Batman: Arkham Origins comes out this week, and with a new developer behind it, there’s no real way to know how the third installment will compare to the previous two. Sure, we’ve seen some Arkham Origins trailers and have heard some of the core details about the Dark Knight’s next foray into video game Gotham, but there’s so much we can’t know about the game until we get our hands on it on October 25th. Here are five dos and don’ts we hope to see when we tag along for Bats’ second Christmas Eve later this week:
Don’t: Mess With the Combat.
Of course, the shining heart of the Arkham series is the free-flowing combat system that forever changed the standard of the 3D brawler. A large part of what allows us to feel like the Caped Crusader in these games is being able to take down an entire mob of gangsters with one fluid dance of fists and justice. We know that Warner Bros. Montreal has made some tweaks and changes to the existing combat from Arkham City, but they seem to have been very conscientious about taking things too far away from their roots. Let’s keep things fairly grounded, here: Not too many elaborate gadgets or rooftop gymnastics, but make us capable of handling every situation with the right combo or a well-placed batarang.
Do: Mess With The Rest of Gameplay.
If there’s one thing that Arkham City faltered at, it was variety – Fly around, find a Riddler puzzle, give a football team’s worth of gangsters a close-up view of the pavement – We were rarely faced with a new mission type or challenge. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast completing every single piece of the singleplayer campaign, but most of the enjoyment came from Rocksteady’s deft hand at weaving Batman lore into the world, and the sheer joy of the mechanics that I had already become used to. However there’s more to being Batman than aggressive criminal dentistry, and it looks like in Origins we’ll get to explore the side of Bats that earned him the title of World’s Greatest Detective. WB Montreal has shown off a bit of the detective gameplay wherein the player will have to piece together a crime scene in order to make progress in a mission. I really want this to be a fairly major component of the story and not just a handful of neat moments sprinkled into the game, and if the developers have even more fun ways to round out the gameplay I’ll be ecstatic.
Don’t: Sacrifice Substance for Size.
Batman: Arkham Origins is going to be the largest of the three games to date, expanding to incorporate all of Gotham City rather than the titular Arkham City and Asylum settings from the previous two titles. As good as Arkham City is, it lost the intimacy of Asylum‘s closed walls and Metroidvania style backtracking which made the iconic prison grounds feel oppressing and teeming with activity. Origins risks doubling down on that loss by adding a lot of square footage to the map. Hopefully the promises of a more varied cityscape, due in part to featuring more than desolate slums full of escaped prisoners, will liven up the environment and feature more details to discover.
Do: Play with Gotham City.
A lot can happen in a large metropolis and there’s enough history in Batman canon to fill that space. Not all of Bruce Wayne’s world is depressingly dark and filled with villains. Arkham City was so depressing and grey that certain moments looked like a black and white movie. This is appropriate a lot of the time, but it can’t be all there is to Gotham City or no one outside the poor, the morally questionable or the colorblind could live there and keep their sanity. I want Arkham Origins to show some of the livelier side to Gotham – Give us families, car dealerships, people snapping photos of Batman on the move. I want to feel that there’s more to Batman’s world than a dank cave and a parade of creepy men to fight. Remind us of what he fights to protect.
Do: Tell Us a Story.
I’m breaking pattern here, but the truth is I have way more positives than negatives to look forward to in this game. That’s because, with whatever flaws great or small that can be found in Arkham Asylum and City, what both of them achieved was a story on par with some of the better source material. Asylum, specifically, tells a much better story for some of the characters than I’d ever seen in the past. Arkham Origins actually looks like it might be far more focused on delivering a satisfying Batman story than City, with a younger, more brutish Batman, still regarded as a vigilante by the police force and a new threat by the criminal underworld. The fact that it all takes place over one night on Christmas Eve makes even more epic. If it can manage to keep a strong pace and treat the characters with as deft a hand as Rocksteady did twice in the past, this will unquestionably a wonderful way to usher in the new console generation.