Street Fighters and Guilty Gears. I win a lot of my ranked matches – I love it!

NetherRealm and Warner Bros Studios have delivered a fantastic sequel with Injustice 2. This is a fighting game overflowing with polish and charm. The particular fighting mechanics might not appeal to everybody, but adjust to them and it's almost impossible not to have a good time. If you love fighting games or DC characters, Injustice 2 is a must-buy.

Injustice 2 is available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The regular edition costs $59.99. For $79.99, the Deluxe Edition includes Fighter Pack 1, a Power Girl skin, and a shader (color palette). The $99.99 Ultimate Edition bundles the game, Ultimate Pack with all nine future DLC characters, three premiere skins, and two shader packs.

Pros:

  • A great roster of popular and slightly obscure heroes and villains.
  • One of the best story modes in fighting games, with impressive animation and voice acting.
  • Multiverse mode adds tons of single-player staying power.
  • So much gear to collect!

Cons:

  • No way to accept random fight requests from other players while in single-player
  • Gear can imbalance gameplay
  • No way to autoequip all characters with best gear

Outstanding

4.5/5

Xbox One review copy provided by the publisher.