Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League has been a controversial game since it was announced, and now that its out the reception has been rather poor, at least based off of the numbers.
SteamDB, which tracks all sorts of stats for PC platform Steam, indicates that Suicide Squad has only managed a peak concurrent player count of just 13,459 and is currently only the 18th highest seller on the platform. To put that into some perspective, Marvel’s The Avengers, which was also a superhero live-service game with a short singleplayer campaign, managed a peak player count of 29,916 on its first day. Meanwhile, Gotham Knights hit 24,138 on its launch day.
Marvel’s The Avengers would, of course, go on to be taken offline as its player count dropped farther and farther and simply could not sustain itself.
While Suicide Squad has a singleplayer campaign, its heavily focused on delivering a steady stream of content over the coming year, essentially making it a live-service title, although the term live-service is somewhat hard to pin down. The point is, a game like that needs a decent audience, especially when its had a lengthy and expensive development. Keep in mind, this is the first game Rocksteady has actually released in nearly a decade.
Of course, we have no idea what sort of numbers its drawing on consoles, where it’s much harder to gather solid data. We do know it has topped the physical sales chart here in the UK, though.
The reviews aren’t painting a much brighter picture for Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, either. Review aggregator Opencritic has the game sitting at a “Weak” score of just 62, based on 30 reviews so far.
Simon Cardy of IGN delivered a high-profile blow to the game when he scored it just 5 out of 10. Here’s what he had to say in his lengthy and well written review: “Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is a thoroughly frustrating game to play. There are things to enjoy here, with combat that’s snappy enough to carry it through a genuinely good DC comics story artfully dressed in high production values. But everything else just falls down around it. Engaging mission design is nearly non-existent, the looter-shooter mechanics are tired and dull, and the grotesquely-repetitive postgame leaves little-to-nothing to do of interest.”
Aaron Bayne of Push Square was more optimistic though, giving it a 7 out of 10. He writes: “Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League is a complicated game. It’s tough not to think about what could have been if Rocksteady opted for another traditional single player title — especially since the split personalities at this game’s heart stop it from reaching the heights of the developer’s previous works. That said, despite all of our complaints, we can’t deny that the game’s fun. The story lacks the payoff but remains engaging throughout, the traversal-tinged combat is genuinely fantastic, it’s a blast to play with friends, it’s one of the best looking games on PS5, it runs like an absolute dream, and, as far as live-service games go, it’s shaping up to be a meaty and generous offering.”
Also, kudos to Push Square for having someone with the name Bayne write a review about a DC game. I doubt it was intentional, but it made me smile.
Gareth Chadwick from The Sixth Axis echoed the sentiment that Suicide Squad is a game of highs and lows, writing: “Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is a perfect example of how live services can sap all the energy out of a game experience. The story, the character and gameplay all range from good to fantastic, but the missions grow stale before too long, the loot system’s few bright spots are tarnished by the chore of everything else you earn, and the story and characters all but evaporate once you reach the endgame.”
For me, the most damning review comes from Skill Up who delivered a video just over 45 minutes long breaking down the game. His review concludes with a brutal takedown of the game’s future: “I just don’t see how this survives, I genuinely don’t, and that’s actually less to do with the disappointing campaign or the current lack of endgame content and far more to do with the fundamentals of what this game is. I just don’t believe its combat model is robust enough to withstand the prolonged exposure that a live-service demands. I believe that fixing those issues is a job too big for the live-service business model.”
He also lamented like so many others how Rocksteady has gone from one of the greatest trilogies in gaming to this mess.
However, it’s worth saying that while the critic reviews aren’t great, the user reviews of Steam seem to be telling a different story. Its currently sitting at a “very positive” rating. There were claims that negative reviews had somehow been deleted, but no evidence of that has actually been found and no developer has the ability to remove reviews from a Steam page.
Naturally not all the Steam reviews are deeply helpful, like people giving it a thumbs up while also saying its not worth the RRP. Others were more useful and reasonably positive, like Steam user ArtdeckNL who wrote: “Approached the game with skepticism due to the negative coverage, despite my excitement for it. The negativity over the past month had dampened my enthusiasm, but I decided to dive in and form my own opinion. To my pleasant surprise, I discovered a well-crafted and enjoyable game.”
Or Steam user MisterJaayy (again, perfect name for a Suicide Squad review) who said: “I’m not big on looter shooters typically, I struggle to find enjoyment in games like Destiny. However, I’ve been having a blast so far with this game. The builds are fun to manage, the game play loop is satisfying and every character is unique enough to warrant playing everyone. The story has been alright, but I understand people being upset that this is how Arkham Batman ends. I’m not arguing it’s the greatest game to ever exist, but it’s dumb fun and satisfying to play. At the end of the day, that’s all I needed it to be.”
Talk about confusion, then. It seems opinions are very much split, and in true Internet fashion its hard to figure it all out. Quite a lot of the positive reviews on Steam do read like attempts to combat the very negative viewpoint the game has in the media, but by doing so come across as difficult to trust because they swing so far in the opposite direction.
My guess? It’s a decent shooter with a solid campaign let down by some iffy writing and anti-climatic boss fights. The live-service aspect is harder to judge. Perhaps once the first season of content lands next month we’ll have a little more clarity.
I’m away to finally open up my copy of the game and give it a whirl. Expect a review in the coming weeks.