We were lucky enough to chat with the producer of Injustice: Gods Among Us, NetherRealm's Erin Piepergerdes, last weekend at San Diego Comic-Con. The conversation touched on the enormous catalogue of DC characters, as well as the trials of balancing the needs of hardcore and casual players, but first, we started with a recap:
What exactly it is we're dealing with in Injustice: Gods Among Us?
This is the next fighting game from the Mortal Kombat team. This time we're set solely in the DC universe. You're going to see big iconic characters, like Batman and Superman. For Comic-Con, we actually just announced Nightwing and Cyborg, two new characters. In terms of the overall scope of the game, didn't want to make it feel exactly like a Mortal Kombat game, so we've done some new and unique things. For one thing, you'll see a lot of interactive objects in the environment that the player can use. We want the arena selection to be just as important as the character selection. People always find different fight styles that they like and gravitate toward those characters. We want the players to be just as strategic when they pick the environment that they fight in as well.
How did you move toward this rather than another Mortal Kombat game or another Mortal Kombat vs. DC game?
It's a breath of fresh air. I mean, well obviously we love Mortal Kombat, but with each and every Mortal Kombat game, there are certain things that the players expect. They're always going to want to see fatalities, they're always going to want to see the over-the-top, brutal violence and super-moves. With DC, this gives us a chance to expand and push the fighting gameplay in directions we wouldn't necessarily get to do with Mortal Kombat. Plus, who doesn't want to make a game with these characters? I mean, they're classics.
There's been some controversy over whether those characters should be performing fatalities. How did you handle that in Injustice?
There are no fatalities, but you'll see some pretty over-the-top super-moves. Every character has a super-move that's custom-tailored to fit their character.Again, you're not going to see Superman rip someone's head off.
What other aspects of Mortal Kombat are you happy to leave behind in order to explore new territory?
That's a good question. Both games are going to have some similarities. We want casual players to be able to pick it up and do cool things. At the same time, we want there to be a level of depth for the fighting game guys—the guys that go to EVO and the other tournaments. If you really spend time practicing you'll be able to string together moves into long combos and do some really cool visual treats. It's not like we've completely veered off from our roots but at the same time, it gives us a chance to push the boundaries a little bit.
What kind of things specifically are going to open Injustice up to casual players?
There's a moves list with every character in there, and a lot of the basic attacks that you won't need five or six button inputs to pull off. There's, the three face buttons like, high, low, and medium attack. When you're making a fighting game, there's always a fine line that you've got to walk to make sure that it is casual enough for those players, and yet deep enough for the fighting game tournament players. I think we've done a pretty good job with it thus far.
Is it fun going back through the entire DC catalogue to decide what characters to use?
It's fun and It's really tough. Because, if you think about the depth of the DC universe, and how many really cool characters there are, how do you whittle it down to however many make it to the final game? Yeah, it was really fun and there were a lot of spirited debates at the office. But in the end, I think people are going to be pretty happy with who's going to be in the game.
Have you taken a lot of fan feedback into account in that area?
We always pay attention to what our fans are saying. The roster was selected internally (with some input from DC, of course) but in terms of balancing the game as we go, Comic-Con is the first time it's playable by the public, and we've paid attention to what people are saying. Going forward, we'll also be watching Twitter and Facebook and paying attention.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the two characters who were announced—Nightwing and Cyborg?
Yeah, absolutely. They're actually two good examples of the two different character classes that are in the game. Nightwing is what we refer to as a gadget character. He's much more acrobatic and relies on things like his wing-dings as well as his staff. He has two different fight styles, so you can switch between staff attacks, or he can split the staff into two fighting sticks. Cyborg is what we're calling a power character. He's stronger than Nightwing and also has a lot of gadgets, but he's got a lot of projectile-based attacks. He's got cannons, rockets and missiles that he fires. Nightwing and Cyborg are very different in the way that they play, and hopefully people will like them.
Can you reveal any more about the character roster? How many characters will there be overall?
We haven't announced that yet. If you've played the last Mortal Kombat, that'll give you a good idea how many we'll end up including with this game. It really does boil down to how many we can get polished to the level that we want them by the time the game comes out.
Are there any left to reveal that are going to be unexpected that fans are going to get really excited about?
That's a great question. Without giving away too much, there's definitely characters that fans are going to get really excited about. Anything more than that, I really can't say unfortunately. You'll just have to wait and see.