Batman: Arkham Origins is the next game in the highly acclaimed Batman Arkham series that will take a step back in the timeline to show a Batman who is not quite as seasoned as the Dark Knight we saw in Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. Warner Brothers Montreal has taken over for Rocksteady on development of the game and tons of information has come out of E3 2013 about the title. So what exactly has changed? Well let’s find out in this preview of Arkham Origins.
Watch the Preview
Back in Time
Arkham Origins takes place before Arkham Asylum, making it the earliest game in the series’ chronology. However, it’s important to note that Origins is not the story of how Batman became Batman. You will play as a Batman who has about two years under his belt as the Dark Knight but who has yet to come up against the best of the best in his crime fighting career (until now).
Enter Roman Sionis a.k.a. Black Mask. Sionis is the most powerful crime boss in Gotham City and for some mysterious reason (though it probably isn’t too hard to guess) he has recruited eight of the world’s deadliest assassins to take down Batman on the night of Christmas Eve, offering a sizable $50 million dollar bounty to whoever manages to ice the Bat first.
So far, three of those eight assassins have been revealed: Bane, Deathstroke, and Deadshot. But the assassins won’t be the only villains Batman has to tangle with thanks to the game’s “Most Wanted” events which basically serves as story-driven side quests for the game. Villains like Anarky and (most likely though not confirmed) Penguin will show up during side quests in this story as will some dude in a purple suit with a penchant for cheap gags and green hair dye…
One of the most interesting concepts in Arkham Origins is that Batman is coming up against many of these enemies for the first time and his encounters with them will start to shape him into the Batman that we know today. Batman is defined by his rogue’s gallery and many of them will be stepping up to the plate to give the Dark Knight all he can handle.
Arkham Origins definitely seems to take a lot of what worked in the previous games and put it to good use but the game also has several brand new gameplay mechanics and gadgets for Batman to utilize that will be sure to set it apart from previous entries. The remote claw is a new gadget that Warner Brothers Montreal showed off at E3 which seems to be replacing the line launcher from the previous games.
The remote allows Batman to tether an enemy to a piece of the environment or another enemy and pull them together. Tethering two enemies together will force them to slam into one another and knock each other down. However, tethering an enemy to a gargoyle or a heavy object can incapacitate them altogether.
The remote claw can also be used to create a tightrope between areas on the map so that Batman can traverse the environment more easily (basically stealing that functionality from the line launcher). The remote claw is the only new gadget that has been shown off so far but the gameplay tweaks don’t end there.
Two new enemy types are being thrown into the mix and both will challenge the player’s combat skills in new ways. The first of these is the martial artist; an enemy who can counter Batman’s attacks. Batman can also counter a martial artists’ counters so the combat can really go back and forth. The second new enemy type is the armored enforcer. This large enemy has armor that will need to be broken down and removed before he can be defeated. An enforcer will need to be stunned before the armor can be attacked and once the armor is finally off, the enemy can be beaten down.
Detective Mode 2.0
While the gameplay tweaks that have been shown are very impressive, the additions to the Detective Mode are probably some of the most significant changes to the gameplay itself. Detective Mode is no longer just about finding and following a trail but about recreating the crime to understand what happened and why.
This means that Batman can scan evidence through his cowl and send the data back to the Bat Computer to create an augmented reality replay of the crime. This augmented reality ability brings to light things that may not have been seen at first glance and help drive the storytelling and crime solving aspects of the game forward.
In the E3 demo, Batman can be seen recreating a helicopter crash to determine what exactly happened to the chopper and who was responsible. The recreation allows Batman to pinpoint exactly where all of the wreckage from the chopper went and finding it all gives him a clearer picture of how it crashed.
Gotham City, Not Arkham City
While Gotham City itself was chopped up and partially turned into a super prison in the last game installment, this time we get to see Gotham City proper and the result is a map that is about twice as big as Arkham City. Arkham Origins will have two different islands for Batman to explore with a bridge connecting the two but sheer map size is not all the game has going for it.
Since Arkham Origins is a prequel, Gotham isn’t as run down as it was in Arkham City so the game will allow players to navigate through taller buildings, pick up more momentum for cape glides, and lend an entirely different feel to city exploration. In fact, the map of Arkham Origins is so large that a fast-travel system has been implemented; the Batwing will serve as a way for Batman to quickly get from one portion of the map to another. It has been hinted that an unnamed villain will be blocking the Batwing’s signal in portions of the map and Batman will have to disable their tech to unlock fast travel in different areas (similar to the radio towers in Far Cry 3).
The open world will continue to allow for a ton of different side quests and the “crime in progress” system will have Batman encounter random crimes (like a bank robbery) while he is patrolling and exploring the city. You can choose if you would like to stop the crime or not but doing so does give valuable XP.
The XP system in Arkham Origins is based on a letter grade that you receive after every combat encounter. The letter grade takes into account your performance and the difficulty of the adversaries that you faced. This means that when you do really well against tough enemies, you will get a ton of XP. The XP will feed into a much more robust upgrade system for Batman and for the gadgets in his arsenal, allowing players to custom-tailor their crime-fighting methods.
Arkham Origins looks to be more of the same fun from the previous game, enhanced by even more gameplay variety and cool gadgets. The story is an interesting way to handle a prequel (not telling a story of Batman but of his relationships with his villains) and it will hopefully deliver the same sort of epic experience players have come to expect from the Arkham series.
Arkham Origins is coming to the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, and Wii U on October 25th. Until then you can check out some of our other Arkham Origins content here and be sure to stick with VGU.TV for more on this title in the coming months.