Back In Bat: Arkham Origins Does Year One, Sort Of

By Alec Meer on April 9th, 2013 at 5:00 pm.

Dammitall! Here we were, hoping the next Batman game would be a gloriously silly, super-colourful Silver Age tale, but instead it looks to be more grimdark Nolanism. I mean, that’s fine, but we’ve done it twice already. Don’t wear it out, as Michelle Pfeiffer once said about her name to Michael Keaton. ‘Tis not to be – Batman: Arkham Origins is the next game, Rocksteady are no longer at the helm and the calendar has rewound to Bruce Wayne in his youth. Despite my arrogant suppositions a couple of sentences ago, that’s all we really know and it could yet turn out to be anything. Doesn’t seem like they’re avoiding evoking the style and tone of the earlier Arkhams, mind, and they’ll also be using the same engine. It’s “current-gen” so that may mean we don’t get the shiniest of all possible shines, but more positively they’re hinting at depicting Gotham City as a “functional city”, not a mere puzzleplace.

Again, not a lot to go on, as first information is locked up in Fortress Game Informer as per The Rules of getting a helping hand from US retail, but we have some artwork of Young Batman and a new-to-this-series villain, Deathstroke. (You shouldn’t stroke Death, he bites.) There’s also a trailer for GI’s content, in which new devs Warner Bros Games Montreal hint at some of what they have planned, reveal an unequivocally positive attitude towards the earlier Arkhams, and promise that this isn’t yet another Batman origin tale.

Again, Rocksteady are off doing something else – quite likely a proper next-gen Batman game, if you ask me. Heading up design for WB Montreal’s game is Eric Holmes, who performed similar duties for The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction and Prototype. He also wrote the IDW comic series Megatron: Origin, which was a load of old cobblers. (As opposed to a more recent IDW Transformers series, More Than Meets The Eye, which is bloody brilliant, very funny, character-rich and everyone should read it even if they don’t like robot toys. Collections are pretty cheap on Comixology).

The prequel timeframe for Arkham Origins presumably opens the door to the Joker returning, given that the ending of Arkham City saw him opting to move to Provence with his new husband, Commissioner Gordon, with plans to adopt some Malawian orphans. No word on if Mr J will indeed appear, but the devs do hint in the video that this game will see “the first time Batman beats certain characters.”

We’re also told that Batman: Arkham Oranges will launch on October 25, 2013, on PC and the other things.

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88 Comments »

  1. FurryLippedSquid says:

    “Rocksteady are no longer at the helm”

    Erk.

    • INCyr says:

      Yeah, Rocksteady not being involved is slightly worrying. But at least the supposition is that they’re working on a sequel to AC, and not pulled off the franchise entirely, which would be even more worrying.

      But then, I wouldn’t put it past DC these days, they can screw anything up.

      • Teovald says:

        But then, I wouldn’t put it past DC these days, they can screw anything up.

        Can you elaborate ? I don’t follow what DC is doing.

        • TsunamiWombat says:

          Nu52 is an unmitigated disaster of half baked concepts, half retconned but not really retcon’d origins, and more 90′s styling than you can shake Spawn at. It is the nadir of everything wrong in modern comics – fan favorites ignored for marketable names, aweful concepts, exploitative female character usage (Starfires depiction got much better and very badass, but her initial showing in Red Hood was so egregious it’s probably what killed the title) and jumping from one mega-event to the next in the desperate scrabble to hold onto inflated market share.

          And lets not forget the assbackwards way WB is trying to do the Justice League film franchise. If Man of Steel is any good, it may well be the ONE saving grace of the DC movie line (besides NolanBat which arguably exists as a seperate entity)

          • RedViv says:

            Truths.
            Pretty much the only things I keep up with are the Bats titles, with the big guy’s adventures largely gritty and ridiculous, but out of all that was in the reboot, Simone’s Batgirl being the only series I actually really like.
            Everything else has put me off almost immediately. Especially Wondy. Oh boy.

          • GiantRaven says:

            Whilst DC currently has a lot of problems (umpteen creative changes and creator walkouts being top of the list) I would hardly call it an unmitigated disaster. Some great books (Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Demon Knights, I Vampire…) have come from the relaunch.

