There should be a lot more of the best superhero games than there actually are. Video games and all things superheroes share an intersection of being pure escapism: there’s a reason why Marvel’s output dominates the box office and why games keep selling in huge numbers. You only need to look at Marvel’s Spider-Man’s sales success to see that.
Whether it’s because of lazy adaptations to tie-in with the newest box office releases or the developers just not understanding the characters, the best superhero games are a small but quality bunch of beloved titles, ranging from the virtuous to the, erm, flatulent. Some of them aren’t even tied to comic books and are entirely new entities, though it would be nice at one point in the timeline of humanity to play a Superman game that is not terrible. Leave it with Rocksteady and watch this space.
You’ll find a wide selection of the best superhero games here, with more to be added if any impress. What did we miss? Please note that due to the licensing issues forcing Activision to stop selling them, we’ve decided to omit the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance games.
The Best Superhero Games
18. Batman: Arkham VR
Developer: Rocksteady Publisher: WB Games
An early game released during the boom of the updated tech, Batman: Arkham VR still stands up as one of the best virtual reality games going. There’s nothing quite like donning a headset and feeling like you’re instead donning the famous cowl — Arkham VR does a fantastic job of helping you become the Bat.
So why is it so low down on our list? It’s, quite simply, too damn short. You can whip through it in an hour and a half and do everything there is to do in just under three. It’s a short but sweet experience with more emphasis on the detective side of Batman than the face-breaking, so here’s hoping a longer and fuller VR game comes out in the future.
“Although Batman: Arkham VR is not the game that will justify your PSVR purchase, it is still my favourite one thus far and I hope that it will set the standard of quality for future VR games. Rocksteady did not disappoint with the final entry in the Batman: Arkham saga, even if it is a bit short.”
Developer: Pentadimensional Games Publisher: Pentadimensional Games
You’re going to need a VR headset (and maybe some ginger) to get the most out of Megaton Rainfall: an FPS of sorts that pits you as an all-powerful entity who must stop an alien invasion. You fly around the world at breakneck speed and take the fight to the bad guys in this limited but still fun VR title.
Megaton Rainfall is somewhat rough around the edges and may perhaps become a little old a little too soon, but the first few times when your Dr Manhattan self saves innocents through the power of virtual reality is one of the most immersive experiences you’re likely to have in a superhero game. This may be the closest thing we get to being Superman for a long time.
Developer: Radical Entertainment Publisher: Activision
Often compared somewhat unfavourably to an entry you’ll find later on in this list, Prototype is perhaps too edgy for its own good but still packs one hell of punch. You play as Alex Mercer, who is “gifted” with powers that allow you him to shapeshift and create massive bloody swords from his arms.
Taking place in an open world in which its inhabitants are under threat from a deadly plague, you must use all the powers at your disposal — whether that be giant tendrils impaling your enemies or taking control of a freaking tank — to save the day. Its sequel lost its way, so we may never see Prototype 3. If you ask us, they should take a chance and create a supervillain game instead; it would suit the style of the games down to the ground.
15. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Developer: Raven Software Publisher: Activision
A game we overlooked on our first draft of this list probably because of its association with the terrible, terrible movie of the same name, X-Men Origins: Wolverine goes to places that the movies never could. Namely chopping your enemies into little pieces with Logan’s adamantium claws.
More graphic than even the Deadpool game, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is as bloody and graphic as superhero games get, as well as having a startling eye for detail. When Wolverine is hurt, his body shows it before regenerating in real-time — you can watch as his wounds heal themselves. It’s a little hard to get hold of these days, but may be totally worth it.
14. Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2
Developer: Traveller’s Tales Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
If you want a challenging and gritty superhero game, Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 ain’t it. If you want one that you can absent-mindedly play with the young ones and titter along to some pretty cheesy laughs, it’s one of your best options.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 doesn’t move the wheel much (if at all) from its many, many Lego predecessors. Once you’ve played one, you’ve effectively played them all. However, for bringing together a huge cast of Marvel characters ranging across its many ages as well as a host of things to see and do, it’s a fun distraction for all the family. Whatever gets them off Fortnite for a bit, right?
13. Batman: The Telltale Series
Developer: Telltale Games Publisher: Telltale Games
You might be surprised to know that Batman: The Telltale Series actually has a lot of action in it for a Telltale experience. It’s not quite as immersive as The Walking Dead: The Final Season, but it should be viewed as the first sign that Telltale were trying to move away from their simplistic but effective USP.
