As we approach the ten year anniversary of Batman Arkham Asylum and with the recent news that the entire series is getting a re-released collection this September, I thought what better time to take a look at what could be next for the Batman Arkham series.
I can remember it like it was yesterday… It was a warm summer’s evening in August 2009, I was sat with my heterosexual life partner – Javier and I can remember clear as day the topic at hand… Will this new Batman game actually be as good as it looks? It’s crazy to think that we once lived in a world where superhero games didn’t have the greatest of reputations. It was this reason why I felt sceptical of the upcoming Batman: Arkham Asylum. Of course I would soon be proven wrong and all worries were quickly put to bed when Arkham Asylum was released to worldwide critical acclaim. It was a masterpiece which started a franchise, a franchise that is very close to this old nerds heart.
Only two years later we were treated to Batman: Arkham City, a damn near perfect sequel which took everything that made Asylum special and blew it up to a hundred. Rocksteady Studios trilogy was then rounded off in style with 2015’s Arkham Knight, a game which served as a great ending but also signalled what we thought would be the end of this beloved Arkham series. Rocksteady made it very clear that this was the end of the story leading many people, including myself, to assume that they were done with the Dark Knight and would be moving on to something new… Sad times.
Well maybe not… In the last couple of years there have been tons of news reports and rumours that Rocksteady are not done with the Caped Crusader just yet. It’s hard to pinpoint any particular stories but I believe there’s no smoke without fire and given we’ve heard every rumour ranging from an online live service Batman game all the way to an Arkham style Justice League game, I’d be surprised if at least one of these didn’t have some truth behind it. This is even more apparent when you consider that Rocksteady haven’t outright denied any of this and if anything, they’ve leaned into these rumours. To be fair they haven’t actually admitted they’re working on something Batman related but given they were happy to deny the Superman game rumours then why wouldn’t they do the same for Batman?
Here’s what I think. First thing’s first, do I even believe that WB Interactive and Rocksteady will release another Batman game after rapping up the Arkham story? Too right I do! There’s way too much money to be left on the table to not make another Batman game. Batman = money, simple. But where do they go with it? One news report that has always stuck in my mind is the one about taking Batman and making it into an online only live service game… Sighs… Please God no. The Arkham games did such a stellar job at being some of the best single player action adventure games on the market that it would be real sad to see them throw that away in favour of cashing in on this online trend. It’s not that I hate online gaming or even hate the idea of taking the Batman games online, it’s just I know for a fact that I would enjoy a single player experience closer to what we had with Arkham way more. I’m all for pushing things forward and evolving but sometimes you’ve just got to go with the old saying of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Unfortunately I’ve got a strong feeling that this may be the way they’re going or at least something similar. I wouldn’t be too surprised if they go with something similar to what Square Enix are doing with the Avengers game, where the bulk of the game will be a single player story with a big online mode to keep the game ticking over after the story is finished… I think I’d be all in if they go down that road.
What are the chances though of a straight up Arkham sequel? When it comes to Rocksteady – not likely, in my opinion anyway. I think they were quite serious when they said that Arkham Knight was the end of that story. It doesn’t mean that there can’t be another chapter of that story told before the ending… Much like WB Montreal’s Batman: Arkham Origins. You’ll notice that when talking about the Arkham games that I’ve left Origins out. Can you blame me? I often get the impression that WB Interactive want us to forget it exists. Just look at the new Batman: Arkham Collection that’s being released… No Origins to be seen. I think there’s a good reason for this, well at least I hope there is. I don’t think Rocksteady want to be tied down to the Arkham tag anymore, hence the release of this collection to solidify their take on the franchise. This doesn’t mean that WB are done though. This is where WB Montreal step in… Outside of LEGO: Legends of Chima Online back in 2014 and handling the DLC for Arkham Knight, the Quebec based studio have been real quiet since Batman: Origins.
Much like Rocksteady, WB Montreal have been the victim of countless Batman related rumours. The biggest of which being that they are working on an Arkham game based on the New 52 comic – Court of Owls. This makes a lot of sense to me, especially if Rocksteady are wanting to branch out and take the world’s greatest detective online. Why not let Montreal keep things more grounded and continue to tell prequel stories much like they did with Origins? They may well only feel like spin-offs (Which they would be) but given the quality of their first outing, I think most fans would be pleased with that. I know I would! I’m more that happy never get a sequel to Arkham Knight if it means we get a bunch of prequels set in that world along with those beloved mechanics? Sign me up! Just think of how many stories WB Montreal could tell!? The aforementioned Court of Owls, Hush and The Long Halloween would be amazing stories I’d love to see in video game form. It would also work as somewhat of a safety blanket for WB if Rocksteady’s new project was to fail. One of your studios takes a risk with something grand while the other continues to release tried and tested games that will always sell, seems like a good business model to me.
So as we approach the ten year anniversary of Arkham Asylum, I can’t help but feel there’s more to come. In what form I’m not sure but I’m pretty confident that we haven’t heard the last of Batman.
What do you think Rocksteady could be working on? Would you be up for an online only version of Batman or are you holding out for a Justice League game maybe? Let me know in the comments!Become a Patron!