            The female exploitation is overblown as well. Whilst the Red Hood book was absolutely flabbergasting when it came out with Starfire, Wonder Woman and Batwoman more than make up for that with awesome badassery and being well-written, interesting books.

            Also, I’m not sure what mega-events you’re talking about since DC has been staying away from that, save for the scattered cross-overs between certain lines of books. The first ‘event’ book we’ll be getting is in July with Trinity War and that’s only a 6-part story split over two months. Much better than Marvel’s never-ending cycle of sprawling event books.

            So yeah, whilst the new 52 might not be the best thing ever, it sure isn’t the creative abortion you make it out to be. Overall I feel DC probably has a better percentage of good books than they did before. It’s just a shame that editorial takes too much control of the rest, leading to all the ridiculous creative difficulties.

          • TsunamiWombat says:

            Batmans books have been nothing BUT events. Court of Owls? Death of the Family?SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER The Death of Damien Wayne? /SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER.

            Also, why diss the Wonderwoman books? Maybe they aren’t amazing, but they’re -different-, and Wonderwoman is being done well. I would argue Wonderwoman is one of the few good parts (barring some assnine portrayels of the Amazonians)

          • trinka00 says:

            what happened with Starfire that killed the series?

            Wonder Woman’s always been one of the only DC characters that i really love and relate to, her and Superman. and i just love Gorilla Grodd.
            but I’m a marvel catt besides that.

            I think a lot of frustrated DC fans complain about them and WB being incompetent, but it really strikes me as a situation where DC just doesn’t care about that medium and WB is acting exactly like you’d expect a major film studio to act. expect better cuz they seem pretty hands off the comic book movie type stuff.

            i think it’s easier to tell really comic booky stories with comic books than with movies. i kinda like that DC doesn’t seem to have much of an interest in a cinematic universe. it’s almost like how i had a friend who was doing sexchat and what started to happen was she began to find that she was associating her sexual identity with the laptop camera being on. and it’d come across to guys that she dated and asked to do chat shows with her. she just wasn’t interested in sex anymore unless the camera was on.

            and sometime i worry about a similar thing happening at Marvel. I don’t really see any signs of it really, but it seems like the more successful the movies become, the lmore talent they’ll direct towards that and also towards making sure the comics somehow keep in continuity with the movies.

            it’s great to hear that it’s not by Rocksteady tho. i didn’t like first Arkham game, at all. i only made thru like an hour and a half, but it just felt like an endless tutorial. maybe it changes after a certain point, but i think i was far enough into it that i should’ve been past that.
            I’d love a Batman game like Spider-Man 2. whole city, do whatever u want.

            and it’s funny cuz the Spider-Man game developers just seem obsessed with trying to make a game like Arkham.

            and next to Spider-Man 2 I agree with the poster before who said Ultimate Destruction Hulk is the best ever. i love that one too.

          • TsunamiWombat says:

            Re: Starfire

            It didn’t ‘kill’ the series persay, it went on for a while longer and got much better, but the start was Rocky. Effectively, they made her an amnesiac who sort of went around sexing everyone. No slut-shaming here, but the way it was carried about made it very clear she was there for purile male fulfillment (complete with page spreads of her in a bikini having voyeur photos taken of her unknowing). It was an embarassment, the author had to come out and clarify and apologize.

          • RedViv says:

            Also, why diss the Wonderwoman books?
            Bad writing that tries to emulate Homer or Shakespeare, but does so with the grace of an axe to the face, which itself is fitting because that seems to be the very Heavy Metal comics stuff they seem to want to go for. Furthermore, she probably suffered the most from the horrible did-it-or-did-it-not-happen disease that is going around in the Nu52 due to the absurd lack of communication between writers about what actually had happened before the reboot.
            And that’s even before the Bechdel test got run into the ground completely because of horrible Supes X Wondy fanfiction turning real.

      • Llewyn says:

        Surely that would be Warner rather than DC in this case? I was under the impression that DC license the properties to Warner who then pay for games to be made.