Much like the Gotham show, Batman: The Telltale Series is a different spin on The Dark Knight’s mythology with major changes to the villains and more of a focus on Bruce Wayne the friend and businessman. While it’s unlikely to change the mind of Telltale dissenters, it’s a must-play for fans of Batman and those seeking out the best superhero games.
12. Saints Row 4
Developer: Volition Publisher: Deep Silver
Technically, this isn’t a true superhero game. For one, the game never definitively calls you a superhero and also you never saw Captain America clobbering people with a purple dildo, though that may have improved The First Avenger. If you wanted The Avengers meets Adult Swim, however, Saints Row 4 should be your next port of call.
Saints Row 4 doesn’t change the formula much from the previous game and elects instead to just ramp up the ridiculousness. You can leap and run like the best of them, meaning that whoever worked on the cars in the game probably felt like they were wasting their time. This may be the last great Saints Row game we ever see, so treasure it.
Developer: Ubisoft San Francisco Publisher: Ubisoft
Much like Saints Row 4, South Park: The Fractured But Whole doesn’t feature characters that would be adorned on posters as national heroes. Instead, you play as the titular town’s infamous kids as they daydream about being superheroes. And farting on everything in sight.
An RPG-lite, The Fractured But Whole doesn’t change things up a great deal from its predecessor, The Stick of Truth. Instead, it’s more guilt-inducing hilarity and pastiches of modern superhero culture with all the animation style you’ve come to know and love from South Park. It didn’t sell all that well, so you can pick up a copy on the relative cheap.
Developer: High Moon Studios Publisher: Activision
A game so quintessentially Deadpool that Activision seem to actively hate trying to sell it, Deadpool plays a lot like your standard DMC clone with the humor being its main selling point. It’s not the greatest or most fluid of action games, but if you want to play as a dumbass who makes terrible jokes that are somehow funny, this is your game.
Nolan North’s mouth takes on the role of the Merc with a Mouth in this suitably meta and fourth-wall shattering adaptation. It’s a short experience and ultimately won’t blow you away in terms of revolutionary gameplay, but if you’re searching superhero games that are true to the tone and content of the source material, Deadpool will scratch the itch.
9. Spider-Man 2
Developer: Treyarch Publisher: Activision
If you’d asked us to write this list of the best superhero games maybe just a few month ago, the movie tie-in of Spider-Man 2 would probably have landed right near the top. However, when compared its very recent peer, it really is showing the signs of age. Going from Marvel’s Spider-Man to this is a sure-fire way of breaking your rose-tinted spectacles.
However, for its time, Spider-Man 2 was a revelation. Featuring a huge open world with plenty of things to see and do, it was revered for having the most faithful web-swinging of any Spidey game up to that point, as well as the option to piledriver criminals from the top of gigantic skyscrapers and not kill them. Magnificent.
8. Injustice 2
Developer: NetherRealm Studios Publisher: WB Games
Superheroes and fighting games can often have a bit of a rough ride — Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects is the perfect example of that. However, the Injustice franchise and one you’ll find later in this list nailed the simple ethos of beating the ever-loving heck out of your favourite DC superheroes and also Aquaman.
Injustice 2 has one of the best story modes ever committed to a superhero game with an alternate take that pits Superman as one of the bad guys. With a stacked roster, a deep well of content, and fighting that just feels damn good, Injustice 2 is the best DC fighting game there is.
“With its content-rich Multiverse mode and the boundless possibilities of the gear system, the thrilling Story experience, and the superlative game mechanics under the hood, Injustice 2 proves why NetherRealm are setting the pace for all fighting game developers.”
Effectively sent out to die purely by virtue of being on Wii U, The Wonderful 101 never really received the audience it deserved because it really is — wait for it — wonderful. You’d expect nothing less from PlatinumGames, who also think their game is underrated and would love to bring it to Switch.
A superhero game with an emphasis on teamwork, you must oversee a team of unconventional heroes (a hundred of them, to be exact) when aliens invade Earth. For a simple touchstone, The Wonderful 101 has been compared a lot to Pikmin but on a much grander scale. With your fellow heroes forming into gigantic weapons called Unite Morphs, The Wonderful 101 is a weird and brilliant superhero game. You know what to do, Nintendo.
6. Viewtiful Joe
Developer: Clover Studio/Capcom Production Studio 4 Publisher: Capcom
Much like The Wonderful 101, Viewtiful Joe is another superhero game that didn’t get the love it deserved because of the platform on which it was found. A port from the Gamecube to the PlayStation 2 helped things, but Viewtiful Joe still stands as an underrated gem from an era of “outside the box” game design.
