Video games allow us to take a break from the real world and experience life from different perspectives. Sure, you may have to wake up early, work a 9-5, get home and make dinner, but you know who doesn’t? Mario.
He gets to hop around the Mushroom Kingdom, stomping on Goombas and racing his friends just for fun, without having to worry about bills or taxes or how harmful kart emissions are for the environment.
To take things a step further, consider superheroes—highly skilled, powerful beings that get to fly around punching things and costing taxpayers millions of dollars in city damage repairs while typically facing zero repercussions.
Superheroes also tend to live pretty interesting lives filled with pain, excitement, love, fear, etc. making them both relatable and entertaining to play as.
Here, we’ve highlighted what we consider are some of the best superhero games to play in 2021. We’ll be updating this list in the future with new titles, so make sure to check back.
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Batman: Arkham City (PC, Xbox One, PS4)
Originally released in 2011, Batman: Arkham City expands upon the formula introduced in Arkham Asylum by having players reprise the role of Caped Crusader in the much larger, open-world of Arkham City.
While its story may not be as focused as Asylum’s or follow the Metroidvania format of the original, the sequel does a much better job at making you feel like Batman by providing a huge sandbox littered with criminals and collectibles.
New gadgets grant more opportunities to take down enemies in unique and interesting ways, such as the iconic showdown with Mr. Freeze, in which Batman has to sneak around laying traps that can disarm an increasingly aware Mr. Freeze.
While some may prefer the more recent Arkham Knight, we’d argue Arkham City offers an equally enjoyable open-world action game experience without any of the repetitive vehicle combat of its successor.
Insomniac Games really struck a home run by bringing the web-slinger onto the PS4. Marvel’s Spider-Man captures what it’s like to watch a Marvel movie, with the added benefit of putting you in control of the hero.
Whether you’re watching a cut scene, chasing down a stolen truck, or just aimlessly swinging around Manhattan, the game always feels cinematic and interesting.
Its combat borrows the best parts of the Batman: Arkham series and uses them in a way that feels natural to how Spider-Man would take down the enemy.
Side activities like collecting backpacks and photographing landmarks never feel like a chore, but rather an excuse to utilize the game’s amazing swinging mechanics and explore the streets of NYC. Marvel’s Spider-Man shows promise for the future of superhero games and deserves a spot in every PS4 owner’s library.
Lego Marvel Superheroes 2
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch
Although most Lego games tend to stick to a similar formula when it comes to gameplay, that formula isn’t necessarily a bad one.
For example, maybe you’ve just finished playing a massive RPG like Persona 5 and need something to cleanse your palette; or perhaps you’re just looking for a fun, couch co-op game to play with a friend.
Whatever’s your reasoning, you’re sure to find at least one Lego game based on a property you already enjoy.
Keeping with this list’s superhero theme, we’ve included Lego Marvel Superheroes 2, a sequel that maintains the core Lego gameplay of the original while introducing some new features.
These include the ability to manipulate time and a new four-player competitive Super Hero battle mode. The game’s story is centered on Marvel superheroes from different eras and realities coming together to defeat the time-traveling villain Kang the Conqueror.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order
Ultimate Alliance was one of the first superhero games to offer players a way to combine their favorite heroes and create their very own four-man wrecking crew.
Following a decade long gap since the last entry’s release, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order provides an updated version of the original formula along with an expanded roster of 34 playable characters.
The game has you using your team’s special abilities in tandem with one another in order to pull off powerful combos and take out waves of enemies as you explore familiar Marvel locations, including The Avengers Tower and The X-Mansion.
Ultimate Alliance 3 supports co-op for up to four friends locally and online, giving you plenty of ways to team-up and prevent Thanos and his Black Order from collecting the six infinity stones.
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Inspired by Tokusatsu TV shows like Super Sentai and Power Rangers, Chroma Squad is a tactical RPG where players control a team of stunt actors who decide to start their own production company and create their own original action sequences.
It’s a metagame that doesn’t take itself too seriously while still offering fairly deep RPG systems such as skill trees, equipment crafting, and branching storylines.
When you’re not performing expertly choreographed battles on-camera, you’ll be managing and customizing the production company’s assets, casting actors, buying new equipment, marketing, and upgrading your studio set.
Additionally, the game includes the option to customize various details like your studio’s name, your team’s name, and the phrase your heroes recite before transforming.
Batman: The Telltale Series
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch
While Telltale Games’ success may have been short-lived, there was a period of time when they were the premiere studio for producing narrative-driven games released in an episodic format. Among these is Batman: The Telltale Series, a five-part point-and-click adventure game based on the popular DC Comics property.