        If Rocksteady were making this then I’d go so far as to treat it as a pre-order, despite my dislike of pre-orders, GFWL and Warner as a games publisher. I bought the two previous Arkhams late and cheap and feel I’ve had my money’s worth many times over.

        Just hope Philden (below) is right that RS are working on the Silver Age game.

    • Philden says:

      The last I read, there were two separate games in development, with Rocksteady doing their own silver age thing for 2014, while the Arkhamverse license holders were preparing another 2013 entry in that series/engine with another studio. I assume this is the latter. So there’s still hope.

    • methodology says:

      I’m actually excited to see where Eric Holmes takes this game.

  2. Revolving Ocelot says:

    Well, if Rocksteady are working on their own thing, then Arkham World can still be a thing. Those mooks at the end of AC really got my hopes up.

  3. MuscleHorse says:

    Just been replaying these two games on hard, trying to get (most of) the extras/side-missions and having a bloody good time. That Rocksteady isn’t present is somewhat worrying, but then Metroid Prime was taken on by an unknown. Right?

  4. Drake Sigar says:

    Origins? Seriously?

    • Teovald says:

      Noooo, not Origin, Grimdark Origin !
      All the more frightening.

    • Dowr says:

      I know; Revelations or Legends would have been 2% less generic.

    • Sordarias says:

      Would you rather it be even more corny? Seriously, Origins really isn’t that bad of a name. Generic, sure, but bad? No.

      They could’ve went with one of many:

      Batman: Year One [the most obvious choice]
      Batman: Beginning of the Bat.
      Batman: Year of the Bat.
      Batman: How I Met My Robin
      Dr. Batman or ‘How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cape.’
      Batman: The Beginning.
      Batman: Flight of the Bat.
      Batman: The Darkening [A new origin story, set within the hollowed halls of Heavenly Host]
      Or,

      Batman and Raven: Deathstroke’s New Clothes.

      In all seriousness, though, comparatively, it’s not a bad name. Corny and generic? No one will argue that. But bad? There’s far worse.

      Though for the record, I would like a game starring nu52 Green Arrow before a game about Batman’s ‘origins.’ That being said, I am excited to see where they’ll take Slade/Deathstroke [and whether or not they'll grab Slades' VA from Teen Titans or not. Ron Perlman is fucking great as Slade.]

      Also whether or not they’ll feature Dick Grayson as Robin or not. I’m curious all around really. They have a solid foundation from the Arkham City/Asylum games to work on, combat mechanics and detectivery [though I really wish the detective parts would be more emphasized, but hey can't have everything.]

      Rambling, but I would also pay loads of money for a Wonder Woman game, or even a GOOD Superman game made by Rocksteady [even if Rocksteady isn't working on this title, which is slightly worrying, but I will give them a chance. I didn't expect much from Rocksteady at first, not knowing who the hell they were until Asylum, but..now that they've proven themselves, I'm willing to give this studio a shot as well.]

  5. Shantara says:

    I just hope they won’t screw PC port this time, Arkham City was pretty awful in this regard.

    • Teovald says:

      The only thing I have against their port is that it was using GfWL. The damned thing even deleted randomly my savegames during two seances (legitimate installation, I bought the game on Steam).

    • woodsey says:

      What was wrong with it?

      As far as I recall it maxed out quite comfortably. Beautiful game.

      • Shantara says:

        Huge performance drops and crashes when running the game with DX11 and Tesselation on. They patched it several times, but haven’t fixed the problem completely even in GOTY. A pity, really, as otherwise the game has been great.

        • Llewyn says:

          Sure, it wasn’t fantastic or as good as it could have been, but that’s a long stretch from “pretty awful”.

          • Shantara says:

            YMMV, but I think “pretty awful” is a fitting description for a port that crashes at certain settings even 1.5 years after the release.

        • woodsey says:

          Ah yes, forgot about that fiasco. Was personally able to run it in DX11 fine though, from what I remember.

  6. Surlywombat says:

    Bit of a stretch to call Arkham games Nolanism. They always seemed far more Burtony Batman to me.

    • MuscleHorse says:

      Agreed – the more supernatural foes feel somewhat jarring after the recent success of the Dark Knight trilogy.

