It’s a great time for the best superhero games. Be it Marvel, DC, or even the likes of Saints Row, embodying the powers that drive your favourite fantastical characters has never been more fun. You'll certainly need those powers, because behind every superhero is a super villain, armed to the teeth, or packing supernatural abilities designed to kill you where you stand. Whether born from comics or video games, the following list gathers the creme de la creme of virtual city-savers and fictional crime fighters to this end – destined to save the world or die trying.
With Gotham Knights, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, Spider-Man 2 and Wolverine all on the horizon, the current glut of great superhero games is set to get even better. In the meantime, strap on a mask, your favorite shiny lycra, and join us among the best superhero games to save the world with right now.
15. Marvel's Avengers
Marvel's Avengers has a glittery and joyous core campaign that manages to stack up to modern-day Avengers stories. Its gameplay is varied enough between heroes that there are shining stand-outs and ones that belong in the bin. To this end, if Marvel's Avengers is an Iron Man suit, Kamala Khan is its arc reactor, propelling the story forward and providing necessary emotional torque. She should have been featured in the marketing materials far more than she was, because she really is the Avenger in this game. Her story and the simultaneous story of the Avengers we know and love overcoming failure and crippling self-doubt in order to reassemble is a rock-solid one (and maybe even better than one or two of the Avengers films).
Play it on: PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
It's rare to find genuine laughs from attempted comedy in games, which makes High Moon Studios' Deadpool quite the treasure indeed. This third-person hack-and-slash drops you into the boots of the Merc with a Mouth, and lets you loose on hordes of disposable, meat-filled enemies in a bloody action adventure that never misses the chance to crack a joke.
It's a good thing, too, because while the combat starts to get stale by the time the credits roll, that stellar script and wonderful comedy more than make up for it. Deadpool's meta, fourth-wall-breaking antics are enjoyable from beginning to end. Plus, there's a scene where you're able to slap an unconscious Wolverine for a solid three minutes, and who doesn't want to do that?
Play it on: PC, PS3, and Xbox 360
13. DC Universe Online
An MMO based off on the DC universe doesn't sound like a great idea on paper. If everyone’s a superhero, then are what’s so super about everyone? But, six years on from release, DC Universe Online is alive and kicking on PC and next-gen consoles, having successfully made the transition from the PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2013. Players get to create their own superhero based on the traits of DC's wide catalogue of canonical characters, before venturing fourth into the open world to join the fight against perpetual doomsday.
Above all, DC Universe Online excels as an example of perspicacious post-launch curation, as developers Daybreak Game Company has devoted itself to perpetually enhancing and expanding the game with new content, updates, fixes, and rewards for the past half decade. It’s starting to show its age in 2017 but, as a free-to-play action MMO that reveals a deep understanding of and admiration for its source material, you could do a lot worse than DC Universe Online.
Play it on: PC, PS4, and Xbox One
12. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Not only is the X-Men Origins: Wolverine game infinitely better than the movie it’s loosely based off of, but it might well be one of the best movie tie-in games of all time. An R-rated experience which doesn’t shy away from Logan’s capacity to brutalize his enemies, X-Men Origins: Wolverine represents the first mature take on the character outside of the comics.
The game was more than just blood and guts, however, as the action-heavy combat is engaging in its simplicity, not to mention relentless during the impressively designed boss fights. The well-told story also features full voice acting from almost the entire cast of the film, with Hugh Jackman himself lending his suitably gruff tones to the proceedings. Unfortunately, the movie’s infamously awful interpretation of Deadpool turns up in the game, too, so it isn’t all plain sailing.
Play it on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii
11. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2
Through much of the 2000s, Activision found a real niche for itself publishing dungeon crawlers based around comic book super stars. After increasingly well-made adventures like X-Men: Legends and the first Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, the series reached its loot collecting, team of four apex with Ultimate Alliance 2.
While in many ways Ultimate Alliance 2 re-purposed the formula from its predecessor almost note for note, the incremental adjustments establish it as the pinnacle of the franchise. It features a huge roster of stars from all over the Marvel Universe, has the best visuals in the series, and is built around the hero vs. hero Civil War story-line, making its plot a bigger draw than you might expect. It has its flaws, but if all you're looking for is to sprint down dungeon corridors and punch Magneto in the face, you've found your game.
Play it on: PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PS2, PSP, and Nintendo Wii
10. The Wonderful 101
Platinum Games has superheroism in its blood. Bayonetta and the Transformers Devastation may be lacking in capes and Kryptonite, but they prove how skilled Platinum is at working with the sorts of giant explosions, eye-catching aesthetics, and giddy heart that make superheroes so beloved. So it's not surprising that when Platinum tried its hand at a literal superhero game - The Wonderful 101 - it hit the nail on the head with a building-sized hammer.