In it, players take on the role of Batman and his alter ego Bruce Wayne, guiding both characters through multiple storylines that require the player to make decisions whose outcomes are then played out on-screen.
The game’s emphasis on storytelling sets it apart from other superhero games where you’re typically beating up bad guys in wet alleyways. Instead, you spend about half your time analyzing crime scenes for clues as the world’s greatest detective, with the other half spent navigating the complex romances and relationships that come with being Bruce Wayne.
You’ll still find plenty of action-packed scenes over the course of the game’s 8-hour story, however, the real treat is seeing Telltale’s iteration of Gotham City and its inhabitants play out their parts on-screen.
Infamous Second Son
Presented as a soft reboot for the series, Infamous Second Son takes place seven years after Infamous 2 and it introduces a new protagonist, Delsin Rowe, a rebellious teen who discovers he’s a conduit. In other words, a person with the ability to manipulate fire, smoke, neon, concrete, and video.
After his powers are exposed, Delsin is targeted by the Department of Unified Protection, a military organization that actively seeks out and captures conduits.
Unlike most superhero games, which lead players down a straight and righteous path, Second Son features binary “Good or Evil” choices that affect the outcome of the game.
While the morality system may feel outdated by today’s standards, the game maintains the fluid parkour-based traversal and dynamic combat the Infamous series is known for.
Saints Row IV
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Where does one even begin with Saints Row IV? It’s an open-world action-adventure game in which the player character has been elected President of the United States and is tasked with stopping an alien invasion.
No need to worry because for some reason you’ve also been given superpowers and access to a wide-selection of bizarre weaponry.
The Saints Row series has built up a reputation for taking the GTA formula and turning it on its head with ridiculous, over the top gameplay and story writing.
That being said, it’s still quite enjoyable to play thanks to a robust character customization tool, overpowered abilities that allow you to get around quickly, and a vast array of unconventional weapons like the Dubstep Gun, which forces targets to put down their weapons and dance to terrible-sounding music from the early 2010s.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
At first glance, South Park: The Fractured but Whole may just seem like a re-skinned version of 2014’s Stick of Truth, with the kids of South Park ditching fantasy role-playing in favor of superheroes. However, a switch in developers for the sequel has led to some interesting adjustments while also maintaining the South Park identity.
While combat in Fractured is still turn-based, battles take place on a grid-based battlefield, allowing you to move party members freely and devise more unique strategies than the first game.
Additionally, character customization has been expanded and sees you selecting from ten archetypal superhero classes, such as Speedster, Elementalist, and Cyborg to name a few. These classes are further fleshed out by a wide selection of super abilities that can be combined and swapped out, allowing you to create an original hero that feels completely your own.
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Although Injustice 2 keeps a lot of the ideas from the first game, it also includes a number of tweaks and improvements that make it worth checking out. There’s also the fact that it was developed by NetherRealm Studios and therefore, portrays the DC universe in a dramatically dark light compared to Marvel-licensed games.
It also seems fitting given the entire premise for the game are heroes and villains going against the pre-conceived notions of what is good and what is evil.
The game’s story focuses on Batman and a team of rebels attempting to restore order following the collapse of an evil regime led by Superman. Things get much more complicated when a supervillain group led by Brainiac intervenes and war is waged on all fronts.
The sequel introduces a new feature that allows players to equip different armor for each character, changing their appearance as well as the potency of certain attacks.
Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Next up, we have Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid, an officially-licensed title that delivers on a dream fans of the series have had for decades—a fighting game set in the Power Rangers universe.
The 3v3 tag battle fighter pulls from the popular franchise’s 25 year-long history of color-coordinated teens kicking butt to offer players a diverse roster of fighters with unique playstyles.
Built from the ground up with traditional fighting game mechanics, Battle for the Grid is designed to be accessible for newcomers while also satisfying veterans of the genre. Its roster consists of heroes and villains from the franchise’s multiple iterations, including Mighty Morphin, S.P.D., Mystic Force, and more.
For those who don’t fancy themselves fighting game pros, the game includes a Story Mode written by Boom! Studios, creators of the Power Rangers comic book series, which sees players facing AI-controlled rivals.
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
While it may not be the most recent entry in the series, with that title belonging to Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is simply put, a more polished and overall better-looking game.
The 3v3 tag battle fighter includes the original 36 characters from Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds as well as 12 new ones, making for a grand total of 48 unique fighters.
The game features some visual changes as well as adjustments to both aerial combat and X-Factor systems based on feedback from Fate of Two Worlds. Its community isn’t as large as it was a few years back, making it difficult to find online matches; however, it’s still one of the best superhero fighters to gather your friends and duke it out in local multiplayer.