      • TsunamiWombat says:

        The Arkham Asylum/City batman is more directly tied to the comics and the DCAnimated Universe than Nolan is thats for sure. It’s an intruiging mix of DCAU Bruce Timm direction and Tim Burton.

        This reboot is probably going to be a shot at making something more Nolanesque which makes me go “ugh”

        • DrollRemark says:

          It’s a prequel, not a reboot, which would imply that they have to stay true to the weirdness in the series.

          • tyren says:

            If it were a reboot it wouldn’t make much sense to bother having that “Arkham” in the title, since it sounds like it’s not taking place on Arkham again and there’s no “Arkham City” to make the title relevant.

    • Hillbert says:

      I’ve just been playing Arkham City. I fought a group of rabbit headed thugs on top of a giant watch face whilst wearing a Batman styled rabbit mask as part of a hallucinatory episode.

      It couldn’t be more Burton without Danny Elfman whistling in the background…

  7. tobecooper says:

    No Silver Age? :(
    All my pandas are supersad.

    But 8 DC assassins are after Batman! That’s area for some fun speculation. We know there will be Deathstroke. Deadshot is a given, Lobo would be nice. Maybe Bane. Ra’s Al Ghul is probably behind the whole thing. Who else kills for the moneyz in the DC Universe?

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      DeathStroke
      Deadshot
      Cheshire
      Bronze Tiger
      David Cain
      Merlyn
      Lady Shiva
      Killer Moth
      White Ghost

      any number of other B listers. You’ve named the obvious ones.

      • tobecooper says:

        Shiva, Chesire, yes, yes. I like your list. Though arguably most of them aren’t visually distinct enough to be boss-characters. So I expect some heavy redesignings (not taking into account Killer Moth, you can’t be more distinctive than Killer Moth).

        • TsunamiWombat says:

          Though, to be realistic, Shiva would KILL Batman. Especially a year 1 Batman.

          Infact, Shiva, Bronze Tiger, and Deathstroke have all beaten Batman in fights (no one remembers it because they weren’t fuckhueg and made of 90′s like Bane). I hope they can take this into account without Jobbing the characters (if they are in fact, used)

          • Sordarias says:

            Deathstroke is definitely going to be interesting. I would hope they’d also definitely grab Bronze Tiger and Lady Shiva. Those would make for killer bosses, no matter what. Especially Bronze Tiger.

            Bane might work, if it’s the Bane we got in Knightfall. That would be decently fantastic, but hopefully not Arkham Asylum’s Bane fight all over again. That was..okay, but subpar as all hell.

    • WoundedBum says:

      I think the rumour is Rocksteady will helm the next gen Silver Age title. Which is fine by me if true.

    • Amstrad says:

      Yeah, I’m betting we’ll see Ra’s, Talia and the League again. Thus we’ll probably get Batgirl’s (Cassandra Cain) parents David Cain and Lady Shiva. Plus other members of the League like Doctor Darrk, Sensei, Merlyn, Bronze Tiger, Onyx and Mad Dog.

      I hope this also leads to a playable Batgirl like we got for Catwoman and Robin in AC.

    • Serpok says:

      I doubt that they are able to handle Lobo.

      But it would be neat.

  8. Jams O'Donnell says:

    *barely-stifled yawn*

    Been there, done that, hit that guy, biffed this other dude.

  9. Jamesworkshop says:

    I’d rather the joker wasn’t in it as it always seem to revolve mostly around him whenever he is around.

  10. PancreaticDefect says:

    Warner Bros. Montreal just made a HUGE mistake. They revealed in that video that they possess a life-size Batman statue. I must now steal it…

  11. Iskariot says:

    Looking forward to this very much. It is a bit worrying that Rocksteady is not involved though. Those Batman games are the best.

  12. TsunamiWombat says:

    The past few batman games have been good but the reboot quality to this and the lack of Rocksteady’s involvement makes me feel super iffy. DC is likely looking to rebrand it’s digital media (videogames) to reinforce it’s current depiction of Batman/the Film depiction of batman. THis could mean this will either tie in with Nolans batman, or whatever new version of Batman they want to do for the upcoming Justice League movies. Essentially, it has no relation to the Arkham titles whatsoever so I have no indication or inclination to believe it will be as stellar as Rocksteady’s work.

