Rocksteady’s Arkham Asylum and Arkham City have quickly become two of the most successful and popular Batman video games to come out in, well, pretty much ever. Both titles have blended phenomenal storytelling, fluid gameplay (particularly with the unique “freeflow” combat system), and top notch presentation in order to bring the gritty crime-riddled world of the Dark Knight to life. For the third entry in the Arkham series, Rocksteady has handed off the reins to the team at Warner Bros. Montreal who have created a prequel game titled Arkham Origins that is set to be released this month. Let’s take a look at what to expect from Arkham Origins.
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Arkham Origins tells the story of a younger Batman, roughly two or so years into his crime fighting career. On a cold Christmas Eve night, Gotham underworld kingpin Black Mask puts out a $50 million bounty on Batman’s head. In order to give himself a little insurance, Black Mask also hires eight of the world’s deadliest assassins to take out Batman including Bane, Deadshot, Deathstroke, Firefly, Lady Shiva, and Copperhead (a lithe and deadly femme fatale version of the original character concept).
In addition to the eight assassins, Batman must also contend with various other criminals who want in on the Christmas “fun” including the Joker, Riddler, Mad Hatter, and Penguin (to name a few). These villains will have their own agendas which will intertwine with those of both Black Mask and the assassins as well as Batman himself.
Because Arkham Origins takes place well before the events of Arkham City, the titular super-prison in question has yet to be constructed. Instead, players will finally get the chance to roam Gotham City proper as they visit both familiar and new locales and take the fight to the city’s various evil-doers.
The GCPD will also take on a different role in this game since, because Origins is a prequel, Batman is seen as more of an outlaw vigilante and less of a superhero to the people of Gotham at this point. Corrupt GCPD officers will also be after the bounty that Black Mask put on Batman’s head and Batman will need to work to gain the trust of people like James Gordon.
Gotham City is a gigantic map for players to explore; approximately twice as large as the game world in Arkham City. Because of the size of the map, players will be able to use the Batwing later in the game as a fast-travel system throughout the two islands that make up Gotham City. Fast-travel points will have to be discovered and unlocked first which means if players want the ability to move throughout the city with ease, they’re going to have to earn it first.
In addition to the main story campaign, there will also be a “crime in progress” system that will allow Batman to detect and stop random petty crimes as he roams around Gotham City. These crimes will vary in size and scope but all of them will grant Batman experience points and help improve his reputation with the GCPD. The “Most Wanted” system is another set of side quests that, much like the side missions in Arkham City, will focus on other non-assassin villains like Joker and Mad Hatter.
Arkham Origins will feature much of the same gameplay as Arkham City but with some twists added in to keep things fresh. The remote claw is a new gadget that will allow Batman to tether enemies to one another or to objects in the environment for a quick knockdown. The concussion detonator is another new gadget that will work in a way similar to a flashbang grenade: blinding opponents and even making them swing violently at one another. Other gadgets like the cryptographic sequencer and the explosive gel will make a return appearance along with his trusty grappling hook and batarangs. New enemies such as martial artists (who can counter Batman’s attacks) and armored thugs (who must first be stripped of their armor before they can be defeated) will help spice up combat as well.
One of the most intriguing elements of the first two Arkham games was Batman’s Detective Mode, which was a way to disseminate information about crime scenes and track down villains. Detective Mode is back in Arkham Origins but with the added “crime scene recreation” technology. Using the Bat computer, Batman will be able to recreate a virtual rendition of a crime scene to ascertain more information about what exactly happened.
The Batcave will also play a central role in the game, allowing players to gather new gadgets, talk to Alfred, and even level up Batman’s abilities by training via the challenge maps for the game. The Arkham games are well known to feature tons of challenge maps but this time around those maps will be available in the Batcave as training for Batman and can help a player progress Batman’s level in the main campaign.
While adding to the game’s single-player elements with new gadgets and enemies, a larger map to explore, and a more expansive story are all great, Arkham Origins is also venturing into the multiplayer front by adding in a brand-new online competitive multiplayer experience that will allow players to step into the shoes of an elite unit of Joker’s thugs, Bane’s thugs, or the dynamic duo themselves: Batman and Robin (pre-Nightwing Dick Grayson in case you were wondering).
The multiplayer will be a 3 Vs 3 Vs 2 setup with members of Bane and Joker’s crews trying to take one another out and capture control points on the map. Meanwhile, Batman and Robin will work to try and subdue the conflict by non-lethally taking out all of the enemy combatants in the match. Gang members will be given all kinds of special gadgets to help take one another out and to help deal with the Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder should they try to get the drop on them. Each of the two teams will have a limited number of respawns to help determine when the game ends. Holding the various control points will also help deplete the other team’s respawns so taking control of them is vital in order to attain victory.
After a certain amount of mayhem has occurred in the match, a single player on each of the two thug teams will get the chance to control their respective leader: Bane or the Joker, and wreak even more havoc. Both Bane and Joker have a ton of special abilities and weapons that make them a cut above the average henchman. Controlling a gang’s leader will give players an edge over their opponents but with the added power comes added risk since taking out these signature villains while playing as Batman or Robin awards a large bonus to the duo’s intimidation meter which grants victory to the crime-fighting pair should they manage to fill it completely.
Arkham Origins will also have a season pass that is set to include multiple character skins (fourteen in total; twelve for Batman and two for Robin) on top of an exclusive “Initiation” challenge map that will go back even further in time and allow gamers to play as Bruce Wayne as he trains to become Batman. Extra content won’t stop there as the season pass will also include an unrevealed story expansion for the single-player mode. Fans who pre-order Arkham Origins will also be able to play as the villain Deathstroke in the game’s various challenge maps and will also be able to test their skills in the new “100 to 1” mode that, as the name implies, pits a solo player against 100 thugs.
Arkham Origins is set to blend the formula that made the first two games great with some interesting new concepts like online multiplayer and reworked gameplay features. Warner Bros. Montreal seems to have taken a lot of cues from Rocksteady’s previous entries into the series but it looks like they haven’t been afraid to toss in their own ingredients as well. We’ll have to wait until October 25th to find out how it all comes together but in the meantime, Arkham Origins is looking like it’ll be one heck of an adventure.