It’s been four years since Rocksteady Games released Batman: Arkham Knight, the critically acclaimed finale to the equally lauded Batman: Arkham series. Blame it on the undying popularity of superhero stories or the sheer legacy of the series, but fans of the Arkham games are still clamoring for a new title- be it a sequel, prequel, or any other “quel.”
It seems like fans’ patience, persistence, and endless postings on Reddit might actually pay off- WB Montreal is teasing some sort of new Batman game with not one, but two Batman: Arkham related tweets.
The first, hitting twitter feeds worldwide on Batman Day, interlaced split-second glitches of ominous symbols into footage of the real-life Bat-Symbol. The second, released on Monday morning, eschewed the real-life Bat-Symbol footage and simply showed the ominous symbols with the caption “Capture the Knight.”
No official announcement of a new game has come from WB Montreal, but the timing of these announcements along with the very intentional use of the word “Knight” has led many people to believe a new Batman: Arkham title is on the way. WB Montreal may be the developer behind the least popular title in the series, Batman: Arkham Origins, but that simply doesn’t matter given the almost unicorn-like status of good superhero games. I mean, aside from the Arkham series, Injustice, and Marvel’s Spider-Man, superhero video games tend to suck. So I don’t blame anyone for being ecstatic about the possibility of a new Batman: Arkham game- in fact, I’m just as stoked as everyone else.
Rather than try to decipher the meaning of the symbols- which could mean anything from Azrael to the Demon to the Court of Owls- I’d rather talk about everything I want from a new Batman: Arkham title. Since the gameplay of the entire series is almost perfect, I am going to try to focus on the aspects of Batman lore that I want to see in a new game.
Allow even more of the Bat-Family to be playable- and for longer stretches
The Batman: Arkham series did a legitimately incredible job of leveraging the various members of the Bat-Family for both gameplay and narrative reasons. Nightwing, Robin (Tim Drake), Catwoman, Batgirl, and even the Red Hood made appearances over the course of the franchise- not only as NPCs, but as playable characters. Allowing players to take control of these legendary members of the Batman mythos was not only a fan-pleasing moment for comic readers but diversified the gameplay in a fun way while offering new combat styles and tactical possibilites. And. I. Want. More.
The best thing about Batman is the sheer amount of colorful characters he’s encountered along the way, whether friend or foe. I would love to see more of the former in any new game, not just more of the characters already included, but even more Bat-Family members who haven’t been played yet. Orphan, Clayface, Damian Wayne, the Huntress, Batwoman, Batwing- give me a chance to play with every member of Batman’s extended family! The gameplay opportunities with such a diverse array of characters would give the players a bountiful harvest of new combat scenarios that will help break up the game and keep encounters feeling fresh.
Even if more new, playable Bat-Family members aren’t available, I’d at least like longer gameplay sections that allow the player to take control of characters other than Bruce Wayne (outside of DLC). I loved taking the reins as the acrobatic Nightwing and as the whip-wielding Catwoman- and I’d like even more of it! Maybe even allow the player to choose between members of the Bat-Family at will throughout the game? Okay, maybe that’s asking too much.
Feature some of Batman’s super-friends in the story
As a founding member of the Justice League and a pillar of DC Comics’ “Trinity,” Batman has made some serious connections over the last 80 years. Which is why I find it a little bit surprising that none of Batman’s non-Gothamite friends have shown up in the Arkham series. I’d love to see WB Montreal change this in a sequel.
Don’t get me wrong, I have little to no desire to control Superman or Wonder Woman or Flash and I am not arguing for them to appear as playable characters. Playing as any of these super-powered characters would undoubtedly lessen the intrigue of putting the players at the helm of the world’s greatest detective. A guy punching people in a bat-suit wouldn’t feel as awesome after controlling a man faster than a bullet or a nearly-invincible Amazonian warrior.
That being said, I’d lose my mind if somebody from the Justice League appeared in a cutscene or as an NPC partner. Not only would this hint at the larger DC Universe existing within the Arkham Universe, but it could provide Batman with new, intriguing foes to fight with fun combat scenarios to defeat them. The inclusion of supers like Super-Man, the Flash, Wonder Woman, or the Green Lantern would allow WB Montreal to introduce new, zany combatants for Batman to tackle with his pals that would present entirely fresh gameplay options. If Green Lantern were introduced, for example, wouldn’t it be sweet for Hal (or John or Guy or Kyle or Simon or Jessica) and Bruce to take on the Darkstars together?
Give us the Batmobile and Batplane- but don’t make them instruments of war
I know I said I’d avoid making gameplay suggestions or critiques, but I’ve got to address the elephant in the room- turning the Batmobile into a war machine was an interesting choice. If I’m being honest, it actually worked from a gameplay standpoint and I found myself genuinely enjoying the tank segments. Regardless, it still felt uncharacteristic for Batman, like someone at Rocksteady let Zack Snyder give notes on the design of the Batmobile.
Regardless of how tank-like the Batmobile was in Batman: Arkham Knight, there’s no denying how awesome it was to drive around the city in the Batman’s souped-up sports car/SUV/tank/human-propulsion-device. Take away the, uh, tank-y-ness of the Batmobile, and it was basically the perfect video game version of the iconic car, so WB Montreal would do well to bring the car back.
I think WB’s Canadian studio should take it a step further, however, and introduce the Batplane as a controllable vehicle for players. How would they do this without turning the Batplane into some sort of air support vehicle that rains fire from above? I have no clue, but if the game somehow took itself out of Gotham and gave Batman an excuse to need a state-of-the-art jet, it could lead to some interesting gameplay mechanics.
For the love of all things holy introduce the Court of Owls
“Beware the Court of Owls” is a phrase almost every modern Batman comic book reader knows. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo introduced the mysterious foundation of the Gotham underground in their groundbreaking New 52 Batman series and it’s honestly baffling that these villains have only been explored in Nightwing comics and a little bit of the show Gotham. What I am getting at is: they’re the perfect villain for a new Batman: Arkham game.
Just as Batman: Arkham Knight put an original spin on the famous “Under the Hood’ comic arc, a new iteration of the Arkham series could present a new take on Snyder and Capullo’s beloved “Court of Owls” storyline. The Court is ripe for the Arkham universe- a creepy, gothic group of Gothamites who send Batman down a trail of mystery and madness until he discovers startling secrets about both his beloved city and one of his own wards (I won’t spoil anything here, but if you haven’t read “Court of Owls” drop everything and pick it up).
The Court of Owls are just too good of a villain to not make their way into the Arkham universe. The fights with the titular Owls would be more epic than tussles with the League of Assasins, the personal revelations for Bruce Wayne would rival that of the famous Jason Todd reveal in Batman: Arkham Knight, and exploring the Owl’s haunting underground maze would make for a breathtaking level. Honestly, I’ll be flat-out upset if they’re not in the next game.
While nothing is set in stone for a Batman: Arkham revival, the recent tweets from WB Montreal make it seem like an announcement is coming soon. Until then, join me in speculation; what do you want to see in a new Arkham game? Let me know in the comments below!