In Wonderful 101, you control a 100-strong team of superheroes as they battle against a powerful alien force trying to take over the world. In proper Platinum form, you fight battles that both look and feel larger than life, but with a twist: the mass of superheroes under your control combine to create gigantic weapons that you use in battle, letting you feel just as big and powerful as the things you're fighting. While the game does stumble in places (the Wii U GamePad is occasionally crowbarred in with painful results), its silly affection for everything superhero-y makes it difficult not to love.
Play it on: Wii U
9. Lego Marvel Super Heroes
From Star Wars to Lord of the Rings, the Lego games have proven that just about everything is better in brick form. That trend continues in Lego Marvel Super Heroes, which comes at the Marvel universe with easy to grasp adventure gameplay and the sort of lighthearted humor that Lego games have long become famous for. Seriously, where else is Dr. Doom actually going to call his world-annihilation device a "Doom Ray of Doom"?
Playing Spider-Man as he teams up with Black Widow to defeat Venom and make silly block puns is really all you need to have a good time here, and Lego Marvel doesn't overcomplicate the mash-ups. Yet, in its own goofy way, it remains loyal to the Marvel universe, making each character feel essential to the cast and giving them abilities that uniquely fit them, like the Hulk being able to throw cars and make competent use of a computer. It doesn't have much to offer players hoping for a challenge or a serious story, but it's pure and simple fun, and that's all it needs to be.
Play it on: PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PS Vita, and Nintendo 3DS
8. Saints Row 4
If you were to ride a time machine back to 2006 (or maybe just spin the world in the other direction, Superman-style), you'd probably get a lot of raised eyebrows over the idea that Saints Row would eventually include a superhero game. But my, how things change: Saints Row 4 stars humans with incredible powers like super speed and energy projection, out to save Earth from world-hopping evil, headquartered in a secret Saints-cave, and decked out in matching outfits. I'm gonna say that qualifies.
Saints Row 4 transformed the post-modern sandbox into a profane riff on The Matrix, and it's an absolute blast to explore and destroy as you see fit. You're faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive, exploring the virtual city of Steelport just like Superman would - were he a sociopathic, deposed President that loves Biz Markie. That alone makes the game worthwhile, turning the simple act of moving from one place to another into a high-speed adventure. But toss in progressively more intense powers you unlock as you go and ridiculous slapstick comedy, and it's a game that's hard not to love, no matter how many dick jokes it tells.
Play it on: PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, and Xbox 360
7. inFamous Second Son
InFamous: Second Son isn't based on a comic book or a movie, and it doesn't feature a beloved protagonist with roots in 1940's Americana. Instead, Delsin Rowe is a hero for the modern age: a charming delinquent who discovers he can absorb other superheroes' powers a la Rogue from X-Men, and struggles with the choice between using them for good or whatever he damn well pleases. While the first two games have their charms, Second Son is a fuller package, with tons of side content and visual flourishes that make the heroes and the city they're trying to save feel alive. Plus, it gives you access to the sort of raw power you always want to get your hands on, but so rarely do.
Playing as Delsin gives you the feeling of truly controlling a superhero. His powers grow to near-absurd levels by the end of the game, and with all the different abilities he can acquire over the course of his journey, it's not long before your cup runneth over with superpowered possibilities. Using neon to speed through the streets and straight up buildings, levitating enemies or anchoring them with concrete, shooting into orbit and coming back down for an Earth-shaking entrance - it's the stuff of superhero dreams, and it's all at your glowing fingertips.
Play it on: PS4
6. Injustice 2
NetherRealm's studios first attempt at a superhero based fighting game, 2013's Injustice: Gods Among Us, was a sound and solid foundation for a franchise in the making, but greater things were to follow. This year finally saw the release of its sequel, Injustice 2, which ups the ante in almost every way you could hope for, not least with the addition of sorely missing characters from the first game like Supergirl and Gorilla Grod.
Injustice 2 is a prestigious and meaty fighting game, which really does play as good as it looks. All the depth and nuances of the fighting genre are here, buried deep within the game's layered mechanics, but the visual pizzazz of it all is what elevates into something really special. Even if you're not a fighting fan, you can appreciate NetherRealm's dedication to premium presentation, especially when someone unleashes their Super Move upon an unsuspecting foe.
Play it on: PC, PS4, and Xbox One
5. Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
Marvel vs Capcom 2 might have more superheroes in its roster, but nothing comes close to Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 in terms of sheer fan service. Working closely with advisors at Marvel, Capcom crafted each hero (and villain) with care, making sure to include instantly-recognizable moves and ridiculously obscure references alike. When Rocket Raccoon gets a spot on the Marvel squad, you know you're dealing with bonafide experts.
