DC and Marvel aren't just facing off in comic shops and at the box office; they're also battling for the wallets of fighting-game fans. This year sees the release of both Injustice 2 and Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, two huge, highly anticipated brawlers that let both casual fans and hardcore tournament players beat one another up using such iconic characters as Batman, Superman, Hulk and Iron Man.
However, despite a shared overabundance of spandex, Injustice 2 and Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite are wildly different games, in terms of both content and fighting mechanics. One game lets you toss the Flash through a wall while playing as the Man of Steel; the other allows you to pair up Captain America and Mega Man for a bunch of crazy team attacks. Which one is for you?
Release Date: May 16
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One
Overview: Created by the folks behind Mortal Kombat, Injustice 2 is a DC Comics fighting game that lets you duke it out while playing as characters like Superman, the Joker and, if you must, Aquaman. Its cinematic story mode continues the Superman-gone-bad setup of the first game, while introducing a new gear system that lets you customize your favorite heroes and villains with snazzy, stat-boosting armor.
Confirmed character roster: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Aquaman, Atrocitus, Gorilla Grodd, Deadshot, Harley Quinn, the Flash, Blue Beetle, Bane, Poison Ivy, Brainiac, Cyborg, Robin, Black Canary, Swamp Thing, Catwoman, Cheetah, Cyborg, Dr. Fate, Green Lantern, Firestorm, Green Arrow, Black Adam, Captain Cold, Scarecrow, Darkseid, the Joker
What's the story? Imagine if the Batman v Superman movie were actually good; that's the basic premise of Injustice 2. Set in an alternate DC universe, Injustice 2 continues the first game's story about a Superman who goes from hero to dictator after a tragic loss. Batman and his crew are still waging war on what's left of Superman's menacing regime, though with the world-destroying Brainiac now in the picture, the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel might have to put their differences aside.
Who it's for: DC Comics fans, Mortal Kombat fans and anyone who cares just as much about getting a complete video game as they do a good fighting game. Like Injustice 1 and Mortal Kombat X before it, Injustice 2 looks to be filled to the brim with content, from its cinematic story mode and rich character customization to its expansive Multiverse mode that lets you tackle all kinds of wacky challenges.
Who it's not for: PC gamers and fighting-game players who swear by Street Fighter-style gameplay. Injustice 2's combat system might feel a little clunky to fans of Japanese brawlers, though it's a bit easier to transition to the DC title than to Mortal Kombat. There's currently no PC release planned for Injustice 2, though considering that both Injustice and Mortal Kombat XL came to Steam eventually, that release could happen down the line.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite
Release Date: Sept. 19
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Overview: The long-awaited return of the Marvel vs. Capcom series, Infinite is a two-on-two brawler that lets the likes of Ryu, Captain America, Mega Man and Hulk engage in over-the-top tag-team fights. It's the first Marvel vs. Capcom game to feature a proper story mode, and mixes up the gameplay by letting players utilize Infinity Stones to do things such as boost characters' damage or give them superspeed.
Confirmed character roster: Iron Man, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye, Ultron, Rocket Raccoon, Ryu, Chun-Li, Mega Man X, Morrigan, Strider, Chris Redfield, Sigma
What's the story? Marvel baddie Ultron and Mega Man villain Sigma are both evil androids who want to wipe out all organic life, so of course they fuse together and become, you guessed it, Ultron Sigma. As a result, heroes from both universes, including the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and a few Street Fighters, must team up to stop the bad guys.
Who it's for: Marvel fans and those who love stylish combos and ultrafast action. The Marvel vs. Capcom franchise is famous for its incredibly open-ended fighting system, and based on the variety of characters and Infinity Stones available, you could easily spend hundreds of hours coming up with crazy new attack combinations. And unlike Injustice 2, this title is coming to PC at launch.
Who it's not for: Those who value content and presentation above all else. Infinite is looking a little rough around the edges compared to the ultrapolished Injustice 2, and it seems to reuse a good amount of character models and animations from Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. And while the game promises a healthy amount of single-player content, it's not easy to trust Capcom after Street Fighter V's dismal launch last year.
If you're seeking out mainly a polished, content-packed video game, Injustice 2 is looking like the way to go. Its cinematic story mode looks better than all of DC's recent movies combined, and the title's deep gear-system and variety of challenge modes should keep both casual fans and competitive players hooked for months.
Still, there's nothing quite like a Marvel vs. Capcom game, and if you like your fighting games fast and flashy, Infinite will scratch that itch in a big way. Of course, your choice might simply come down to how big of a Marvel or DC fan you are; Injustice 2 won't do you much good if all you want to do is beat up bad guys as Captain America.
You shouldn't ignore the plethora of other great fighting games on the horizon, either. Tekken 7 (out June 2) could end up outshining both of those big superhero brawlers with its stunning graphics, staggering gameplay depth and own immersive story mode. There's also Guilty Gear: Xrd REV 2 (May 26) for fans of highly technical anime fighters, as well as Ultra Street Fighter II (May 26) for folks who simply want a blast of nostalgia on their Nintendo Switch.
It's a fantastic time to be a fighting-game fan, and there's no real wrong choice for how you'd prefer to virtually punch your friends in the face. But if you have the time or cash for only one big brawler this year, our money's on Injustice 2.