Batman: Arkham Origins is an upcoming prequel to the two previous, critically acclaimed, games of the franchise, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City. Currently in the stages of development, by Warner Bros. Game Montreal, Arkham Origins is slated for an Oct. 25 release on the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC and Wii U.
In light of Origins’ looming release, we thought we would explore some of the gameplay mechanics offered from the single-player campaign and multiplayer segment. In addition, we will briefly explore some of Gotham’s locations, as well as the Collector’s Edition and DLC packs.
WARNING: Some of the following YouTube videos depict scenes of violence. Viewer discretion is advised.
In terms of timeline, Arkham Origins is set five years prior to the action-packed events of Arkham Asylum, during a time when Batman is finding his feet; as a result, the developers explain that the Caped Crusader will be a “younger and less experienced” hero.
This time around, Batman is faced with a formidable slew of opponents – a band of misfit mercenaries, operating under the directive of Black Mask. These eight assassins have been tasked with killing the Batman, whilst terrorizing the denizens of Gotham City.
Bruce Wayne is donning the Batsuit for his second year, and must work against the clock to figure out why there has been a bounty placed upon his head, whilst saving Gotham City from impending peril. Meanwhile, Batman will also have to gain the respect and trust of James Gordon and Commissioner Loeb, whose budding relationships will prove critical to his future endeavors.
Arkham Origins’ Locations
Returning back to the streets of Gotham City, the player would be forgiven for thinking the environment might be similar to that seen in Arkham City. However, Arkham Origins is purported to take place during a period when the city’s landscape and infrastructure was somewhat different.
The Batman: Arkham Origins Wikia website states that Arkham City will not have been completely constructed yet, with Jezebel Plaza remaining a sprawling shopping center and the dock areas still in existence, prior to being devastated by the great flood. Meanwhile, fans of the franchise will recognize some familiar areas, including Old Gotham, Park Row and Bowery.
The Penguin’s lair will be stationed within Amusement Mile, which was seen heavily flooded during the events of Arkham City. Batman will need all of his crime-fighting prowess, during another encounter with Penguin, with an inevitable face-off spawning from Penguin’s involvement in the illegal distribution of arms throughout the city.
As the game is set on the eve of Christmas, much of the landscape has been given a festive vibe, with Christmas paraphernalia and decorations dotted about the place. Christmas lights will dimly illuminate the dank, crime-infested alleys of Gotham, whilst Santa Claus figurines will become strange, anachronistic features set against the bland, concrete buildings. Speaking to Game Informer, Creative Director Eric Holmes discussed some of the aesthetics of the new Gotham:
“It’s a beautiful thing in an ugly place. It adds an ironic humor to things without breaking the seriousness of the theme, which is really fun for us.”
Deviating from old Gotham, the game developers have sought to expand the city considerably. New Gotham will feature an entirely original area of exploration, replete with a labyrinth of towering skyscrapers and catwalks, from which Batman can launch. These skyscrapers will have a massive impact upon gameplay, where battles will take place on multiple levels, ranging from the snow-swept streets to the staggered rooftops of buildings.
Compared to Batman: Arkham City, Origins has a much fresher, vibrant feel to it. The Gotham of Arkham City was rundown and bleak, portraying the spread of corruption and villainy at every touch and turn. The sinister undertones of the previous games still remain in place, but just with a few more plush areas and stately buildings.
The following footage, which was demonstrated at this year’s E3 gaming expo, shows just a few of the numerous locations the Caped Crusader can whiz around:
In terms of gameplay mechanics, many of the amazing features from the previous games will make their return, alongside some new additions. Batman still has the ability to glide over Arkham’s vast cityscape, and grapple from building to building.
However, the Batwing will now be at Batman’s disposal, providing a form of fast travel to better navigate the densely populated city. This mode of transport won’t be readily available, however, and players must fight to unlock transportation access to various locations. A series of jamming towers will need to be wrestled from the hands of enemy hoards, and subsequently deactivated; in doing so, players will be rewarded with access to bonus collectibles.
When looking at new gadgets, it appears Batman’s arsenal has been slightly expanded. Many of the previous games’ tools make a welcome return, including the Batarang (of course), explosive gel and the Cryptographic Sequencer. New to the franchise, however, is the Remote Claw. Capable of tethering two objects together, batman can now perform a host of new, cunning tricks. For example, two enemies can be tied up, pulled together, and slammed into one another; an enemy can also be tied to an object, with similar result.
WB Montreal has also shifted their attention to improving side-quests. According to US Gamer, the player will be alerted to crimes-in-progress, which are aired over the radio. Responding to these various distress calls, Batman can achieve greater experience points. In addition, the inclusion of a “Most Wanted” section of gameplay is a nice touch, allowing players to pursue dangerous criminals that fall outside of the scope of the main campaign’s storyline.
Another pivotal feature centers around crime-solving, which was distinctly lacking in complexity in the previous two games. Now, crime-solving is a more intimate and protracted affair, requiring greater consideration. The example that was demonstrated at E3 involved investigation of a downed helicopter. Using a combination of the Evidence Scanner and detective vision, Batman was seen retrieving information about the pilot’s corpse and the first and second impact sites to reconstruct and interpret the crime.
