Well, we’ve all heard the rumors for some time, but now it’s official. Game Informer has the exclusive scoop on Batman: Arkham Origins, a prequel set in the Arkham series’ universe. Take a look at the developer trailer just posted to the GI Youtube channel:
Okay, so a few things to discuss here. Let’s tackle the humongous elephant in the room first and get it over with. As you just saw, Rocksteady is not handling the next installment in the Arkham franchise, having passed the mantle of the Bat down to Warner Bros. Montreal. It should be noted that Warner Bros. Montreal does however have access to all of Rocksteady’s resources in regards to the previous titles, including their home-modified Unreal engine; so the game will look and feel authentic in regards to aesthetics. How the team will deviate, if at all, from Rocksteady’s current signature style, remains to be seen.
As far as the narrative is concerned, I’m actually very intrigued by what’s going on here. So far, all we know is that the game is set years prior to the original Arkham Asylum adventure, and features an inexperienced Batman facing off against some of his most notable rogues for the first time; through various encounters that will ultimately shape the long-standing relationships between the Bat and his enemies. It’s also noted that the game takes place on Christmas Eve, during which time eight of the world’s greatest assassin’s have joined forces in an effort to kill Batman before he becomes the Dark Knight of legend. Looking at the entire cover of May’s Game Informer, we can see that one of those assassin’s will be Deathstroke; which introduces the character to the core Arkham universe for the first time. No other details were provided as to the identity of the remaining seven assassins, but Game Informer has promised a month’s worth of exclusive coverage over the coming weeks.
While many people will initially reject the thought of an Arkham game made by any other team than Rocksteady, which is certainly a reasonable reaction considering how well the games have thus far been received both critically and commercially, there’s not yet any real reason to panic. Warners Bros. Montreal seems to understand the tremendous burden of succeeding Rocksteady as the developers of such a coveted franchise. Besides, from what little we’ve seen, everything feels like a natural progression for the series. We’ve been hearing whispers for some time that the next Arkham game would be a prequel, and naturally expected the series to spill out into the streets of Gotham as a natural step forward after opening the sandbox up to allow for all of Arkham City last time around. Letting players glide across a holiday-themed Gotham City during the snowy night of Christmas Eve will be a nice visual change from the dark corridors and glum atmosphere of the previous Arkham games. I find it hard to imagine the team will tweak the often-imitated-never-duplicated combat mechanics that make the game so appealing to many, beyond minor refinements of course, so there’s really no cause for alarm on that front.
Alright, let’s take a minute to let those facts sink in so we can offer a bit of speculation now. We know that there are eight different assassin’s the game will center around, but who could they be? Deathstroke aside, are there really seven other noteworthy assassin’s in Batman’s rogues gallery that deserve the spotlight? Deadshot is the first that comes to mind, and after the rather lackluster battle against him in Arkham City, there’s certainly plenty of room to expand upon some conflict between he and the Bat. Bane’s more of a mercenary, but he’s no stranger to being hired for the specific purpose of killing Batman, so I wouldn’t eliminate him from contention just yet. With so many other open spots on the assassin roster, perhaps this is where those rumors about cameos from other heroes in the DC Universe fits in? Perhaps we could see other villains spill into the Batman universe, such as Green Arrow’s Merlyn. Considering this is supposed to be a gathering of the world’s greatest assassin’s, it isn’t all that far-fetched to expect that notable villains from throughout the DC Universe would show up for the chance to bring down Batman, even if it’s still early on in his crime-fighting career. Also, what significance could Christmas Eve have in all of this? I doubt it’s merely coincidence, so could it be in reference to Calendar Man? Or perhaps the Holiday Killer? The possibilities will likely continue to grow as more information about the game trickles out over the next month or so.
The good news is, we won’t have to wait all that long for definitive answers. Batman: Arkham Origins is scheduled to be released on October 25 for the Xbox 360, PS3, PC, and Wii U. Additionally, the PS Vita and 3DS are receiving their own companion game in the form of Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, a 2.5D exploration action game (otherwise known as Metroidvania style) developed by Armature Studio. While no specific date was given for the portable title’s release, it’s assumed it will be within relative proximity to the console experience.
What do you folks make of all this? Are you excited for the next installment in the Arkham franchise? Or are you a bit put off by the switch in developer? Would you rather the series continue on in chronological order, with a sequel that picks up where the previous title left off, or are you content with a prequel that shows off a younger Batman meeting his foes for the first time? And how tired are you of games using buzzwords like “Origin”, “Revalations” and “Revolution” in the title? Let us know in the comments below.