  13. Jamesworkshop says:

    can we get more of Robin in game if this is taking place earlier in the storyline, maybe pre-wheelchair Oracle

    • Zekiel says:

      I always thought the idea (not my own, read it here or on another site) of an Arkham game where you swapped between characters with different abilities would be great. Sort of like X-Men Legends except without actually being party-based.

      Actually, come to think of it, bascially like Arkham City except with more swapping than just occasionally playing as Catwoman.

    • PancreaticDefect says:

      Wow, you read my mind. I was telling my wife this exact thing a day or two ago. I mentioned how, with the next game being a prequel, we might get some Batgirl since Barbara wouldn’t be paralyzed yet. I sure hope thats the case.

  14. RedViv says:

    Finally. I always wanted to see someone re-imagining the Batman origin story.

    • SighmanSays says:

      “We’re not telling the story of Batman’s beginning. We’re not telling the story of Arkham Asylum… This is about the first time Batman meets certain characters…” 35 seconds in.

      Sounds to me like the Origins may refer to villain origins, which actually sounds like a good way to take the franchise. The real strength of the Batman franchise, and the Arkham games in particular, has always been the rogues gallery after all.

      • TsunamiWombat says:

        Hopefully they aren’t dumb enough to go into THE JOKERS origins…

      • RedViv says:

        I would actually go so far as to say that, if they chose “certain” folks out of the Gotham rogues gallery, they will still manage to retell how Batman came to be what he would be after. If this is actually the same universe as Arkham, which I would be heavily inclined to assume. Otherwise the title would make absolutely no sense, if they even say that they do not go into the origins of either Batsy or Arkham.

        Or maybe Oranges is really just about as fitting as a title, I dunno. Did like Ultimate Destruction and Prototype, so it might at least be interesting.

  15. Zekiel says:

    Honestly, if they just leave the engine and gameplay exactly like AC and give me another environment to glide around in, stalk people and biff bad guys, I’d probably be perfectly happy. I *love* Arkham City. It’s not perfect, but it’s damn near close.

    Apart from GFWL of course. If they could avoid that for this release, I’d be much, much happier.

    Also: I love Alec’s description of the Joker’s current occupation in Arkhamverse.

  16. salgado18 says:

    “given that the ending of Arkham City saw…”

    Yeah, thanks for that. :(
    (not being bitter, just got me unprepared)

    • trinka00 says:

      they found out recently that spoilers actually make people enjoy a film more…
      cuz they can actually focus on the film instead of what happens…

      u didn’t over react, but some people really get weird about spoilers. but then u go to their apartment and they own a bunch of movies on dvd. movies that they know the endings to already. and they already know what everyone’s gonna say.

      i wish i could be a fly on the wall when they have to watch movies twice.

      • Spoon Of Doom says:

        I don’t think this is an entirely fair point of view. True, if a movie is good, you can enjoy it even if you know the end or the big twist. But the experience of going into a movie/game/book the very first time and being taken in by how the story unfolds and maybe being genuinely surprised or shocked by a clever twist you didn’t see coming is something that you can only experience once. Focusing on the movie or game or book in question without having to follow the story is something you can (and probably will, if it’s good) do over and over again.

  17. sinister agent says:

    They should make a Grimdark Batman, but make everyone else act like it’s Campy 60s Batman. It’d drive him up the wall.

    • trinka00 says:

      haahaha. that sounds great.

      yeah, he really wouldn’t like that, would he?
      let’s do it

    • dethtoll says:

      You should read the 80s/Giffen era of Justice League International. It’s pretty much Angry Dad Batman (and Angry Dad Martian Manhunter) and a whole bunch of funny B listers.

  18. Monkeh says:

    “We’re also told that Batman: Arkham Oranges will launch on October 25, 2013, on PC and the other things.”

    How I love you RPS, for always managing to make me smile. ^^

  19. ResonanceCascade says:

    “more grimdark Nolanism”

    Dark, yes, but nothing about the previous games resembles Nolan’s movies. They’re very much in line with the Animated series, just S&Med up a bit.

