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.
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.