The Batcave will also play a vital new role in Origins, and can be used for character customization, confirming equipment upgrades and refining some of batman’s gangster-thumping abilities. What’s more, the Batcave’s computer can aid in resolving previously encountered crimes, enabling the player to review footage of the crime scenes from alternative angles, in a bid to identify further clues. Challenge Maps can also be accessed from the Batcave, helping to extend the gameplay somewhat.
A veritable rogues gallery of enemies will go head-to-head against the Caped Crusader. The franchise’s staple favorites will make a return, including The Joker, The Penguin, Riddler, Mad Hatter and Killer Croc, alongside some fresh faces. Black Mask will lead a gang of eight assassins, which include Bane, Deathstroke, Deadshot and Copperhead, to name just a few.
As far as your assassin nemeses are concerned, the player is provided with the freedom to take down whichever enemy they desire, in whatever order.
Arkham Origins marks the first time the franchise has elected to dabble in online multiplayer. Many gamers are often skeptical about the addition of multiplayer to video games that are traditionally single-player only. However, Origins’ multiplayer component looks set to offer a genuine difference.
In development by Splash Damage, who were the architects behind Quake Wars: Enemy Territory and Brink, the multiplayer will pit two gangs of criminal miscreants against one another, in a three versus three battle. A nice little twist, however, introduces a third team – Batman and Robin.
As is evident from the footage, Batman and Robin come up against two rivaling factions, with The Joker and Bane the head honchos of each side.
The premise is relatively simple. Kill as many of the opposing team as possible. Each kill reduces the opposing team’s “reinforcement counter.” Driving this counter down to zero, and then mopping up the remaining survivors provides the path to victory.
But, how do the heroes win?
The heroes must stalk their prey from the shadows, performing takedowns to boost an “intimidation gauge.” Using Batarangs, smoke grenades and explosive gel, the formidable duo have quite an extensive battery of gear to toy with. Once the intimidation gauge is entirely filled, the heroes win the match. Mixing up your one-hit takedown moves will accelerate the rate at which the gauge is filled.
The interplay between criminal thugs and heroes is likely to provide a novel form of gameplay. The thugs must be on the lookout for Batman and Robin, who could be lurking in grates and on ledges, whilst continuing to engage in the frenzied firefight against the opposing three-player gang.
Similar to Battlefield’s capture the flag premise, various control points are strategically dotted throughout the map. If Joker or Bane’s team gain control of one of these regions, the opposing team’s reinforcement numbers can be driven down even quicker. Meanwhile, Batman and Robin can disable these control points, stifling this activity.
The writers over at Destructoid were able to preview one of the multiplayer maps, Blackgate Prison. Before the match begins, a team leaders are randomly selected. These team leaders have a number of deadly abilities that can turn the tide of a match.
The Joker has powerful melee attacks, capable of electrifying his enemies, and can use custom guns to perform ranged takedowns. Meanwhile, Bane is a powerhouse, fearlessly charging towards enemies and throwing them around with reckless abandon; as a human tank, Bane can also absorb phenomenal amounts of damage, representing quite a considerable foe.
Speaking to OXM, Alastair Cornish, knowing some gamers’ perceptions of tacked on multiplayer, was keen to explain that two entirely separate developers independently worked on both the single-player campaign and the multiplayer component:
“it was important that there were two separate studios, both playing to their strengths… And this isn’t a sort-of cynical, box-ticking exercise of some suit saying oh, this has to have multiplayer so let’s just bang some in there. It wasn’t that at all; it was a discussion about, what would the natural growth of the franchise be like? And it’s a really cool premise!”
Downloadable Content Packs & Collector’s Edition
A couple of weeks back, Warners revealed the existence of a DLC season pass, which comprises the following digital downloadable content:
- Gotham by Gaslight Batman Skin and Brightest Day Batman Skin
- New Millennium Skins Pack
- Infinite Earths Skins Pack
- Arkham Origins Initiation
- An all-new story campaign
In addition, the following trailer shows some of the “Knightfall” exclusive content that will only be available to PS3 owners:
The announcement of Batman Arkham: Origins having a DLC pass recently raised many a gamers’ eyebrows – not simply because the DLC pass existed, but because the studio announced that, at the very least, five DLC packs were inbound.
DLC has always been a controversial issue, with many gamers feeling aggrieved that (reportedly) chunks of vital gameplay were simply ripped from the base campaign and stuffed into costly DLC packs. With Arkham Origins, the announcement of a season pass was worsened by the news that the main single-player campaign would only last approximately 12 hours.
On the other hand, some gamers criticized the studio for including DLC content that was primarily cosmetic in nature, and was lacking in the gameplay department.
The Collector’s Edition for Arkham Origins, meanwhile, will retail for a whopping $119.99 for the Xbox 360 and PS3, and will contain the following goodies for North American consumers:
- Joker statue with LED lighting effects
- 80-page hardback art book
- DVD feature film, entitled Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics
- Exclusive in-game content
- Batman “Wanted” posted
- Schematics for Batwing
- Anarky logo stencils
- Gotham map
- Dossiers on the eight assassins
We hope you have enjoyed our dissection of Arkham Origins’ multiplayer and single-player gameplay, as well as our in-depth look at some of the new locations and DLC packs.
Batman: Arkham Origins is set for release on Oct. 25. To satiate your appetites, the official game trailer can be viewed, below.
By: James Fenner