    • RedViv says:

      Ten years ago, I’d probably have preferred the term “Miller-ed up”, but I don’t think I want to insinuate of the likes after whatever happened to Frank.

  20. Penguin_Factory says:

    I kind of wish they didn’t feel the need to put “Arkham” in every title.

    • tyren says:

      It was relevant in the second game, in a weird way. It sounds like it’ll just be completely irrelevant in this game, though, except to convey that it’s still part of the same series.

  21. Uthred says:

    Interesting to see what Eric Holmes will do, Hulk Ultimate Destruction is probably the best super-hero computer game ever and Prototype was pretty good (if a litte technically ropey). Hopefully they do something about the tedious rhythmn game combat of the two earlier Arkham games.

  22. woodsey says:

    I hope Rocksteady is working on a proper sequel to Arkham City. Asylum was standard-fare in the plot department but AC’s end offered an intriguing jumping-point for a sequel with regards to where the characters are at.

  23. PastyAndUnhealthy says:

    Also, she said it to Christopher Walken.

  24. Brannigan says:

    I like how they feel the need to sneak Arkham in there, like somehow the title Batman isn’t enough to market the game? I can’t wait for the sequel to the prequel, Arkhman: Arkham Arkhcity, The Arkhaming.

  25. Trionx says:

    I’d love to see someone tackle More than Meets the Eye as an adventure game of some sort. Or maybe shooter of Last Stand of the Wreckers. :D

  26. DickSocrates says:

    The Arkham games are neither grimdark or Nolan-esque.

    • tyren says:

      There’s at least one Three Stooges reference in the first game. I think that automatically disqualifies it as “grimdark” even if it was the Joker making it.

  27. Abendlaender says:

    Okay, I’m allowing this one last time but I hereby declare that no game shall ever have the subtitle “Origins”, “Legends” “Chronicles” or anything starting with “re-”
    Thank you for your attention

  28. gwathdring says:

    Oh good. More origin stories.

    I’m wary given that the past two Batman games were headed successfully by a different developer and given that it’s another god-damned origin reboot. Origins aren’t really very interesting to me. I find that the best place to start a story (and for that matter end it) is usually somewhere in the middle both because it gives the author a little more flexibility to make a plausible character and because it creates a sense of momentum and purpose that’s really, really useful in a video game. I can understand the appeal of an origin story for the purposes of a tutorial (somebody do this: the tutorial takes place during the “origin story”, the game proper doesn’t courtesy of a flash-forward/backward depending on what happens before the tutorial), but not really for much else. A good story explains it’s characters without needing a prequel; if your character requires a primer or prequel to be understood, than perhaps your game is too short or your character is awful.

    That said, origins can be fun and there’s a place for reboots, too. It seems like a waste of potential, though. There are many things that could be done with Batman that are more interesting. Even just going with existing arcs, I would love to see Long Halloween/Dark Victory become a video game because it had a great episodic vibe despite making a somewhat lackluster graphic novel with overly shallow characters that would have felt much less disappointing in the context of an Arkham City style game. Looking over the plot of Arkham City in the context of a graphic novel, it seems awful, but while I was playing it had a great vibe and it worked magnificently. The Long Halloween/Dark Victory cycle is the other side of that sensation, and I’d like to see what was good about it done justice through gaming.

    While Hush didn’t disappoint me as a graphic novel (other than the far-too-1990s art of Jim Lee with all it’s overabundant pouches, excess buckles and spine-free women (coloring was incredible, though)), I think it would fit nicely into a video game adaptation, too. There’s a lot of slick story telling going on, but it’s a sort of story telling that could happen in a game interspersed with slick game-play.

  29. lord_strange says:

    Yes to more Robin. It was cool when he briefly appeared in Arkham City. I’m just going to cross my fingers and hope this one is good even though Rocksteady aren’t the developers. I am sure the box art is no guide but I rather like it anyway, here’s hoping.

  30. HilariousCow says:

    Ian Holmes!!!

    He’s great! Designer on Hulk: Ultimate Destruction and Prototype. I’m excited!

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