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Batman Is Forever: 4 Ways to Bring Back the Arkham Series
Rocksteady sent us all on a wild ride back when Batman: Arkham Asylum first launched, finally giving the world a chance to properly squeeze on that rubber cowl and proclaim, “I’m Batman!” Two sequels (and a WB Games Montreal-helmed prequel and an Armature-developed side-scrolling spinoff) later, the future of the series is still very much up in the air now that its original developer has stepped away… or have they? Regardless, it seems likely that someone will continue the legacy of the Bat, but what direction could the series possibly take? Well… I’m glad you asked, hypothetical Internet stranger!
Way back in 2012, Geoff Johns (one of the bigwigs over at DC Comics) mentioned in an interview that a Suicide Squad game was in the works. Not long after, Batman: Arkham Origins teased such a project with its after-credits stinger, and Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate was seemingly made just to introduce us to its upcoming cast of characters.
A live-action version of the Government-sponsored supervillain team was soon introduced on the Arrow television series, given an animated feature set in the Arkham timeline, and now we’re even being bombarded by stylish trailers for a theatrical outing. DC is obviously trying their best to make this property a hit along the lines of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, so a tie-in video game would be a no-brainer… except we’ve heard nothing since Johns’s initial slip of the tongue.
Whether or not it’s still in the works, a Suicide Squad game has the potential to be a blast. Personally, I would pitch it as a very mission-oriented game with 20-30 minute chapters, each with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Players could choose from any member of the Squad, ranging from Deathstroke, Bronze Tiger, and Deadshot, to pick up with the roster WB Games Montreal established. Also add Harley Quinn to coincide with DC’s big multimedia push for that character, with at least a cameo from the Joker.
Who knows? Perhaps the game could also alternate between Batman and the Squad as two stories, told throughout the same levels. That would certainly spice things up while also keeping it comfortably familiar.
Regardless, this game could use the same engine and basic gameplay from the Arkham series, with robust third-person shooter mechanics built right into it. Deadshot should carry a gun for every occasion; Deathstroke should have an assault rifle, sword, and staff; while Harley should have her signature mallet, along with a trusty revolver. Being the stabby one with the Wolverine claws, Bronze Tiger should be purely melee-based with long-range leaps and dives.
Level traversal could also vary based on each character. Deadshot would have to stick to the ground with his huge arsenal, Deathstroke could lurk in shadows and ducts, Harley’s acrobatics may see her swinging from curtains and rafters, and Bronze Tiger could wall-run and leap to obvious perches. This idea lends a certain amount of replayability to missions, granting access to specific areas (and connected sub-missions) to each character.
Last, but not least, this team-oriented property is rife with potential for amazing co-op gameplay. This being the case, a Suicide Squad game should feature at least two player co-op, ideally up to four players. Friends could then team up and subsequently split up to tackle specific goals, rewarded by different unlockables like weapons and costumes. Speaking of co-op…
Holy Missed Opportunity, Batman!
How has there not been a cooperative Batman and Robin game yet? To date, Batman: Arkham Origins’ surprisingly well-made (and criminally underappreciated) multiplayer is the closest we’ve gotten. WB Games Montreal even designed a kick-ass suit for a freshly-recruited Robin, so how’s about we get a game based around that time period?
The idea here doesn’t necessitate in-depth explanation. You know those incredibly short stints in Batman: Arkham Knight where Robin tagged along, helping to fight and even stealthily subdue chatty thugs? It’d be like that… except during an entire game! And a buddy could drop in as Robin! And it’d be totally freakin’ awesome if someone would make the friggin’ thing!
The Batball is in your court, WB. You know what you have to do.
Okay. So, there was this kid named Jason. He was a bit of a jerk by all accounts, but an okay kid to begin with. He was homeless, so this ninja-trained badass with a cape and pointy ears took him under his leathery wing. Jason became strong and fought in this guy’s war against crime… but things took a nasty turn.
