Batman: Arkham Origins Preview — The E3 Primer

Game Front’s E3 Primer series is focused on providing previews of key games, companies and gadgets leading up to E3 2013 (June 11-13, 2013). Bookmark our E3 channel and check back for more in-depth preview coverage leading up to the big show.


After two hit games set in the Batman universe – Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City — Warner Bros. Interactive is understandably eager to continue the Gotham City gravy train with a brand new entry in the series. But having ended Arkham City with several long-running plot elements resolved (it seems) permanently, the publisher has now opted to go the prequel route with the upcoming Batman: Arkham Origins.

Set many years prior to the events of ‘Asylum” and ‘City”, Arkham Origins features a young, raw Batman at the onset of his career as he first faces up against his rogues gallery and earns his place as a Gotham City institution. That sounds like a lot of fun, but it can’t be ignored that Warner is taking a potentially big risk. Prequels attempted by other studios have been a study in diminishing returns. For instance, Gears of War Judgment sold 1.17 million copies compared to Gears of War 3′s 5.33 million, while God of War Ascension sold 1.11 million compared to God of War 3′s 4.56 million.

There’s also the fact that Arkham series developer Rocksteady Studios isn’t involved this time; instead, Origins is being brought to life by Warner Bros. Interactive’s own Montreal studio. But this is, so Warner says, all part of the plan. A prequel allows them to mark out uncharted territory without worrying about what Rocksteady might do for any future sequels. If Rocksteady contradicts anything in later games, they can always call it a retcon. Which is to say, if prequels aren’t always the best bet, at least Warner isn’t risking the future of the Arkham series on Arkham Origins.

Will this pay off? We’ll have to wait until the game’s October 25 launch to know for sure, but with E3 2013 coming, we’re about to learn a hell of a lot more about it. To prepare, we’ve dug into all currently known information about the game and have returned with a utility belt-sized gift for you. Enjoy our Batman: Arkham Origins E3 Primer.

Dark Allegiances

Taking place on Christmas Eve (a nice touch worthy of Shane Black), “Origins” sees Batman fighting for his life after the mob boss known as Black Mask puts a hit out on him. Eight assassins have taken up the hunt, and the dark knight must fend for himself and take them out one by one.

Of the assassins, only two have been revealed thus far—Deathstroke and Deadshot. The former character is a super soldier-turned mercenary who posesses enhanced strength, intelligence, and reflexes, and who uses both blades and ranged weapons. Long existing on the periphery of the Bat-verse, he is also one one of DC’s more convoluted villains, which is appropriate as he was created for a contest in 1980 by a sixteen year old kid. While there is little information about how he’ll be interpreted for “Origins,” a short teaser trailer has been released that depicts Batman deflecting Deathstroke’s sword strikes with his arm blades. As for Deadshot, he’s faced off against Batman in Arkham City as a part of a minor quest. It looks like he’ll be a full character this time around.

Making things more complicated for the dark knight is the fact that he’s not on good terms with Gotham PD, thanks to corruption in the ranks and general resentment of costumed vigilantes. Batman must outsmart his opponents, find out why Black Mask wants him dead, and bring Gotham’s honest cops over to his side by proving himself worthy.

Beyond fending off his assassins, Batman will be able to take on extra missions by pursuing a “Most Wanted” list outside of the game’s storyline.

The Dark Knight Rises

Borrowing considerably from Batman: Year One, Batman: Arkham Origins features a younger, brasher, far less refined Batman that we’ve seen in previous series entries. One of the ways this inexperience is demonstrated is the Bat Suit, which appropriately looks less “manufactured” and more “assembled,” as if Bruce Wayne is still figuring it out. Just think of it as something you might see at a Maker Faire.

As expected, Batman won’t start out fully powered and the equal to his older self. The combat will be the same as those of its predecessors, but will see the addition of “new layers, new opportunities, and new tactics”, according to a GameInformer preview, whatever that means. In addition to unlocking new skills by leveling up through the so-called “Dark Knight” system built into previous games, Batman will be also able to earn specific upgrades by completing a certain number of takedowns or counters. It’ll be in your interest to mix up your play style if you want to unlock everything.

Although the details have yet to be revealed, it’s been said that Batman will face off against a much wider variety of opponents this time around. Like the first two Arkham games, Batman will have opportunities to go into his stealth mode and take down his opponents with stealth and trickery, but he’ll also have a new toy to play with, the Remote Claw. Something that would probably have been called the “Bat Grappling Hook” in an earlier age, the claw let’s Batman aim at two targets simultaneously, then lashes them together. Batman can use the weapon to knock enemies together, slam heavy objects into targets or string objects and people up like a pulley.

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5 Comments on Batman: Arkham Origins Preview — The E3 Primer

R.J.

On May 20, 2013 at 8:40 pm

I really hope it turns out that the other project Rocksteady is working on is a sequel to Arkham City and that WB Montreal is making this game so Rocksteady can focus on the extra burden of working with next-gen hardware. Kevin Conroy let it slip that he was working on the next Arkham game, and later clarified in a deleted twitter post that he was referring to a game other than Origins, so it seems possible that Warner Bros. might actually be smart enough to keep that studio working on Batman games. It would make sense since I’m sure WB wants to stick to that largely arbitrary two-year dev cycle, and making a next-gen game would significantly lengthen the time for Rocksteady to make a game.

Rho

On May 20, 2013 at 8:48 pm

*Of the assassins, only one has been revealed thus far—Deathstroke The Terminator*

I believe they also showed Deadshot in the cinematic trailer.

Ian Miles Cheong

On May 20, 2013 at 9:34 pm

They did indeed. That was in a previous edit but it got wiped for some reason. Thanks for spotting it, Rho.

quicktooth

On May 20, 2013 at 10:02 pm

I’d like to learn if Batman will actually be less skilled than in the later (story chronologically) games. An example of the opposite is with Street Fighter games, in which the characters consistently become more powerful and skilled every time a new game is released, NO MATTER if they are prequels or sequels or midquels(?). It’d be REAL SWEET if we could see Batman try out stuff that is cool but ultimately doesn’t work; stuff for interest and flavour (with fun game mechanics), that just don’t work as well in a fight as what Batman ultimately uses later on. Also, WE NEED NEW GAMEPLAY SEQUENCE TYPES like the Scarcrow vs Beat-em-up sequences of Batman Arkham Asylum. The contrast and villain-specific game types (not even gamePLAY types) really MADE that game. Finally- tighter and more polished scripting than Arkham City is a must. That game decended into farce by the end. Arkham Asylum did not (I believe). Tell less if you must, but by God tell it as well as Arkham Asylum- that was a Geniune Batman Story. And we ALL want that.

lol

On May 21, 2013 at 9:45 am

And people say COD is the same every year lol. You might as well play the Nintendo game rather than this one.