Each comic book character plays just as youd imagine they would: Spider-Man nimbly dashes around the screen, Phoenix transforms into her Dark incarnation upon death, and Storm is the queen of controlling airspace. UMC3 is an impressive fighting game even if you have no love for Marvel, with balanced combat that allows for a variety of fighting styles and smooth handling that feels grand whether you're playing as Deadpool or Frank West. If you're a purist looking for a game that bleeds Marvel, or simply a fighting game-lover looking for a fun time, this really is the ultimate.
Play it on: PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, and PS Vita
4. Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales
While we could have slipped what is ostensibly an expansion here in alongside 2018's Spider-Man, that would be doing Miles Morales an injustice. An action-adventure sandbox game in the very same vein as Insomniac's Peter Parker-flavoured superhero adventure, Mile Morales follows the titular protagonist in his bid to save his hometown of Harlem from the nefarious Roxxon Energy Corporation and the Tinkerer's high-tech criminal army, The Underground. Miles, of course, featured throughout 2018's Spider-Man, but here we get to explore his personality on a deeper level - and his new abilities in combat. All told, it's more of the same with new characters, but when the source material is so damn enjoyable, we have no complaints placing Miles so high up on this list.
Play it on: PS4, PS5
3. Guardians of the Galaxy
Whisper it... Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy game might be better than the movies. It's incredibly rare for a game to make me laugh as much as it does cry, but what Eidos Montreal has created here is something rather magical, both in terms of its story and its execution. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is a game where you embody everything it is to be a leader, including all the doubts and insecurities that come with it.
You play as Star-Lord, the leader of a Guardians of the Galaxy team who have only been working together for a year or so. What that means is that they're still learning to operate as a team and as an adopted family. It puts you in a great position as a player, allowing you to learn more about each of these characters as Star-Lord himself does. If you're familiar with the comics or the MCU movies, these Guardians feel like an episode of What If. They're familiar characters, with recognizable traits and personalities, but with different backstories featuring characters and events that'll make you build a separate timeline for these alt-history versions. Discovering how they differ from what you'd expect is just part of the charm.
Play it on: PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch, and PC
2. Batman Arkham Knight
Rocksteady has long been a rockstar of the superhero genre, from the day Arkham Asylum swooped quietly onto the scene and changed the face of super games forever. Arkham Knight is the best of the caped crusader's bunch, the swan song of the Arkham series that takes all of its best parts and condenses them into one 25-hour experience. It has its issues (namely the feeling that the game is running you over with the Batmobile by the end), but just like with the Dark Knight himself, its greatness isn't undone by them.
Batman's powers are at their most carefully honed in Arkham Knight, with combat feeling fluid and natural, and his batty gliding ability makes traversal so fun that I'm pretty sure I saw him crack a midair smile. Plus, this time around those powers include the power of friendship, which lets a partner like Batgirl or Robin join in the fray for brilliantly executed combos that are a joy to partake in. Nestle all that in a huge open world full of great content (that isn't entirely Riddler trophies, I swear), and this feels like the perfect way to send the best iteration of Batman off as he vanishes into the night.
Play it on: PC, PS4, and Xbox One
This PlayStation-exclusive (PS4 and PS5 remaster) is easily Spidey's best game ever, and topping it will be a tall order indeed. Insomniac Games, the studio best known for the Ratchet & Clank series, took the familiar framework of an open-world Spider-Man game and polished it to absolute perfection, even adding in some heartfelt out-of-costume moments and a quasi-origin story of a unique Sinister Six. But as ever, it's all about the web-swinging, and zipping above the streets of New York City is an absolute joy. Within seconds of entering the enormous map, you'll be hooked on the smooth momentum and acrobatic flips that Spidey performs with ease; you'll spend hours soaring between skyscrapers and running on the side of buildings just for the pure thrill of it.
Beyond your amazing methods of traversal, Marvel's Spider-Man borrows from the best by mimicking the highlights of the Batman: Arkham games, from heavy-hitting, gadget-encouraging, counter-centric melee combat and stealth sections that reward you for silently eliminating unaware goons one by one. To help break up the pacing, you'll even play as Mary Jane Watson and Miles Morales in a few (hopefully not too tedious) sneaking missions. Following the success of Insomniac's Spider-Man in 2018, Miles' was expanded on in a DLC that is ultimately a game into itself - as you'll have spotted above. As we said in our review, Marvel's Spider-Man is "about as good as superhero gaming gets."
Play it on: PS4, PS5
If you're in more of a watching mood, here are the best superhero movies, from MCU blockbusters to cult classics.