NetherRealm Studios is addressing player concerns surrounding the Gear system in Injustice 2 in an interview with Eurogamer.
The concept of "Gear" was first talked about in June of this year when some details about Injustice 2 were revealed to the world. Gear is pieces of equipment that you will earn while levelling up your fighters throughout the course of the game. It will change cosmetic appearances but it will also have an effect on stats as well. These bits of equipment come in various levels of rarity, and while you're likely to acquire pieces for the character you're playing you'll also occasionally pick up pieces for other characters.
Having to acquire stat-affecting Gear in gameplay can have an impact on the meta of the competitive scene. In games where equipment is a factor, you either have the right equipment or you're at a competitive disadvantage. However, NetherRealm has stated that they anticipated this reaction from the community and are planning accordingly.
"For the hyper competitive tournaments, we want those to still be places people can show off the customisation they have earned throughout the game but they have to be level playing fields. That's essential for true fighting game aficionados."
The solution will be separate game modes. In one set of game modes, Gear will have an effect on a character's abilities. NetherRealm's Brian Goodman stated that the Gear system is "essentially unbalanced" when it affects stats, but he also states that players at all levels might nonetheless appreciate the aesthetic changes that go hand-in-hand with it. As such, they will also be creating game modes where Gear is purely cosmetic and has no effect on gameplay whatsoever. This approach is similar to how items are handled in Super Smash Bros.; you'll never see items used in competitive play as they are turned off.
Injustice 2 is set to release in 2017 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
I thought the Gear system sounded like a bad idea when I initially heard about it exactly for the reasons stated in the interview - it will make balanced gameplay fundamentally impossible. The solution that NetherRealms Studios has come up with is pretty straightforward and I wish more games would do it. For example, I love how I can cosmetically wear whatever armor I like in Terraria or Starbound and it has zero effect on my stats. I wish more games did it.
What do you think of how NetherRealm Studios is planning on implementing the Gear system in Injustice 2? Do you think this change will be enough to allay the concerns of the fighting game community? Let us know in the comments below!