A Modern Superhero Games Renaissance Is On The Horizon

Superhero Fans Will Soon Be Eating Good!

Story Highlights
  • Superhero games have not lived up to their potential in the past.
  • This will change soon, with major AAA developers bringing their own take on various IPs.
  • The newfound interest should help alleviate MCU and superhero film fatigue, possibly bringing more fans to these games.
  • The fight for exclusivity could lead to more high-quality games from PlayStation & Xbox.

Superhero games have always been popular in the industry. Games like Batman Arkham Asylum proved that a market for well-produced superhero games existed as far back as 2009, but developers have mostly ignored this genre.

With Insomniac’s 2018 revival of Spider-Man seemingly being the only major success of the genre in recent years, fans like me have been starved for more games covering other superheroes and their unique abilities.

Fortunately, things are looking better than ever. Developers have finally realized that this genre is begging to be explored, with various superhero adaptations brimming with potential.

Why it matters: While there was never a shortage of superhero games, they were given the movie tie-in treatment most of the time, limiting their success and popularity. Fortunately, this trend died a while ago.

Marvel's Spider-Man 2
 

A Bigger Focus From AAA Devs

So far, a total of seven major superhero games have been officially revealed. This list includes five Marvel games and two DC games. The seven games include:

  • Wolverine
  • Iron Man
  • Wonder Woman
  • Suicide Squad
  • Black Panther
  • Captain America & Black Panther Game From Skydance
  • Blade

If there is a game on the list that I am the most confident about, it’s got to be Wolverine because it is being handled by Insomniac, the same studio that brought Spider-Man to life on PS4.

Similarly, EA Motive’s recent work on Dead Space inspires confidence. I have enjoyed the team’s latest remake from start to finish, which also garnered praise from the IP’s original creator.

Both of these games could be on par with Spider-Man or the Batman Arkham franchise. In Wolverine’s case, the character has a gritty story to tell, and his brutal nature is a clear contrast from other superheroes.

On the other hand, BioWare already established a solid template for Iron Man, nailing the movement, combat, and gameplay physics. To me, the latter always felt like a skeleton for an unreleased Iron Man game, so I am happy to have another EA studio working on this superhero IP.

Elsewhere, Black Panther is being handled by Cliffganer Games, a studio made up of veteran developers from IPs like God of War and Halo. Like Iron Man, Wonder Woman is another exciting game for me because it can borrow a lot from an existing IP.

Monolith Productions has confirmed the return of the Nemesis system for this single-player experience, but the Arkham-inspired combat from Shadow of Mordor could also work for Wonder Woman.

Suffice to say, these projects seem to be in safe hands.

EA Motive Iron Man

MCU Fatigue & Mediocre Films

In my opinion, this revolution has come at just the right time. Following the release of Avengers Endgame, the buzz surrounding superhero movies is lower than ever. Pursuing frequent media releases, Marvel seems to be struggling with quality control.

This has resulted in cookie-cutter films and cinematic experiences, with audiences complaining each movie is more of the same instead of its own release. Likewise, DC has struggled to find its footing in the past years.

More studios should be looking toward gaming as a solution now. I believe this is a massive opportunity for the industry, with gaming possibly on its way to becoming the definitive medium of superhero adaptations.

From my perspective, playing as a superhero is much more interesting than watching a film. Characters like Iron Man and Spider-Man can be elevated through their traversal and combat systems alone, allowing much more freedom and creativity for these characters in games.

YouTube video

Competition Between Xbox & PlayStation

While PlayStation was expected to become the home of superhero games after Spider-Man and Wolverine exclusivity, The Game Awards may have changed everything.

Marvel’s Blade is now in development by Arkane Lyon, a studio owned by Xbox. While exclusivity is still not confirmed, I can see the game opening new doors to a rivalry between PlayStation and Xbox.

This, in turn, should lead to more high-quality superhero games, with both platforms racing to become the home of Marvel or DC. As consumers, we will reap the benefits of this competition through higher-quality games, even if exclusivity disappoints.

Following this focus, I look forward to more games that stand the test of time, like Batman Arkham Knight. The future is still anybody’s guess, but my fingers are crossed for more than a few memorable superhero adventures soon.

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