The best superhero games

These are the best superhero games on PC according to the PC Gamer team, but first, we'll explain our criteria. The term 'superhero' is arguably a bit nebulous in games—you could say you're playing as a superhero in Dishonored or Mass Effect, for example, which isn't totally inaccurate, so instead we've focused on games that evoke superhero fiction in their imagery or themes. 

We also decided to pick games you can still play now. We considered including the likes of MMO City of Heroes, the recently-shuttered Marvel Heroes and stuff you can't buy now due to rights issues like Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions and Deadpool, but we figured it makes more sense to focus on games you can easily play today. We've also included a non-superhero game that's fantastic for mods, and a cool themed quest from another non-superhero game. Enjoy. 

Injustice 2

As someone with only a light-touch understanding of the world of DC Comics, Injustice 2 is perfectly pitched for me. It is a deliriously silly trip around DC's extended roster, that is nonetheless quite earnest and well-produced. Where else can I step into Aquaman’s finned lycra pants to batter a telepathic simian called Gorilla Grodd? The singleplayer story doesn’t make a huge amount of sense in the end, but I don’t mind that because it's a great superhero spectacle that has the feel of a big crossover event. Supergirl's disillusionment at discovering how Superman turned out made for a decent story hook, albeit one buried under appearances from 26 other characters who all have to magic up a reason to scrap. The super moves are hilarious too.—Tom Senior

Batman: Arkham City

Some purists prefer Arkham Asylum (not many prefer Arkham Knight), but for me the Batman fantasy isn't complete without Gotham, and it feels amazing to glide around those streets beating up thugs in an open city. In stealth and combat situations the Arkham games capture Batman's furtive power beautifully. More generally, Rocksteady's Batman games do an amazing job of realising that world and the rogue’s gallery in digital form—a hard task given how many artists have taken on Batman over the years. There's a bit of the Batman: Animated Series in there (thanks to Kevin Conroy of course), and the use of realistic textures with caricatured characters helps the game's villains seem luminous against the backdrop of that gritty, detailed city. It comes together so well that you don’t feel like just another punchy, angry videogame protagonist, you feel like The Batman, which is one of the best feelings in games.—Tom Senior

Saints Row 4

Games that make fun of superheroes can be as fun as games that take them seriously—not that Saints Row distinguishes, it will make a joke out of anything. SR4 is particularly good because the superpowers are hugely entertaining to use, in an unrestrained, game-breaking sort of way. Combining super run and super jump to vault skyscrapers is a winning feeling, and the sort of unrepentant power fantasy that I wish superhero games would capture more often. Also, the jokes are good. More jokes please. —Tom Senior

Freedom Force/Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich

Irrational's two real-time tactical games pay homage to the era of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, letting you control a squad of decent (mostly) Marvel analogues with a variety of powers. These influences are captured well in vivid-looking levels, complete with comic book-y visualised sound effects as attacks collide with enemies. Both Freedom Force games are on GOG now, and they're similarly charming and enjoyable, if a little dated. They each scored 88% in PC Gamer UK years ago, and they're still some of the most interesting superhero games around.—Samuel Roberts 

Lego Marvel Superheroes

It's a close contest between this and Lego Batman 2 out of the increasingly busy ranks of Lego superhero games on Steam, but a mash-up of the entire Marvel universe set in a nice open world Manhattan setting is just wish fulfillment for me. The story is all-new, and gradually brings more and more superheroes into the fray, including the X-Men and Fantastic Four before Marvel allegedly started brushing them to one side in favour of heroes that nobody likes (the Inhumans—though I do like the big dog). It's top fan service, and the character roster—which features everyone from Luke Cage to Squirrel Girl—has pretty much all the heroes you could want, minus Jessica Jones. She did pop up in Lego Avengers, though, to be fair.—Samuel Roberts

Chroma Squad

Even if you're not a fan of Power Rangers-type shows, you can tell that Chroma Squad was put together with love. In this funny and colourful tactical game, you're running your own show based in that genre, taking part in turn-based team combat against different enemies. It's possible you've already picked up Chroma Squad in a Humble Bundle. Give it a try if you haven't already.—Samuel Roberts 

Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3

The newest Marvel Vs Capcom didn't seem to go down that well this year, and I empathise with the disappointment towards the X-Men-less roster. Luckily, Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3, which came to PC earlier this year, brings Deadpool, Wolverine, X-23 and Magneto, as well as a far prettier cel-shaded art style. I can't vouch for the online side of things, since the daily player count is less than 50 on average according to Steam Charts, but it's worth getting just to enjoy the fan service.—Samuel Roberts

South Park: The Fractured But Whole

The second South Park RPG uses superheroes as a basis for both jokes and a solid roleplaying theme. You play a new superhero joining Cartman's Coon and Friends gang, and he gives you an appropriately gross origin story to set you on your way. The game's class system lets you choose which superhero archetype you want to be, affecting your abilities in battle, and the other kids come with their own classes too. Like with The Stick of Truth's fantasy theme, you sense that the creators are poking fun at superhero media because they love it.—Samuel Roberts

SpeedRunners

SpeedRunners is a fast and frantic competitive multiplayer game with the power to end friendships. On the face of it, your objective is simple: arrive at the scene of a crime ahead of your superhero pals and save the day. But in practice this means traversing garish obstacle-laden levels at break-neck speeds—firing off grappling hooks, bombs, power-ups, and a f**k-tonne of swear words as you strive to one-up whoever stands in your path along the way. Think Mario Kart meets N++ meets a caseload of Red Bull and you're on the right lines. Interestingly, SpeedRunners was recognised as an esport by the ESL in 2015, but the section was closed the following year as a result of inactivity. Told you it had the power to end friendships.—Joe Donnelly

Special mention one: Fallout 4's The Silver Shroud quest

Alright, it's just one quest, but it's also my favourite superhero experience from any game of the last few years. In The Silver Shroud, you borrow the costume and persona of the titular fictional radio serial/comic book hero, then police the grimy town of Goodneighbor. Ghoul pal and Shroud fan Kent Connolly points you towards crime on the radio, and you confront criminals while playing the character, talking in a ludicrous over-the-top voice while they regard you as a total weirdo. I'd play a whole game as The Silver Shroud. In fact, I kind of did, stalking The Commonwealth in the goofy noirish costume any time I wasn't wearing power armour.—Samuel Roberts 

Special mention two: Grand Theft Auto 5

While Saints Row was taking the GTA formula in a wild direction, GTA stayed relatively sane and stuck to social commentary in beautifully realised modern cities. Not a superhero game, then, until modders got hold of it. Then all of a sudden you could play as Iron Man and fly around the place blowing up cards with your hands. Or you could play as Superman, Green Goblin, The Flash, and even The Incredible Hulk. The finished experienced isn't as polished as a dedicated game, but GTA 5's city is so good that causing chaos for a while in the guise of a comic book hero is a lot of fun.—Tom Senior