Jason Todd, the ill-fated Robin, is a massive part of Batman’s lore. Not only that, his comic book resurrection as the gun-wielding, helmeted Red Hood has made him one of DC’s most popular anti-heroes in more recent years. Do you think — and hear me out for a second — that we should, y’know, give this awesome character a game of his own? His downloadable mission was a highlight of Batman: Arkham Knight, in spite of its short length.
Much like his Arkham Knight incarnation, Red Hood would obviously have all the moves taught to him by Batman and the League of Assassins, with the addition of a weapons collection to make Marvel’s Punisher squeal like a fangirl. In between story missions, we could fall back to Jason’s own Batcave-equivalent bunker and prepare loadouts for the next level.
Since Red Hood is a character who keeps his tippy-toes glued to that fine line between heroism and villainy, it would be up to the individual player to decide whether to execute or subdue foes. There could be plenty of weapons for both paths, with non-lethal solutions coming in the form of stun batons instead of knives and swords, or magazines loaded with knockout bullets for every gun. Perhaps this good/evil mechanic could also flow into the story, where characters like Nightwing and Azrael would react differently depending on your actions. Multiple endings could also be an option.
For one brief moment in time, Jason even found himself with a teenage sidekick of his own, Scarlet, during Grant Morrison’s run on the Batman comics. She was a victim of Professor Pyg’s Dollotron modifications, with deadly skills quite different from Red Hood’s. Jason has also been known to pal around with Green Arrow’s former sidekick, Arsenal, and the alien princess Starfire. Perhaps one of them could be brought in for some optional co-op action?
Maybe I’m crazy (was that ever in question?), but the Batman Beyond cartoon is my favorite iteration of the Batman mythos. Guided by an elderly Bruce Wayne, teenage Terry McGinnis took on the mantle of the Bat and gave it a very lighthearted, almost Spider-Man-esque flair. Neo Gotham would also be an amazing sandbox to play around in, with massive corporate skyscrapers, swarms of flying cars, and flashing neon signs assaulting your senses at all times.
This feels like the natural evolution of the Arkham gameplay following the ground-based Batmobile. Terry’s advanced Batsuit and futuristic car can both take to the skies, bringing a whole new world of verticality and varied combat to the Arkham series. Imagine the Firefly boss fight from Arkham Origins, except Batman could also zoom around in mid-air, barrel rolling and strafing while delivering thunderous punches. The new flying Batmobile would logically give us a chance to show off our dogfighting skills. Are you not entertained?!
The developer could also have a much wider range of enemy types to choose from, because “splicing” is all the rage in the future. Thuggish buffoons splice their DNA with that of animals, mutating beyond recognition for the sake of gaining new abilities. Cloning has also been perfected, meaning any number of established DC characters could pop up in wildly different roles. The possibilities are endless.
Even the story could be easily grafted to the end of Rocksteady’s trilogy. DC themselves has tinkered with the concept (Tim Drake took Terry’s place in the current Batman Beyond comics), so we’re accustomed to certain tweaks. Just PLEASE, for the love of crikey, DO NOT make me use that horrible knock-off Beyond suit from Arkham Knight. Gimme the skintight classic with the impossible cowl (which also appeared in Arkham City) or just move right along, imaginary developers!
It’s easy to see the Arkham series continuing in some form, though we have no idea what it’ll be. As much as I’d love a game based around Green Arrow or The Flash, a part of me really wants a chance to jump back into Batman’s world and conk some bad guys over the head. Telltale’s Batman Series will be launching this Summer, though I expect that to offer a much different take on crime fighting… and besides, I need that signature Arkham free-flow combat! The ideas listed above are just what one demented fanboy brainstormed while we await further news.
Readers, what would you like to see in a future installment of the Batman: Arkham series? I haven’t seen it yet, but I somehow doubt your answer will be, “An adaptation of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice!”
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