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I’ve been a massive Bat-fan for years. I have shoes, T-shirts, figurines, and even a watch — all with the Dark Knight’s logo on it. As invested as I am in the World’s Greatest Detective, I was overjoyed when I heard the announcement for Batman: Arkham Origins. Sure, I was disappointed when I heard that Rocksteady wouldn’t be in control of development, but I feel that the British studio missed a few good opportunities when creating Arkham Asylum and Arkham City — ones that I hope Warner Bros. Games Montreal will seize.
With that in mind, here’s what I think could improve the formula in Batman: Arkham Origins.
Access to the Batcave
What is Batman without the Batcave? Some may argue that letting the player leave Gotham and skulk around some dark, dank cave would ruin the pace of what is predominantly an action game. I couldn’t disagree more. The Batcave is just as much a part of Batman as his utility belt. It’s where the Dark Knight goes to think, plan, and prepare for coming battles or review important intel.
The previous Arkham titles were structured in such a way that returning to the prime Batcave (meaning not the mini-Batcave in Arkham Asylum) was impossible. In comparison, we will be roaming the streets of Gotham in Origins, and I feel the option to return to the Batcave — to review case files or research the assassins — would make perfect sense.
Also, the addition of the Batcave could introduce a “press A to brood” option — something the Arkham franchise is sorely lacking.
Limited but manageable inventory
The abundance of gadgets you collect in each Arkham title is awesome, but the utility belt began to feel bloated toward the end of Arkham City. Almost every gadget still had a purpose and filled a fun or unique niche, but when you have upward of 10 to use, some aren’t used nearly as much as others.
To combat this, Arkham Origins would benefit from restricting the number of gadgets you can carry; players could potentially increase this capacity by completing side missions or story progression. This would add additional incentive to return to the Batcave and give players more control over how they want to fight injustice.
More Bruce Wayne
One of my favorite sections in Arkham City was the opening, where you face off against numerous thugs not as Batman but as Bruce Wayne. You have no gadgets to help you — just quick moves and equally quick thinking. I greatly enjoyed this short but memorable section and hope Origins provides additional cowl-less game time, perhaps with less focus on action.
Imagine a side mission where you attend a Christmas gala event as Bruce Wayne. Suddenly, the Penguin or Black Mask crashes the party. It’s a classic Bat-scenario that could introduce original gameplay mechanics, like sneaking out to change into the cape and cowl or defeating thugs out of costume without revealing your secret identity.
This could also add in some fun, awkward scenarios, like meeting enemies in a dinner suit instead of the Batsuit. What if an inebriated partygoer unwittingly introduced Bruce Wayne to Slade Wilson (Deathstroke)? How do you escape such a situation without letting innocent people get hurt?
Randomly emerging objectives
Gotham City is a dangerous place. Crime can occur at any time, and as the Dark Knight, you can’t run away from it. As such, it would add to the vigilante feel if you had the option to swoop into emerging crimes and crack some skulls. It could work similarly to the radio in LA Noire, but with additional consequences for assisting or ignoring active crimes.
What if, while chasing down a group of thugs who robbed the Gotham National bank, you hear on the Bat-radio that a nearby hotel is on fire? What’s a hero to do? The fire department is on the way, but a lot of civilians could be hurt. On the other hand, millions of dollars are about to be stolen, which could potentially increase gun crime in Gotham.
Stopping the thugs could reward players with a map from the bank manager that reveals secret tunnels in the surrounding area. But helping to stop the fire and escorting survivors to safety could earn players an upgrade from the Gotham Fire Department that reduces fire damage to the Batsuit. That would be handy if Firebug turns up.
Multiplayer and co-op
Rumors have surfaced regarding the inclusion of multiplayer in Arkham Origins. I say bring it on! Batman was one of the first and biggest comic book heroes to regularly fight with a sidekick, and although Origins’ location in the Bat-timeline is somewhat uncertain, it’s plausible that a young Dick Grayson (Robin) could be on the scene. If so, co-op would make perfect sense.
I’m genuinely excited at the thought of teaming up with a buddy to take down thugs in special missions or challenge maps. I had the same thought when playing Arkham City, too, and I’m hoping this rumor is evidence that fans’ strong desire for change in the franchise is forcing new elements into existence — although it’s more likely that WB Montreal just thought it would be cool.
Either way, the potential for bone-crunching combo attacks and witty one-liners has me tingling. Smell that? Smells like justice.
That pretty much wraps up what I’d like to see in the upcoming prequel. There are other things, like driving the Batmobile or meeting Commissioner Gordon on the roof of the Gotham City Police Department to collect missions, but I doubt those will happen. If you’re a fellow Bat-fan, I’d love to hear what you want to see in Origins — or maybe even things you don’t want to see.
I’m now struggling to decide if the Adam West bomb disposal scene would be in the do” or “don’t” category … .
Also posted on my blog, Beards and Pixels.