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Suicide Squad Season 1 isn’t enough off the bat, but can it recover?

Kill the Justice League Season 1 is here and it isn't as bad as you've likely heard, but it isn't enough after the long post-launch wait.

Suicide Squad Season 1 Impressions: An image of the Joker in Kill the Justice League Season 1.

Love or loathe it, Suicide Squad Kill the Justice League continues to drum up conversation since its lukewarm launch last month. It’s no secret that I’ve been a vocal fan of Rocksteady’s Arkhamverse looter shooter since then, warts and all. After spending 10+ hours with Suicide Squad Season 1 already, I’m left feeling conflicted, rather than overjoyed.

If Kill the Justice League is going to stay alive despite its falling player base, then some serious changes need to happen sooner rather than later.

There’s been more revealed about Suicide Squad Kill the Justice League in leaks than actual marketing over the last few weeks. While the studio scrubs remnants of Season 2 plans and playable villains like Deathstroke out of the divisive co-op game, it strikes me as bizarre that we’ve barely had a handful of promotions for Season 1. New gear, Incursions, and the Joker have been mentioned in multiple patch notes, yet the most meaningful update was back in January’s Elseworlds episode of Suicide Squad Insider.

It didn’t bode well for Season 1, especially after grim outlooks on Kill the Justice League’s future from Warner Brothers. Booting up for Season 1 reveals the biggest aspect you’ll likely take issue with is that the Joker is locked behind Fear Level progression. Equivalent to Finite Crisis Levels from Season 0, Fear Levels are Season 1’s way of giving you an incentive to get grinding. It seems disingenuous to reveal this information now, as most players will have expected to have him available right away. Mastery Levels are also reset until you hit Fear Level 35, which is when you’ll unlock the Brainiac Incursion relevant to freeing the Joker from captivity in another dimension.

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There have been varying reports of how long this takes, with some players claiming you can achieve Fear Level 35 in around 90 minutes. Realistically, it will take you between 3–5 hours to grind it out. In my experience, I acquired the Joker after around 4 and a half hours of rinsing each new Incursion. However, the most efficient way is to play the Killing Time Incursion, which nets you at least 4 levels depending on how long you can survive. Or you can cough up 1,000 Luthorcoins ($9.99/£7.99). The latter option feels icky, albeit unsurprising.

Kill the Justice League’s most similar multiplayer game, Marvel’s Avengersdidn’t make players part ways with real-life cash to play as new additions like Black Panther, Spider-Man, or the Winter Soldier. On the other hand, the Suicide Squad Battle Pass focuses on purely cosmetic items and doesn’t expire past Season 1’s conclusion. It’s a great feature that takes the stress out of playing for the sake of it, as opposed to playing for enjoyment. You’ll also get enough Luthorcoins to purchase the next battle pass, essentially making it a one-time payment if you’re not fussed about anything in the item store.

Yet, the Joker needs to be available quicker and bolstered with stronger activities to dive into. Season 1 focuses on a series of new Incursions that task you with reducing everything you see into a gooey Brainiac pulp. Familiar objectives from the game’s story appear, like destroying huge Coluan tech like artillery canons or defending Poison Ivy’s plants. You’ll be fighting huge amounts of Grunts, Justice League-infused enemies, or Brutes depending on which Incursion you select. This can be fun when you’re battling them at higher Mastery Levels, figuring out how to maximize the potential of your build. Sadly, it feels like child’s play as I’m forced to play on the game’s easiest difficulty levels.

There’s also an odd decision to punish players for using Bane Infamy gear, the powerful villain set that was the focal point of Season 0. I’ve concocted some devastating loadouts with Bane gear, discovering some gnarly Villain Synergies too. Season 2 reduces Crazed damage on enemies (the affliction Bane gear deals out), and pushes players to incorporate Scarecrow Infamy gear into their play style. Scarecrow pivots to the new Poison affliction, one of the few countermeasures to combat the new Infused enemies beyond Mastery Level 13. It feels counter-intuitive to remove the element of freedom that Kill the Justice League’s class building normally provides.

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All of this is part of Episode 1: Fear of Season 1, with Episode 2: Duality marked as the game’s midseason update. This is what has me seriously concerned. Season 1 will conclude in July, four months away from the time of publication. Long seasonal updates are commonplace in live-service battle royale games or FPS games, but Kill the Justice League isn’t in a position to coast for that long. Even if the game’s post-credits tease four seasons’ worth of content, there’s no guarantee we’ll get there. Rocksteady needs to keep Suicide Squad invigorated with fresh activities, in-game events, and surprises to build up momentum and recover its reputation.

It’s frustrating to see unfold when leaks and datamining have revealed great story beats suggesting that the Justice League isn’t completely eradicated. Rocksteady’s abundant care toward DC Comics lore has always been prevalent in the Arkhamverse, an element that shines plentiful when Kill the Justice League gets things right. I want to see more of that, and it is a shame Season 1 barely adds to the story with less than 15 minutes worth of animated and in-game cutscenes.

There’s an exciting vision underpinning it all, and with some recalibration, Kill the Justice League still has the potential to turn it all around. Season 1 does have high points. The superb art direction reflects the Joker’s presence through a multiversal rip in Metropolis and the Elseworlds, painting each locale in fun house garb and carnival shenanigans. It’s accompanied by appropriately ghoulish music, evoking the feeling of walking through a circus or enjoying a haunted house ride.

Killing Time is exceptionally improved, reducing its map size to cultivate more intense, better-populated battles with all manner of enemies. The Joker himself is a delight to see in motion, adding to the game’s already excellent sense of humor. Not to mention how damn good the Joker’s traversal and combat are, with the former arguably taking the top spot among the game’s roster. Easter eggs are peppered throughout Metropolis to find that prompt more Joker lore, and the game’s clever way of locking up out-of-action Suicide Squad members adds to that too.

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Ultimately, Kill the Justice League is still fun to play thanks to its best-in-class third-person shooter mechanics, traversal, and depiction of its leading characters. But right off the bat, Season 1 doesn’t make up for the excruciating wait after launch, at least so far. I’m hopeful that more surprises are in store, but players will have moved on to other new PS5 games and new Xbox games by then.