You play as the titular Joe, a lovable nerd who must save his girlfriend after she’s abducted by a movie character through a cinema screen — did we mention that Viewtiful Joe was superbly strange? Primarily a 2.5 side-scrolling beat ’em up, Viewtiful Joe was high on style just as much as action with it still looking marvellous to this day. The minds behind VJ went on to form PlatinumGames, who can pretty much do whatever they like these days — maybe even a third mainline Viewtiful Joe game? Please?
5. Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
Developer: Capcom/Eighting Publisher: Capcom
Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 is the ultimate experience for MvC fans, especially as Infinite so farcically made the series lose its way and put its future in jeopardy. An update on A Fate of Two Worlds, itself the first MvC game to adopt 3D, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 features a strong roster and all the unlikely rivalries that have made the franchise such a hit in the past.
It also plays like a dream and the tag-based fighters of your youth. Whether you want to watch Nemesis take on Wolverine or Deadpool and Spider-Man finally work off their sexual tension with fists, it’s some of the best fan service available for fans of Marvel and Capcom. Plus, the character models don’t look like potatoes.
4. The Punisher
Developer: Volition Publisher: THQ
You’re probably going to baulk at us for placing The Punisher so high up on our list of the best superhero games, but you can just see this as our vanity pick. Playing it now would no doubt ruin a lot of memories, but for its time, The Punisher was a hellishly enjoyable shooter with plenty of violence — exactly what any teenager needs.
High on comic book style and not afraid to branch out into other Marvel properties, The Punisher allows players to unleash terror as Frank Castle almost however they see fit. Using guns is cool and all, but how about beating someone to death with a window or drilling through their eyeball? We’ve no idea if they could even release a game like this these days, but we’d love to see someone try. The Punisher needs to be readily available on PC, at the very least. Someone give GOG a nudge.
3. inFamous 2
Developer: Sucker Punch Publisher: SIE
A franchise almost inseparable from Prototype, inFamous ending up becoing the more popular and appreciated open world superhero game despite its platform exclusivity. inFamous 2 built on the original game by fixing some of its faults and upping the stakes in a big way, so much so that its PS4 relative isn’t even quite as good.
Featuring the karma system that has sadly been phased out of game design, inFamous 2 actually allowed you to be either the villain or hero of New Marais. Be a good guy, get treated like one by the citizens. Be a bad guy, and, well, let’s just say you won’t be making any friends. It’s been too long since we last saw an inFamous game, but inFamous 2 still holds up pretty damn well despite its age so it’s worth playing to tide you over.
2. Marvel’s Spider-Man
Developer: Insomniac Games Publisher: SIE
When you boil it down to its basics, Marvel’s Spider-Man really isn’t that huge a leap from Spider-Man 2 from the PlayStation 2 generation. That’s actually a good thing: Marvel’s Spider-Man feels like a throwback to when open worlds were alive and worth exploring, but with added finger guns for good measure.
Web-swinging is better than it’s ever been and there’s so much to see and do as Spidey that you will be playing it far beyond the fifteen hours it takes to wrap up its pretty compelling story. We know we’re not supposed to be so shallow, but Marvel’s Spider-Man is also simply gorgeous and easily one of the best PS4 exclusives around, as well as being one of the best superhero games ever made.
“With all the freedom it gives you to web-sling through New York City and stick goons to walls, Spider-Man for PS4 is the best Spider-Story I’ve had the pleasure to experience, and even on its own is a brilliant game.”
1. Batman: Arkham City
Developer: Rocksteady Publisher: WB Games
A game that has served as the basis of inspiration for so many of its peers (including the preceding entry on this list), Batman: Arkham City completely changed the landscape for superhero games when it was released. You really felt like Batman as you traipsed around Arkham City solving murders and definitely not causing brain damage to the many goons you beat up.
Faithful to its source material while also taking some appreciated liberties of its own, Arkham City is a dream for Batman fanatics with Kevin Conroy voicing Batman himself and Mark Hamill portraying The Joker, as well as many members of the Rogues Gallery making an appearance. Whether it’s the first time or the fiftieth, its innovative combat and city traversal never gets old. Arkham Knight is a slightly more modern version of City with 90% too much Batmobile, but it’s still a good time.
Update 17/09/18: Wolverine slashes his way in.
Gamezeen is a Zeen theme demo site. Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.