Superhero games. Once a laughing stock of the early video game era, now a major player with all of the biggest developers and publishers vying for their licenses.
The debate between what actually are the best superhero video games will no doubt continue for years to come. A major aspect of that conversation focuses on the best Marvel games and the best DC titles to grace console or PC – understandably, as both still remain titans of the industry. And for good reason, these properties have stood the test of time, cementing themselves at the top of the ladder of what it means to make a superhero, whether that be comic book, movie, TV, video game, or otherwise.
That’s why we thought it was time to take a look at what are the best superhero video games you can play today. So, grab your cape, suit up and get ready to fight for truth and justice.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Let’s start off with arguably the most important game on this list. Back in 2009 when word leaked that the little known British studio known as Rocksteady was working on the Batman license, there was naturally a bit of trepidation. Instead, the developer went on to reinvent the superhero genre and deliver one of the best games to this day.
While returning Joker back to Arkham Asylum, the Clown Prince of Crime springs a trap that sees the Caped Crusader go up against a slew of his rogue’s gallery throughout the night. One of the most inspiring decisions from all of this was to have many of Batman: The Animated Series regulars voice the cast. Arkham Asylum is a triumph in every way imaginable.
Known for Spyro, Ratchet & Clank, and the Resistance series, Insomniac has always been one of the most popular developers around. That popularity exploded further when the studio brought beloved web-slinger Spider-Man into the modern era with style. Following a 23-year old Peter Parker, as he balances life as a research assistant as well as your friendly neighbourhood Spidey, the reboot gave us a refreshing look at just what it means to be Spider-Man.
The character has always circled around the top 10 superhero games discussion – be that Spider-Man 2, Ultimate Spider-Man or Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions – yet Insomniac’s reinvention now puts the 2018 title very much in contention with the best of the best – certainly, the best Marvel game out there today.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order
The first Marvel game to be published by Nintendo, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 takes place in an entirely different universe from its predecessors, while retaining the classic brawler combat.
Following the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and X-Men as they look to stop Thanos from gathering the Infinity Stones (sound familiar?), the Koei Tecmo developed title offers tons of customisation, over 35 playable characters from the get-go, and instant replayability. That’s all before the generous expansion pass, adding another 11 characters to the roster.
A fighting game with a genuinely good story? Say it ain’t so. Well, yes, actually, Mortal Kombat developer NeatherRealm Studios went above and beyond to create an incredibly compelling narrative, on top of the fantastically creative and super satisfying combat system that you would come to expect from Ed Boon and the team.
Introducing a new non-intrusive RPG-style system, while featuring a roster of 28 playable characters, from Wonder Women to Gorilla Grodd and Superman to Swamp Thing, Injustice 2 is a knockout for superhero and fighting fans alike.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
There’s a clear understanding of what to expect from a LEGO game. Solid universal gameplay, loveable comedic beats and a sandbox to play with your favourite toys as you please. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes was the first one to solidify that concept, bringing about a genuine sense of chaotic fun for the superhero genre. At over 150 characters to unlock, the ‘bricktastic’ action-adventure still holds the record of being the best-selling LEGO game to date.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Miles time to shine finally came to light in the 2020 action-adventure sequel/spin-off from Insomniac Games. Only two years after the debut of Spider-Man (2018), the studio returned – now owned by Sony – with an Uncharted: Lost Legacy-sized experience that tightened a lot of the story but doubled the heart, as we lived the life of Miles, his family and the streets of Harlem. All of which culminated in a superb experience that helped usher in the beginning of the PlayStation 5. Peter who?
Batman: Arkham City
Rocksteady had its work cut out after receiving universal praise of 2009’s Arkham Asylum, and yet, in many ways, the studio exceeded them. The second instalment in the Arkham trilogy pits Batman against Hugo Strange, the founder of Arkham City, who also happens to know the former’s secret identity.
With combat enhanced, gadgets expanded and a tighter storyline, Arkham City perfects what was already a near-perfect formula, delivering not only one of the best superhero video games, but one of the best Batman stories across all media.
Honourable mentions: Batman: Arkham Knight, Batman: The Telltale Series, DC Universe Online and The Wonderful 101.
Of course, as ever, this is all subjective. What are your favourite superhero games as of 2021? Let us know in the comments.