First, let’s be clear, there has not yet been an announcement of a Batman Arkham game following Arkham Knight and Arkham VR. However, this doesn’t stop our love for the franchise nor diminish our enthusiasm for another instalment.
That being said, let’s dive right in:
First, I’ll voice what everyone feels: we should have access to the whole city, which should be at the very least the six islands that we’ve already had (Bleake, Founders, Miagani, North, South & Arkham). Essentially, we’d like an expanded open world. The Cyrus Pinkney storyline in Arkham Origins was a good example of how an open world could give rise to hidden mysteries that are only found through exploration.
The ending of Arkham Knight and the space between Arkham Origins and Arkham Asylum both offer up interesting story options, so quite honestly I don’t mind when the story is set, but no matter what the story there is one element that I want to see: all out gang war. Rather than patrolling a city evacuated of citizens, they should simply be trying to keep off the streets. This would allow a good balance between the villain-populated city that we’re used to and the opportunity to have to rescue civilians who have been caught in the crossfire.
The action should spill into the day, perhaps starting during the day. This would allow the ‘training mission’ to utilise stealth and combat without gadgets or certain abilities, expanding upon the opening sequence of A Cold, Cold Heart.
If set after Arkham Knight, a take on the Batman: RIP storyline in which Bruce Wayne is presumed dead after the conclusion of the Knightfall protocol and Dick Grayson’s Nightwing adopts the mantle of the Bat could work well as a starting point. The Court of Owls/Gates of Gotham storylines could be another potential source for an over-arching plotline as a hundred year old conspiracy comes to fruition.
The way that the Batcave has been used in Arkham Origins and Arkham VR needs to be built upon now. As well as being our ‘hub’, this would also be a really cool setting for a climactic battle (I was sorely disappointed that we missed this opportunity in Origins).
Come on, who doesn’t want to return to the asylum? After all, the asylum holds many secrets, who knows how many?
Two-Face, the Penguin, Black Mask, the Falcones, the Triad, the Bratva. Warring gangs form the backbone of the game and allow new villains like KGBeast, Scarface and Jane Doe to be utilised as enforcers for their crime bosses. The main villain would be the one who manipulated the gangs into open war, perhaps the Court of Owls.
We’d love to see the return of classic villains like Zsasz, Riddler and Harley Quinn, though perhaps in new situations. Riddler’s clues actually lead to crimes that he’s committing. Zsasz needs to be tracked down before he kills again. Clayface could be utilised to horrifying effect in a predator situation. Lady Shiva could return as the League of Assassins are hunted by the Council of Spiders. Catwoman’s grey areas should be explored as she tries to steal without the batman noticing. Calendar Man should pop up on holidays according to your system clock, committing holiday related crimes that we need to stop.
One stand-out feature of both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City was how the story would affect the environment, so that you would go through the same gameplay area, yet it would feel completely fresh and new. The way that Poison Ivy affected Arkham Island is probably the most obvious example of this.
In Arkham City, we saw some examples of gang territory changing, but this could easily be developed through the use of dynamic gang tags. The destruction of public property could also change the way that we viewed the city.
I really, really liked the batmobile in Arkham Knight. Mostly. I loved the APC chases. I loved how it was used as a tool to solve puzzles (using the car as a counter-weight for an elevator was inspired). I enjoyed many of the tank battles too. I lost some of my suspension of disbelief somewhat though when the batmobile was put through huge underground sections (Riddler racetracks and Arkham Knight HQ) and lost it completely during the batmobile predator sections. I want the car to return, but let’s play down the battle mode and have much more emphasis on high speed pursuits and puzzle solving.
One of the overwhelmingly positive additions to Arkham Knight, in terms of fan-reaction was the dual-play feature that allowed you to enter a fight or predator situation in control of two characters. The only criticism that I can make of it is that it was fairly sparsely used within the main story itself. This feature needs to come back and it needs to be expanded upon.
I’d like to see the relationship between Batman and his allies explored in a similar way to how Uncharted 4 tackled Nathan Drake and his team mates. Essentially, there are large portions of the story that require interaction with another character for puzzle solving, combat, stealth and narrative progression, but none of it ever feels forced. Both Harley Quinn’s Revenge and the Panessa Studios, North Refrigeration and Riddler/Catwoman sections of Arkham Knight showed hints of this, but there is definitely room for expansion.
These are already so close to being perfect. Mix together the Professor Pyg missions from Knight, the prevalence of random crime scenes from Origins and the level of detail featured in the Arkham VR crime scene and morgue sequences and we’ll all be happy. While we’re at it, how natural did it feel to have Batman sneaking into a morgue to do his own investigation?
Recently, Arkham VR and Return to Arkham have given us a glimpse at what Batman Arkham could look like in the next generation of game engines. It’s hard to believe that Arkham Knight was built in a very similar version of the Unreal Engine 3 that Rocksteady used for Arkham City. The modifications that the studio made to UE3 were damned impressive to say the least. For Arkham VR, however, Gotham was rebuilt using the fourth iteration of the Unreal Engine. This visual step up needs to be utilised going forward.
Invisible Predator Online
This article has been brewing in my mind for a while and one of the first ingredients that went into the percolator was multiplayer. This isn’t a reaction to the news that WB are shutting down Arkham Origins Online Multiplayer servers in less than a month; I genuinely thought that multiplayer in Origins was a blast. Clearly, there are certain improvements that need to be made. The overall stability of the play lobbies was poor – this would need to be completely rewritten from scratch. The matchmaking process suffered due to the afore mentioned issue, but could have been improved easily with the inclusion of the option to add AI bots to fill up a lobby. Things should be allowed to get messy with a larger number of gang factions going head-to-head (tying into my pitch for a story). Finally, trophies for multiplayer achievements are greats, but they shouldn’t be Platinum/1000 requirements.
This is the one that everyone wants to see. Up to four players enter an arena and work together as Batman, Robin, Nightwing, Azreal et al to clear the room of enemy thugs. Working their way through waves of thugs, players would eventually build to fight some of Batman’s villains. Like Zsasz fought in Solitary Confinement Extreme and Joker appeared to fight in the Joker’s Carnival map, we could see some of Batman’s villains appear in the fourth round of combat. Killer Croc and Mr Freeze might have been too much for Batman to fight one-on-one, but with help of another player (or three) Batman and Robin could work together to take them down.
We could see some unique effects by combining players quick gadgets on a single target. Robin snap-flashing a twitching REC victim or Nightwing shocking a frozen thug could cause an instant takedown that gives a teamwork combo bonus at the end of each round. Like the perfect round bonus, if you earn this teamwork bonus in each round you gain an extra teamwork fight bonus.
Season of Infamy was excellent and most of the Arkham Episodes were damned good fun too. All that we’d really ask from these is that they were expanded out to make them longer. A Matter of Family, A Cold, Cold Heart and Harley Quinn’s Revenge are the standard that we expect. The opportunity to explore different eras of the Arkhamverse canon is too enticing a prospect not to explore further. Just imagine the possibilities: Azrael confronting the Order of St Dumas; Robin’s first night protecting Gotham alone; Batgirl tracking down Catwoman, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy; Nightwing vs the Huntress.
So, now we turn it over to you. What do you want to see from the next Batman Arkham game?
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