Suicide Squad Kill The Justice League hands-on: Fast, ferocious, and totally unhinged in a good way

Suicide Squad Kill the Justice League preview
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Games)

My eyes don't know where to focus, so I settle for everywhere. Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is not the live service looter-shooter I was preparing for; it's a turbo-charged supervillain frenzy that feels and looks incredible. 

Running amok through the city of Metropolis was never going to be anything like the Batman Arkham games. Gone is the gritty, brooding, permanently nighttime world of Gotham, and in its place is a technicolor playground where there's no such thing as being too flashy. I zip up buildings as Deadshot, whacking enemies with melee attacks to send them flying into the air for me to snipe down with precision. 

Deadshot barks something at Captain Boomerang, who laughs with glee before teleporting ahead to help King Shark gun down some more monsters. True to developer Rocksteady's penchant for storytelling, all these threads come together to articulate a rollicking supervillain saga. At the heart of it, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice league is an all-out party. It's way more fun than I thought it would be – especially in the face of last year's backlash.

Being bad feels good

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Games)
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The sprawl of Kill the Justice League's Metropolis is a far cry from Arkham Island. This feeling of untethered expanse is immediately palpable to me as I exit the newly-repurposed Hall of Justice, now home to a ragtag band of miscreants. The future of the city sits cupped in our unpredictable, unclean hands – but not before we have some fun in it.

Kill the Justice League operates in the Batman Arkham universe, but the gameplay couldn't be farther from it. That's because how you move through this vibrant cityscape is just as important as the scene change itself. "Metropolis was really exciting from a design point of view, because of what we could leverage that we haven't done previously," says associate design director Johnny Armstrong. "We knew early on that traversal was going to be a big pillar of our game, so the city and the traversal developed together."

Traversal and combat playstyles go hand-in-hand for the core four characters available at launch, each with a unique set of skills, weapons, and abilities to help navigate Metropolis. Verticality is everything if you want to get to the top of that 40-story office block, and with Deadshot's jetpack, it's a doozy. King Shark can simply pummel the ground below and boost himself into the air, while Harley Quinn's grappling hooks allow for a more acrobatic approach. Naturally, Boomerang's signature Aussie throwables are central to his traversal system, allowing him to teleport to a pinned location within seconds. Those all sound lovely, but my poor depth perception and timing ineptitude means I quickly bond and decide to stick with Deadshot. 

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Games)

The game does push you to switch up your main – there's even a system in place to incentivize you to do so for extra XP at times – but Armstrong gets where I'm coming from. "It's one thing to find a fun character that vibes with you," he says, sharing my passion for Deadshot's loadout, "But also there isn't one character that feels massively faster than the others. One is faster going vertically, one is faster going down, and one is faster going horizontal. And that is also spread out across the new characters we'll have in post launch."

With new gameplay content being free of charge for one year post-launch, the possibilities for these "brand new characters that will not feature in the game until then" sound endless. All characters will be unlockable in-game, and I'm told the Kill the Justice League battle pass will be for cosmetic items only. Nice one.

I'm a bit dejected that I won't get to play as Poison Ivy, resurrected in Kill the Justice League as a young girl following her demise in Arkham Knight, but it's fun to see Rocksteady branching out with new playable characters.

"We worked on Batman for so long, and Batman is Batman: very dour, and very serious," says Armstrong, citing the stark differences between the Caped Crusader and the DC villains. "They've each got their own unique personalities, and then [we] force them together like an extended family whether they like it or not. I guess we're trying to echo it in gameplay as well. If you're playing [with] other people, you're a bunch of strangers. But by the end of the game, you've developed into this close-knit family." 

High rises and higher stakes

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Games)

It's a deft balance between action and story that Rocksteady manages to toe with expertise.

The "strangers" Armstrong refers to are your fellow players, as Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League in its broadest strikes is a live service co-op shooter. Thankfully though, it doesn't feel like another Marvel's Avengers. It's got the elements of a hero shooter – distinct playable characters in a massive online arena, each with advantages and specialities – but Kill the Justice League is a vibrant, narrative-rich experience that demonstrates Rocksteady's "real love and reverence for the characters" and the broader DC universe.

Having been locked up at Arkham all these years, Task Force X comprises the scant few left uncorrupted by a brainwashing scourge that has turned the citizens of Metropolis into mindless thugs. And yes, that includes its requisite heroes, the Justice League. Secretive government official Amanda Waller manages to trick the Squad into injecting each other with explosive devices that will pop their heads like zits unless they comply, so now it's a matter of venturing out into the city to bring down Superman and his cohort of corrupted do-gooders.

Myriad mission formats mean no two battles feel the same, even during my four-hour hands-on session. From vehicular combat in defense-style missions to all-out onslaughts, a gnarly boss fight against The Flash, and an unfortunate run-in with Lex Luthor, the variety of combat experiences flow with the main storyline while still leaving plenty of scope to explore with my co-op buddies. It's a deft balance between action and story that Rocksteady manages to toe with expertise, and that variety extends to the weapons themselves.

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Games)

Your weapons loadout in Kill the Justice League is fully customizable, and each completed mission seems to award players with new weapons, bombs, and other accoutrements to swap in. Penguin and Ivy team up back at base camp to grant the Squad new melee status effects, the first being Freeze, and purchasing new Talents allows for endless clever ways to go about gunslinging. As Deadshot, I tried out a fun little build the Rocksteady devs helped me construct that throws enemies into the air for me to juggle and shoot at a whim. I imagine it will come in handy for helping keep fights off the ground, leaving room for melee fighters like King Shark to get some punches in unobstructed.

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League came as a massive surprise to me. Rocksteady's proven skill, passion, and dedication to authenticity means I was already looking forward to heading back into the Arkhamverse, but I didn't expect the format of an online action shooter to feel as fitting as it does. With its kinetic traversal systems and joyful, colorful chaos, it's a total juxtaposition to the games that came before. Don't let that put you off, though – this is one anti-hero shooter that dares you to have an absurdly good time, and more than follows through on the promise.

Big in 2024: Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is set to launch on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X on February 2, making it one of the essential games of Winter 2024

Jasmine Gould-Wilson
Staff Writer, GamesRadar+

Jasmine is a staff writer at GamesRadar+. Raised in Hong Kong and having graduated with an English Literature degree from Queen Mary, University of London in 2017, her passion for entertainment writing has taken her from reviewing underground concerts to blogging about the intersection between horror movies and browser games. Having made the career jump from TV broadcast operations to video games journalism during the pandemic, she cut her teeth as a freelance writer with TheGamer, Gamezo, and Tech Radar Gaming before accepting a full-time role here at GamesRadar. Whether Jasmine is researching the latest in gaming litigation for a news piece, writing how-to guides for The Sims 4, or extolling the necessity of a Resident Evil: CODE Veronica remake, you'll probably find her listening to metalcore at the same time.