During all the scuffle at E3, Netherrealm’s Ed Boon revealed that much like Mortal Kombat X, the upcoming superhero fighter Injustice 2 would more than likely have guest characters from other universes. Earlier this week, it was also revealed that Killer Instinct would possibly be adding new guest characters to its ever expanding roster, this time including the Agent from Crackdown, a Halo Brute, and Perfect Dark’s Joanna. This would be make perfect sense, given that the game has recently added Halo’s Arbiter, General Raam from Gears of War, and Rash from Battletoads.
Games crossing over isn’t an uncommon thing. While most genres relegate this to simple Easter eggs or character skins, fighting games are the only ones that really commit to this wholesale. After all, it’s easier to justify the story reasons for how a character in a completely separate universe shows up in say, Street Fighter, when that game doesn’t really have much of a story, or at least one that’s the main draw for the majority of its players. If you tried that with any other genre, be it shooter, action, or (debatably) RPG, you’d more than likely have people questioning the logistics of it all. And if they do question it, it can be easily waved off; that’s how Dead or Alive 4 got away with having one of Halo’s Spartans join their ranks.
While some people were particularly excited at the prospect of guest fighters, others weren’t exactly into that. To them, guest characters stole the opportunity for more classic and well-established characters from the actual franchises to be allowed a spot. Predator’s appearance in MKX, for example, stole the chance for someone like Rain or Smoke to join the roster. To them, it’s a matter of legacy over trying to appease some weird niche of fans who ask for such silly crossovers.
While that’s a perfectly valid complaint to make, it’s also a bit much to just assume that these guest characters are “stealing” a legacy character’s rightful spot. Let’s face it, odds are that legacy character had no better or worse chance of being picked over a guest character than they did if they were paired against another legacy character, or even a brand new character. Unless someone like Ed Boon straight up goes, “Yeah, we originally decided to add Rain, but went with Predator and Alien instead,” it’s unfair to say that legacy characters deserve to be in the game more. If that character wasn’t going to be included, it’s doubtful that the chance to add in a guest character was going to change that.
Further, it’s also not fair to say that no one wants this. Clearly, someone wants this, as Boon flat out stated that they pick characters based on fan requests, and it’s doubtful that an AAA studio would listen to the single request of one person to put in the Predator (he also said that Alien and Predator were the highest downloaded characters for MKX, so obviously that person has friends). With Killer Instinct, it’s probably too early to tell, since they only just added Raam about a month ago, but the statement still applies.
Even outside of that, fighting games are built on the concept of a bunch of folks getting together and asking if it would be cool for random characters to beat each other up. Let’s be real, whether as kids or adults, we’ve all had a minimum of five conversations where we pit fictional character against fictional character in a fight. People are absolutely going to want guest characters for Injustice 2; the DC comics are known for including ridiculous characters that show up in the lives of others. Even stuff that you wouldn’t think would work, like Archie vs. Predator, ended up being way more awesome than you’d think.
Fighting games need guest characters. Not just to make things more fun and settle many “what if?” arguments, but also for the sake of mixing things up. There’s only so many times you can have Ryu go up against another established Street Fighter character, and doing something as ludicrous as adding Tracer from Overwatch adds some variety to things. Legacy characters are good and all, but there’s also nothing wrong with crossing the streams every now and again. Plus, who doesn’t want to see Gorilla Grodd get taken out by the Wolfman or Dracula?